This is the first edition of our monthly newsletter for the 2020-2021 school year…our thirty-third! Like so many things in life, this September has been unlike any other. As we mentioned in one of our many communications in August, we have worked hard most of the summer to implement the many new state regulations. With your cooperation and understanding, we are moving through these early days of school with optimism, determination and great attention to the details of the requirements. We feel that things are going really well, and we are glad to finally be back and so happy to be able to enjoy the children again. They have settled in nicely, and they amaze us with their ability to adapt so quickly to their new school environment, whether they are first time or returning students.
There are still some tears at drop-off (very normal) which is complicated by the fact that, per the state guidelines, parents cannot go to the classrooms. Every September, without fail, hesitation, fear, and tears upon entry is always expected. It is a time of transition for all of us, and we know how difficult it is to leave a child who is upset. But they do quickly calm down and involve themselves in the activities on the classroom shelves. Our job is to gently help them through the new life of being in school and to make sure they feel safe, secure and supported.
In our Montessori classroom, there are four main areas. Practical Life includes lots of water activities such as washing the table and the baby, pouring (table and baby) and sponge squeezing. There is also spooning, tweezing, zipping, snapping, etc. All of the practical life exercises are designed to develop motor and organizational skills as well as concentration as the child completes life’s “practical” tasks. Later on we will bring in funneling, ladling, basting and shaving cream and many others. The Sensorial area features building, sorting and arranging materials in an effort to enhance the child’s discrimination and motor skills. There is work with shapes, colors, blocks, cylinders and puzzles, large and small. In the Language area we have many matching exercises including object to object, object to picture, and picture to picture. There is also work with the sandpaper letters for the purpose of identifying letters and the sounds they make, and we have lots of tracing and writing exercises, picture story work (for oral language development), and other reading readiness tasks. The math area includes the sandpaper numbers and tray of kosher salt to teach number identification. There are many counting activities most of which are made by the teachers. Later we will offer addition and subtraction with concrete materials. And finally in the art area the children will be working with many different mediums and materials. There is usually an art project every day, but if there is not, other art materials are always available and they are free to go to the art table during our “work time”.
Each month we will focus on a different concept or learning theme, and this will be reflected in each of the above classroom areas. In September as summer vacation has recently ended, it seems natural to talk about life at the beach and sea creatures. We have been learning about shells and the small creatures that inhabit them. We have trays of different kinds of shells on the shelf for the children to match and identify by name. Traditionally the children have taken real interest in learning about the many wonderful creatures that inhabit the sea such as the playful and friendly dolphin, the shy octopus, the mysterious squid, the noisy and hungry seagull, the giant but usually gentle whale and the ever-moving, ever-hunting shark. In Practical Life there will be shell scrubbing and digging and also “fishing”. We also have tweezing and spooning tiny sea creatures. Sensorial will feature sea life puzzles, large and small, shell matching and discrimination, and fishing and sorting fish with a magnetic rod. In Language there will be large baskets of many museum quality sea creatures in each classroom for the purpose of both identification and imaginative play. On circle we will discuss the unique and individual characteristics of each of these sea animals. Our Book Corner contains many books, fiction and non-fiction, about beach and sea life. The Math areas includes sandpaper numbers and many counting exercises with concrete materials such as shells, tiny fish, and mini sea mammals. Of course the art area will have lots of sea life projects.
We are certainly off to a good start…even with the many changes in schedules, classes, state requirements, etc. Again, we are really glad to be back, and we are embracing the new normal with a positive attitude. We thank you for having the confidence to join us and for entrusting your little ones to us. We want you to feel free to share with us any concerns and ideas that you may have, and we will do the same with you. We want to make this experience a happy and healthy one for all who are with us.
“The start of something new
brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.”