Friday Newsletter / September 22, 2017

Monday 9/25/17
Cooking (Full) 3:15-4:45
MS Soccer 3:15-4:30

Tuesday 9/26/17
School Picture Day
Spanish with Marco 3:30-4:30
UE/MS Soccer 3:15-4:30

Wednesday 9/27/17
Chess 3:15-4:30
MS Soccer 3:15-4:30
Mt Biking 3:15-4:30

Thursday 9/28/17
UE/MS Soccer Game 5pm (Childcare provided from 3-5pm)

Friday 9/29/17
CH Field Trip to Green Mountain Orchards
LE Soccer 3:15-4:30
Pizza Lunch

Coming up...

Tuesday 10/3/17
LE Workshare 3-3:50pm

Friday 10/6/17
Grandparents/Special Friends Day- Noon Dismissal
Peace Day
Peace Buddies are an important and wonderful part of the Hilltop community. Each year, on or near International Peace Day, students are paired with another in a different program. This results in disparate height friends walking through the halls together, singing at All School Gathering, and developing lovely relationships across programs and ages. While the three year age range within the classrooms allows for friendships across different years, the wider range of these Peace Buddies builds the larger community of the school and engenders even more empathy for others even more different than ourselves. This year, we will be helping families engage in the Peace Buddy relationship and be sending home information about your student’s Peace Buddy. (Look for the information coming next week.) The hope is that you can at a minimum engage in more discussions with your student about their Peace Buddy, and maybe even be able to further the relationship outside of school. Please use those school directories to contact your child’s buddy! PEACE!

If you would like to read a description of all the activities included in Hilltop Montessori School’s Peace Day festivities, please see last year’s newsletter piece on  Peace Day .
Upcoming Events...
September 26th: School Picture Day
September 28th: First All School Gathering (aprox. 8:55-9:15 - Parents are welcome to join the audience and also to chat over coffee in the Arts Barn between drop of and ASG)
October 3rd: LE Workshare 3-4pm
October 6th: Grandparents/Special Friends Day -
Noon Dismissal for All
Grandparent/Special Friend Day
Grandparents & Special Friends Day  invitations have just been sent out for Friday, October 6th, 2017.  See full schedule for the day below. 

This is a very popular event that we host twice a year, fall and spring. Having two opportunities for Grandparents or Special Friends to visit our campus allows those traveling long distances to choose the time of year that works best for them. 

We love visitors! But sometimes too many grown-ups in the classroom can be hard to manage for children and visitors alike. This year, we welcome all guests but ask that no more than 2 guests per child visit in the classroom at one time. We're hoping this alleviates some of the stress that little ones, especially, can experience on this very special day.

Along with a classroom visit we are pleased to have photographers on hand to take photos of students with their visitors. Be sure to take advantage in order to capture the day!
Peace Day
Peace Dove Upgrades
Peace Day Celebration
Driveway and Parking Safety
Morning Drop-off 

If dropping students off at the circle, please pull  completely around the circle,  either behind another vehicle or to the end of the circle to discharge passengers.  Do not pass vehicles on the inside lane of the circle. This procedure also includes Middle School Students. Never, ever, ever, stop in front of the Middle School to discharge students.  

Please be respectful regarding idling for more than 3 minutes and never, ever leave vehicles unattended in the circle.  If you need to leave your vehicle for any reason, please park in the lot behind the school.

  Artful Pick-Up Procedure

Toddler pick-up:   
Dismissal is between 2:30 and 2:45 and drivers/parents picking up at this time will proceed to the parking lot.
Children's House pick-up:   
Dismissal is between 2:45 and 3pm drivers/parents picking up proceed to the parking lot.
Elementary/Middle School:   
Dismissal is 3:00 pm drivers/parents pick up directly in the circle.

CARPOOLS must park in the parking lot and gather passengers by foot.

