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Montessori School of Greater Lafayette Blog


Insights and inspiration from our Montessori classrooms.rss


 


Children at work in the Montessori Elementary class.

     October is observation month at our Montessori school. Now that the classrooms have been up and running for six weeks and the children are mostly adjusted to being away from their parents, we invite the parents to spend 15 minutes in the class just observing to see what their children's days are like. Parents are given a clipboard with an observation sheet that asks some general questions about what they see. After class, the teachers read over the observation sheets and respond to any questions or concerns the parents may have at the upcoming Parent/Teacher Conferences. Observation month is offered again in April.

     Parent observations are important to the teachers because they keep us focused on our own observations. "I'm seeing that this child rarely chooses to work by himself. I wonder if his parents will see the same thing? Is that how he is at home or only at school?"

     Observations are important to parents because they can serve as an informative window into a child's day. "I didn't realize she had so many friends at school. Does she ever work by herself?"

     Observations are also important to the children because every child enjoys when Mom or Dad come to visit. "Mom's at MY school watching ME work??? Awesome!" Being a part of your child's day promotes good feelings and almost guarantees terrific dinner conversation.


Children at work in a Montessori preprimary classroom.    

     So what can you expect during your in-class observation? 

  • Your child is going to notice you. If MSGL had the facility of its dreams, each classroom would have a one-way window that would allow you to observe your children from the hallway without changing the dynamics of the class. But, we have the beautiful facility that we have, so we can only offer in-class observations. Your child, especially a very young child, may want to spend the whole time sitting with you and that's okay. You can remind her that she should continue doing what she was doing before you walked in, but don't push the issue. Tell her that you are just watching and not talking, and that may help. With so many children in the class, there is plenty to observe even if your child is sitting on your lap.
  • The teachers will be busy but not in control of the classroom. They will greet you politely then get back to their jobs of presenting, observing, and responding to the children.
  • Children will be doing lots of different things. Some children will be working with Montessori materials, others will be drawing, others will be having snack, and still others may be pouring beans into the dishwater. When you see things that make you curious (or even anxious), write them down! The teachers would love to discuss them with you at conferences.
  • You will see many good things. Ask yourself, are children Concentrating? Cooperating? Leading? Following? Smiling? Laughing? Moving gracefully? Being polite? Write those things down, too.
  • There will, occasionally, be chaos. The children may be adjusted to being away from home after six weeks, but the classrooms are far from normalized. Many children are still learning how to work independently, to share space and materials with others, to care for themselves in the bathroom, to join in group activities peacefully, and to clean up after themselves. Within the span of a 15-minute observation, dozens of things can happen that the teachers would prefer did not happen at all, let alone in front of innocent parents!  But this is also the reason we invite parents in so early: we want you to see the tremendous changes that take place - in the classrooms and within the children themselves - between October and April.


Children working in the Montessori toddler classroom.

​     ​Sign up for an observation time outside your child's classroom. We look forward to seeing all of our parents in our classrooms!

     ~Heather

 

 

 

 


 

 

Miss Emily tries out a science experiment during the Teachers' Silent Journey and Discovery.

 

     Have you ever wished you could experience Montessori through a child's eyes? We would like to offer you the next best thing. Please join us on Monday, September 22nd from 6:00 - 7:30 pm on the MSGL campus for the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery. This is your opportunity to see the classrooms as your children do and to use the same materials they use to develop their bodies, minds, and spirits.

     The Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery will take you on two guided tours of the school, starting as an infant and progressing through the Toddler, Preprimary, Extended Day, and Elementary classes. The first tour is silent. Your tour group will spend 5 minutes in each room looking at - but not touching - the classroom environment and the various materials. After the first tour, your guide will once again take you to each of the classrooms, but this tour will be the Discovery portion when you can use the materials, ask questions of the guides and teachers, and take part in the teachers' presentations. We will wrap up the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery by gathering together for refreshments and discussion afterwards.


Miss Stacie presents the Squaring Chains.  

     We are very excited to offer this new parent education event and we highly recommend it for all new families and anyone who would like a hands-on experience in our Montessori classrooms. This is also a nice tour for grandparents and caregivers. The teachers practiced the Silent Journey and Discovery in August and really enjoyed the experience. You can read about one parent's experience with a Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery on the I Heart Montessori blog.

