JMS NEWSLETTER

Casa II News

Dear Casa 2 Parents, 

A HUGE “Thank You!” goes out to each of the parents who volunteered at our first Casa 2 Fall Fest!  It was a successful day filled with a variety of activities!  The children enjoyed baking pumpkin cookies, painting fall-inspired trees, reading stories and having their hands/faces painted.  Without your help, these special “stations” would not have been possible.  Thank you!
Our next Fest will be held on Tuesday, December 22nd… the first day of winter and the last day before winter break!  There are a limited number of spaces available, so please contact me soon if you are interested in joining us on this day!

Refilling Cubby Baskets
   If your child comes home with wet clothes one day, please remember to send something clean back the next day to replace it.  Our goal is to have a clean set of clothes in each child’s basket at all times just in case the unexpected happens as they go about their day.  Between painting, water spills, playing outside, and the occasional bathroom “miss,” extra clothes are important for everyone!   Also, if your child is out of clothing, we will do our best to provide an extra pair of pants, a shirt, etc.  If your child comes home in borrowed clothing, please return it at your earliest convenience.  We do not have a lot of extra clothing, but we try to keep some on hand.  If your child outgrows something, especially winter gloves, jackets, pants or shirts, please consider donating it to our set of extra clothing.  As the weather gets colder, it is especially important that every child is dressed properly for outdoor play!

Communicating with your child in Casa 2
    We are beginning a new way of communication between you and your child in Casa 2!  I am in the process of building a pedestal for a mailbox which will be located outside our classroom.  Children LOVE getting surprises in the mail… postcards, letters, invitations, etc.  You are invited to send mail to your child (or to the whole class) and we will check our mailbox daily.  Letters can be placed in the mailbox personally or mailed to the school at the following address:
        Jonathan Montessori School
            Attn: Casa 2, (your child’s name)
        112090 Hundertmark Rd.
        Chaska, MN 55318
Some ideas include: a birthday greeting on your child’s birthday, a letter explaining something fun they can look forward to doing as a family, or simply a note to let them know how wonderful they are.  If you go on a vacation, please consider sending Casa 2 a postcard so we can locate your place on a map and learn more about where you are.  Feel free to give this information to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close family friends.  The letters will typically be opened and read together as a class, so please keep in mind that all of the children will have access to your letter and what you are writing.  We will have a box of paper located near the mailbox in case you have a last minute message for your child as you drop them off in the morning.  
The best part about this new communication option is that it entices children to want to write letters back to you!  As they become more confident and skilled in their writing and reading abilities, you might even get a return letter in the mail!  Letter writing has become a lost art, but in Casa 2, we intend to keep it going!  Please help us begin this fun journey as we communicate through written language!  This, of course, is for all children.  If your child is not yet writing or reading, we’ve got several friends who can read their letters to them!  Keep it simple or write a detailed story… the choice is yours!  Please take a look at www.letterwritingguide.com and view 1) Friendly Letter Writing, 2) Friendly Letter Format, and 3) Sample Friendly Letter.  These tips will help you as you write letters to your child!  You can expect our mailbox to be ready to accept mail soon… I will send out an update on our Casa 2 Facebook page but you can expect it before Thanksgiving, so get those letters ready and have fun telling your child what you are thankful for this year! 

How can I help my child at home?
    Conferences are always one of my favorite times of year, as they give me a chance to visit with each of you and find out how things are going at home.  I look forward to Round 2 coming up in just a few weeks!  One question always comes up: How can I help my child at home?  
    Many families want to implement the same education at home that we provide here.  In many ways, you can; in others, it just isn’t feasible.  Our classrooms are designed for children to be successful: everything is child-sized (even the toilets!), the materials are set up in progressive order (increasing in challenge), and they have peers of various ages whom they look to for guidance and inspiration.  We call this the “Prepared Environment,” and it is the most critical component of a Montessori classroom.  It is something that cannot fully be achieved in the home- and it would be very expensive to purchase all of the materials that they use on a daily basis!      
However, please don’t be discouraged, because there is still a TREMENDOUS amount you can do to help your child when they are in their most important environment: their home.  Each of our classrooms have their own little community functioning inside, and they all have their own unique things about them that set them apart from the other classrooms.  They might look a little different, but our core values are united.  The same can be said about each of our homes: each home looks different and has children of differing ages and abilities.  However, we can all live with the same basic principles- the same principles that the Montessori Philosophy was founded on.  
As you look around your home, I challenge you to look at it through the eyes of a child.  Our homes are not built for children the way our classrooms were built for them, and that’s ok.

