As a brief introduction for those parents who do not know me: my name is Laticia Hequembourg, my daughter Harper attends kindergarten at MSH (she is in Shree and Leela’s class). Teaching and creating art are among my greatest passions in life. I hold a PhD in adult education from Auburn University. My dissertation explored creativity generation and the creative process in adult learners. I also hold a master’s of art education from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and a BA in studio art with a concentration in sculpture from The State University of New York in Potsdam, New York. I have taught for the last few years as an adjunct professor in the fine art departments at both Alabama A and M University and Calhoun Community College.
This year at MSH I teach two kindergarten art classes, and both the lower and upper elementary art classes. The kindergarten art curriculum explores the basics of creating art through the inspiration of a variety of art forms and disciplines. Thus far we have found inspiration for our paper cut outs through the literary work of Shel Silverstein. We have also concentrated on learning about the elements of art with the construction of a visual chart that highlights both color and texture. This week we will be weaving paper to create work mats and then moving along to watercolor.
Both lower and upper elementary have been concentrating on the fundamentals and basic compositional components of drawing. They are currently working on self- portraits in oil pastel. In the next few weeks to come we will be transitioning into painting and focusing on color theory.
Also, as a note to all parents: I wanted to take a moment to inform parents that I will be utilizing a website called Artsonia (www.artsonia.com). Artsonia is a free online digital portfolio and student art gallery dedicated to promoting the visual arts curriculum in schools worldwide. I will e-mail parents individually with a password so that you can log on and view your child’s work throughout the year (you can also upload artwork yourself). This is a great way to share work with friends and family, keep a digital record of creative development, and the website offers fun keepsakes (these make excellent personalized gifts) with your child’s work, with 20% of sales going directly to the participating school’s art program. Keep a look out for more information regarding log-in details.
Thanks in advance for all of your support, if you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Dr. Laticia Hequembourg
All our music classes are up and running, toddlers through third graders, and are off to a good start!
Toddlers are keeping a steady beat, learning how to work with sticks, and moving to music. You can reinforce that sense of steady beat by patting and rocking and bouncing them to music.
Preprimary Students are developing their singing voices with many songs and activities. The best thing parents can do to help tonal memory is to provide good quality children’s recordings, those with high and light singing voices. And just sing a tone and have your child match that pitch in little echo games. Be an owl!
Kindergarteners and first graders are doing circle dances, singing, listening, counting steady beats, and preparing for learning to play an instrument and read music. This is the perfect time to begin private instrumental lessons.
Second and third graders are reading music and playing the recorder, and moving very quickly through the book. We will learn the recorder first semester and ukuleles second semester. Take your children to concerts of all types, expose them daily to many kinds of music, get them involved and keep them listening to good music.
I’m available to answer your questions anytime.
Function over Fashion: How to Take the Stress Out of Getting a Toddler Dressed
After 10 + years on the teacher side of life, I always wondered why parents would send their children in crazy outfits. Sometimes the children would come to class a tutu over their sweat pants, or shorts that were two sizes too big. Once I became a mom myself, it became more clear to me what was happening.
When I had my first child, I started off putting him in matching tops and bottoms and the cutest onesies. Everything was stored and organized in his drawers in matching sets. He had overalls and rompers with about a million snaps and buttons. He was adorable, and I loved it. Logan was my little baby doll that I would dress up, until it was time for toilet learning. This is when the “Montessori Toddler teacher” in me woke up the “crazy mommy” side of me. This kid was ready to start caring for himself. In fact, he had been ready to do it a lot longer than I had realized. My poor child had no real clue how to get his pants on or off of his body without my undivided attention.
This realization was my wake up call. It was time to stop being proud of how adorable he was, and let him become proud of himself for learning how to dress himself. My child started wearing the pants and shoes a few sizes too big so they would be looser and a little easier to get on and off by his hand more than my own. His shirts no longer had buttons that his tiny fingers were not ready to do on his own. And, we said bye-bye for now to anything with a zipper in the crotch.
