Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Wishing a very happy birthday to one of the best students I have ever had!!  Hope it is a great day for you and your family Red Elvis!! You ROCK!
Ms. Debbie

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back to School Timeline for students

I posted this segment last year but I think it is worth repeating!  School begins in the next month, plan ahead!

ITthe countdown to the first day of school begins this month.  Whether your children start school in August or September it helps to have a timeline to help everyone get back into the school routine.  This is meant as a general guideline, you can tailor it to fit your family and school.  
Every year is a new adventure.  So as a parent, it is best if you help your child get started on the right foot.  Instead of struggling with the new school year and getting back into a routine, establish the routine first and then the surprises and adjustments of starting school will fall into place.

Two Weeks Before the First Day
·                     Help your child clean out closets, dresser drawers, desks, bookshelves, and organize their rooms.  You will need to make room for backpacks, school supplies, books, school clothes and other necessities.  It is helpful to have separate spaces for school clothes and play clothes; this will help children with getting dressed in the morning.

·                     Make a specific spot for children to store their backpack.  Children can be forgetful and you will need to check the backpack for homework assignments, notes from school, permission slips, etc.  After the child completes the homework assignment he or she should put it in the backpack right away so it is ready to return to school.

·                     If there are any summer assignments that were to be completed before the first day of school, get them out and either get started or finish up!  Put the work in your backpack so it is ready for the first day.

·                     Designate a spot in the kitchen for lunchboxes.  Have children practice packing and unpacking their lunchbox and putting things in the sink after school.  You will want to monitor the lunchbox to make sure your child is eating lunch.  At our school we have the children bring home any uneaten food.  Please clearly mark the lunch box, thermos, reusable containers and other items with a sharpie.  Both tops and bottoms of reusable containers should be marked.  It is an environmentally sound idea to use these types of containers instead of Ziploc bags.  Be sure to include a cloth placemat and napkin for your child.  You will want a barrier between the lunch table and your child's food.  Children often drop things on the table so it would be healthier if it fell on their clean placemat.

·                     Mark all removable clothing items (including shoes) with the child's name.  This will be very helpful to the teacher and items are more likely to be returned to the proper owner if they are easily identifiable.

·                     Consider visiting the school, helping the child find his or her classroom, bathrooms, water fountains, where they will be dropped off and picked up, where the playground and the school office is located.  This is especially helpful if you are attending a new school or are moved to a new building.

One Week Before the First Day
·                     Buy school supplies.  Take your child with you so that they can make some choices. When you get home, unpack and store supplies in appropriate areas.  Label with a sharpie any supplies they take to school unless the teacher says otherwise.  Sometimes teachers ask students to bring in pencils and they become classroom supplies so they do not need to be labeled.

·                     Buy a new toothbrush while you are buying school supplies, it is a good time of year to start with "new" things.

·                     Place items that need to go to school in the backpack and set it aside so everything is ready to go.

·                     Practice packing lunches in the lunchbox with your child.  What things can he or she do without your help?  Have a "conference" with your child about foods you both agree are acceptable and healthy for lunch.

·                     Start the school bedtime routine.  We all tend to get out of the routine over summertime.  It is best to get back into the routine a week or so before the big day.  Some children will not be able to sleep before the first day of school so if the bedtime routine is established parents and children have an easier time.

·                     If possible, take your child with you to meet the teacher.  As a teacher I always want to meet the families in my class before school begins.  It may ease your child's anxiety to stop in and say "hello".

·                     Be sure the school has all of your phone numbers and email addresses.

The Day Before
·                     Help your child pick out the "First Day" outfit, from underwear out.  Set all the clothing aside so your child knows to get dressed in the morning.

·                     Explain to your child the time schedule for school.  What time you will drop them off, pick them up etc.

·                     Talk about the child's feelings, when talking with younger children be sure to let them know that you have complete confidence in their abilities, that this is a great adventure, and that you will be looking forward to hearing all about it after school.  Put a note in your child’s lunch box to remind him or her that you are proud of them and know that they are doing great.  Avoid saying you miss them or are thinking about them as this can lead to anxiety in the child.  Your child may feel that you are sad because they are not around.  Something like, “I can’t wait to hear about your day,” or “I believe in you” work well.

The First Day
·                     Keep the routine low key, calm and happy.

·                     Drop your child off, give him or her big hug and tell them you will see them at (whatever time school ends).  Do not prolong the goodbye.  Leave them in the care of the teacher even if your child is nervous, scared or tearful.  The teacher will know how to deal with this.  It’s like ripping off a bandaid.  It is better not to prolong the agony.  The teacher will find a way to help your child find friends and things that are interesting to do.

·                     Go to work or go shopping, something to take your mind off leaving your child in someone else's care.

·         When your child comes home, let him or her begin the conversation about school.  If you ask the question, “What did you do today?”  The open­-endedness and enormity of that question often result in the answer, “Nothing.”    Just be there with a smile and be ready to listen when the child opens the subject.

I wish you all a very successful school year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Practical Life Ideas

My sister-in-law once said to me, "My job is to raise my children so that they no longer need me."
That is the essential tenet in the "oractical life" lessons in a Montessori classroom.  Here are a number of ideas for practical life activities for children of all ages.

Remember children need to be taught how to do things such as using sharp knives, tools, and appliances.   Take the time to demonstrate and practice with them.  Before you know it they will be doing these things on their own.

