Peaceful Mornings

2013 Susan Tracy McDaniel, M.Ed., Parenting Coach, Learning Together Education
www.LearningTogetherEducation.org
Children in our society, in our families, children are often rushed and ordered around,
especially in the mornings. Parents tell me this is the time they are most likely to
become, shall we say, unpleasant with their children.
It is also important to consider how mornings are going, because the tone is set for the
day. We would like children to arrive at school feeling happy and peaceful, not stressed.
Walking in late can be disruptive to child and class, so make an effort to set up an
efficient morning routine and avoid running late.
A good morning starts the night before. Everything that can be done to ease the morning
should be. Some ideas:
  • Tidying up
  • Child packs school bag and/or lunch and places them by the door
  • Check that shoes or boots, coat, snow pants, TWO mittens, hat, etc. are ready. Provide low coat hooks and manageable storage near the door for these.
  • Lay out clothing for tomorrow
  • Bath
  • Use the toilet
  • Pajamas
  • Snack and/or drink (if bedwetting is not a problem)
  • Brush teeth
  • Pleasant stories (no monsters or disasters, and no television in the evening)
Begin the evening routine with the necessities, followed by some pleasant, quiet time
together, perhaps reading stories, saying prayers, tucking in, expressing your love for
your child. This could all be done by candlelight.
Your child should go to bed at approximately the same time each evening to set a sleep
habit. Most young children need a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m. Allow for ten hours of
sleep, or more.
Plan an evening routine for yourself also. Prepare for the morning. Plan eight hours of
sleep, or whatever you know you need to feel rested. This helps you to be pleasant in the
morning!
Get up a half-hour before your children so you have time to get yourself ready, uninterrupted. Then, greet them with a smile! This sets the tone for a good day.
Children’s morning routine may include the following:
  • They get up on time, using an alarm.
  • Make the bed. Simplify bedding, perhaps using just a duvet.
  • Use the bathroom.
  • Get dressed in the clothing chosen the night before. Provide clothing that they
  • can put on independently.
  • Brush hair
When they finish these steps, THEN they may join you for a lovely breakfast.
You have spent the last little while preparing this breakfast, INSTEAD OF
nagging your children. They will know what needs to be done once the routine is
established.
If they are ready early, then reward them with time spent in an activity they enjoy.
Perhaps they have 20 minutes to play outside before they have to get in the car.
(Note: Getting outdoors before school aids concentration).
What’s your routine now? Searching for shoes, laundry, the school bag, keys…
Easier mornings start THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do everything you can ahead of time.
For both morning and night, observe how long it takes your child to get ready
INDEPENDENTLY, with no unneeded help from you. Allow this much time, plus some
extra.
I find that children respond better to nonverbal cues than verbal reminders. Instead of
repeating “Time to go!” numerous times, I just get my jacket and keys, and slowly head
for the door, about 10 minutes early. If a child is not ready and it is time to go, I put them
in the car as is (unless it is dangerously cold). They might get dressed quickly in the
car (they must be buckled before we depart), or at school. This could be too
embarrassing for some children, but it can be a very effective logical consequence for
many.
Once your mornings are running smoothly, you may find you have some extra time.
Enjoy that time together reading a book, playing a game, playing outside, listening to
music, or having a conversation… something healthy that your child especially enjoys.
No television before school it has a sedentary effect on children and adults alike.
Resources:
www.sleepfoundation.org
Please check sleep requirements by age.
www.flylady.net
for learning daily routines
www.learningtogethereducation.org
for parenting support

The Three-Period Lesson

The Three-Period Lesson
by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services

As a parent interested in the Montessori method, you may have heard about the three-period lesson, a hallmark of Montessori education that helps young children learn vocabulary and concepts.

In simple terms, the three steps, or periods, are:

  • 1. Naming (Introduction) “This is a dog.”
  • 2. Recognizing (Identification) “Show me the dog.”
  • 3. Remembering (Cognition) “What is this?”

The three-period lesson was developed by Edouard Seguin, a French physician who worked with special needs children in France and the United States during the late 19th century. He discovered ways to increase children’s cognitive abilities and believed in the importance of developing their self-reliance and independence. Seguin’s writings were a major inspiration to Maria Montessori and the source of many of her practical ideas.