     Childcare is available for children ages 2 and older who are currently attending MSGL or familiar with MSGL. All of our teachers will be on hand for this special evening and we look forward to seeing you there, too!

     Please register for this fun event and sign up for childcare in the office or by phone by this Friday, September 19th.


 

 


Following Friends to Physics


Free play and building with logs and boards is a realistic way to explore physics concepts. MSGL has an outdoor space that allows for more than just "recess." Outside time is not a chance to get away from the classroom, it's an opportunity for children to use their whole bodies to learn and, most importantly, have fun with friends.

     On Thursday, a quartet of boys was getting very silly in the back corner of our Montessori classroom. They were speaking with outside voices and using all available paper to make pretend swords so they could have a pretend swordfight. When I tried to redirect them, they asked to make paper airplanes and see whose would fly the farthest. Although Montessori teachers are known for their flexibility and laid-back grooviness, I could not condone sword-fighting and airplane-flying during class on this, only the second full week of preschool. What would people say?

     I empathized with these friends because they wanted to play together and needed to actively move their bodies, but it was still 30 minutes before we (read: I) could even think about going outside where this type of gross-motor play was appropriate. They took a half-hearted interest in another activity and I sat at a table nearby to observe. When they realized I was there to stay, they started putting away their work and chanting with dead eyes and sad voices, "No more fun. No more fun. No more fun." It would seem I had officially become "the man." They went to the other side of the room to build a tower with the brown stair and the pink cubes and within minutes, they were using the smallest brown stair as a lever to launch the smallest pink cube across the rug. Clearly, they were trying to tell me something.

     What these boys wanted was action. They are perfectly willing to come in each morning and work on their maps or practice writing their names, but after a time they really want to make things move. And it's not just the boys, of course. Girls thrive on kinesthetic learning activities and they are usually the first to line up to walk across the log seesaw.


 

     In fact, all young children are kinesthetic learners. Most mature into adolescents who can learn successfully through watching and listening, but not all. As long ago as 1979, researchers studying how humans learn understood this:

"Restak (1979) and others have indicated that many students do not become strongly visual before third grade, that auditory acuity first develops in many students after the sixth grade, and that boys often are neither strongly visual nor auditory even during high school. Therefore, since most young children are tactual and kinesthetic learners, such resources should be developed and used, particularly for those who are experiencing difficulty learning through lectures, direct verbal instructions, "chalk talks," and textbook assignments."- See the full article at Education.com

     No one is suggesting that preschoolers should be taught through lectures, but sometimes society (or maybe our high school principal's voice in the back of our head) worries us into thinking that if we don't make our children sit down, concentrate, and learn - how will they ever be successful in school or the Real World that supposedly comes after?

     Parents sometimes ask, "When will you teach him to sit still and listen to the teacher?" The answer is that he will sit still and listen when what I am saying is of interest to him. It's my job to find the topic that is so fascinating to the child that he can't help but hold his body still so as to not miss a single word. A teacher's job is to be fascinating; but only until the child is so interested in the subject that he sets off to explore it on his own. At that point, the teacher observes and prepares for the child's next question then guides him to find the answers on his own. (Please note: Matters of health, safety, and courtesy are always addressed immediately. No one in the classroom has the freedom to hurt themselves or to hurt or disrupt others.)

He has found the exact point to stand where his weight balances the log.
 

     Maria Montessori observed that not only do young children learn kinesthetically, they absolutely MUST learn this way for proper brain development. 

"Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas." - The Secret of Childhood

     So, as a good teacher who believes in a research-based approach to education, I am obligated to consider the kinesthetic learning style of my preschool students. I am also obligated to follow a child's interests because a child who is studying something she is interested in, as opposed to an externally-imposed curriculum, is much more likely to retain that information and build connections in her brain. So why were we still inside the classroom and NOT outside studying the physics of flight and simple machines? Because I didn't know they were interested until Thursday. But now I do.

     As a result, my assistant and I will be following our 3, 4, and 5-year-olds into the action-packed world of physics this week starting with the simple lever. We will spend a little extra time outside on the log seesaw for some major gross motor exploration, then we will scale down the kinesthetic experience to make smaller levers inside the classroom using blocks, rulers, pennies, rocks, and pompoms. We will introduce the appropriate words such as "load", "effort", and "fulcrum" and we will figure out how many pennies it takes the raise the rock load. I will do my best to be fascinating. There may be squeals of joy and pompoms flying through the air, but no more "No more fun."

