Posts Categorized: Primary II
by Yesika Wesley, Primary II Parent
When I look at the world today, it can be a bit disheartening. Because all I see and hear about are rumors of war, political confusion, death and dying and people being downright mean to one another. But with the same eyes I look on the faces of the beautiful children that I encounter on a daily basis, especially the face of my little blessing Jacob, and I am reassured that the human race is not without hope. The child helps us all to experience pure love and innocence in a way that has been a distant memory, a utopian idea even. But with every new birth we have the promise of a new day, a new idea, a new chance at having at least a little piece of heaven here on earth.
“Montessori is an education for independence preparing not just for school, but for life.”
Prior to my own son becoming a student of Montessori School of Huntsville, I never even knew all that the Montessori philosophy entailed. Knowing how Jacob was prior to starting school, to the young man he is developing into today, I see the aforementioned quote in the flesh. Every word of it is true. Jacob has learned to be independent in his studies, which is great, but I’m oftentimes stunned at his independence outside of the classroom. He went from a child that would only speak to adults and not to children too much, to now making friends of all ages. He relishes in being able to brush his own teeth, wash himself during bath time and helping out with various other household chores…Though I’m still waiting for the independence needed to clean his room…baby steps I suppose….baby steps.
“As soon as children find something that interests them they lose their instability and learn to concentrate.”
I’ve viewed this quote first hand with Jacob. Having the ability to watch a human being grow and develop from conception to the present has been very rewarding. Throughout Jacob’s 5 ½ years of life, I’ve seen him have a few different interests, but none like his recent interest in cars and transformers. Prior to this great interest, he wouldn’t have too much to say to adults, besides hello and other small talk. But now, with his great interest and knowledge of cars of all makes and models, he has a new boldness about him. He’s very stable now, because he has the confidence in the knowledge he has in something he’s very interested in. It’s amazing to see.
“Free the child’s potential and you transform him into the world.”
I always wanted to be the kind of mom that encouraged my child to be who they are meant to be and to find what it is they love, flourishing as they do. I’m thankful that Jacob is in a school environment that promotes the same type of lifestyle for every child that comes through Montessori School doors. My sweet baby Jacob is free, which in turn means the sky is the limit for him….Watch Out WORLD!!
Research shows that telling children, “good job”, is ineffective. Furthermore, it creates the opposite of our intention, which is to boost self esteem.
Let that settle. How many times a day do you either say this to your child, or hear it being said to one? On playgrounds, sports fields, in classrooms and living rooms, adults use this phrase as the most common form of praise thinking it is beneficial.
In order to explain how detrimental this phrase can be, a deeper understanding of praise is needed. Praise is a way to express approval or admiration, and the intention when using it is to encourage the child to repeat a behavior. Unfortunately, saying, “good job” has no value in that it does not help the child to understand why what he did was good, therefore the encouragement to repeat the behavior is not there. Saying, “good job” does not express approval as praise is intended to be. Instead, this two word phrase fails to highlight a specific behavior that the adult wants a child to repeat. It focuses only on the outcome and completely ignores the process that occurred. If the steps taken in order to be successful are not ever acknowledged, how is the child able to evolve and develop independence? As parents, teachers, and coaches we should recognize that it is imperative to acknowledge the steps a child has taken to be successful at something in order to reach the goal of becoming independent.
Focusing on a specific behavior is where the statements of approval need to be. In order to praise effectively, children should be told exactly what they did well so that they will be able to repeat the desired behavior. If your child helps prepare dinner by cutting some vegetables, their effort should be the focus of the praise. “It really helped our family when you cut the veggies for dinner.” Or, “I noticed you being very careful when using the chopper and that made all the ones you cut stay on the cutting board!” This kind of praise is thoughtful, encourages the effort, fosters independence, and promotes self value.
The boost of self esteem born from this type of appropriate praise would be immeasurable. Upon hearing these messages, a child will try harder, become self motivated, and learn from his experiences.