The Circle   Protocol 

When picking up in the circle vehicles must pull up as far as possible nearest the next vehicle in the line. 
Drivers must wait in a single line to move through the circle and then merge, carefully onto the main driveway Do not do cut-sees and move into the inner circle.  Additionally, all students should enter cars from the sidewalk side. No children should ever be in the road. Please understand, this is a huge safety issue. We do not want any accidents. Safety First.
Toddler Program
Happy (belated) Peace Day! Dr. Montessori is well known for the philosophy of education she developed after many years of carefully observing children. Perhaps less well known, but equally important, is the value she placed on peace education. Dr. Montessori lived in Europe (and later India) during and after World Wars I and II; she saw first hand the devastation that war caused. She wrote and lectured prolifically about the importance of teaching children peace for they would be the leaders of tomorrow. (Interestingly, her work was so well respected Dr. Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 3 times: 1949, 1950, and 1951.) 

Here are some of Dr. Montessori's quotes to ponder...
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” 
"If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men." 
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” 

Enjoy a peaceful weekend.
Ellie, Amanda & Marco
Birch Room
Food and the Young Child

There are few caregiving tasks that are as fundamental as feeding your child. Unfortunately, just making lunch can sometimes become a time consuming and even anxiety producing maze, with questions about what really constitutes a “healthy” food and how to actually get a child to eat it. 

In the Children’s House we try to keep to the basics as much as possible. Unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of protein help keep children powered physically and mentally throughout the day. Water, instead of juice or yogurt drinks, makes a great sugar free (and easy) accompaniment. Saving sweet treats for home also helps children eat enough of the other, more sustaining foods in their lunches. We included a few of our favorite lunch box ideas at the end of the article.

Once a meal has been made, another question arises: How do you get a child to eat it? More importantly, do you have to? In the wonderful book Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense , Ellyn Satter describes something called “The Division of Responsibility” in eating. According to this division, the parent or caregiver is responsible for what, when, and where the child eats, while the child is responsible for how much and whether to eat. This approach is based on a basic trust in the child’s ability to make good choices from thoughtfully provided options, much like we have in the classroom. For more on this approach, see here .

Here are some quick and healthy favorite lunch ideas from the Birch Room:

  • fruit that’s already bite sized or comes in its own package (berries, grapes, clementines, small bananas, etc.)
  • ready to eat fresh vegetables (grape tomatoes, carrot sticks, sugar snap peas) 
  • frozen mango or pineapple chunks (these will help keep things cold and thaw by the time it’s lunch)
  • greek yogurt
  • cheese (cubed, or store-bought pre-sliced) 
  • hummus
  • sunflower butter
  • cottage cheese
  • deli meat roll-ups with whole grain crackers or pita chips
  • and of course… yummy leftovers!

Feel free to share your own ideas on the white board!
 Eleanor and Magnolia work on making maps.
Cheryl gives a calendar lesson.
Sophie and Odin help with classroom laundry.
Oliver and Andrew helped Mace set up a circle for outside games. 
Willow Room
Today we celebrated Peace Day as a school community. Children were paired up with their Upper Elementary Peace Buddies for the school year. We came together to listen to words of Peace, sing songs of Peace and do a Peace Walk together in silence. These buddies will get together every week for All School Gathering (on most Thursdays), as well as some other events throughout the year. Our children really look up to their Peace Buddies and it is always exciting for them to get to spend time together. Next week, your child will bring home a “getting to know you” activity they did with their Peace Buddy, so please ask them to share about the day.

In our classroom, the children have many opportunities to practice Peace. We’ve mentioned our Peace Table, which is a space used for conflict resolution. Children have been using this space on a daily basis to work out their problems and come up with solutions. We teach them to use “I” statements and to practice active listening. Many children are able to do this on their own, but we are always available to support them. 

Caring for our environment is another way to show an act of Peace, or to be a Peacemaker. Children take great pride in sweeping, dusting, watering plants, and washing tables and chairs. Before group time, we ask children to do a random act of kindness, which could be anything from helping a friend to put a work away, or pushing a chair in. We place great emphasis on these acts and recognize when someone has done something peaceful by hanging a dove on our Peace Tree. 