Your role as your child’s first teacher is not the same as a trained educator. Quite naturally, you have been using the three-period lesson as you communicate with your baby and toddler. Your use of this “lesson” is much more informal than in a classroom setting. It is a tool to allow you to see your child’s knowledge of a particular concept, and a technique to keep in mind throughout his childhood.

“Look, Mom, Girls at the Piano!”

Here’s a fond memory I have of the three-period lesson in action with my own family:

When my children were young, my mother sent them postcards of famous artworks. We would briefly talk about the picture, the title, the artist, and then place the card on a small easel on a shelf in their rooms. When she visited, my mother would play games with the children using the postcards. One rainy Sunday afternoon when our family was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my 3 1/2 year-old daughter suddenly shouted out, “Girls at the Piano,” as we entered a gallery. There was Auguste Renoir’s painting, bigger than life, and one excited little girl, delighted with her discovery.

The First Period: “This is _______.”

You have been naming people, places, and things for your baby from the very beginning. These names are used over and over, clearly isolating and identifying objects with one-word descriptions.

The baby hears the sounds and begins to understand language. Children will not Toddler Practical Lifedistinguish differences at this early age – for example all people may be “mama” or all animals might be called “dogs.” Lots of names are learned before a child learns to speak, and understanding often comes before a child is able to verbalize.

Learning takes place through all the senses, not just by hearing. Babies touch, taste, squeeze, smell, push, and manipulate everything. As you identify concepts such as “hot” or “cold,” children not only learn the vocabulary but they also experience the quality. They miraculously internalize the world through all their senses. Montessori refers to this innate ability as the “absorbent mind.”

 

The Second Period: “Show me ______.”

This stage of learning is the longest, and your child needs to have many, many experiences hearing the names of things.

You may have noticed that your child looks in the direction of an object you name. She is indeed connecting the word with the object. Later, your little one understands simple instructions. Montessori identified how important movement is for learning, so play games that incorporate movement. For example, ask your child to find the ball and bring it to you. Peek-a-Boo games help children learn during the second period. “Where is Teddy? There he is!” Naming games are fun for children whether reading together, riding in the car, or playing “I Spy” at home. “Where’s the horse?” “Find the red balloon.” “Where is your excavator?”

Enjoy watching your child absorb information about the world, and recognize objects. There is no reason to hurry on to the third period until your child has fully experienced and learned vocabulary during this second level of learning. This process might continue for months, weeks, or days.

The Third Period: “What is this?”

Although some call the third period “the test,” don’t ask your child a vocabulary question until you know he will be successful. Recall how delighted you were when your child first said “Mama” or “doggie.” When the child can name something, it signals cognition, the third step of learning.

If you ask, “What is this?” your child might not know. This tells you that more repetition and experience is needed. Never indicate that your child has failed. Just go back to the second period. Play more naming games, reintroduce vocabulary while you talk about what you see, and then enjoy your child’s amazing “absorbent mind.”

“The purpose of the three-period lesson is to help the child to better understand…and to allow you to see how well the child is grasping and absorbing what you are showing him.”

– Elizabeth Hainstock, Teaching Montessori in the Home

 by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.

Earth Day Everyday

In commemoration of our upcoming Earth Day celebration on April 22, we would love to share the following ideas for ways to incorporate that same spirit in your own homes.

Earth Day, Every Day Activities by Gina Abegg, Co-Director

Paper Conservation:

  • Use donated recycled paper for first drafts, better paper once practices.
  • Also use white construction paper for water color practice, real paper for final.
  • Cut paper in all different sizes so children can choose.
  • Have a recycled paper container for wrapping paper, cards, scrap for collage sources.
  • Teach children to choose what they want to have happen with their paper: hang, give as gifts, use other sides, cut part off for recycling, keep working until used.
  • Roll large pieces in a cut toilet paper or paper towel tube so not damaged, use as gift wrap.
  • Shred paper waste and make new paper from it.

