It is hard to believe that August 6th was five months ago. We welcomed thirty new families to Village, and several new teachers: Ms. Danielle, Toddler, Ms. Sarah, Primary, Mr. Muma, teaching Science for the Middle School, and Ms. Camille as our new art teacher. Ms. Sarah started our fourth Primary class at Village. She also works with the Toddlers in the late afternoon. This year we extended our day for Toddlers and that has become very popular. We also changed up the format for the Primary breakfasts. It became a “Montessori Morning”. The difference is that parents met in the Rosemary room at 8:30 for coffee then went to the class at 9:00. (Our multi-use room this year is the Rosemary Room. It is for meetings in the mornings, nap mid-day, and after-school location for Elementary) We had a lot of fun catching up on our adult lives, and then spending time with the children in class. All of the Primary children are enjoying the new play equipment installed this fall on the playground.
Our Upper Elementary and Middle School Chorus began this year under the direction of Ms. Emmie. She is a wonderful musician and singer. She is teaching the group to read music and to sing by reading. Their holiday debut can be seen on the school Facebook or Instagram page.
During a Civility class, the Middle School thought about our core values as a school. They plan to make a banner with our logo and the values printed on it. One of the core values is “compassion”. This was shown at Thanksgiving by our school donating to North Fulton Community Charities Thanksgiving dinner drive. Many local families were able to have a traditional dinner thanks to the Village families’ donations. The school is also collecting food and Ms. Kim’s class is collecting books for a Title 1 school in Cobb County. Of course, compassion is shown daily at school in many ways too, from Toddlers to Middle School. Our teachers are wonderful role models for all ages.
The Middle School made a connection with the Roswell Arts Center and had a pottery class there this fall. Beautiful bowls and decorative items were made. It was amazing! They also enjoyed fencing for P.E. fall semester.
Ms. Rose and Patricia went to a conference in Chicago in August where they learned about developing classroom leaders, music and Patricia attended an administrative session. Ms. Danielle finished up her A-I training while her more than able assistant, Ms. Tiffany, held down the fort in her class.
Lower Elementary did an overnight trip for 3rd years to Blue Ridge. It was an amazing nature study, with lots of hiking and fun.
Upper Elementary went for a 3 night trip to the University of GA. Center for Marine Studies in Jekyll Island. The trip included half a day at the U.GA. Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
Middle School’s first trip of the year was to a cabin near Cloudland Canyon which included rigorous hiking and spelunking.
Plans for the new year
We are very excited for Miss Piper, our after-school assistant for Elementary, who will be doing an internship next semester at Disney World!! Miss Chantel will be taking her place in the afternoons. Middle School will be going to Washington D.C. in the spring. Elementary classes will present their annual plays/musicals. Many of our teachers will attend the annual Montessori Refresher course in New Orleans this February.
Parents are often looking for ideas or things to do with their children during the winter break. Here we have tried to compile a list of activities that are convenient, fun, inexpensive, and support what we do in class.
Keep in mind that all these activities are open ended and do not have a specific criteria to be met. At Village we focus on the process, not the product, and I encourage you to do the same. These ideas are simply a starting off point. As Dr. Montessori said, “Follow the Child” and let your child be your guide. After all, no one knows your child better than you.
Nature Walk- Bring a zip lock bag for woodsy treasures, paper and crayons for tree and leaf rubbings, and of course, water and snacks! Go at your child’s pace, stopping often to observe the small things. You can be very quiet and ask the questions: “what did you hear?” This helps bring about an awareness of quiet, as well as fine tuning the sense of hearing. You can also play the I spy game: I spy something that starts with the sound b – bird A-acorn T-tree
A research project- Begin a project to go to library and research. For instance: birds, what birds are in our area in the winter.
Make decorative bird feeders- Peanut butter + seeds smashed into cutter shapes. Make a hole with a string through it and freeze or put in fridge until hard. Hang on a tree outside where you can see the birds who will visit.
Giving/Receiving a Gift-Children love to imitate what they see going on in the world around them. This is how they learn to be part of our society. What a perfect time of year to practice gift giving and receiving! Using an empty box, practice gift giving and receiving! Using the empty box, practice saying what you feel is appropriate in a given situation. Some examples might be: “This is for you, Granny. Merry Christmas!” or “Thank you for the gift.” Knowing what is expected of him will help your child feel more comfortable in social situations.
Stamping- Cut an old sponge into some fun shapes. Demonstrate how to hold it by the edges and dip into paint (paper plates work well for this), then stamp on paper. Alternative: cut a square from a sponge and use a rubber band to attach an empty water bottle. Hold the bottle to dip the sponge and stamp.
