Parents often ask us, “How do you get them to do that?” or they say, “I wish they would do that at home.” These questions and comments almost always occur after Parent/Child Sharing Night and after conferences. They see their child cleaning up after themselves, being independent in their self care, not taking things from others, and wish they could see their child exhibiting these desirable behaviors at home. The answer we give our parents is that the environment has to invite these behaviors.
Children naturally want structure in their lives. While they may not show it, they want it, they need it, and they thrive with it. Our classroom is set up to fit them. It is their world, and they are responsible for its care. While turning your home into a Montessori classroom may not be doable, there are things you can do to help make it more like school.
The first rule of thumb is less is more. Children’s rooms and playrooms can become cluttered with toys. Having too much overloads their senses, and they simply cannot make sense of it all. This is especially important to remember during the upcoming holiday season when new gifts will be arriving from family and friends. Make a point to clean out their old toys in anticipation of the new ones they will be receiving. In our classroom we regularly rotate out the work, keeping no more than two pieces of work on a shelf. Rotating the materials keeps them fresh and inviting.
Many years ago we had a parent tell us the way she did that was by giving the old toys to charity. She sat down with her child and talked about which toys were toys the child still played with and which toys they had outgrown. After sorting them into two piles they talked about little children in the world who did not have toys and encouraged the child to think about giving them to those children. How happy a little boy or girl just like them might be to receive this new toy. The child loved the idea of sharing with other children and was eager to give as gifts the toys she was no longer using. Doing this not only lessens the clutter in your home but it also highlights sharing. Caring for others is something we all can practice more often.
In the coming months we will share more ideas on molding your home environment to be more like the classroom environment. Thank you all for reading and for sharing your precious children with us.
We have some really exciting news about the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF project. We raised $498.30! We surpassed our goal of raising enough to purchase a school-in-a-box and a bicycle to deliver medicine. Through talking with my students and a primary student, we have decided to also donate the money toward vaccinations to protect 500 children from the measles and also give 5 soccer balls to children in refugee camps. This is such a wonderful project, and we have had amazing results. Thank you to each student and parent who helped out!
In class, the children have been learning about the Solar System this month. The second year students made amazing clay models of the solar system, while the first year students made a large solar system that we now have hanging in our classroom. The children have also been learning about the changing weather with the fall season and about the reasons behind leaves changing colors and falling from the trees. They are working on pointing out deciduous and evergreen trees, and also learning about the changes animals go through for cooler weather.
I absolutely love the fall, and Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday. Our class made a ‘Thankful Tree’ to decorate our door for the season. The children used the leaf cabinet to trace various leaves. They then cut out the leaves and wrote what they are thankful for on each leaf. I was amazed at how quickly our branches filled up! We have been reading books this week about the first Thanksgiving. I almost put lobster and oysters on our Thanksgiving lunch menu! We can’t wait to have a feast with our Elementary 2 friends next door!
Angela Harber McCollum
Hello everyone! Cold days are here already! Please make sure you check your children’s extra clothes boxes and bring in a warm change of clothes. Please send in jackets, hats, mittens or gloves almost everyday. We are helping your children put their own jackets, hats, and mittens on, but we don’t do it for them. Please give them a chance to learn how to do it at home. Special thanks to all our parents for being so generous buying small hands materials for our class! We appreciate all your support!
November, we are learning about the first Thanksgiving, Indians, and pilgrims. In cooking class we made cornmeal muffins and Teepees with tortillas. Our class is making cranberry relish to share with all our MSH friends. On Tuesday November 25th, we will have small Feast in our class for our children. It is so wonderful to hear what children are thankful for. Ms. Alicia, Ms. Carol, and I are so thankful for the Montessori Method for our children and MSH and all our MSH friends!!
Are we meeting our mission?
As a parent you make up the Montessori Society of Huntsville. By choosing MSH, you asserted that you value education and want the very best, most authentic learning experience for your child. Whether your initial tour was with Tinsley, Jennifer, Adriane or me we hope that we expressed our MSH mission clearly. You can find this mission in the parent handbook, on our website or hanging in every classroom. We are grateful that you have chosen to join us on this mission.
The Montessori School of Huntsville educates children to prepare them for a life of purpose, integrity, and academic accomplishment. We develop independent learners, critical thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.
While this is a challenging mission, it is the imperative by which we make our decisions everyday. We want the curriculum your child learns to be Montessori in nature, but not antiquated. By incorporating brain gym, providing extracurricular activities like Soccer Shots and Engineering Club, and by utilizing web based (STAR) assessment, we are informing our practice with cutting edge educational research that addresses the needs of students of the current generation.
