hmskids

September 2013 Newsletter

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm
“The child’s progress does not depend only on his age, but also on being free to look around him.”
~ Dr. Montessori
DATES TO REMEMBER:
– Chickadees & Hummingbirds Parent Meeting, Thurs., Sept. 5th, 6:30-7:30pm*
– Warblers Parent Meeting, Tues., Sept. 10th, 6-7:30pm* 
– Cardinals Parent Meeting, Tues., Sept. 17th, 6-7:30pm*
*child care available for parent meetings ($5/child), sign up sheet in classroom
– Individual Photos, Thurs. Sept. 19th and Fri. Sept. 20th — arrive by 8:30am, dressed for photos; order forms will be sent out soon
On the Road …Orienting anew every few days!
My husband and I have been traveling this summer…by car, first north to Wisconsin and then west to Seattle.  Along the way we have stayed in various hotels and, quite happily, with several different old friends in their homes along our route.
All the changes got me to thinking about the ‘human tendency’ – the drive that stays with us our whole lives through – of orientation.   Unlike the short lived ‘sensitive periods’ or ‘windows of opportunity’,  the human tendencies are always there to assist us whether we are infants, adults, or aged.
Some years ago now, I had the opportunity to care for my long-time neighbor in her decline and passing.  Preparing her environment so that she could function as independently as possible meant keeping a very disciplined order so that she, with the loss of her vision, could still orient herself in her home.   In another example, a friend, whose elderly mom retained her vision but lost some memory, made posters for her with pictures and names of family members, etc.  It was helpful as a point of reference for her mom,  and also for visitors as a great starting point for conversation.
School orientation, job orientation…as adults we bring our conscious awareness, and maybe a notebook, to the task; the infant brings his whole pre-conscious self … his ‘absorbent mind’!
The infant, arriving at birth with all his senses working, and 100 billion neurons making connections at an extraordinary rate based on experience in the environment, must orient himself to a completely different environment from the one he has known.  Fortunately there are ‘points of reference’ to assist him in knowing that he is safe; his mother’s voice and her heartbeat, even though heard from a different position, are familiar and reassuring to him.  His need to see where he is, to move freely in that (safe) space and to manipulate the objects that are there, are all important elements of orientation.
A well- prepared environment helps the young child orient himself as he starts to move about and, what luck, it also supports another of the tendencies: order!
While visiting here in the Pacific Northwest in this charming harbor town, we too have been finding points of reference that assist us in finding our way.  (Turn left at the yellow painted coffee shop and you’re almost home! )
Every home along our way has been ordered differently, which can be challenging to keep straight, especially half asleep in the middle of the night!  As adults, though, we consciously take note of furniture placement, location of light switches, and other people’s boundaries.  (Even so, Peter had a nasty run in with an AC unit.)
If there is one thing that visiting multiple homes reminds us about, it is that everyone has his or her own unique sense of order!  There is never only one way… but, in whatever unique way one lives, consistency and awareness are key.  Being aware that young children are absorbing everything may aid us in our own order…knowing full well that what they hear, they will likely repeat, and how things are seen to be treated will influence the way they treat those things.  Dr Montessori said,  “Imitation is the first instinct of the awakening mind.”
Montessori education is an “aid to life”. …  and orientation is a life-long “human tendency”.
It is so clear to me as we travel…through the country on a trip, and through time as our capacities change.  It’s going to feel so good to be home in our own familiar environment!  I sure do hope everything is right where we left it!
To contact Gio Bellonci, who writes this portion of our newsletter, with your questions and/or comments 
write to her at mimaustin@gmail.com and visit her website Montessori In Motion 
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August 2013 Newsletter

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm
” Say what you mean and mean what you say.”  ~  My Mom 
DATES TO REMEMBER:
Yard Work Day, Sat. Aug. 10th, 8-9am
SCHOOL CLOSED Thurs. Aug. 29 and Fri. Aug. 30 — Teacher In-Service Days
SCHOOL CLOSED Mon. Sept. 2 — Labor Day
You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”   – Rosalynn Carter

