Well, 2017 has gotten off to an interesting start so far, with minimal class time since Christmas break thanks to the beautiful snow we received. We are indeed renewed in our bodies, minds and spirits with this extra time to rest and enjoy God's creation. This has been a peaceful example of God's "good, pleasing and perfect will." However, we are eager to get back into a normal routine in the classroom, whenever the weather allows. Although our schedule has been scattered and rearranged since Thankgiving, we have been able to accomplish a fair amount. Here is a quick recap of what we have been up to, and rest assured that our next few months will be very full as we get back to normal!
Grace and Courtesy: With so many interruptions in our schedule lately, much of our work in this area has been reminding and reteaching the skills we developed at the beginning of the school year: shaking hands and greeting teachers upon arrival, standing when an adult joins us in the classroom, walking carefully around classmates' activities, etc. With our current Bible lessons on forgiveness, we are working on how to apologize and how to accept an apology. For some children, these skills come naturally. For most, however, apologizing is rather difficult...just as it is for adults! We do not force a child to apologize immediately after a bad choice/behavior. Frequently the child needs time to calm down and to process the situation. He or she may not be ready to apologize right away, or even for quite a while. A forced apology doesn't really accomplish anything, so we usually ask the child if he or she is ready to say "I'm sorry." This may need to be repeated several times before an apology happens. In the meantime, the child has lost the privilege of playing with the toy/activity that created the difficulty. Often children have fallen into the habit of responding to an apology with "That's ok." We try to change that habit since the initial behavior, if it resulted in requiring an apology, wasn't ok! This is a chance to lay the foundation for the idea that our behaviors have consequences. That is, although we receive forgiveness, we still may have repercussions from our poor choices. We teach the children that when someone apologizes to them, a good response is "Thank you for apologizing."
Literacy: There is a whole lot of reading going on in the classroom! We are seeing good, consistent progress that is just right for each child. Many students are now bringing books home as part of our reading program, and several of our younger students are getting very confident with letter names and sounds and with identifying the initial sound in a word. The activities in these pre-reading areas also include a lot of vocabulary for children to learn, so we are now hearing a lot of English from our English language learners! We are just starting the concept of opposites, with books, puzzles and games. This is not only a good literacy concept, it also helps us further develop the children's vocabulary.
Math: Our students are in full swing with our math curriculum as we are seeing daily progress for all the chldren in this area. Depending on his or her readiness, your child may be mastering numeral and quantity recognition to 9, writing numerals to 9, identifying odd and even numerals, sequencing and organizing by size, measuring in non-standard units, adding, subtracting or demonstrating place value concepts to 19, 99 or 9,999! There is a LOT going on in this area of development right now. It's so exciting!
Science: This is the area that is most in need of catching up after all the weather closures, but we have wrapped up our study of reptiles and are moving on to fish as we continue our look at all the vertebrate families. Can your child tell you some of the similarities and differences between mammals and reptiles? We will be working on a Venn Diagram graph to illustrate this idea. We will also be spending some time discussing hibernation and the winter season. More in this area next time!
Social Studies: Much of our work in this area has been tied in with our literacy and Bible times. Many of our stories are focusing on how people live all around the world, and we are particularly enjoying learning about how people lived in the time of the Old Testament stories we are studying. As we look at different homes, clothing, food and transportation, we can also use skills such as classifying and describing, further growing the children's English vocabulary.
Music: Now that we enjoyed a successful Christmas performance, we will be spending some time getting to know the orchestra. We also continue to work with our classroom bells, learning the notes in the C major scale as we train our ears to hear the differences in the notes. There will be more to report from in our next update. In the meantime, enjoy the following "music notes."
THINGS WE THINK: This month we take a look at music in a Montessori classroom.
Music is a vital component of a Montessori classroom and is part of the natural work time on a daily basis. It is used in many ways: as part of sensorial education, to further the development of creativity, and to help reinforce lessons and memorization. Our music instruction includes singing, listening, production with instruments, movement and history. Rather than being separated into its own "class time," music is integrated into our day wherever it fits or wherever it naturally arises. Lessons include work with the bells and work on rhythm, learning note names and rhythmic notation, instruction in dynamics and instruction in the lives of composers. There is a lot going on in this area! Montessori classrooms typically do not bring in specialists to teach subjects such as art or music because we do not want to give the impression that only certain people have those skills. We want the students to feel joyful in their music education, finding happiness in singing and listening to music, finding connections in learning about musicians and composers, finding confidence in approaching a new instrument. If we can help children develop a love and appreciation of music in these early years, we hope it can be a source of joy for a lifetime.
Thank you for letting your Little Lambs make music with us! Happy New Year!