We also care for each other. One of our recent group lessons was on recognizing our own emotions as well as those of our friends. It can be challenging for children to understand emotions that they are feeling, let alone those of their friends. As a group we looked at pictures of children showing a range of emotions, naming those emotions, and making those same faces. This is one way to help them identify which feelings they’ve experienced and to see what feelings can look like on someone else.

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to our newest student, Amaya, and her family. We are so happy to have them as part of our Hilltop community!

We hope you have a peaceful weekend!

Rebecca and Jonathan 
Amaya works on tweezing sunflower seeds.
Kennedy makes a leaf book.
Cooper fills in the 100 board.
Annabel, Alexander and Finn work together to sweep the floor.
Lower Elementary
Lower El assignment board.
Dan teaches a lesson on the elasticity of solids.
How do we help with executive function in Lower El?

One of our tasks, as teachers and parents, is to help our children become responsible, independent people. How do we help with executive function in Lower El? With three years in our classroom, most students have the benefit of lots of practice, as well as the gift of time. 

As Youngers, they are introduced to work plans. For the first few months, their teachers write in their works in the various subject categories. As they become more familiar with the format, they are able to take over some of this responsibility. Older students know to look at the assignment board for their followup work. On it they find forms that describe work to be done today or "soon," as well as work that needs immediate attention because it is past due. 

Reflection is an important part of this process; a child is never left on their own to plan their day or their week. Large group meetings, and individual check-ins, occur frequently, to help students think about their own work. The ultimate goal is to have them be the ones to make decisions about their day, including when to take a snack break. Through teacher modeling and help, students begin to learn and internalize the routines of planning their time in class. 
The groundwork has been laid for the skills of time management and self-regulation already in these first few weeks. With continued practice and regular assistance, Lower El students will move closer toward autonomy and the pride that comes along with doing things well. We have the pleasure of witnessing this growth, in all its fits and starts, every day in class!

Enjoy your weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Jade learns about South America using the biome readers.
Talia and Lucas practice the South American Mammal layout.
Kirsten, Addy, and Ciana record their observations in their nature journals.

Helen observes a seaweed sample.
Housekeeping Notes:

Footwear for recess and P.E.:  Please inform your child that cleats should be worn for soccer practices and games only, not at recess or in P.E., where most children are not wearing soccer footwear and shin guards, and so run the risk of being injured by cleat-wearing players. It has already happened a few times!

Mugs and Extra Clothes:  Please send a mug in with your child if you have not already done so; our counter space is limited, and water bottles are for P.E. and recess. Also,  extra clothes are a must,  (that means you, too, Olders!), as we go out in all but the very coldest weather. We want everyone to be prepared for recess's unexpected offerings, or even a lunchtime yogurt explosion.

Finally, thank you to everyone who attended our Parent Orientation Night. It was great to have such a large crowd! We have copies of our daily schedule and important Lower El events, for those of you who were not able to make it. 
Our first Lower El Workshare is Tuesday, October 3rd from 3-4pm.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Upper Elementary
Life in UE was humming again this week. This is an industrious group!! 

Some of the highlights this week included:

  • kicking off our writing of realistic fiction stories
  • finding out how most of the cells in our body reproduce through mitosis
  • journaling on the question of what defines "life", then doing our first non-fiction reading on the topic
  • the deepening mystery in The False Prince, a book by Jennifer Nielsen we are reading aloud
  • our olders comparing settlement patterns and economies of the northern, middle, and southern colonies
  • our olders deepening their ability to consider and respond to current events through two readings on DACA -- one for and one against its repeal
  • reviewing the six syllable types in word study.

The students were very excited to find out their peace buddies for the year. They have been eagerly anticipating this big day since the start of school.

Again: water bottles and indoor shoes are much appreciated.

Have a terrific weekend. Fall colors are nearly upon us --
Tom teaches a geometry lesson on areas.
Good friends support each other in math.
Sam makes a crossword puzzle with vocabulary from his seminar book.
Football at recess.
Olders and youngers collaborate in their cell analogy project.
Diana had the time and initiative to go above and beyond to do her own study of bacteria cells!