One of the biggest rewards I find as a parent and as a Montessori Toddler teacher is gifting a child the tools necessary to “do it himself”. We start modeling self-care from the beginning with even the youngest children. The children are shown to push in their chairs, put work back on the shelves and make their own snack when they are hungry. They are also given the freedom to figure out dressing and undressing while using the toilet and getting diaper changes. The children start with pulling their own pants up and down with gentle guidance from the teachers, merely to help reduce frustration. A child is most successful when there are fewer opportunities for frustration. Buttons and zippers are items that often cause frustrations and accidents when toddlers are using the toilet. Just like work in the classrooms, clothing options should be provided that match a child’s individual skill set. Holding off on things like the buttons and zippers until the skill has been mastered can not only give your child a better success rate in the bathroom, but also help build their confidence because they are not plagued with having to change their clothes due to unnecessary accidents.
It is amazing to watch the pride fill a child’s face the first time they successfully do anything by themselves. Why wouldn’t we want to make it a little easier on them so they can feel the pride of their accomplishments? So, bring on the tutu’s and the backward pants that are a little too big, as long as a child did it themselves. They may not always be camera ready, but they are learning to be ready for life. Offer a limited and appropriate selection of items to wear and let the child choose, such as two outfits that can easily be mixed and matched. In our house, we use a cubby shelf and each child has 6 outfits for the week that they help pick out. They learned quickly that they can do whatever they want with the items in the cubbies. This helps my daughter, who loves choices, and saves me from her trying to pick from every pretty thing she has in her closet. It also helps my son who isn’t very good at making a choice pick something appealing to him. Dr. Montessori teaches us to provide choices and freedom within limits. This can successfully be applied to toddler/preschooler fashion.
Thankfully, Logan never looked back and has never missed having buttons on his pants, and he is closer to 5 years old than this mom’s heart can handle at times. I stopped getting in his way. I gave him time to try and problem solve which eventually lead to the little man who can now get up and dressed for school without assistance, except for the reminders here and there to stay on task. But that is a topic for another day.
A great resource is, How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin.
Every August brings the beginning of a new school year. It is a fresh start. Children return to the classrooms. Some of them are veterans of the class, having been in the room for one or two years already, and some of them are entering a new environment for the first time. Whether returning or new, each one of these children will be phased into the classroom.
Over my many years as a toddler teacher I have had a few parents ask why we follow this “phasing-in schedule.” It is true that slowly bringing the children into the new school year can cause a bit of a juggling act for parents. Work schedules may need to be altered for the week. Childcare may need to be arranged. In the end, all of that teeter tottering about is worth it. The children are the most important work, and their most important work is starting a new school year off successfully.
In every one of my first emails to our toddler parents, I give them their child’s phasing-in schedule. I also write that this schedule is the key to success. Children need a gentle introduction. They need time to adjust to new things, new places, and new people. It is through this process that they gain trust in everything and everyone around them. Their brains are allowed to assimilate what is new and what is old in a seemingly unrushed manner.
Have you ever noticed how your child is more tired at the beginning of the school year? I have. My son is fifteen years old and still took a nap every day he came home during the first week of school. School is a child’s work. It is serious business for them. When you allow a child to move at their pace you are listening to them and their needs. You are helping them to succeed. So, why do we phase our children in instead of putting them directly in the classrooms for full school days? My answer is, why not?
Toddler 1 Co-Lead Teacher
South Huntsville Campus
Every year since 2012 we ask parents to share their opinions of our program. We are grateful to all who answered. MSH is a unique program in that the parents “own” the school. As enrolled families you make up the Montessori Society of Huntsville, you elect board members who oversee the policies and finances of the school and who supervise the Head of School, who manages all operations, staff, etc. for the school. So what you say really matters!
This year is an special year for the school because we are coming to the end of our first 5 year cycle for accreditation by the Southern Association of Independent Schools. For the past two years we have been putting our practice under the microscope. We reached out to you at our Fall Parent Society meeting to find out if we were meeting our mission. Our board members combed through every policy to make sure it was relevant and in line with best practices. And since 2012, we have asked every parent to complete an exit survey to see why they were leaving us for other educational institutions.
All the information from these sources was analyzed and compiled into a single report called the SAIS Self-Study. The Self-Study also contains the board of director’s long-term improvement plan for the school and outlines our future strategic initiatives. On February 21-23rd, a team of independent school leaders led by Renee Kropff of The Bright School in Chattanooga will visit our campus and determine if we continue to qualify for the esteemed accreditation by SAIS. The team will review our self-study, observe our practices, and then give us commendations and recommendations. Our preliminary reports have all been well-received and we anticipate full accreditation.
If you would like to read the self-study, you can find it at the link below. As we enter our 51st year of operation, we are very proud of how far we have come and very excited about where the future of MSH is leading.