Thanks for reading,

~Heather 


 

   
Grace's first day of Montessori preschool, 1997.

      Last summer, my 19-year-old daughter was getting ready to move into her first apartment. I was excited for her to have the chance to live on her own and had been setting aside household items that I thought she could use. One day, after admiring the “steal” of a chair I had found at Goodwill, she asked me, “Aren’t you sad that I won’t live here anymore?”

     “Well, honey,” I said, “I always imagined that you would grow up and move out of the house. That was our goal all along for you to be an independent, self-sufficient person.”

     “I know,” she said. “But I’m kind of sad that I won’t be sleeping here anymore.”

     I reminded her that she had hardly slept at home at all since she started college last year. She lived in the dorm, four hours away from home and we often didn’t hear from her for days.

     “Yeah, but this is different. I just can’t believe this won’t be my home address anymore. Are you going to change the garage door code?”

     A-ha! Then I figured it out. She was worried about cutting the cord from the house where she grew up. I had been concerning myself with making sure she was comfortable “out there” and she was worried she would no longer be welcome back at home.

     It occurred to me that not much has changed between that day and the day sixteen years ago when we were preparing to send her to preschool here at the Montessori School of Greater Lafayette. Back then we were so excited to help our “baby” pick out a new lunch box and indoor shoes but we had little idea what to do to help prepare her (or ourselves) emotionally for this new chapter. She sailed through preschool and is now working through nursing school just fine, but we have learned a lot since then. Today I am sharing some tips and advice gathered from teachers and parents here at MSGL to help you and your child prepare for the first days of preschool.

Talk about school - mindfully.
     Talk with your child about preschool when he is in the mood. Maybe he will bring it up or you can start the conversation, just don’t push too hard. If your child seems “done” with the conversation or is becoming anxious, let the topic drop until later. And be honest about your feelings when you do talk about school. Some children worry that their parents will be sad or lonely when they are gone. When you say, “I am going to miss being with you in the morning, but it makes me happy to know you will be enjoying yourself at school,” it lets him know that you will miss him but you are confident that school is a good place for him to be.

Check out the new environment.
     
MSGL’s Parent Work Day is Saturday, August 16th. This is a great time to get familiar with the school and classroom environments and to be part of the school community. Children are encouraged to help clean lockers, pull weeds, and load and unload wheelbarrows full of mulch right alongside their parents and new classmates. And, each family member's time counts towards your volunteer hours requirement.

     You will have another opportunity to get familiar with the school when your child attends her New Student Orientation visit on Monday, August 18th. This is her first opportunity to see her teachers and classmates in her new classroom. She can put her indoor shoes in her locker, locate her cubby and extra clothes box, and see where the bathroom is. The whole family can attend the Parent Orientation later that evening and maybe your child can give a tour of her new classroom.

Make new friends.
     You will receive a class list via email in August. Consider contacting a few families on the list to set up a playdate before school starts. Even if you can’t get together with any other families, you and your child can look over the names on the list together. You may discover that one of his classmates lives on your street or maybe someone has the same name as a sibling or a friend.

Help her dress for success.
     Our Montessori classrooms are prepared to encourage your child’s independence and you can help by providing your child with shoes and clothing that she can put on and take off by herself. Belts, suspenders, and jumpsuits look smart but they can be difficult for your child to use successfully. Provide your child a choice of clothing that allows her complete independence in her self-care routines. And please remember that preschool is a time to jump in and explore. Paint, snack, sand, and dirt from the garden can stain your child’s clothing, so please send her to school in clothes that can stand to get dirty. 

Plan a morning routine.
     
Now is a good time to do a mental run-through of your morning routine. Consider how much time your child needs to wake up, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Allow time for packing lunches, finding coats and shoes, and getting on the bike or in the car. Then add a few extra minutes. Parents and children who are not in a rush tend to have much better experiences at drop-off. Some families even do a few “practice runs” in the summer to see if they can get to school and work on time.