Water Conservation:

  • Teach children to turn off faucet quickly after washing or brushing teeth.
  • Use pitchers at the table so children can choose how much water they will use.
  • Monitor water drips with a bucket under faucet and measure over time.
  • Teach to pour unused water into the plants watering container not down the drain.
  • Use biodegradable soap and pour outside cleaning or clothes washing water onto plants.
  • Show how you water early and late so the water doesn’t evaporate so quickly.
  • Combine splash day activities with watering cycle.
  • Time watering of gardens and use a rain water measuring gauge.

Recycling:

  • Crush cans and take to the store for cashing. Buy plants or bird seed.
  • Have a recycle center for items for art projects. Ask parents to bring different kinds of items for different projects, ex. instruments, bird feeders, art projects.
  • Cooperate with the city recycle program. Have children take tubs to curb. Research what happens to the recycled items.
  • Integrate recycled containers into classroom, ex. containers for parts for an art project

Composting/Worm Farm:

  • Have a compost bin that children can turn or roll.
  • Collect scraps in a small covered bucket that children can work into the compost.
  • Create an area by the compost with soil and humus that the children can put on top of scraps.
  • Have children regularly put compost into the garden.
  • Create a worm farm next to the compost that children feed and put worms into the gardens.
  • Have children pick up worms on the sidewalk and put into the farm or the garden.

Gardening:

  • Have child sized tools stored in an orderly way, possibly only used under supervision.
  • Let children choose the plants they want to put in and tend them.
  • Older children label plants and measure progress.
  • Harvest and share.
  • Read books about gardens in the gardens.

Feeding Wild life:

  • Increase natural plantings that will attract and feed birds, butterflies, etc.
  • Have feeders and a metal container with a scoop so children can help keep the feeders full.
  • Observe wildlife and record observations, study wildlife cycles, footprints.

You’re Invited…

Parker Montessori, the only American Montessori Society
affiliated school in Parker, would like to invite you to:

Toilet Independence Class
April 11, 2013, 5-7pm
Taught by Ms. Cecily, a Montessori
certified Infant/Toddler teacher.

Open House at Parker Montessori
April 6, 2013, 9am-12pm
Come tour our school and learn about
our programs.

Please RSVP to 303-841-4325 or
officemanager@parkermontessori.com

Coming Soon:
Summer 2013: New Infant Program

The Montessori View of the Child

Why I Love Montessori by Gina Abegg, A.M.S.

The Montessori View of the Child

It has been said that Montessori is a natural way of teaching, which means that it aligns with the nature of life. A Montessori classroom is more like a home than a school and relationships built between the directresses (or teachers) and children are more like those in a family. This all grows out of a supreme respect, even honor, of the spirit of each child, a cherishing of the individual inner curriculum he carries with him, and belief in his ability to discover and master the keys to the universe, the many lessons that will give him competence and independence.

The view of the child guides the relationship the adult has with him and also the
development of the materials and the environment. Montessori teachers see young children as egocentric, having a need to form themselves.Learning comes from the inside out. This is a powerful impulse, often compared to the energy that causes a flower to reach for the sun. To learn by movement and interaction with those tasks that are personally meaningful makes children happy. External rewards aren’t needed.

Young children, especially from about two and one half to four, have a strong need for order to create safety while moving into new experiences, so the rituals, materials placement, ground rules, and grace and courtesy lessons have simplicity, consistency and rhythm. Change occurs methodically. Children will notice new work on the shelf.

A related idea is that children learn by doing and through repetition and find joy in
mastery. Expanded concentration builds upon this meaningful work. Independence, helpfulness, and teaching are natural outcomes of competence.

Because the child we see is absorbing information directly, the progressive
presentation of materials helps him to organize his thinking and to perceive the totality as well as individual facts. This is also one of the reasons a mixed aged group is wonderful because children are learning from one another. Children are also learning through all of their senses so opportunities are given to enrich and name these experiences.

We also see that children are very sensitive to the stimulus they experience. We know they can actually have difficulty with too much stimulus, especially disorder, and that they are attracted to beauty. For this reason, we include fine art, beautiful books, textures, natural containers, attractive material, plants and animals. They learn well with simple, direct instruction.Children also appreciate real things and images, which help them make sense of their world.