1.      Pet Care
2.      Gardening
3.      Cooking/food prep
4.      Bicycle repair
5.      First aid
6.      Sewing
7.      Woodwork/building projects
8.      Laundry
9.      Tool use
10.  Polishing
11.  Table setting
12.  Washing dishes/dishwasher loading
13.  Ironing
14.  Clothing repair
15.  Fence painting
16.  Addressing mail
17.  Bill paying/check writing
18.  Tipping
19.  Making an appointment
20.  Writing a thank you note
21.  Planning field trips
22.  Organizing and counting money
23.  Telling time
24.  Teeth care
25.  Charity work
26.  Answering the telephone
27.  Manners
28.  Greetings
29.  Shoe tying
30.  Sweeping/mopping
31.  Raking
32.  Measuring (for cooking, building…)
33.  Threading a shoe lace
34.  Tying knot
35.  Sneezing and tissues
36.  Hand washing
37.  Serving food to others
38.  Nail trimming
39.  Using a microwave
40.  Computer skills
41.  Changing toilet paper roll
42.  Shopping
43.  Nutrition/food choice
44.  Tying a tie
45.  Folding a paper in half
46.  Framing a picture
47.  Gift wrapping
48.  Drink pouring
49.  Making an introduction
50.  Hanging up clothes
51.  Organizing papers
52.  Organizing personal work space
53.  Putting books back on a shelf
54.  Cutting
55.  Setting an alarm clock
56.  How to take a test
57.  Dancing with a partner
58.  Resolving conflicts peacefully
59.  Making new friends
60.  Making ice cubes
61.  Cleaning eye glasses
62.  Putting in hair clips
63.  Changing the size of a baseball cap
64.  Crossing the street
65.  Driving a car

Help your child learn the skills they need to be independent.  Remember, even when they are all grown up and technically no longer "need" you, they will always need your love.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Vacation (with the kids!)

There is nothing as American as a summer vacation.  Loading up the car or getting on a plane, packing the RV or camper and heading for a new location is just the starting point for creating fun and long lasting memories.

When traveling with children it pays to plan ahead and be organized.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Ziploc Bags - large ziploc bags are a necessity when travelling with children.  The first use is to pack a child's clothes for each day in a separate bag.  Everything from underwear out.  This way your child has an outfit all ready to go.  He or she can pack their pajamas back into the bag after changing and then they will be ready for the evening.  Pack extra socks and underwear, bathing suits, and dress up clothes separately.  Bring extra bags to take home shells, rocks, or other souvenirs you pick up along the way.
  • Snacks - pack familiar, favorite snacks for your child.  Long road trips and rainy "inside" days will be better if the child has familiar snacks that are easy to eat and easy to access.  Keep the snack bag within reach in the car or plane.  You may think about packing breakfast too.  This is easy and saves money.  Many hotels have refrigerators nowadays.  Bring a box of cereal, plastic bowls and spoons, buy milk when you get to your destination, and you are all set for those early (hungry) risers.  You may wish to pack granola bars,  peanut butter, and fruit.
  • Books, Games, Toys - With elementary aged children it behooves you to have a tablet, whether ipad, kindle, or nook.  You can load it with their books, games and music.  It is fun to bring a family game to play on days when you are not out sightseeing, or ones you can play in the car.  The license plate game, I'm Going on a Picnic, and 20 questions are fun to play with the family in the car.
  • Seating Rotation - I come from a family of 5 children and someone was always "in the middle".  Plan with the children a seating chart that rotates so that everyone gets a chance to be near a window.  You may choose to have a plan for each day or rotate every stop.  Choose what works best for your family.
  • Responsibilities on the Trip - Children need to know what is expected of them on a trip.  Running up and down hallways and hitting all the buttons on the elevator may be fun for the child but not always for others who are staying there.  Each child can be given a responsibility.  One child can wash car windows at the gas station, one child can clean trash out of the car, one child can dispense hand sanitizer and paper towels when needed.  Older children can help carry bags and luggage, younger children can hand out granola bars and other packaged snacks on the road.  You can find a job for everyone.
  • First Aid Kit - Remember to pack one with supplies.
  • Camera - With digital cameras you must remember to pack the charger.  Kids like to take pictures too. Giving each child a disposable camera allows them to take their own pictures.  It teaches responsibility and planning.  If there are 36 exposures, you need to plan what you want a picture of and everyone can make their own memory book when you get home.

Happy Travels and Memories~

Monday, July 2, 2012

Writing on the Walls

There is nothing as enticing to a child than a big blank wall.  It is the perfect canvas for crayons, pencils, paint, chalk, and any other writing implement.  

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Pablo Picasso

So as good Montessori teachers and parents, we need to find a way to prepare the child's environment so that she has freedom to express her artistic tendencies.

Butcher Paper
Cover the walls with Butcher Paper.  You can purchase this at a craft or art supply store (or online).  It comes in many different widths.  You can tack it on across the blank space on the walls and then let the children go for it with crayons, markers, and other colorful writing tools.  Older children can express their thoughts and use this paper to leave notes, design fashion or automobiles, write poetry and music lyrics, draw and sketch.  Younger children like to practice their letters, draw, or just play with color.

Outdoor Grafitti
There is nothing young children like better than water play.  Why not give them paint brushes and buckets of water then let them draw or write with the water on the side of the house or on the driveway.  It is beneficial for children who are learning their letters to write them using the big muscles of the arm and shoulder.  Children can write large letters using the water and paint.

Art in the Window
Crayola has markers to use on glass.  If you have large windows or sliding glass doors, why not let the children use the markers and decorate the windows.  This is a great rainy day activity.

It takes a little planning but brings joy and fun to your child's life, so let the art activities begin!