Create a goodbye routine.
     Discuss with your child how you each want to say goodbye at drop-off. Some families say, “After you put on your inside shoes and put away your lunch box, we will walk to the classroom and I will give you three hugs and two kisses before I go to work.” Some children like to wave to dad out the window and some parents leave their children with specific plans for what they will do after school. “Sonia is picking you up today” or “we are going to the Farmer’s Market on our bikes after school today.” Children have so little control over their daily lives that they appreciate at least knowing what is happening and when.

     And while we’re talking about goodbyes, let’s take just a moment to consider the specter of separation anxiety.

What if my child cries when I walk away?
     
Separating from your child that first time can be heart-breaking, but remember - it’s only for a few moments. The majority of children who are sad when they separate from their parents are able to calm themselves and choose an activity within a few minutes. If you have gone through the goodbye routine and are finding it hard to turn around and walk away, ask your teacher for help. Sometimes parents say, “Please help me. I need to leave.” That is the teacher’s sign that she needs to hold your child’s hand or pick her up so that you can walk away. Teachers don’t want to step in before you are ready to go but they are happy to help when you ask them.

     The best thing you can do for your child at drop-off is to be consistent and walk away when you say you will. Lingering tends to just prolong the heartache for the parent and the child. The first few times you drop your child off may be difficult, but trust that with consistent repetition you and your child will develop a peaceful good-bye routine.

Talk with the teachers. 
     
Talk with your child’s teachers about how the adjustment period is going. The teachers help dozens of children adjust to school every year but this may be your first time. They expect you will have questions and concerns. Email is a great way to communicate with your child’s teachers and all of the contact information is available on the classroom web page at Msgl.org.

Help your child talk about his day.
     
If this is the first time your child has been away from home you will no doubt be very eager to know what he did all day. Unfortunately, preschoolers often say they “did nothing” or “just played.” A lot of things happened between the time you dropped him off that morning and when you picked him up several hours later, but he might not yet be able to give a sequential list of his activities. Here are some ideas to help your child tell you about his day.

  • If your child brought home artwork or papers in his book bag, try asking him specific questions. “Please tell me about this. Are you studying planets? Does this go with another work? What class did you make this in?” Please note: Some children do not bring home very much paper work, especially in the early years. Montessori materials are designed to be concrete and hands-on to allow the child to absorb the experience but not necessarily record it on paper. The following link sheds some light on what your child might be doing if he is not bringing anything home.  MSGL blog: What did you do at preschool today?
     
  • Look through the classroom photos on msgl.smugmug.com with your child. Teachers and parents take lots of photos throughout the week that provide a window into the life of the classroom. This is a great way to see what your child is doing, learn the names of his friends, and learn about some of the Montessori activities that he might be choosing.
     
  • Read the whiteboards outside of the classroom at drop-off and pick-up time. Announcements about that day’s special guests, food preparation activities, and exciting new units of study will be posted there.
     
  • Check the teacher’s classroom blog at msgl.org each week. Each teacher gives an overview of the topics being explored and special projects coming up. This is also the best way to find opportunities to volunteer in the classroom where you can see first-hand what your child does at school.

Take care of yourself!
     
The best thing you can do during these last few weeks of summer is to give you and your child the gift of a regular bedtime that allows enough sleep to wake up refreshed and ready for the big days ahead. Fill up with a good breakfast each morning and be extra patient with your child and especially with yourself. Parenting preschoolers, like college students, is hard work and there is no right way to do it. Follow your heart and follow your child, and in sixteen years, or so, you will be very proud of the people you have both become.


 

What are "Indoor" Shoes?

 

MSGL students get to play outside every day that the weather allows. This means their shoes can get wet and muddy. To avoid tracking that dirt onto the carpet, we ask that you provide your child with one pair of shoes to wear outside and one pair to wear inside.

Your child will probably change outdoor shoes with the seasons - from sandals to sneakers to snow boots - but indoor shoes can stay the same all year. Walking around in the classroom with bare feet is not allowed, so a comfy pair of shoes that the child enjoys wearing is a must.

  Below are some good examples of indoor shoes that work well for the children.  These styles of shoes keep a child's foot dry from spills, are non-slip, stay attached to the foot, and they allow the child to get them on and off by themselves.

 

Below are some examples of indoor shoes that DO NOT work well for the children. Slippers are not water-resistant and they can be difficult to walk in. If a child has not yet learned to tie, shoes with laces can be impossible for a child to get on and off by himself. Please save these types of shoes to wear at home.