Also, the child is most happy when he is able to contribute and cooperate, and is
sensitive to learning peaceful values and empathetic problem solving.

Children and Charities

Why I Love Montessori by Gina Abegg, A.M.S., Co-Director
Children and Service

Montessori-raised children grow up with a special sense of community. This starts with appreciation of their place in the home and school and grows into a respect for meeting their own needs and also caring about the needs of other people, plants and animals, and evolving into a true sense of earth stewardship.

Many everyday lessons are taught through grace and courtesy lessons, where children learn to use manners, move without hurting others, speak in a respectful tone, etc. Values such as kindness, fairness, and respect for differences are integrated into practical living activities as well, where children learn to create community meals, be responsible for their own work, help younger students, tend gardens, care for classroom animals, tweeze sunflower seeds for the winter birds, etc. The Golden Rule, taught here as Treat Others as You Would Like to Be Treated is a regular reminder of the way we choose to live together. Little acts of kindness become habits when the opportunities are regularly there and holidays give us the chance to give gifts, decorate, and send cards, as well.

A wonderful extension of this is the opportunity to do service to those in our greater community. This December there are two great opportunities for the children to be kind to others. The children prepared gift-giving ornaments for our Giving Tree. Starting December 3, families had the opportunity to select a gift request for a parent or child from the Denver Safe House. When children help to pick out the gift or give something they no longer need to help others, it is an opportunity to reinforce both generosity and gratitude. We learn to be grateful not only for what we have but also for our ability to share. Our families have been incredibly generous.

Parker Montessori Giving Tree

Parker Montessori families giving to SafeHouse Denver- supporting those in need in our community.This is only half of what our families brought- we had to make two car trips!

 

On Dec. 18, the primary children, under the guidance of Julie Robuck, our music teacher, will be sharing holiday music with elders at the Victorian House, an activity we hope to repeat through the year.

This year, we will be collecting canned goods to contribute to the Parker Task Force food bank in March, to remind the children to think of others throughout the year, not just at holidays. In the spring as we recycle, compost and care for our gardens and share food grown, we will have the opportunity to practice service to the earth.

 

Little Acts of Kindness Through the Year

by Gina Abegg, A.M.S., Co-Director at Parker Montessori

Always Good:

  • Collect food for food shelf (more than just at Thanksgiving).
  • Create outreach programs for people in difficulty, such as homeless, elderly.
  • Recognize birthdays, illnesses, weddings, etc. with art projects such as decorating aprons, bags, banners.
  • Make baby quilts or other gift for new arrivals.
  • Make food for someone in need, having an operation or new baby, poss. coordinate with other families by calendar.
  • Connect to elderly shelter, visits, singing, gifts.
  • Adopt individual grandparents at senior center.
  • Volunteer for a food kitchen like V.O.A..
  • Share food with friends and family .
  • Crush cracker scraps for birds.
  • Give back rubs (have rollers in basket).
  • Make decorations for all holidays and special occasions, decorate table cloths, arrange flowers, set tables, make place cards.
  • Make presents, cards (supplies always out).
  • Crush cans

 

Charitable Activities for Different Seasons

Fall

  • Put out jack-o-lantern with seeds in the garden for little creatures to live in through the winter.
  • Rake leaves for elderly on block.
  • Send home boxes for UNICEF collection, count money (October).
  • Rake leaves in yard into pumpkin bags in October, stomp on, put on garden in November.
  • Harvest sunflower seeds in fall and tweeze for birds.
  • Bring in outgrown clothing. Make pretend friends with newspaper and pumpkin heads for Halloween. Then donate to homeless shelter.

Winter

  • Prepare group meals or food gifts for holidays.
  • Collect mittens for homeless shelter children.
  • Coordinate with community adopt a family for holiday gifts
  • Make valentines for elderly, family, friends who have moved, volunteers, etc.
  • Feed birds with pine cone, rice cake, cookie cutter toast feeders. Use sesame butter if peanut free.
Spring
  • Recycle and buy plants with profits.
  • Care for gardens.
  • Clean up trash around neighborhood.
  • Set out ribbons, yarn, and cotton for birds to make nests.
  • Raise butterflies and release.