Who’s that?- Often the holidays bring together friends and family who may not be familiar to your child. Go through your pictures and make a poster board of who will be visiting this year. Remind your child of the last time they saw the person and say who they are. “That is Aunt Alice. Remember when you and Joey made cookies with her last year?” This activity will help your child feel more comfortable during all the excitement of the season.
Spending time together as a family means much more to a child than anything that could be bought in a store. Children seldom remember gifts, but they remember the activities and the feelings they had. Be sure to take time this season to create your own family traditions and memories. What do you remember from your childhood that you would like to pass on? These special times together are what will be remembered in years to come. We hope your holidays are filled with many joyful moments to remember.
Independence begins early in Montessori education. It begins with saying goodbye to mom or dad as a toddler and using the toilet. Letting go is never easy for parents, even when they know becoming independent is part of the growth of a child. As the child grows and develops into an independent person he is eager to live in his new found independence.
No child who is independent in the bathroom would like to go back to sitting in wet or dirty pants. In the same way a child who dresses on her own, comes to school, chooses work appropriately, handles all of the day’s problems and celebrates her accomplishments wants be given the freedom that comes along with the responsibility that she has shown she can handle. At school more freedom is given as the child is ready and eager to take on more responsibility.
In the Primary classes the child gains freedom to work outside. It may be taking care of the garden, sweeping, etc. More freedom is given as the child has more and more lessons widening the realm of choices in the class. Children in the Primary classes do not leave the school for trips.
As the child enters Elementary they begin to go take part in what is called “going out”. A small group of children may need to go to the library or a museum for something they are researching, or to the pet store for classroom pet supplies. They make the arrangements, ask an adult for a ride, and get what they need. Another way we increase independence is in class trips.
In the third year of the Elementary program the child is showing signs of readiness to become even more independent of her parents. In the first and second year class trips involve only a short time, or day trips. By the third year an overnight class trip is included in the Village Montessori curriculum. This is not only a great educational adventure it is also a way for the child to live out her own independence. She packs her belongings in a bag, and says goodbye for a little longer than 24 hours. What a great affirmation of her growth! This is not just sleeping over at a friend’s house, it is being part the community in a new setting.
This bigger trip gives the child a sense of pride and accomplishment. For some it is the first time away from home. The confidence boost is amazing.
In the fourth and fifth years the class trip will be for three nights. It is done early in the year and incorporates team building activities for the group. Previous independence building has readied the child for this experience.
The capstone trip of the Elementary level is the end of the year sixth year trip. This trip is for a week. History lessons make up the academic part of the trip, but this trip’s biggest advantage is increasing the independence of the child. This may be the first time a child has been away from home for an extended period. The children must plan their days, calculate finances, map out routes, and prepare meals after shopping for food. The children plan and prepare all aspects of this trip. Many life lessons are learned.
When the child reaches Middle School two trips are part of the Village Montessori curriculum. The Adolescent Program trip schedule is at least two trips per year. At the beginning of the year a week-long trip is made where the group bonds and depends on one another for many important things. Most recently the group spent a week in a cabin at a state park. Here they planned all activities and meals. They spent time hiking, rafting, going to waterfalls, and generally having a good time together. The second trip of the year will be a city trip. This year it is Washington D.C. On alternate years the second trip will be a hiking/camping trip.
The Adolescent Program makes good use of the school van. They travel to physical education locations which have included: rock climbing, archery, yoga and more. The van is also used for traveling to locations for social service projects like helping to feed the hungry at a soup kitchen, or working to sort food for a food pantry.
The common thread throughout the years is the independence of the child. Parents are asked not to contact the children on these trips. No cell phones are allowed. Children are supported if feeling homesick, and not generally allowed to phone parents. Missing home is not usually a problem, even for the most reluctant child, because of the fun and company of classmates. All of the trips are well planned and the children are busy all day and tired out at night. It is much harder for the parents to let go. And let go we must for our children to meet their intellectual and emotional needs for growing up a well-adjusted and educated citizen of the world. Travel and new experiences are immensely expanding for everyone. It is our vision for the future to offer an international service trip in Middle School.
Parents can enhance their child’s traveling experiences by doing things locally as well. Taking MARTA to the aquarium or somewhere downtown is enlightening. Being in a city is a different experience than being at home here in the suburbs. Traveling by some method other than a car will be a fun experience for any child. Atlanta has a host of interesting things for children and parents alike. A great resource is www.atlantaplanit.org
I hope you and your children will enjoy many hours of mind expanding experiences in traveling near and far.