 

                     

 

Because so many children choose the same types of shoes, please be sure to write your child's name on each shoe so we know whose shoes are whose. If you want to be fancy, you can order personalized labels for shoes and clothing online.

 

 

Your thoughtfulness when shopping for indoor shoes will help put your child on the path to independence. Thank you!

 


 

     Bunny the Guinea pig came to us when her family decided to adopt an actual rabbit, sometime around 2010. She was the much-loved and snuggled River Birch class pet until her death last week while the children were on summer vacation.

     Bunny didn't really like to move around very much. She was content to sit in her well-appointed enclosure and munch on carrots and timothy hay. The children were allowed to pet her, brush her, and feed her as long as they were gentle and respectful. She sat in a box on their laps in the green chair and they could pet her with one finger or two.

 


 

Bunny never required medical care, but she did get a few check-ups.


 

     Bunny tolerated being brushed, especially if she had a sweet apple core to keep her occupied. She really loved spring and summer when she could get fresh lettuce from the school garden.

         Bunny was peaceful, quiet, and - did I mention - tolerant? She only nibbled a couple of fingers but we are sure she was just testing to see if they were carrots.

 

     Thank you for remembering Bunny with us, today. She is certainly going to be missed.

~ Heather

 


 


 

     Happy birthday! Two of the four Wyandotte chicks have hatched in the Birch room. Stop by before or after class to meet them.

 

 


 


 

 

     What did your child do at preschool today? You can try asking, but often they will say they did nothing or they “played.” The most common question I receive from parents is, “How can I know he is doing anything at school? He never tells me anything and his cubby has been empty for days.”

     Please believe me, your child is doing something. A lot of stuff, actually. But he may not remember "doing" anything at all that day. And his accomplishments often cannot be held in the hand or seen with the eye at pick-up time. If he could tell you, it might sound like this:

 

I concentrated today!

When someone asked to play with me, I said yes.

I looked at the caterpillars in the jar - for a very long time. Then my teacher read me a book about butterflies. Twice. Because I asked.

I sat next to a friend who was labeling the lifecycle of the frog. I handed her the labels and helped her match them. I got her a paper towel when her fingers were gluey.

When everyone was talking about bees I told them, “Bumblebees don’t sting. Only honey bees sting. Bumblebees just bumble.” Everyone agreed with me.

I looked at a real chicken egg and a real duck egg. I said the duck egg was bigger.

I used the very heavy tortilla press to make playdough tortillas. My friends helped and we laughed. None of us pinched our fingers.

I compromised about sitting in the comfy chair.

I served myself a snack, ate it politely alongside my friends, and cleaned up after myself.

I felt sad - just for a little bit - because I missed my mom.

I noticed that the lizard’s food bowl was empty and cut some lettuce for him.

I waited for a turn on the orange bike.

I heard that a friend is going to Korea for the summer and I gave him a hug to say goodbye.

     A preschooler's greatest and most important work often doesn't have any external product to show for it. Having and being a friend, acting out of kindness, demonstrating patience and self-control, taking care of oneself, feeling satisfied with a job well done - these things are all internalized. The children in our classrooms build their character and their understanding of the world every day, but they can’t always verbalize it. They are doing so much challenging work! But they do not yet see their actions and successes as separate from themselves.

     After a sunflower seed sprouts in the garden we might notice as the stem grows taller, but we cannot see the acts of photosynthesis and respiration and transpiration that take place every single day. The sunflower plant continues to do its work converting sunlight to sugars and sugars to fuel - the internal work of living - whether we take notice or not. Then, one day it blooms and we look at it and say, “Finally!”

     Maria Montessori believed that the child reveals himself through his work, not through his outwardly visible successes and accomplishments. Every experience he has is internalized and becomes a part of his very being. She put it this way, “The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.”

     Stories from their day and recorded work, like the blooms of a sunflower, are parts of the child we can see and they might be pleasing to us, but they are only the product of a monumental amount of internal work. So please don’t worry when your child says she did nothing all day. Nothing to grown-ups can be everything in the life of a child.

