JMS NEWSLETTER

Casa II News

Casa 2 parents,

Winter is back!  I am glad to see fresh snow on the ground and I don’t even mind the cold temps, as this will give winter enthusiasts a few more weeks of outdoor activities!  Whatever your favorite winter pastimes are, I hope you are getting out and enjoying all that Minnesota has to offer this season!

Valentine’s Day
Because Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, we will instead be celebrating on Friday, February 13th.  If your child wishes to participate, they may bring a valentine for each child (we have 16 children, including your child).  It works best if you help your child write their name on each Valentine, but leave the “To:” space blank, so all children can independently hand out their cards to their classmates.

You are also invited to send a small item, if you so choose, but we ask that you refrain from sending candy for the children.  You are welcome to help your child make a custom Valentine’s Day box or bag at home if you’d like, but we will also have bags here for the children to decorate if they’d like!  Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you, may you spend the weekend surrounded by those you love most!!

Parent Night
Parent night is scheduled for Thursday, February 19th.  Please be sure to sign up (via online Sign-Up Genius) for the time slot that works best for your family.  This is one of the most special evenings of the year for your child, as it gives them the opportunity to show you all they have been working on at school.  The room will be filled with lots of parents and children showing off their favorite activities.  I will be there too, but I typically take a “back seat” and am there to help children if needed.  This is their special evening to show you everything they can in 45 minutes!  We look forward to seeing you there!

Jazz for JMS
The animals and props for our barn set have been coming in and the children are ecstatic about this year’s projects!  Thank you to every family who has helped by donating an item (or several) to help complete our farm set.  Please take a look at the attached photos for a sneak peak of our beautiful creation!  The children have been working hard and have come up with quite the color scheme for the barn!   The second item that the children will be working on will be announced in the coming weeks… stay tuned!  They are very excited to share in the making of this year’s auction items! 

Parent Volunteers
A big “Thank You!” goes out to Jessica H. for coming in and sharing her talents with the children in Casas 1, 2 and 3!  The children loved the movement activities that she lead… especially on a day that was too cold to play outside!  The Music Maps were a big hit and the children have requested that we continue this fun activity!  Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your time with us!  Other parents have shown interest in coming in to Casa 2 to read and we look forward to your visits in the upcoming weeks!  Please contact me if you’d like to come in to do some reading, as well!

Parent Observations
We invite you to come in to observe your child as they work with their classmates and go through their daily routine.  A Sign-Up Genius will be sent out soon inviting you to sign up for a 30-minute slot… please watch for it! 

Observing a Montessori classroom can be overwhelming at first, as you see children working on a variety of materials, moving freely around the environment, and interacting naturally with whomever they choose.  Of course, the observation is intended to give you the opportunity to observe your child in action!  Hopefully, it will be much more than that.  Please keep in mind that this is a quick, 30-minute snapshot of your child’s day.  You may not see your child doing what you had expected… but remember that you didn’t observe what they did before you arrived, and you won’t be able to see what they work on after you leave.  I encourage you to focus on your child, but also take time to notice all of the wonderful events taking place throughout the classroom.  Here are a few tips to think about during your upcoming parent observation:

1.       We’d love to be able to give you an auditory perspective of the classroom to accompany your visual perspective.  Montessori classrooms are NOT intended to be quiet, silent places for children to focus on their work only.  To the contrary, Montessori classrooms are filled with noise levels that rise and fall throughout the work cycle.  Children are busy interacting with others, working together to solve the latest challenge and teaching other children some of the works they’ve mastered.  They are learning new language to use in social situations when there is conflict, and they are busy helping others in times of need.  Our goal within the classroom is certainly not silence, even though there are short periods of so much concentration that you could hear a pin drop in a classroom filled with 20+ young children!  Instead, our goal is to hear sounds of excitement, sounds of collaborating with one another, sounds of helping.  The sounds within a Montessori are sounds of LEARNING, which is very different than crying, yelling and chaos.  I’d love for you to be able to hear what is being said during your observation, but since you will be observing from outside the classroom, you will need to rely primarily on your visual experience.

2.       Notice the different ways of learning that are addressed throughout the classroom.  You should see groups of children working cooperatively together, as well as some children working independently and very focused.  There should be children moving freely around the classroom, as well as others deeply engaged in their work.  You may observe a child or two walking aimlessly around the classroom, not engaged in any activity.  Actually, children who appear to be “wandering” are actively absorbing information through observation of the other children and materials in the classroom.  Younger children can absorb an older child’s work simply by being near them.  With so many options of work choices, children sometimes need a few moments to step back and do some observing, which usually leads to the child making an independent choice before long.  Children in a Montessori classroom are able to work with materials which are developmentally appropriate for them, while having the opportunity to choose where they work and with whom they work with.

3.       Observe various child-to-child interactions.  You will likely witness older children working with younger children, helping them as they become more independent within their community.  You will likely witness children working together on the same material, engaged in natural, social interactions that were created by them, not by the teacher.  You may even witness some of the characteristic conflicts that may seem “typical” for this age group… until you understand that these behaviors shouldn’t be the norm, they should be the exception!  If you happen to see a conflict among the children, notice how the adults help the children get through it together, peacefully.  Very often, the other children help in these situations and an adult is nearby, but does not necessarily intervene (except when needed, of course).  If your first perception is that the children are all working alone and there is a lack of socialization, then I challenge you to look deeper.  The children are constantly assisting one another with materials and the everyday tasks of the room.  They encourage each other when there is doubt, and they feel pride in one another when there are accomplishments.  Observing children in a Montessori classroom is truly a remarkable experience, and is one of the reasons I initially fell in love with the Montessori philosophy.

4.       Observe the child-to-adult interactions.  Notice how different the role of the adult is in a Montessori classroom versus a traditional classroom.  Our responsibility as Montessori teachers is to guide, rather than direct, a child’s learning process.  We prepare the classroom each day so that it is ready and available for each child, and we give presentations that must be appropriately timed for each child.  We intervene when necessary, but we give children encouragement to take initiative in doing everything they can do independently.

5.       Lastly, I encourage you to write down any questions you may have as you observe the interactions among the children.  Spring conferences will be here before you know it, and I’d love to take a few minutes to hear about your observation experience and answer any questions you may have.  Watch for the conference sign-up in the coming weeks.  Casa 2 conferences will be held Friday, March 6th (no school) and Tuesday, March 17th (some slots going into the evening hours).  I look forward to visiting with you all soon!

 

On the Calendar

               Monday, February 16th: NO SCHOOL – President’s Day

                Thursday, February 19th: JMS Parent Night

                Friday, February 20th: Farm animals/props due for barn activity

                Monday, February, 23rd: Parent Observations begin

                Friday, March 6th: NO SCHOOL – Conferences Session #1

                Saturday, March 7th: Jazz for JMS

                Tuesday, March 17th: Casa 2 Conferences Session #2             

Respectfully,

Taryn and Lisa, Casa 2