Students in the vocal improv elective layer percussion sounds together.
Keegan shows his elective the finer points of sewing (Halloween costumes).
The knitting elective entertains Murphy!
Middle School
Health of the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Middle School students are in the midst of an important time in their lives; not quite kids, not quite adults. Our students have never been more connected to the world around them, near and far, than they are now. With unlimited knowledge at their fingertips, an expanding world view, and ever-increasing awareness, they are ready to begin taking on more responsibility for themselves as individuals. The purpose of studying health in the Middle School is to give students some of the tools necessary to make informed decisions and to inspire and empower them to make positive choices. The two-year  Health of the Mind, Body, and Spirit  study prioritizes care of self, moves into care of others, and culminates with a critical look at community and society and how this might affect the view of the self. As with everything that we do in the Middle School, research, dialogue, and critical thought will be our primary means of discovery. 

In years past, our health study has began in the winter and stretched out anywhere from four weeks long up to the whole second semester. This year our students will have double the amount of class time to talk about new and relevant topics with Becky as the lead teacher. Health classes began on September 13th and will continue (with some breaks) every Wednesday through the end of the year. These classes will be divided into smaller groups by grade, with slightly different focuses for each age group. We will start the year investigating what it means to be a human, in our bodies, in this time. In the first half of the year, all students will explore relevant and timely topics that they anonymously chose from a checklist of potentials. The results are in and topics include, but are not limited to: stress and anxiety, healthy and unhealthy ways to cope, gender roles and stereotypes, the gender spectrum, sexual orientation, social media and technology use, consent, substance use and abuse, and risky behavior. Later in the school year, seventh and eighth grade curriculum will diverge. The seventh grade will investigate human anatomy and physiology, which includes information about the male and female reproductive systems and adolescent development (topics typical of a “health curriculum”). The curriculum will also include readings and discussions about current health topics in the news and media. Specific topics will vary based on student interest and relevant newsworthy material. In eighth grade, the curriculum is focused specifically on decision-making as it relates to human sexuality. We will compare myths with facts based on real data (see the 2015 VT Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results here ). The study’s guiding question is: How do you, as young adults, make decisions that are positive for yourselves, your well being, and others in the community?
Forest ecologist, Tom Wessels uncovers some of Upland's mysteries.
Geometry class searches for truth.
A woodland pixie is surprised on her plot!
On our way to upland.
Hilltop Helpers
Thanks to all parents who filled out the volunteer questionnaire and signed up to help on a team. The Flower & Fun committees have been formed…Some gardening has already begun & friends have been working with  Kegan  to beautify our campus. Thank you! Our grounds are looking great. The Buildings and Grounds, Equity and Development Committees are gearing up as well and, if you expressed interest, you will be hearing from a chairperson soon. Also, Parent reps have been established in each classroom. Here are the Classroom Representatives:

  • Middle School: Alix Fedoruk
  • Upper EL: Leah Nussbaum & Lucia Magee
  • Lower EL: Jen Betit-Engel & Kate Traeger
  • Birch Room: Jade Harmon
  • Willow Room: Svetlana Humfeldt
  • Toddler Room: Not yet finalized

Thank you all, in advance, for your time & energy. We look forward to working with you in the near future. 

Help Hurricane Victims
As many of you know, our school is closely affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS). AMS has set up a special fund just to help schools which have been affected by the hurricanes. Check out this link . Nienhuis/Heutink (a world renowned maker of Montessori materials) has agreed to match up to $10,000 of donations. While the damages to schools can be significant, we are hoping this will help. 

We also have sought information on how to reach other communities who might be in particular need of assistance. Here is a  link to a source for finding other agencies who are specifically helping communities of color.

We will have a collection jar in the front lobby to collect donations from families that we will be forwarding to a couple of orgainzations.
Community News
Come Support the Middle School!
Buy a delicious bowl of HOMEMADE ramen at 
BRATTROCK  tomorrow, Saturday September 23, 4:30 on.
Show up and Slurp.
Hilltop Montessori School | 802-257-0500 | Fax 802-254-2671 |