     Lots of peace, lots of love ~ Heather

 

 

 

    I had the great pleasure of working in my former classroom today and it reminded me of why the three-year cycle in Montessori classrooms is so beneficial, not least of all, to the teachers.

     Our Montessori preschool classrooms are composed of a mixed-age group of children who remain, ideally, in one classroom for three years. A child starts at age three and stays through her Kindergarten year. This is called the three year cycle. Each of those years brings new and unique learning opportunities for the child. As a three-year-old, the child observes her older peers and benefits from their experience. As a four-year-old, she starts to see herself as one of the “big kids” and expands her social circle. In her Kindergarten year she is recognized as a leader and takes pride in helping others.

      It’s easy to see how the three-year-cycle benefits children, but it is also a tremendous opportunity for personal and professional growth for early childhood teachers. Few other settings offer the experience of observing and interacting with a child for half of that child’s life!

   
  When I took a sabbatical at the end of the school year in May, I left behind children who had been in my classroom for one or two years. I was able to catch up with many of those students today when I visited the classroom. I observed that two of “my” third-year students, I’ll call them S and K, were part of what Montessorian John Chattin-McNichols calls a “roving pack of 5-year-olds.” They were wandering around with some other boys and mixing it up a little. I knew these two boys when they were just barely three years old. I knew them before they could consciously control their bodies at group time and even before they could dress themselves successfully. Now, here they were - big, bold 5-year-olds and I was curious to see who they had become eight months after we last worked together.

    Angie, my dear friend and the lead teacher of my former class, shared with me that S and K had been working on the squaring and cubing chains in the math area, so I asked them about those activities. They were eager to show me what they had already done and tell me what came next. Within a few minutes, they broke off from the pack and were ready to master the 10 cubing chain.

    The 10 cubing chain - or 1000 chain - is a concrete representation of 10 cubed. It’s made up of one thousand pea-sized beads organized into bars of ten. The bars of ten are attached at the ends to make a chain. Children are ready for this work after they have mastered the 1 - 10 squaring chains and the 1 - 9 cubing chains. This video from the DuPage Montessori School in Naperville, Illinois provides a good overview of how the squaring and cubing chains are presented in the Montessori classroom.

    The 10 cubing chain is nearly 30 feet long so it must be laid out in the hallway outside the classroom. So, off to the hallway we went.

    S and K divided up the tasks between themselves. One carried the rolled-up mat and the other carried the chain. We established the space we would use in the hallway and K unrolled the mat while S went back into the classroom for the number tabs. We discussed how they would sort the tabs on the tray and move it down the mat as they worked.

    S found the 1000 tab. He knew it went at the very end of the chain but he left it on the tray. There was a pause before they started and I asked what number they would start with. S said, “We have to count them all.”

    That is certainly one way to do it. But when a child is ready for the 1000 chain, he is generally ready to complete it without counting every number because he can now count by tens and hundreds. Once you trust that 10 is ten, you don’t have to count it again.

     I asked if they thought they could first put tabs on the hundreds. Yes! They were sure they could. Together, we counted the bars as 10, 20, 30 and so on until we got to 100. S got the 100 tab and marked that spot. K quickly grasped the system and immediately went to work sorting out all of the hundreds tabs in a separate group so that S could place them. This was my cue to find something else to do. I went back inside the classroom to assist Miss Angie while the boys marked off every 100th bead on the chain with the appropriate tab.

    They repeated the process, stopping after each bar of ten. K was the sorter, S was the placer. “150! I need 150,” S said. K had it ready. There was never any disagreement, that I heard, over who would do which task. They just got started and they each found their niche as they went. And they were really digging their work.

    They started the cubing chain work at 9:45 and I checked in with them every few minutes. They finished at 11:00. One of them stopped to use the bathroom then went straight back to his work. Other children would step into the hall to see what was happening and then go back inside to their work.

    Sometimes I checked on S and K without speaking and other times I acknowledged their progress. Once, I said I would be back to check on them in a bit unless they needed some help. “We need some help,” S said. They could not find the tab for 590. I suggested they leave a space for that number and they could put it there when they found it. They never found it, but they were able to move on without hesitation.

    As they got to the very end, S picked up the 1000 tab and started to place it under the 1000th bead. K said, “Hey! We decided we would put that one on together!” And so they did. That’s when this photo was snapped.

