Sarah's Update 9-17-21
"At the beginning is a good place to be.
What will each day bring for you and me?
New life, new friends, new things to do.
At the beginning is a good place to be."
Our Kindergarten classroom is a bustling place filled with laughter, music and learning. We've begun our year together establishing rituals and routines, most important work for children of this age. Dr. Montessori's research, based on years of observation, determined that there are four distinct planes of development one moves through in the first twenty-four years of life. Our Kindergarteners are considered first plane, concrete learners. They understand the world by experiencing it, and they do this through exploration and use of their senses. They possess the gift of an absorbent mind, which allows them to take in all that they are surrounded by and then do the big work of categorizing and sorting and making sense of it all. If your children are returning home exhausted, this is why! We are doing so much together as a community, and this is happy but tiring work as they settle into the school year.
We begin each day together by connecting as a whole group in our outdoor environment. Friends are able to work on social skills here, practice the grace and courtesies we have focused on in small groups and enjoy some fresh air. Some of our day is spent as a whole group in our classroom, receiving presentations/lessons and practicing the three part work cycle, which includes finding a spot to work, choosing a table mat or floor mat, exploring the chosen materials and finally returning them to their home in the classroom readied for the next friend to use. Our grace and courtesy lessons highlight points of interest based on observations Kristin, our classroom assistant, and I make throughout the day. Are we noticing friends moving a bit too quickly through our space? There's a grace and courtesy for that, and we can turn it into a little game where we role play how to move peacefully through the classroom, noticing what it looks like to walk mindfully around floor mats, listening for the soft sound our indoor shoes make as we move. Many friends enjoy taking a turn demonstrating these skills, often taking a bow while friends applaud their efforts.
A large part of my role in the classroom is to match children to meaningful work that calls to them to be creative and to concentrate. In these first weeks of school we will continue to focus on the area of our classroom called practical life, focusing particularly on two aspects of practical life, care of ourselves and care of the environment, both of which speak to our Kindergartener's innate drive for order and movement. We are already reaping the rewards of this work, which began on the first day of school, as we see a group of children who confidently know where to place their personal items in the classroom, how to wash their hands, where work to go home is stored and how to self advocate and ask for help along the way. Practice, practice, practice! Our days are filled with practice of these life skills!
This week will bring new excitement for our group, as our specials of physical education and art will begin! We are looking forward to the learning these experiences will add to our days for our curious and eager Kindergarten class. Kristin and I are most grateful for our supportive community of parents and caregivers who are cheering us on along the way. Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us!
Gentle Reminders and Important Housekeeping:
-Please check backpacks nightly for paperwork or other important items we may send home. All work created by the children will go home weekly on Friday.
-Please send children to school in appropriate layers including rain gear on wet days. If you'd like rain boots to be kept at school, just email me a quick note to let me know.
-If your family is participating in the UO weekly Covid testing, you will find a kit in your child's backpack every week on Tuesday to be returned to our bin at arrival the next day.
-Please tuck a clean pillow case into your child's backpack. We would appreciate it if you would label it with their name and bring it to school by next Monday 9/27 for use during reflection time. We will soon begin reading a chapter book during this time, and we want the children to be extra cozy and able to well define their reflection space while they listen. We'll take care of storing them in individual bags between use and send them home to you in backpacks on Friday to be laundered over the weekend and returned the next week.
8-33-21 Sarah's Welcome Letter
Hi, families! I am so excited to work together this year and to get to know your children. Kristin Warner, our Kindergarten classroom assistant, and I have big plans for the year ahead. We'd like to help welcome you to campus and orient your children to the indoor environment by having you join us on campus for one of two half hour Kindergarten Welcome Meetings next week.
Please use this SignUp link to choose ONE of two Welcome Meetings to attend. On the day of your visit please park along Amazon Drive in front of the school and join us (masks required for all) to gather in the grassy area near the parking lot. After quick introductions at 3:30pm with Kristin, me and Principal Michelle, we will guide the group to our outdoor environment. Here we will ask parents/caregivers to remain outdoors while we explore our classroom with the children. Please use this opportunity to visit at a distance with one another, and know that if a child is having a particularly difficult time separating from you, you are welcome to stand together outside and simply peek in the windows.
Kristin and I will orient the children to the parts of the classroom, and we will show them where they will store their:
-indoor shoes (slippers with rubber soles)
-water bottle marked with their name
-snack in an easy to open container, packed separately from lunch (practicing at home is helpful!)
-lunch in easy to open containers (if bringing one from home/not participating in the school's lunch program)
-1 extra set of clothes in a Ziploc bag marked with their name (this will remain in their backpack)
-1 extra mask in a Ziploc bag marked with their name (this will remain in their backpack)
We ask, if possible, that you bring the items above to the first day of school, so we can begin fostering the children's functional independence and helping them feel settled into the space from the very start. Look for more information to come from the front office soon re: arrival and departure procedures and other details about the school year.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly via email if you have any questions or concerns about our upcoming Welcome Meetings. Kristin and I look so forward to getting to know your children, and we feel honored you are sharing them with us!
Sarah Maxwell, M. Ed.
Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School