Hello Learning Together families,
I hope your weekend was lovely. I am happy to advise you that the registration for the winter session is now open on Walden's website (thewaldenschool.org). I would suggest that you act quickly to secure the space for you and your child, as the spaces will be open to the public after October 23. I look forward to continue getting to know you and your children.
For this week's message, I wanted to touch on independence, something we aim to foster in the Montessori classroom. Children seek independence from a very young age. It's partly what makes the toddler years so challenging! My todder's favorite words are, "me!" and, "I do!" So how do we, as parents or caregivers, aid them in their quest to, “Do it all by themselves?"
To start with, I always ask myself these questions before stepping in to help:
Do they actually NEED help, do they just WANT help, or do they EXPECT help because it is always present?
By pausing our adult reaction to swoop in and do it all, we give a child the chance to accomplish a task on their own. Of course, it is a natural reaction to help. However, for their confidence and independence to develop, try to pause before stepping in. Observe if they are truly struggling, or are they just working on developing a new skill and need practice. A child is capable of learning to do many things for themselves, but not if someone automatically does everything for them.
I also find these phrases very helpful:
1. "You did it all by yourself!"
So simple, yet so powerful. “You did it!” gives a child ownership over their accomplishment. They are able to step back and say, “I did do it, didn’t I?” and gain confidence in their abilities. Even the simplest task done independently feels very satisfying.
2. "Go ahead, you can do it! I’m right here."
Sometimes we know a child is capable of doing something on their own, but perhaps that day they are feeling tired, unsure, or extra needy. Reassuring a child that you’re nearby to help if needed often gives them the encouragement to try something independently once more.
3. "Would you like to try?"
Children are keen observers and are always watching. Notice your child as they watch you go about everyday tasks. The next time your child is watching you sweep the floor or put laundry in the dryer, ask them, “Would you like to try?” This is an open invitation to be just like mom and dad. They love copying our everyday tasks.
Words of support and opportunities to practice are often all a child needs to keep working on a new skill. As their mastery grows, so does their confidence and independence. We also foster independence in the way we speak to children. Rather than asking yes/no questions, offering limited choices gives them a say. Allowing simple, age appropriate decisions not only helps toddlers develop their independence, it also helps reduce tantrums because they feel heard and included.
In a Montessori classroom these concepts are in full swing. Children are given the chance to do things independently, the time to practice, a space to make mistakes and learn from them, as well as the opportunity to make decisions and use their voice. I am happy to discuss, give examples, or answer any questions this may bring up. See you all this week, Jennifer
"Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." - Maria Montessori
I am Jennifer Heness, a Montessori teacher and parent, and I am delighted to welcome you to Learning Together next week. Our Tuesday session begins on October 3rd and Wednesday's on October 4th. We will officially start our day at 9:30 am, however, if you are dropping off an older sibling at the school, feel free to trickle into the classroom anytime after 9:00 am. I will be there.
So what is Learning Together?
Think part playgroup, part intro to preschool, part parenting community... Learning Together is an opportunity to explore a classroom alongside your child, connect with other parents or caregivers, and learn more about the Montessori method and early childhood development.
What to expect?
Our daily activities will be flexible in response to the needs of the children and the group. Each day you can expect to come together as a group for circle time, which will often include stories, songs, group lessons, discussions, etc. Each day will also allow free time for exploring the classroom materials, arts and crafts, as well as having a snack. (Please let me know of any food allergies.) You can expect a weekly email from me to shed some light on a topic, highlight an area of the classroom, or to provide you with a resource.
What to bring?
There is no requirement to bring anything except smiles and the willingness to have fun. You are welcome to bring a change of clothes and any diapering supplies that your child may need. There is some limited space to store such things.
There is no need to bring any toys from home. All of the materials in the classroom are intended to inspire curiosity and exploration. Everything has a purpose and a lesson.
I look forward to fun days ahead. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me. See you next week, Jen
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Meade
This favorite quote of mine reminds me so much of what I see going on when walking the halls at The Walden School. Even though some of our youngest learners might not have “changing the world” at the top of their daily to-do list, the skills they are learning and working on everyday, are the ones that will help create the positive change Margaret Meade spoke of. One of the ways our students can accomplish change is by using our next Lifeskill of Cooperation. Over the next 2 weeks, students will discover what cooperation means and how they can work in harmony with others to reach a common goal. Below is a list of ways that families can help their child develop the skill of cooperation at home:
- Define and Discuss Cooperation. Have each family member list the top 3 skills they feel are needed for optimum cooperation. Did anyone include listening respectfully, encouraging others, compromise, sharing, doing your part? Then share experiences you each have had where others were cooperative and uncooperative.
- Helping Out at Home. There are so many activities at home that highlight the Lifeskill of cooperation. Having children help with cooking, gardening or simple chores are great ways to practice cooperative skills such as following directions, listening, doing your part and waiting your turn.
- Game Night. Traditional board and card games are also fun ways to practice cooperation through determining teams, problem solving, turn taking and encouraging others.
- Read Aloud. So many children’s books are rich with examples of cooperation at work, as well as characters that can be rather uncooperative! Choose one of these favorites to share with your child to get the conversation going on cooperation: The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone, City Green by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, Pumpkin Soup by Kelen Cooper, and The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf.
Inside the classroom, outside at recess, in our own homes or within the walls of the Capitol building; it’s a good reminder that the Lifeskill of Cooperation is necessary when working together toward a common goal.
Lastly, I’d like to remind all parents of our 2017-2018 Parent Book Club, featuring Dr. Michele Borba’s bestselling book, Unselfie. Dr. Borba questions if we are in the midst of an empathy crisis and provides a parent-friendly 9 -step empathy building plan that helps shift children’s focus from I, Me and Mine to Us, We and Our. We will meet 3 times throughout the year: November 2, January 25 and April 12, to discuss and share ideas on how we can all help our children develop the “Empathy Advantage”. Unselfie is available on Amazon, or through the Delaware County Libraries. I look forward to seeing you in November!