 

    If you had asked me three years ago if these children were developing normally and if they were going to learn to read and write and grow up to be compassionate humans I would have responded, “Of course they will!” But in the back of my head there would have been a tiny voice saying, “What if they aren’t? What if they are never able to sit in a chair for more than 8 seconds? What if they never learn to put their shoes on by themselves? What if they show no interest in reading? What if they always write six as 9?”

    That doubtful voice is a familiar one to parents because most of us only get to experience the development of one or two children. We fear we will do something wrong and our children will not achieve their potential. Preschool teachers should know better because we get to observe hundreds of children over the course of our careers, right? But sometimes, even with years of experience, we forget that our job is simply to prepare a nourishing environment. It is the child who must do the work of building the man.

    In 1949, Maria Montessori offered us some guidance in our quest to relax and trust that each child will reveal himself as a competent and confident being in his own time. In The Absorbent Mind she wrote, “...for while, in the traditional schools, the teacher sees the immediate behavior of her pupils, knowing that she must look after them and what she has to teach, the Montessori teacher is constantly looking for a child who is not yet there.”

    Dr. Montessori also implemented the three-year cycle in our classrooms to give us enough time to look for that child and see him before he moves on to primary school.

    I am not at all surprised that S and K can count to 1000 by tens and hundreds. I am not surprised that they can recognize 3-digit numerals or that they can prepare, complete, and put away their work. I am not even surprised that two 5-year-old boys willingly work together on a math material for 1 hour and and 15 minutes with only a bathroom break and very limited guidance. I’ve seen it before.

    I am surprised at the sense of joyous relief I feel each time children reveal themselves in this way. It's an experience that never gets old. I suppose that’s the ultimate reward of being a teacher.


 

Somdatta and Felicia of the Canoe Birch Class and Cathy and Mary of the All-Day Program invited the children to tell who and what they are thankful for and then wrote their answers on leaves. Each class has a paper tree by the door displaying the children's gratitude. As this Thanksgiving Day draws to a close I thought it would be nice to share the gratitude of these 3, 4, and 5-year-olds with all of you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

 

 

 


 

Today's Wayback Wednesday comes from March, 2000. The children in Room B were treated to a science presentation by a group of MSGL parents.

 

 

 



 

 

 

These parents must have been SO COOL! We are thankful for all of the Montessori parents and grandparents who have shared their interests and their time with our children over the past 41 years. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 


 

We're keeping things simple on Wayback Wednesday this week with a short and sweet little collection of photos from October, 2002. Teacher Judy West took the children of the Red Oak class on a nature hike to Purdue's Horticulture Park to enjoy the crisp morning, collect leaves, and hug some very deserving trees. 

 
 Berries for collecting, not for eating.

 
 

 
 Making a bark rubbing.

 

 
 

 

 
 Waiting for the chipmunk to make an appearance.

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

Do you have favorite photos you would like to share on Wayback Wednesday? Please contact me at heather@msgl.org. Have an outstanding Wednesday!


 

First, I will start with what I saw this week. This was my favorite moment. 

 
 “Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other's company. Only a few love to be alone.” - Jens Jensen, Siftings, 1939

 

Another photo. If you are familiar with Humans of New York, the book and website by Brandon Stanton, then I know you can relate. If not, I know you can relate.

 

 
This week in microfashion. Did she choose the paint or did the paint choose her?

 

Children dress so fabulously and so beautifully because they have not yet learned that other people are judging their choices. They wear what they like. I want to wear what I like but I feel childish. How old will I grow before I truly understand that being childish is the truest way to be?

 

 

And, one more photo.

 
 What does it feel like the moment just before your mom wraps her arms around you?

 

 

 

And now, for what I heard.   

 

1. I erroneously asked a child how she was enjoying her Kindergarten year at MSGL. She responded, "I'm not IN Kindergarten. That's why I'm HERE!"

 

2. "That's a small story."

 

3. A friend was reading me a note from his lunch box. "Look! Look it! It says I'm going to my grandma's house. And I think I'm gonna get a Spiderman hat when we go to the store."

 

4. "Yeah. Let's do our maps."

 

5. "Where's the damn lizard?"

 

 
 File photo.

Rest easy. That darned lizard was found. 

 
What did you hear this week at MSGL? We hope you'll tell us.
 
Have a terrific weekend!