Submitted by Ms. Monica & Ms. Sarah
Primary 2 Co-Lead Teachers
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
The Montessori birthday celebration, referred to as the “Celebration of Life,” is one of the most moving traditions we come together for in our classroom and school community. Parents are encouraged to attend this special event honoring their child, typically beginning when the child enters the Primary classroom. The child who is being honored is tasked with the responsibility of setting up the months of the year around a candle (which represents the sun). The child is encircled by her parents, teachers and friends as she begins her journey (walk) around the sun while holding a globe. Each orbit around the sun represents 365 days, 12 months, or one year of that child’s life. As we say the months of the year together, this ritual is a reminder that on a deeper level, the child is experiencing time and place, geography and even history. The children listen intently as Mom and Dad show photos of their child and discuss major events and milestones that have occurred since the child entered the world.
Unique to a Montessori classroom, the mixed ages allow children to reflect on what they were like at three years old and envision what they will be like when they turn six years old. Often, a child who was shy her first year, evolves into a confident second and third year student who proudly orbits the sun and even begins to interject her parents and tell her own story. It is a time for the child to reminisce on her life, to engage in public speaking, and to be celebrated by friends and united by love. The most beautiful aspect surrounding this occasion is the emphasis on being connected to the planet and share the miracle of human existence.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
With so many new children and families entering Primary II this year, Monica and I realized that it would be beneficial for us to address the incredibly important area of the classroom known as Practical Life. Perhaps your child has come home and told you she did pouring work, polishing work or even arranged flowers. Maybe you have watched uneasily during drop-off as a child carried a tray full of glass objects and just were not sure what the point of all this was.
It is in the Practical Life area where children learn the foundation for all other areas of the classroom, what you may have heard us refer to as O-C-C-I, which stands for order, concentration, coordination and independence. While the activities may appear simple, they are highly purposeful, and can be quite complicated with many steps. It is in Practical Life children learn the basics of self-care, care of the environment, and activities that encompass everyday living, or “domestic curriculum.” These activities are meant to fill in the gaps of a child’s life because it is here she will learn to dress well, speak well, and become capable of taking care of her own hygiene. Children begin to understand the importance of manners, what we call in a Montessori environment, “grace and courtesy”. These skills when developed repetitively over time lead children to a greater sense of independence and accountability for their actions. In Practical Life as in all areas of a Montessori classroom, it is critical that the environment is beautifully prepared, because when we use objects that are real and beautiful, and come from nature, items like glass and wood, and we provide work that imitates adult activities but are child-sized, children find tremendous value in their work. They are called to the materials, and they become tuned in to the process of actually doing, and making mistakes along the way, as opposed to focusing on the final result.
The independence and the pride children feel upon completing tasks, as individuals, will ultimately lead to interdependence in the classroom community and beyond.
Practical Life is also where children will learn principles that remain with them throughout their three-year cycle and in all areas of the classroom. They will learn that we always begin with the concrete before the abstract, and they will work from left to right, top to bottom (setting them up for pre-writing and reading).
Each of the senses has to be developed before the intellect can develop. Children learn in practical life how to control their physical bodies by first being able to navigate tactilely. When a child is using a dropper, using a button frame or pouring, she is refining her muscular control. The muscles in the hand need to be used and refined in order for a child to later be able to grasp a pencil and put the appropriate pressure on the pencil. Practical Life also lays the foundation for how to go through a process until it is finished and put back on the shelf exactly how the child found it. Upon completion of a practical life work, a child learns from the very beginning of her Montessori journey that confidence and self-esteem do not result from someone else proclaiming, “good job!” Children beam with smiles and enthusiasm when they declare, “I can do it myself!” A child may choose the same activity every day for weeks, but she will know when she has achieved mastery and is ready to move on. This self-awareness and knowledge provide a sense of security, but it also becomes a model for future academic and personal achievement.