May we continually expand our capacity to receive, and to express, more kindness, more empathy, more compassion, more affection, more acceptance, more forgiveness and more love.”  – my yoga teacher

For the last couple of weeks it has been my intention to write about follow-through for this newsletter.  As often happens, as soon as a topic arises in my thoughts it also pops up in multiple other places.  This recent post from the wonderful website:  www.howwemontessori.com  touches on this in exactly the same way my neighbor did in a recent conversation: “It takes a village.”

The ‘village’ we are all a part of is the school and the families it serves.  Life being what it is, the relationship is (at least) a 2 way street.  Families most certainly support the school through tuition and involvement with fundraisers and other school functions, while the school supports families with everything from hours of operation through to the most important aspects of early childhood education and community.

It is school and family together which support the children in their optimal development.  And it is families who support each other with common values (and respect of differing ones) that makes follow-through so much easier to implement and easier for the children to accept.

The instance my neighbor remembers is from when her daughter was 5 and wanting something she couldn’t have.  Instead of giving in to the child’s request, the answer was ‘no’.  How supported she felt when her neighbor also said ‘no’ to her child.  The two friends may have been disappointed but they were met by the confident parenting that allowed for a ‘no’ without equivocation.   Support from the ‘village’!  (This story also reminds me of the advice for saying “I love you, and the answer is no.”)

This simple story dovetailed with an article printed in the NY Times that another friend sent.  It is entitled Confessions of a Mother Who Couldn’t Say ‘No’ (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
In the article mother, Susan Buttenwieser, discusses her intention to let her children struggle through their difficult moments and the answer of ‘no’, but always caved when she couldn’t bear their disappointment.  She concludes her article saying this: “It’s time to place my faith in them in practice, not simply in theory.”  Her intention was not enough, her understanding of theory was not enough; follow-through, with confidence and with love, is required.

From beginning to end…a circle, a cycle moves from the power of concept (or theory)  to manifest reality.  Just as the cycle of pregnancy begins with desire and moves from conception to the moment of birth and a baby in arms, so that baby starts another cycle through the developmental stages of infancy and childhood.

In labor, women often reach a point when they declare that they “just can’t do it”… but there is no choice but to follow-through and do it.  Some gentle encouragement and support from her birth team in that moment is critical to moving past the doubt and achieving a happy result.  The ‘village’ once again comes to support the intention through to completion.  I have been fortunate to be a part of that ‘village’ for birthing women over the past 16 years.

Circles upon circles, the baby begins his path with the power of 100 billion neurons making connections based on his experience in the lovingly and thoughtfully prepared environment we create to meet his needs.  He learns from us, from the first, gentle, welcoming touch he receives; from the space he occupies and from the established routines that he is part of a caring family… one in which he can safely grow in his independence.

Infancy passes into childhood with the capabilities that were developed there.  He has language and great movement that will continue to expand as his childhood cycles into adolescence and adulthood.

We know the developmental stages of childhood and we know that they can take the child into adulthood as anything: a musician, a computer tech, a banker, a teacher, an astronaut, a parent.  (I picture only positive outcomes.) It comes together from the efforts of everyone in a child’s life –the village.

When we, the adult models for the children, are patient enough to allow them to use their capabilities, and confident enough to stay true to our values – as wide ranging as they may be – in conjunction with the values held by school, the village is strong.

Follow-through…as an individual adult it is something I struggle with but as a member of a community, not so much.  My chosen communities have my commitment to ‘say what I mean, and mean what I say’.

When I leave my yoga class, after hearing the final words of intention for more kindness, empathy, etc., I know that if I can maintain that sense in all things, all interactions (a tall order, I know) then, in the village, there will be a greater chance for more loving kindness and peace.  And that’s what Montessori education is all about!