There are still several things to consider as you think about how to best help your child.  

  1. Respect the child.  Children need a sense of belonging, a place where they feel welcomed and feel as though they are an important part of the family.  They begin to feel this way when they are invited to fully participate in the routines of everyday life.  
  2. Understand their need for independence.  As hard as it might be initially to watch your child become independent, it is the greatest gift you can give them.  Children who are given the opportunity to do things by themselves become confident, and confidence is what builds success as they become adolescents and, eventually, adults.  Providing opportunities for independence is the most effective way to build your child’s self-esteem.  Very simple changes can be made within homes to minimize how often a child needs to rely on an adult to complete an activity.  For example, simply rearranging a few things so they are within your child’s reach (dishes to set the dinner table, healthy snacks to prepare something when they are hungry, or access to their clothing so they can get themselves dressed in the morning).  Please reach out to me if you are looking for other suggestions on making your home child-friendly!  “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” –Dr. Maria Montessori
  3. Follow the child.  Spend time observing your child and recognize their interests and needs, even if they do not correlate to your interests.  Spend time doing things your child enjoys just as they so often are included in the things that you enjoy.  Above all, remember that every child learns at a different pace, and they may require additional patience and understanding as they take in everything around them.
  4. Add opportunities for hands-on learning as often as possible.  For this age group, concrete, hands-on experiences are the most important thing you can provide; abstract ideas are best suited for children in the next plane of development (age 6-12).
  5. Respect your child’s ability to concentrate.  When your child is deep in thought, deep in play, or deep in “work,” minimize distractions and allow them to continue until they feel as though they have finished what they set out to do.  Your child will develop a sense of satisfaction as they complete tasks and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  6. Help make your child’s home environment as orderly as possible.  Living in an orderly environment assists your child in developing mental order and intelligence.
  7. Demonstrate how to do an activity.  In the classroom, we call these “presentations.”  The adult uses slow, precise movements so the child can fully see what is expected and how to handle a material.  This aids the child in being able to complete the task successfully when they are given the opportunity to do it independently.  Take a moment to observe how fast-paced our lives are, and then remember that children’s brains do not process information as quickly as adult’s do.  Please slow down, your child is watching and learning from you every step of the way. 
  8. Allow your child freedom to explore both indoors and outdoors… every single day. Movement and cognition are closely intertwined, and movement has been proven to enhance thinking and learning.
  9. Give your child choices.  Children need to have a sense of control over their lives, and we can give them that by giving them choices.  Of course, we can limit what their choices are, but within those options your child learns how to make choices and begins to build feelings of self-worth and ownership over their choices.  For example, rather than telling your child what they can eat for snack, give them two healthy options and allow them to choose one.
  10. Hold your child accountable for their actions and expect them to be responsible for their belongings.  Children are infamously known to be terrible at cleaning up after themselves… but that is just not true!  Let your child know that they can choose another toy/activity after they’ve cleaned up the one prior.  They can do it, I promise!  They do it every day here because they know what is expected and they know that it affects others who are waiting to use the same material.
  11. Avoid extrinsic rewards.  Giving extrinsic rewards, such as stickers or candy, to praise a child for something that is expected, typically does not motivate them to keep that behavior going.  Instead, extrinsic rewards actually decrease internal motivation to complete a task once the reward has been withdrawn.  

Sounds easy enough, right?  No!  Every one of the previous recommendations takes time, patience, understanding and a great commitment to your child’s education.  My challenge to you is to choose one- just start with one that you feel could be improved within your household.  These are not things that can be changed overnight, and maybe they don’t even need to be changed.  Choose one and observe your child as the changes are implemented into their daily life.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  You are all doing exceptionally well and have raised wonderful children thus far and will continue to do so for as long as you live.    These are not always easy to implement, but please reach out to me if you need help, as I want you to be successful just as much as you do!

On the Calendar
Friday, November 6th        Parent Coffee: Kindergarten discussion
Tuesday, November 10th      Picture Retake Day
Tuesday, November 17th     Field trip (Kindergarten students only): Feed Our Starving Children
                Chanhassen, MN
Tuesday, November 24th    Thanksgiving Feast (children dismissed at usual time)
November 25-29th        No School: Thanksgiving Break
Friday, October 30th        No School: Fall Conferences (Session 2)
Friday, December 11th        Parent Night at JMS: A favorite for children and parents!! 

Taryn & Mindi