From Director's Desk - Montessori Benefits Now and Later
Welcome to the new school year at MSOC and August in Georgia, which is not in my hometown opinion one of the state’s better months. Many of the states just north of us have just begun to think about returning to school after the upcoming Labor Day Holiday. But here in GA, despite the heat and humidity, every student is leaving the fun of the pool and headed back to class. My college age son and his fellow high school graduates have packed their bags and moved into tiny dorm rooms around the country to begin the next phase of their educational process and their assent into what we all hope is a successful, happy, and employable adulthood. As I sat through UGA’s parent orientation this June, I was struck by the topics of concerns that were expressed by the college teachers, administrators, and local law enforcement. Yes, you read it correctly, local law enforcement. The topics of independence, free choice, time management, persistence, resiliency, freedoms and limits, and felonies were discussed in the hope of opening all of our eyes to what it truly means to grow up in the 21st Century. Luckily, the Montessori education for life that you have all so wisely chosen for your children will provide your child with not only an incredibly rich academic foundation, but also the environment in which to safely practice independence, decisions, natural consequences, time management, persistence, freedoms, and limits. By also reinforcing your commitment to Montessori philosophy by providing your child home experiences that allow small expanding steps into adulthood, the college orientation presentation that is in your future will not scare you, but will leave your assured to a comfortable degree that your college age student is capable and ready to meet these new challenges.
Yes, it is quite a leap from the toddler community to college. The time goes faster than your sleepless nights will allow you to imagine. However, staying attuned to the development of the whole child and budding life skills will continue to support your child academically now and later. Most parents associate the function of school solely as a platform for academic acquisitions. Maria Montessori’s materials and practices definitely are academically rich and allow self-paced attainment of solid fundamental skills that support ongoing lifelong learning. UGA’s leaders proudly announced at orientation that this year’s freshman class is more academically acclaimed than any previous freshman class. The risk of failure during the first year of college was not due to inadequate academic preparation, but the lack of life skills that support continued academic success. Will my college student climb out of the elevated bunkbed after a 3 am gaming session of Rocket League and go to class at 8 am? Will he, in the midst of a tough class like Accounting 101, Biochemistry, or Differential Equations, let a failing test grade lead to dropping the class or will he persevere through long hours with a very talented tutor and numerous study groups? Will he stick with his chosen major? What about laundry? Dating? Internships? Football tickets? Fraternities? The Athen’s Club Scene? Yikes! I’ll keep you posted as my former Montessori student has the time of his life at UGA. Montessori truly is an education for life and allows me to actually sleep during the four years that he will be in college.
Welcome to all of the new Montessori School of Cumming families and new students. It has been our pleasure to welcome you all to our school, and we are all enjoying getting to know your children better. Welcome back to all of our families and students for another engaging and fun-filled school year. The 2017-18 Kick-off Meeting was very well attended and instrumental in starting the school year off in a positive manner. Numerous families also attended the teacher-led parent education nights for information on human tendencies, language acquisition, the absorbent mind, and the primary language and practical life curriculum. Please continue to join us for these monthly events. Coming up in September on Friday the 8th everyone will gather at the school for the Potluck Picnic. Please sign-up at the front desk to bring a dish to share and join all the families for a few hours of great conversation, outdoor playground fun with friends, and sensational food. I will also be hosting an evening parent educational event on the topic of “Teaching Your Child to Read.” I look forward to seeing many of you at this event. Enjoy the long Labor Day Weekend!!!
All the Best,
From Elementary Class
The elementary community is growing and we’re so happy to see so many new faces! We welcome from MSOC’s primary program Lilyanna G., Eshaan M., Adam P. and Sophia S. Sid Devakumar and his family we welcome from Utah. What a great group of children compose our elementary program and I am happy to say that all of our new members are settling in and enjoying their new class and classmates! We also welcome Ms. Lisa Bartels to the elementary community as the elementary assistant. Her experience at MSOC is long and varied and we are appreciative to have her and her talents in the elementary.
The Solar Eclipse at MSOC was a fun, entertaining and educational once in a lifetime event! The children were prepared with NASA approved solar eclipse glasses donated to the elementary by the Grabrovaz family. The children listened to myths of ancient people who experienced solar eclipses, made and decorated a pinhole projector for the eclipse. We watched the total eclipse as it began in Oregon on NASA’s website to Astronomy themed music. The children monitored the solar eclipse, at varying intervals, recording and noting any changes in sight, sounds and temperature. We all were awestruck by this unique experience and how special it was to share in together and with millions of other people as the moon's shadow raced across this nation of ours!
During August’s parent education meeting we discussed the human tendencies in Montessori education and I touched on a myriad of lessons, materials and follow ups that support the human tendencies and how these tendencies are universal and unify present day man with prehistoric man. Movement is one of the many human tendencies of behavior that Dr. Montessori observed and incorporated in her methodology. Dr.Montessori says, “Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.” The 6-12 child has freedoms of movement in the classroom and outside of the classroom (Going Out or field trip). New get to know you and community building games have been introduced this year too. Many of these games or exercises use movement in order to engage both sides of the brain to aid in retention, memory, coordination and focus. These games are fun, popular and enjoyed by all!
From Primary A
It’s amazing to me how time flies when you are busy working with the children! We are already a month into the school year! I think you all will agree that August has been a very happening month. The Kick-off Meeting, parent education nights and most importantly the solar eclipse brought a very exciting start to the academic year!
The focus of the classroom at the start of this school year has been whole body coordination, balance, listening, and following directions. The development of these skills is so important to the goal of attaining normalization. I would like to share some of the information presented during the primary parent education night on the importance of practical life.
