The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
NOTES    September
Copyright © 2023 by RFM Design   -   All Rights reserved   -
Nota Bene
School's Open
We have made a number of modifications in our classrooms, with our teachers, our scheduling and our playground.
We're looking forward to a safe and successful school year.
          Parkside has just begun its 37th year, and it is our 27th year in this location at PCUM.  It has been a relatively smooth opening this year.   Like every other year since we opened in 1987, we return in late July to organize things for our new school year, set up our classrooms and welcome our new families with individual orientation visits in August.  Our classrooms have all been throughly cleaned including furniture and floors.  We have done some painting, worked on new classroom lighting, and purchased new materials for our shelves.  We feel certain that our work here in July and August, well before the start of school,  helps teachers, parents and students alike adjust to the many changes that September brings for all of us.  We are still seeing some hesitation and a few tears upon entry.  With the help of their teachers and even some of their classmates, those who are crying almost always quickly calm down once they are in the classroom.  We expect this every September,  and it is often part of the back to school experience.  That being said, we know it is very difficult for a parent to leave a crying child, but our staff is up to the challenge, and we will always call to let you know how he or she is doing.   
This is the first edition of our Monthly Notes which will be sent to you via e mail during the first or second week of the month.  In these notes we will be talking about the classroom themes and the new exercises and activities being brought in, as well as other pertinent information and upcoming events.  We will also offer helpful and important suggestions about how you as parents can contribute to our efforts in establishing a peaceful, well-organized and loving environment for your children. 
Parents are always anxious to know what is happening in our classrooms.  Sometimes it is difficult to extract that kind of information from a young child.  These notes may serve as a way for you to understand some of what we are trying to do each day and month of our school year.  Most of the time, when asked, the young child will tell you he or she “had snack”, “played”, “went outside”, “ate lunch”, or worse, “nothing”. These are not exactly the answers you may be seeking, so hopefully our little newsletter can shed light on some of what is going on.  And there is always a lot going on!
Again, each month in these notes we will be sharing  the Montessori exercises which will be introduced into each of our curriculum areas.  The materials in Montessori are progressive and become more challenging as we move through the weeks of school. 
There are five curriculum areas. The Practical Life is composed of exercises by which the children learn to care for themselves and the environment.  Here the students will gain experience in eye-hand coordination, large and small motor control, dexterity, concentration, and a sense of order in a task. The activities include pouring, grasping, tweezing, spooning, buttoning, zipping, snapping, etc, as well work with tongs and funnels, all reflecting development of “practical”  skills.  There is lots of washing, scrubbing and polishing work such as table scrubbing, baby and shell washing, and eventually silver, mirror and shoe polishing and many more.  Sensorial refers to that area in which the child’s senses can be developed, enhanced and refined, and these activities are great for developing discrimination skills and again, large and small motor control. The education of the senses should begin early and does so in our classrooms. There is lots of building work with different kinds of blocks and cylinders and many activities with shapes and colors.  Our extensive puzzle collection is also in this area.  In Language there are many reading readiness materials,  including matching and sorting, and of course work with our sandpaper letters and movable alphabet as well as the tracing and writing exercises.  Every classroom has a library filled with beautiful and appropriate picture books and stories.  In the Math area, number identification and counting are important, and we have many of those, all changing each month.  The Art area is also very important, and there are planned art lessons as well as many different kinds of mediums for the children to work with in a more free-form way.  They may paint with our easels and visit the art table every day.  We also have our home-made play dough available every day. 
The above is summary of each of our classroom areas, and the reason for describing each in some detail is that every month you will be reading about the new Montessori exercises being brought into each of the areas as well as the materials coming to our shelves that reflect the theme of the month. We use the circle time to demonstrate many of the new exercises as well as the thematic materials being added each week.
In September,  as we all return from summer vacations, it seems like it makes sense for September’s theme to be life at the beach and sea life.  We will begin by talking about the various kinds of shells that we find at the beach.  We have trays of the real shells including the conch, clam, oyster, moon, worm,  whelk, slipper, cockle and scallop shells.  In Practical Life this month we will have fishing and shell washing along with our other water activities.  In Language we will be identifying and matching real shells and pictures of shells. There will be shell counting of both large and small shells and colorful fish in Math, and at the art table we will be painting and coloring shells, creating a beach scene with real sand and shells, rubbing sea creatures and using sea life stencils to name a few. 
Later in the month, we will focus on the fascinating creatures that inhabit our seas.   We will bring in our baskets of large museum quality sea animals.  The children love to take the basket off the shelf and play with the creatures usually with one or two others.  The sea animals will include the social, playful and intelligent dolphin, several kinds of whales and sharks, the shy octopus, the giant squid, the jumping manta ray,  the bobbing sea lion, the sleek and shiny seal, and the raucous and always hungry sea gull.  We introduce each gradually on circle, and, as the children learn a little about them, we add more.  Each classroom area, including the art and library areas, will contain sea animal exercises, books and puzzles.
There are no new staff members this year, and our experienced team has helped, along with you as parents, to facilitate a smooth September transition into school.  These early weeks of school are exciting for both our students and the teachers.  It is a time for them to get to know and trust us, to learn school routines, to make new friends, and, for some, to adjust to being away from parents and caregivers.  We are delighted to be back, and it is our job is to gently guide your children through this time of transition.  We look forward to working with your dear little ones and with you, as we all strive to provide the best early education experience that we can.  Thank you for entrusting us with that important job, full of challenges, but also full of rewards.
“We must create a favorable environment that     
will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts.
The first thing to to done…is to discover the true nature of
the child and then assist him or her in his or
her normal development.”
                                                                           Maria Montessori
                                                                            The Secret of Childhood