To contact Gio Bellonci, who writes this portion of our newsletter, with your questions and/or comments write to her at mimaustin@gmail.com and visit her website Montessori In Motion

July 2013 Newsletter

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm
” Bring the child to consciousness of his own dignity and he will be free”  ~  Dr Maria Montessori
DATES TO REMEMBER:
SCHOOL CLOSED FOR SUMMER BREAK July 1-5th
“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.”

                                                                                                                      Chuck Palahniuk

“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” 
Aristotle

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

Wayne W. Dyer

Perspective, consciousness and dignity: what a threesome!

In our home we have many things that move – mobiles hang in almost every room, and my husband’s stone sculptures, all of which can be rotated on their turning pins, are also throughout the house.  It was as I sat watching the mobiles move with the current of air from the ceiling fan and surrounded by sculptures that, seen by different eyes and from different points, appear to each viewer in an individually unique way, that I decided to write about perspective.  It is our life-long companion and deserves some attention.

Because all the senses are working from birth, they must be taken into consideration as we prepare a welcoming environment for the newborn.  What sounds will be heard? What sights/colors will be most soothing/engaging?  What textures/temperature will feel the most comfortable?  The sense of taste for the newborn will hopefully be met by mother’s milk; and, from that position, what scents!  Since position is a determinant of perspective, the nursing child has the perfect visual experience of his mother’s face, and the wonderfully familiar sound of her heartbeat.  From here he can only have a positive and optimistic perspective on life!

To prepare an environment for a person whose senses are working but who has not yet developed movement capability, one need only lie down on the floor to get an idea (perspective) of what the child will experience visually.  The mirror placed here reflects the outdoors, or hereallows the supine child and adult to make eye contact while a meal is being prepared, for instance.

Perspective asks us “if you could stand in someone else’s shoes, hear what they hear, see what they see and feel what they feel, would you treat him differently?”  Then we have to ask ourselves, “How is what is seen, heard, felt being understood.”  This is especially important with our young children.

I remember learning this lesson some years back when a child awoke from a nap screaming.  When I could understand what she was saying, it was clear she was referencing scenes from a “children’s” movie.   I had not seen it, but knew about it.  From her perspective the scenes that had revisited her in her dreams were scary.  From an adult perspective, though not mine, they were considered “entertainment”.

For her fears, and her dignity, to be respected I offered her this: “Oh, you’re talking about a movie you saw.  A movie starts as an idea someone has.  The idea/story gets written down.  Then, someone who knows how to make moving pictures turns it into a movie. ”   Imagine if she had been told, “it’s okay, movies aren’t real”  She knew movies were real; she’d just seen one!   It is because of remembering this story that I chose the quotations above.   We looked at it “up close” and her perspective (and knowledge) changed.  She took away from that the information she needed to see movies for what they are (and her parents took away a resolve to wait for movie watching until she was older).

So, what does it mean as Dr Montessori’s quote (above) says to be conscious of our own dignity?  And from what will we be free?  According to the dictionary, dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.  We become conscious of our own dignity when we are treated thoughtfully.  To treat others thoughtfully, with respect, is aided by our awareness of them and our ability to see from their perspective.  With our dignity in tact we are free from the slings and arrows of judgment and can move forward with confidence.

We adults must model respect always.  In the classroom the lessons of grace and courtesy assist the development of a sense of pride in oneself and self-respect.  The children, with practice, move and act in a composed manner – often with great attention to detail and seriousness.

The word has its origin in the Latin word dignitas, from dignus meaning worthy.   If there is one thing that can be said of all the incredible work that Dr Montessori did, it was that she gave children things to do that were worthy of their attention and with respect for their capabilities (often generally underestimated).

“The child is much more spiritually elevated than is usually supposed. He often suffers, not from too much work, but from work that is unworthy of him. ”
– Maria Montessori

For more information on Gio Bellonci,who writes this portion of our newsletter,

visit her website Montessori In Motion