A child’s time in the Practical Life area supports their success all throughout the Montessori classroom and extends into skills that help throughout the child’s life. Planning, concentration, persistence, patience, and self-control all contribute to the children’s effectiveness in learning every academic subject and in their success in managing social interactions as well. While Practical Life may seem simple, it is an area of significant importance for life skills. It is the foundation for all of the learning areas within the classroom and extends beyond the classroom into all areas of life.
In discussing how the practical life exercises are an aid to the development and refinement of gross and fine motor skills, the topic of midline was presented. Midline is an imaginary line drawn from the head to the feet that separates the left and the right halves of the body. The ability to cross the midline of the body involves moving one hand, foot, or eye into the space on the opposite side of the body. Why is it so important? We cross midline when we scratch an elbow, cross our ankles, and read left to right. Crossing the midline of your body helps build pathways in the brain and is an important prerequisite skill required for the appropriate development of various motor and cognitive skills.
Activities that encourage and give the children practice crossing midline are passing a ball between 2 children that are seated back to back, catching a ball when seated in a circle, and lazy 8 activities.
The parent group discussed in detail the different areas of practical life and how classroom practical life activities can be extended to the home. Practical life activities for a child who is at the edge of entering the next plane of development (elementary) need to be changed to meet the child’s needs. Since the children at this stage are already independent, know how to use most tools, and have a good memory, the activities should present a task that the child is interested in completing and truly contributes to the family. The items needed should not be gathered and arranged for the child. The activity should be focused on enhancing the child's skills and assisting the child to plan the task given and to gather the needed items.
In conclusion, I would once again like to extend my heartfelt welcome to all the returning and new families and express how delightful it is to have Sia, Shreyaan and Nitya join our community! It’s been amazing to watch the children help the new members of the class smoothly settle into the group. I would like to thank all the parents for attending the kick-off meeting and also thank thr parents that attended the parent education night. I look forward to our continued partnership throughout the school year!
From Primary B
Welcome primary B families! We are delighted to report a great first month of the 2017-2018 school year! The students and teachers are learning new routines and finding out about some of the exciting activities that have been planned. Firstly, please welcome new students Thea, Elias, Pranav, Araina, and Fallon to our classroom. Some of the children moved up from our toddler community, while others are brand new to the Montessori world. When you choose Montessori education, you’re choosing a method that teaches children the joy of learning through the marvelous process of discovery. You will begin to see gradual but remarkable changes in your child in the coming months! Thank you again to all the parents. We couldn’t create this wonderful classroom without our dedicated families who support the classroom in a myriad of ways. Thank you for donating money to help our classroom function better in the future. I also personally appreciate all the new and current parents who participated in our Kick-Off Meeting as well as the Teacher-Led Education Night. Learning about the Montessori philosophy will help parents successfully guide their children at home and will reinforce what the children are learning in school. A partnership between the teacher and the family will accelerate the child's social and academic development.
We will be starting off our school year by learning how to take care of each other, how to be kind, inclusive and respectful to each other. We will take time every day to teach the children how to meet new friends, ask their names, and use their names when talking to each other. We will teach the children the language they may need to use to ask others if they can join in, how to make their classmates feel special, and how our body language and tone of voice affects our message. We will talk to the children about when to ask for help from others, and how to ask others to stop behaviors that are bothering them. We want each and every child to feel welcome, valued, and safe at school.
Each day I introduce a new lesson to the students to ensure the classroom and its flow. Children are busy learning new presentations, rules and guidelines. However, the first month back to school is exciting and tiring at the time for the children. Don’t be surprised if they come home exhausted and ready for a break or a nap! Be sure to feed them plenty of water and food and give them time to take a rest. I understand that there are times when arriving late simply cannot be helped, especially at the beginning of the school year. It is worth emphasizing that bringing children on time will help them start their day more smoothly and happily. Children will feel more welcome walking through an open door, less anxious and settle in easier when they see others also arriving at the same time.
As I mentioned during the recent education night, age 3 to 6 is especially important because the absorbent mind plays a critical role in acquiring knowledge and skills unconsciously and consciously during this time period. Parents can maximize the child’s absorbent mind by taking a few simple steps at home. Providing an appropriate rich environment that includes low shelves, allows your child to get their things all by themselves. Intelligence can be enhanced by playing memory game with your child. When children are given the means to be active, their whole character changes. Children begin to show a strong desire to be independent and want to do things by themselves, without any adult help. You can also support what we are doing in the classroom by giving the children time and space to solve problems by themselves and providing purposeful activity to satisfy the child’s developmental needs. Examples would be involving them in gardening, setting up the dinner table, folding laundry, etc. Involving children when doing simple house chores helps the child’s self- esteem, identity, and nurtures their sense of responsibility. The child feels valued as a a contributing member to his or her society.
Please fill your child’s clothing bag with 2 sets of clothes (shirt, pants, underwear and socks) at all times. Each child needs to wear socks every day for their activities. I am excited to start another school year and am grateful to be a part of the lives of your little ones.
From Toddler Class
Welcome back to our returning students and their families, and very welcome to our new students and their families. It’s been four weeks since the school year started and children are settling into the classroom. Most of them already know each other’s name and are making new friends and strengthen their social skills and develop their independence. Our daily work cycle includes Practical Life, Independence, Language and some Grace & Courtesy. First two weeks were a little hard but we all made it through.
We have been leaning and singing songs about body parts. The children are enjoying it very much. The following song is one we have been singing in the class: