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Cornerstone Monthly Highlights - October 2019 - English
Posted On:
Friday, October 25, 2019
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Dear Families,

Almost two months into the school year, children have settled into their daily routines.  We are developing a school culture of mutual respect, an understanding that everyone comes with different needs each day, and an eagerness to embrace new experiences. In each of our environments this culture is built in a slightly different way, but always with the end goal of turning ownership of our spaces to the children, who are so capable of making decisions and solving problems themselves. 

By the time you read this, fall conferences will have come and gone.  I hope, though, that you will each come to observe in our environments so that you can see for yourselves the joy and beauty of a Montessori classroom.  I also hope that you will join us on November 18 for a parent education night, focusing on the development of social relationships.  At each developmental level the guides will share how children gain self-awareness and connect with the world around them, especially with their peers and adults.  Our hope is that this Parent Partnership will give you a deeper understanding of how your child relates now and in the future.

The Early Childhood staff is gathering on a Saturday in November to complete the Circle of Security training together.  We are so excited for this opportunity to dive more deeply into attachment and strategies for supporting children in crisis.  It is a joy to work with a team so committed to professional development and to finding opportunities for continued growth.  

As we get further into the school year, please know that we are always here to answer questions or support your family with your children’s development.  I hope to see you at school for one of our upcoming events or just to say hello!

Alyssa

 

Toddler Community

Each and every toddler wants to do things by themselves. The only way to develop the necessary skills is through the repetition of activities and toddlers have the energy necessary to keep practicing. As adults we ask ourselves, what should we let, and don't let, our child do? As you answer this question please remember that for a toddler, it is important to be active participant in the daily activities such as getting dressed and undressed, washing dishes, sweeping, watering the plants. Actively engaged in these daily activities a young child is able to learn to predict the daily routines and to develop trust in the world around him. Each child learns that they are a member of their family and their school community; developing a sense of belonging. Most importantly, the child learns about their own capabilities. There is power in the ability to do something! As adults, after we decide what are good choices to offer, we need to make sure we create an accessible and ready to use environment. For example, when a child is learning to wash their hands we might offer them a choice; would you like to wash your hands at the bathroom sink or the kitchen sink? At the sinks there should be a stool to safely reach the sink, soap and towels. Adults may want to reduce the water pressure to a tiny stream of water. Only offer help when help it is needed; usually in the form of kindly stating the limits. An example is saying, "only one pump of soap per person." Trust your child is capable, demonstrate to them how to wash hands slowly, and be present and available. Washing hands as a part of a daily routine your child will gain confidence and an "I can do it" attitude. This is what independence is all about!

Toddler Community

 

Children’s House

It is transitional season in the Children’s House! In both Children’s Houses we celebrate the change in weather and find as many times as possible to go outside and experience the elements. Being able to do this has led to wonderful spontaneous activity such as weeding our garden beds, and the creation of a song about the life cycle of a leaf. With this, preparedness and planning manifests itself in clothing choices. We have conversations about what a person might need to wear in cold weather, rain, snow etc.   There is a Swedish maxim that we live by in the Children’s House: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. Our goal is to cultivate a love of the outdoors, unimpeded by forecasts. Being prepared with appropriate clothes suitable to weather is the first step!

Childrens House   Childrens House

 

Lower Elementary – Pond

Hello from the Pond Classroom.  We have been hard at work learning new expectations and routines and are really beginning to see our hard work taking shape. While we have been working on our daily responsibilities we are also learning about the importance of being in control of our bodies and making choices that help others around us to learn and focus. There are many new tools that we are adding to our tool chest to help us to make thoughtful choices and to draw attention to how we use our bodies. A big part of this work is the work of organizing and preparing our space and our bodies.

The first tool that we are using in class to organize our space and our minds is our work journals. Everyday when we arrive we are asked to write our date and first work choice in our work journal along with the starting and finishing time of each work. This is a way for us all to be aware of our work choices and how much time we spend on a particular work. As we move throughout our day we continue to add works to our journal as we choose them. This offers us a way to reflect on the works we choose and how we are spending the time on a specific work. It also offers us a way to organize our thoughts and generate a plan for the day.

Another tool that we use in the classroom is our time in collective. Collective is a group activity where all of the children gather in a circle for a specific purpose. Recently, we have spent most of our collective drawing attention to our bodies and how we use them. We begin by sitting in a circle and drawing our attention to how we are sitting and holding our bodies. We are all expected to sit with our hands in our laps and legs crisscrossed. We next draw attention to our voices and the volume in which we speak and how to speak in turn. Then we all stand carefully and practice walking the room in a follow the leader line that draws our attention to body movement and our voices. All of this work is helping us to have a better awareness of how our bodies work and the expectations that all of the children have in our environment. 

Finally we are working on organizing our works as we are working. We are all expected to create beautiful works that we can take pride in, but neatness and organization are key components in creating prideful works. Everyone is receiving lessons on proper care of the materials in the classroom and how to correctly manipulate them. Once this is established we are practicing writing some of those works down in a specific formatted way to ensure organization and correct manipulation. As we become more comfortable interacting with the materials and keeping our space organized it will open the door for larger more complex works that require intense focus and organizational skills.

Lower Elementary

 

Upper Elementary – Marsh and Forest

There are many classroom routines, systems and habits of mind that upper elementary students practice daily which support their sense of order and ability to self-organize, to plan and to execute their goals.  

As the UE child enters the classroom in the morning they are expected to read the whiteboard for information, which helps them to be prepared for their day. The board includes information about lessons that will be offered, reminders about work that is due and any departure from the typical daily schedule.  Then children begin their Work Journal which involves setting learning goals for the day. On Friday afternoons, children set their goals for the following Monday. This gets them thinking ahead. 

UE children also maintain a record of all of the lessons they have had and that they are expected to use in setting their daily work goals. They are also encouraged to look back over the previous days' goals and to prioritize unmet goals.  Children may also have daily, weekly and/or seasonal work lists which help them to independently direct their work and learning.  

Observing each child's abilities grow during their three years in UE is truly a wonderful thing to behold!! We are reminded daily about the importance of having clear systems in place to support the development of independence and internal order as we observe how the children--even those that are new to the community--have internalized systems and expectations as they come into the classroom and begin their work peacefully each morning.  It has been such a pleasure this week to listen as the children read their Fall Self-Reflection narratives that they are preparing, and which they will share with you during their conference. We are always amazed by their high level of self-awareness and ability to reflect honestly on their strengths and areas of need improvement, especially by the end of the upper elementary cycle. 

Upper Elementary

 

Community News

Join Centro Tyrone Guzman and the Minneapolis Institute of Art for a Día de los Muertos celebration next Friday, November 1, 5:00-8:00pm.  Siembra Montessori at Centro Tyrone Guzman is one of the Montessori Partners Serving All Children and collaborates closely with Cornerstone and the Montessori Center of Minnesota.  More information can be found here:  https://new.artsmia.org/event/open-house-dia-de-los-muertos/.

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