We encourage each child by maintaining our commitment to providing individualized lessons and meeting each child where he or she is developmentally, recognizing when they are sensitive not only to academic lessons, but also to social and emotional learning opportunities. Our teachers are teaching your child, not subjects or age levels.
We want to reach out to you and need you involved from the most basic level of washing cot sheets all the way to taking on the mantle of board leadership. You will often hear me say, “if you see something that needs doing, most likely you are the best person for the job!” In every day, we hope you will experience us reaching out to you to know your child better and provide him/her the best possible education. Our relationship with one another is vital to your child’s growth. Your participation is vital to the school’s success.
Every day we want your child to experience art, music, movement, their own language and other languages. While we may offer a structured lesson only once or twice a week, we are constantly working to learn new ways to inject those opportunities into the prepared environment, through independent follow-up work and by making your aware of community offerings.
To accomplish our mission we observe not only the students, but each other so that we can reflect and improve our practice. We take our responsibility of preparing future leaders very seriously. This week we will reach out to you with a satisfaction survey and we look forward to receiving your input on our success in this mission.
And always we want to embody the teaching of Dr. Montessori and faithfully execute our duties to our students while educating families and the communities about the benefits of a Montessori education. You support our mission by participating fully in society meetings, parent education opportunities and by sharing your experience with friends, families and colleagues so that other children can benefit from our MSH mission. As always, we are immensely grateful for your support in our mission.
Thank you for giving the opportunity for Dylan to participate in the recent UNICEF activity. Dylan raised a total of $141.00 by himself! He shared the information he had learned about UNICEF with me and immediately asked if we could begin that very day. He was serious and concerned about raising money “for the children.” After careful thought and consideration, he decided he wanted to raise enough money to help vaccinate 200 children ($60.)
I took him to Target after school, the very day he received his UNICEF box. On the way to Target, we practiced his introduction and approach. He approached strangers with confidence. He began with “Excuse me! My name is Dylan. Would you like to donate to UNICEF?” He would then show potential donors what their contributions could provide for children who “didn’t have anything.” Often, various conversations would begin. Donors would ask Dylan which UNICEF effort was most important to him. He quickly responded with “the shots!” Our forty-five minute trip to Target resulted in contributions totaling $60.00. We are proud of Dylan and were surprised to learn he earned so much in such a short time.
The following day, Dylan decided he needed to raise more money. After all, how would the medication reach the children if they didn’t have a bike! He also decided that a soccer ball or two would be important to the children and would make them feel better after their shots. Unfortunately, that day we both had our appointment with the allergist and were scheduled for a series of shots from 8:15am -2:30pm. While in the waiting room, Dylan wasted no time in approaching patients in the waiting room with success. Once our names were called and the series of shots began, through his tears, he asked the nurse if she wanted to donate to UNICEF. She promised she would check her purse and see if she had any change. He replied “OK.” Several minutes later to our surprise, several staff members entered our room and took turns placing their donations in Dylan’s box- he lit up like a Christmas tree! They praised him for his efforts and wished him well.
Halloween did not stop Dylan from asking for donations. Once again, we visited Target, then Party City and were successful at Target. We, then had lunch at McDonald’s where he also received donations from patrons. On Saturday, Dylan went to Costco with his dad where he received several donations. He took a break on Sunday.
On Monday after our Tate Farm Field Trip, we went to McDonald’s for lunch and once again, Dylan took his UNICEF box. Afterwards, we visited Starbucks where he was very successful. Knowing today was the last day he had to reach his new goal of $140 (100 vaccinations, bike and 2 soccer balls) he asked if we could return to Target, which we did as well as approached several shoppers walking to and from various shops along the way. Before heading home he asked if we could make one last stop at Walmart, which is by our home. We did, which resulted in Dylan surpassing his goal. Dylan raised $141.00.
I wanted to share this story about our son and his efforts as we are obviously very, very proud of him. He knew there would be no reward for raising money and he was not promised anything in return. He chose to spend his time to help children he will never know. He was nervous and a little “scared” each and every time he approached donors and even turned down (sometimes rudely) a few times, but he never gave up…
This was a great learning experience for Dylan which we feel has boosted his confidence and has allowed him to be part of something greater than himself. What was surprising to us were the compliments he received, especially from the “twenty-somethings” who shook his hand and told him what a wonderful thing he was doing for children around the world. We had great conversations because of this experience and are certain it has impacted him in many ways.
Cindy and Chad M.
[Dylan will be happy to know that MHS’s Trick or Treat for UNICEF raised over $400 total and the Elementary I class will be considering his request as they decide how to allocate their funds. Stay tuned to see Ms. McCollum’s blog entry later in the month.]