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  • Montessori At-Home Day A Million

    We're still doing this. It's been almost a year since most schools were affected by the pandemic, almost a year since many of our children have been inside their classrooms. Those who have returned have. found new preparations in these prepared environments, new obstacles to the society by cohesion. There's joy there, to be sure, but it's different. This week, I'll remind you of some basics for at home, then we'll think about issues of persistence and how they present themselves across learning and development. Here's a reminder of some basics for families who are still at home: In an ideal world, parents and teachers build collaborative relationships over days, weeks and months, working well when things are going well, and establishing the trust on which they'll rely when things get tricky. Y'all. It's tricky. One way to think about (enjoying/enduring/surviving) an extended time at home with your children is to start thinking about it differently. While there are certainly real and important challenges that have come to us all, financial and emotional and social and health, Montessori teachers know that the best way to manage the unexpected is to prepare thoughtfully for what you can predict. So, what are some things you might be do at home to maintain some calm in the midst of an ever-extending-storm? First, remember that it’s human nature to want to understand our environments and to feel some agency in them. Expect, in these unpredictable days, because even though we've been at it a while, it's still unpredictable, that your emotional resilience and your child’s may be tested, and that how that looks may be different for each of you. Your child may be (angry/energetic/fearful/aggressive/quiet/tearful/hungry/sleepy/confrontational/cuddly) … let’s just say, “not themselves.” You may be, too. Be calm in your own response. Acknowledge for your child that things feel strange, that we have been feeling strange so long that we may not remember how it felt before, and assure them that they are safe and supported. Use modeling language that helps them to identify the emotions they’re feeling and helps you to create space for talking about them. “These are certainly some unusual days! I’m feeling like I need some time to slow down and think about the changes around us.” “You look like you may be feeling scared right now. When you’re scared, it’s ok to ask me questions about your worries. We can talk them through together.” Then, in those conversations, sit quietly and give your child time to process their own thoughts. Try to avoid jumping to a solution for them. Instead, buy yourself a little time to think, “You’re raising some good questions. Let me think about how I can best answer them for you.” When you model wait time for your children, you demonstrate to them that you are listening carefully to their questions and that it’s ok to think about your answers before you offer them. For practical purposes, it also challenges you as a parent to take a beat, take a breath and really hear what your child is asking. While you may want to impress them with your confidence, you will do more to keeping the conversation going and providing them with reliable answers about unpredictable topics if you model reflective, careful responses. Your child’s questions may run the gamut: try not to oversimplify the current context, but avoid flooding them with information that’s beyond what they can make sense of. “Are we safe?” “Yes. We have changed the way we live and work to make sure people who may be sick get the care they need and to give doctors, scientists and other helpers the time they need to prevent others from getting sick, too.” For most children, this is simple and accurate. Avoid making assertions that you might not be able to follow through on and focus instead on actions your children can take in their own uncertainty. “You’ll be back at school so soon!” may be better phrased as, “School will open again as soon as we can. Would you like to write a note or draw a picture for your teachers in the meantime?” Finally, take the time to think ahead about what you’ll do “in the meantime.” Our pace these days is not quite as kinetic as we had become used to. Instead of worrying about what your child would have accomplished at school each day, ask yourselves what you can do today to strengthen their minds, to strengthen their bodies and to strengthen their relationships with others. There is no precedent for us to rely on; instead, this is a time to affirm what we value, what is nonnegotiable even in the weirdest of contexts. Start the day with good conversation with your children about how you’ll face today. Help to document those choices at the beginning of the day and come together again over dinner to reflect on how they went. Remember: Montessori is based on making connections for children between the ideas that are most interesting to them and the skills they’ll need to master those ideas. Follow your child. Need a quick-start? Here's a useful article written by a Montessori teacher to think about your child's needs at home in each of the planes of development. #ForParents #Parenting #MontessoriAtHome

  • Preparing for the First Day of School: 0-3

    notice what you might need to work-around with items that will be stored at school instead of home. 3.

  • Mealtime in the First Plane: 3-6

    When you visit a Montessori Early Childhood classroom, you're likely to see children preparing foods of all kinds: chopping apples, mixing dough for bread, steeping a cup of tea to share with a guest, serving carrots or other vegetables they've peeled and cut. And you're likely to see children eating foods that you might not have expected them to try at home, setting the table for each other, sitting together, waiting for everyone to be seated before they begin their lunches, and offering each other courtesies that you don't dare to hope for at your own dinner table. What gives? We understand that, for children at this age, a primary motivator is the opportunity to make a real contribution to their community. Mealtime is a great time to do that. Children in Montessori classrooms don't practice slicing with pretend knives and velcroed wooden fruit. Instead, they learn to manage the real tools of a kitchen, to prepare a variety of healthy, wholesome options, and to share them politely with each other. Food preparation is not merely a means for fine and gross motor development (although it does that, too,) but an important connector for the society the children are creating in the classroom. It provides a sense of independence and accomplishment, and unites children through an important shared experience. You can capture this at home. Your children want to be involved, active contributors to your home community as they are at school. Consider your kitchen space. In the classroom, all the tools the children need to set the table, prepare simple foods, and clean up are accessible to them without reliance on an adult. At home, you might swap out the less-used items usually stored in your lower cabinets for some simple dishware and a utensil caddy, allowing your child to set the table on their own. Look to the lowest shelves of the fridge to offer small containers of healthy food for your child to select when they're hungry. Provide a small jug of milk or cool water for your child to pour their own drinks. Instead of occupying your child with a screen as you prepare dinner, invite them into the kitchen with you to help wash and cut the vegetables, fill pots with water, set the table and cook with you. Your child is more likely to eat the food they've prepared, even exotic tastes. Afterward, clean up the kitchen together, with each family member working together. Keep your patience: at first, this might be messier and take longer than doing it yourself. That happens in the classroom, too. You can avoid some of the frustration by starting with small skills and then increasing your expectations as your child shows mastery. So, at first, you might direct your child to, "Place the placemats on the table," wait for them to finish and then ask them to, "Place a plate on each placemat," wait and then ask them to, "Place a fork for each plate," and so on. After a few days of that routine down, you can instruct your child to, "Place the placemats, plates and utensils out, please." After a few days and noticing whether your child remembers each step, you can instruct them to, "Please set the table." The same small steps can be used to break down other common mealtime tasks, making them manageable for your child until they've mastered each skill. Throughout, remember that you are setting your child's habits for their diet and palate for years to come. Fill your fridge with healthy choices, fresh berries and vegetables, and avoid the processed, pre-packaged foods (and avoid making these foods a "reward" for particular behaviors.) When you're packing lunch (with your child!) let them select portions into divided containers, choosing balanced portions of proteins, grains, vegetables and fruits. Make fresh water available and inviting, letting your child cut lemons or limes or wash and tear fresh mint leaves to add to a pitcher of cool water. Model healthy food choices (including healthy portions) in your own diet, and know that you're setting your child up to make the same healthy choices when they're in charge of their own groceries. #Mealtime #FirstPlane #Primary #ForParents

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