LOOKING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS
I spent this morning “observing”. It’s a conscious task to learn from the children what is really going on. What does a child learn from pouring liquids from one container into another? From polishing a piece of silver? Of course, learning to button, read, and get along on the playground have practical applications. Can we appreciate the depth of what is happening as a child works with an activity? The phrase the child builds his mind describes a concrete reality.
Brain research over the last several decades has begun to provide us with exact knowledge of how this occurs. We have known for many years what perceptual processes are necessary for normal mental functioning, the qualities of design, and types of activities that help children develop these processes.
When teachers learn the Montessori curriculum, they study the direct aim of each piece of equipment and exercise. For practical life, the development of control and coordination of movement, independent functioning, social development through grace and courtesy, and contributions to caring for the environment are end goals toward which a child progresses. However, below the surface of what is occurring, not visible to our eyes, much more is happening.
In learning to pour without spilling, a child develops a physical skill, refines muscle control, and becomes independent in pouring juice for snack or milk for lunch. Perceptually, the eye has to focus on where to pour, guide the hand, and estimate the speed of pouring so as not to splash or over pour. As the child is intent on accomplishing this task, concentration is present. When preparing to polish silver, the child lays out the polish, the polish dish, applicator, and the polish cloth, left to right on the work mat. This patterns the brain for left-to-right directionality. The child applies the polish to the object. There is a change in appearance as it dries. It becomes dull. After rubbing the polish off, the appearance changes again. The object shines. This is a simple, but very visible example of how the concept of cause and effect becomes a reality in the child’s brain.
Sensorial materials in the classroom have direct aims of discriminating size, color, and shape. Activities can be categorized into pairing or matching determined by similarities, sorting determined by differences, or sequencing. Using any of the gradations or sequencing materials, the child can explore the concept of seriation, or repeating patterns. The ability to observe and compare in order to make judgments is a requirement for higher level thinking skills.
The reason the materials work is because they are designed to give the child opportunities to build and coordinate the mental muscles, systems, and processes that form the basis for all later learning. If we understand the indirect aims for pouring, polishing, matching, sorting, counting, and listening, we have a new appreciation and respect for the work our children are doing in these early years. When Max rearranges the knobless cylinders or Katy contemplates a number composed of golden beads, we are witnessing the making
Harvest Festival – On Friday November 18, we will have our annual Harvest Festival. Parents are asked to bring a dish that is special in your home and drop it off in the morning and be back at the school for lunch. We’d like to encourage you to bring as much food as you like nothing will go to waste, all leftover food will be packed in to-go containers and given to our cities homeless and hungry. In addition to giving food this year we are asking you to donate a pair of new socks. The school has donated 50 pairs of socks but we’ll need much more. Last year we passed out over 80 to-go containers our goal will be to have a pair of socks for each container. We’ll begin lunch at 11:30 and the event should last about an hour. We’ll need volunteers to help with the to-go containers. Usually by 1:00 or 1:30 you’ll be on your way.
Giving Project – Every year we take on a giving project where we include our students as we teach the concept of giving. If you have suggestions or a favorite charity, please let us know. We usually start the giving project in December.
Staff Training – The entire MMGS team just recently attended a training work shop to help us improve on the work and our interactions with our students. We take 25 or more hours of training each year with the purpose of being better. Sometimes we learn new things other times we might refresh or renew things we already know.
Past Newsletters – If you have recently joined our family you are encouraged to visit our website to catch up on past newsletters. Our 09-02-16 newsletter list the dates to upcoming events that you’ll want note on your calendar.
School Closed – The school will be closed November 23 – 25 for Thanksgiving.
SHOW AND TELL
Bring a pinecone to make turkeys
Thanksgiving for our great abundance
The value we’ll be studying is wisdom, which is the ability to judge rightly and follow the best course of action.
For manners, we’ll learn to make introductions and to give and receive a compliment.
Outside, we’ll play turkey roundup.
The songs we’ll be singing are High Hopes, It’s a Small World, We Shall Overcome, Happy Talk, and Ten Little Indians.
For creative dramatics, we’ll act out pilgrims and Indians.
Our art activities will be Thanksgiving puppets, corn prints, thankful turkeys, pumpkin pie, and yarn turkey.
For motor development we’ll work on coordination by walking along Indian trails and by playing volleyball balloons. For bilaterallity, we’ll play hopscotch, parachute, and hot potato.