Summer

  • Share harvest from garden with neighbors.
  • Keep bird feeders and squirrel feeders full.
  • Set up water sources for animals.
  • Compost for garden.
  • Wash a friend’s feet.
  • Work the compost, feed the worms
  • Recruit members of the Lost Worms and Ladybug club to relocate creatures found on sidewalks into gardens.
  • Arrange flowers from family gardens, donations.
  • Plant bushes with berries for birds and butterfly attracting plants.

Fall Festival

What a joy it was to watch our children parade through the school in their costumes!

Wednesday, October 31, we celebrated the season with our annual Fall Festival. The children, parents and staff came together as a community for a day of fun and reverie. The morning began with Ms. Gina leading the children through the halls of Parker Montessori to display their costumes for all to see. We then gathered on our beautiful playground to have an all-school line time. Songs were sung and groups of children were called to the center of the circle to show off their outfits. Then, the children went back to their individual classrooms for crafts and other fun activities.

We are so thankful to have had so much parent participation at this event! Our sidewalk area on the playground was packed with families. Many of our parents stayed to help our teachers with preschool age-appropriate crafts for the children. We could not have had such a successful festival without the help of our outstanding parent community. Thank you!

Childhood Nutrition

Just like adults, children perform their best when they eat a healthy, balanced diet. We would like to share with you some information excerpted from www.healthychildren.org about the best foods to help fuel our children for success. Educating our children about food is very important and is a practical life skill that will help them to learn care of self.

Eating for Good Health

“Consistently good nutrition, meal after meal, is a foundation for a healthy childhood.

In preparing foods high in nutritional value, build the family meals around selections like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-graincereals and bread
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  • Lean and skinless meats including chicken, turkey, fish, and lean hamburger

The basics of good nutrition really aren’t that complicated. Portion sizes at this age should be less than that of an adult-sized serving.

During the middle years of childhood, there are plenty of obstacles that can trip up your well-intentioned efforts at keeping your family eating right. In the mornings, as you’re rushing to get your child off to school, are there days when he doesn’t have the time to sit down for a nourishing breakfast?

As a parent, part of your responsibility is to find solutions for any stumbling blocks that arise. Pack a healthy lunch for your child each day. You might prepare a turkey sandwich on multigrain or pita bread. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is fine, too. Add a piece of fruit to your child’s lunch sack and perhaps a bag of pretzels. Pack a small water bottle for him.

Also remember that you’re a role model in this process, so make healthy food choices for yourself as well as the rest of the family. Even though children are busier than ever, make an effort to find time for family meals as often as possible. When all of you sit down at the dining room table together, it’s a perfect opportunity for every family member to describe his or her day and the family to grow closer.”

If you would like to read the entirety of this article, as well as information on many subjects to keep your children healthy, please visit HealthyChildren.org.

Invite your child to be a part of the meal-making process. Children are able to set the table, pack a lunch box and even help with some of the cooking or preparation. If they have taken part in these processes, they will feel so proud of the accomplishment and might also be willing to try some new foods!

Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence. – Dr. Maria Montessori

Gardening Week

Our Fall Gardening Week was at the end of last month. Each class has a designated garden area outside on our playground. This event gives students the opportunity to learn about gardening, as well as to help beautify their outdoor environment. We asked that the students bring mums and bulbs to plant . The mums will look beautiful in their classroom gardens now and the bulbs will let the students see the results of their hard work in the Spring. Parents were invited to join their child’s class for planting. This is a wonderful time for parents to connect with their child’s teacher, as well as other parents, and strengthen our school community.

Gardening, especially at this young age, allows the children to learn to care for their environment. They get to be hands-on and learn the proper seasons for planting specific flowers. This helps to make our playground an outdoor classroom and leads our students toward independence in caring for their own gardens. We encourage our children to gain an appreciation for the world around them by experiencing firsthand the cycles of nature and how they relate to the seasons they observe around them.

 

“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” — Dr. Maria Montessori