Casa North’s First 3 weeks

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Dear Parents:

The school year in Casa North is in full force on week three and we have
exciting news to share! Many of you have probably heard about our
“special lunches”. Children enjoy it very much and look forward to it
every week. It is special because we use “elegant” tablecloths and we
move the tables together so we can be closer to more friends. We also use
a beautiful napkin and we are learning to place it on our laps, (though it
might take a while for this to be successful). When we are all together,
we say a special poem to show our appreciation for the food and our
friends, and I light tea candles placed in votives. It also feels special
because Julia and I go around serving them food and water, which gives us
an opportunity to practice our beautiful Grace and Courtesy manners. We
have background music (mostly classical) and we have had a brief talk
about the composers and the kind of music we are listening to. I have
chosen Beethoven the last two lunches, Symphonies #1 and #6. Other
options will be Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos,
Handel’s Water Music, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik. Everybody
participates in some way during setup and this makes it even more special.

This event has become so important that some of our friends decided to bring
in flowers for our special lunch. I want to share with you the beautiful
arrangements they brought, and I thank them and their parents for this
lovely gesture. Our special lunch this Friday will be fantastic, thank
you!

On another note, I would like to tell you that singing and dancing has
become quite an event in our classroom. We have learned an array of
songs, from Raffi’s Down By The Bay to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. We
all sing and go through the motions, and I can tell by the enthusiasm that
children express, that we are really having a blast. I believe that music
is extremely important (after all, my two sons are professional
musicians!) so I will keep exposing the children to different musical
genres. For those who are interested, Raffi will have two concerts in
Toronto on December 2nd at Roy Thomson Hall.

Thank you for contributing to a great start of the school year!
Gracias,
Julia and Florencia

September 21, 2012. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Why we do what we do.

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I received a post today from a Facebook page called Montessori Madmen (you should check them out!) and it was just so refreshing to read. The month of September is an exciting and over-whelming month in the classrooms for all of us. We get back into our routines, there are new faces, there are new challenges, but in and amongst it all we are all working together to benefit each and every child as an individual which eventually benefits us all as a whole. While I read this post it helped me to reflect and check in again and remember what Maria Montessori once said, that “Education is not just the imparting of knowledge but must seek the path to release the human potential.” This potential is in each and every one of the children that walk through the door each morning and it is times like these (see the story below) that help us as adults to remember that.

“While showing a prospective parent around my school today, as we discussed grace and courtesy, she said “Well, I think it’s important that children are prepared to handle themselves when they encounter children who are not practicing these skills.” I explained the fallacy of the Better-get-used-to-it mentality, but I also shared with her the following story about a graduate of my school.

This child enrolled with us at 18 months old and entered into the local public elementary school upon completion of his Kindergarten year at the Montessori Academy at Belmont Greene. Two weeks into the school year, his mother called to tell me about her son’s experience. Her son came home one day and said “Mom. I have something bad to tell you. There is a boy in school and the other kids are calling him fat. They are being mean. I feel so bad for him. I want to have a play date with him.” Think he was ready for that situation?

Montessori classrooms are not Utopian societies, but a child is less likely to encounter this type of negative behavior there. That doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared to handle it when they ultimately do. Not only does Montessori provide your child with a strong sense of self and the confidence to stand on his own, it also provides him with the courage to stand up for the rights of others.”

September 13, 2012. Uncategorized. No Comments.

The First Day of School

I bet many of you have been thinking about today; feelings of excitement, joy, even anxiety may have surfaced as today approached. Today marks the first day of school in over three decades that I am not in a classroom, as either a student or directress. Even though I’m not in the classroom, I did pop into the classrooms to get a glimpse.

I visited the Toddlers on the playground, overheard Zachary saying, “Bobby, Bobby”, then I watched a huge grin spread across his face as Bob and his mom approached the gate to the playground. Ethan spent some time walking around the playground, checking out the toys, the children and their beautiful garden. Around 9:45, the Toddlers were settling into their dining area for their group snack. It’s always amazing to watch the returning children set the examples for their younger friends. Bob, Silas, and Zachary expertly set their place settings while their new friends: Ethan, Levi, Isla watched and learned. Within a few minutes, they were all enjoying a delicious snack of quinoa puffs and yogourt.

Meanwhile, in Casa North, Hamza was practicing writing his numbers on a chalkboard, Sophia was laying out the Decanomial Square and Waverly was enjoying a new sewing lesson from Florencia. At the other end of the classroom, Jayden was busy helping Tahanna with the Trinomial Cube while Calla taught her new friend Ginger how to string beads and make a necklace. Julia and Noah took “un promenade” through the classroom together.

In Casa South, Marnie was taking care of the plants, Amelie was painting a picture and Lara read a new story to Alasdair. Jayden and Taylor enjoyed a snack together and then showed Matthew how to wash dishes. Claire and Chantal examined the pigeon skeleton at a table and Alice sewed buttons.

While there were a few tears at drop off, everyone quickly settled in, made some new friends, enjoyed a snack and worked with the Montessori materials. The next few weeks will be amazing to watch the new children’s comfort level grow as they settle into their new environments. We know we can count on our returning students to help them through this incredible transition.

September 4, 2012. Uncategorized. No Comments.