Friday Newsletter / September 8, 2017

Last chance to sign up for After School Programs!

Monday 9/11/17
Cooking (Full) 3:30-4:45
MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Tuesday 9/12/17
Spanish with Marco 3:30-4:30
UE/MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Wednesday 9/13/17
Chess 3:30-4:30
MS Soccer 3:30-4:30
Mt Biking 3:30-4:30

Thursday 9/14/17
UE/MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Parent Education Meeting 9/14
5-6pm for TP, CH and LE
6-7pm for UE and MS
Childcare sign up at the front desk!

Friday 9/15/17
LE Soccer 3:30-4:30
Pizza Lunch Begins!

Coming up...

Friday 9/22/17
Peace Day Celebration

Tuesday 9/26/17
School Picture Day
Notes from the Head of School

It is only week two and the classrooms are already settling in and getting  normalized”. As Montessorians we use the term normalized to describe when the students have the rhythm of the day and, together and independently, work and grow where they need to.

Children are choosing their  “work” and building their  concentration. In Montessori classrooms we call the student activities “work” because the children are choosing materials that are helping them to grow where they are developmentally needing to grow, and that is their “work” as children. Dr. Montessori also chose this word knowing that “work” should ideally have the same joy and appeal for adults, as the activities the children are choosing on which to work. We should all be learning and growing through our “work”.

As guides in the classroom, the adults are careful not to interrupt a child at work. We want to foster that concentration and focus, rather than encourage distraction. This is something you can work to build at home too. When your child is engaged in something, let it come to a natural close, rather than interrupt with any words of praise or requests for another activity.

There are many terms and concepts that we use in a Montessori environment that have a special meaning to us. As parents, the more you can learn about the environment your child experiences at school, the better you can be consistent with that at home, and the more your children benefit from both. Please join us next Thursday, and for all of our parent information events this coming year to learn more about the Montessori philosophy that is bringing so much to your child, so it can bring the same to your family!
First in the series of Parent Meetings
Thursday, Sept 14
We strongly encourage all parents to attend the first of our year long Parent Information Series. We are offering these parent education events and resources to support and strengthen the connection between home and school, and the student, parent and teacher relationship through programs, speakers and conversations that focus on Montessori philosophy and practice, parenting skills and child development issues. 

September Parent Meeting
The Year Ahead and Supporting Home to School Life
Thursday, September 14, 2017

5-6 pm , Toddler, Children's House and Lower Elementary
6-7pm , Upper Elementary and Middle School

This first evening meeting is about the upcoming year, curriculum topics, expectations ​of students and building student-parent-teacher relationships. Parents play a critical role in their children's education. This presentation will help you have a greater understanding of your child's work and development, ways to be involved in your child's education and creating consistent expectations and experiences​!

Specific topics by programs will include the following:

Toddler Program:  Supporting Independence, Homelife and Bound​aries
Children's House:  How Parents Can Support What We Do
Lower Elementary:  How We Support Social Development ​& Extending Classroom Routines to Home​
Upper Elementary:  Family/School Communication, How We Support Executive Function Skills
Middle School:  Media and Technology 

Child Care can be reserved with Rebecca at the front desk.

Please read through  " The Parent Information Series  which was included in the envelopes you picked up on the first day of school​ or here. These events are important investment of time for you and your child’s teacher. Please mark your calendars for ALL of the dates in this series. ​
School Picnic Photos!
Thank you families for contributing your delicious dishes to the family picnic last Friday! Thanks so much to the Board for grilling, Kegan for starting and tending to the warm fire, and to Jay and the band for providing the good tunes!
Toddler Program
Finley gets her own supplies.
Elijah models for Finley.
Elijah dresses himself.
Last step, Finley washes her hands.
Did You Know?

Children are at a Sensitive Period in their development for learning to use the toilet between 18-24 months. (I know! Much earlier than our culture expects children to be toilet savvy.) That means that the process comes easily, there is keen interest in it and the child won't have to work so hard to achieve the skill. This timing is important because it's also before a child reaches her Oppositional Crisis (i.e. the NO phase). After the Sensitive Period has passed and the Crisis is underway, it's still possible to learn to use the toilet, but it will take longer and be more difficult for all involved. Often children become more interested and motivated when they are in our Toddler Program. Why is that?

What Makes Toileting in the Toddler Room So Great?

1.  Accessibility of the Prepared Environment . The bathroom is within the classroom - no traveling long distances to get changed or use the toilet. We have a low toilet and a plastic potty. Baskets with extra clothes, underwear, diapers, wipes, etc. are easy for the children to reach and handle. The sink has stairs leading up to it and soap, paper towels, trash cans and plastic bags for soiled clothes are within reach. There's also a place to sit while donning pants and shoes. And since the adults spend so much time in the bathroom with the children, it has an adult chair as well. This feature also helps the atmosphere feel relaxed and not rushed.
2.  Child Involvement . Every time a child comes to the bathroom she is encouraged to undress herself (with assistance, as needed). She's given an option of either sitting on the toilet or the potty. She's also asked if she'd like to wear a diaper or underwear. Making her own choices and feeling a sense of control over the process are important aspects of learning to use the toilet.
3.  Neutral Ground . Regardless of whether a child wets her pants for the 5th time in a morning or makes a deposit in the toilet for the first time, the adult reaction is neutral. There's no blame or shame for soiled clothes and there's no excessive fanfare for making use of the toilet. Instead, you'll hear phrases like, "Your pants are wet. Let's get you cleaned up." or "You peed in the toilet. Good for you."
4.  Routine, Routine, Routine . When a child is beginning to wear underwear, we tell her its time to use the toilet about every 30-40 minutes. We set a routine so she's regularly visiting the bathroom at natural transition times: when she arrives at school, when she enters the classroom, after snack, before going back outside, before lunch, etc. 
5.  Role Models Galore . Younger and less experienced children learn from others who are further ahead in the process or already wearing underwear. They are inspiring!
6.  Marking Progress . As a child becomes more aware of his body and is keeping his underwear dry for stretches of time throughout the morning, diapers will be made available at nap time only. 
7.  Trusting the Child.  Learning to use the toilet takes practice and children will regress at times. Once a child is consistently using underwear and shows signs of regression, we don't revert back to diapers. Learning is not linear and there will be ups and downs along the way. This is now a stage to practice changing clothes!

Happy weekend - be it in the bathroom or elsewhere!

Ellie, Amanda & Marco
Birch Room
The children work with Cheryl to measure Mariam using the golden beads.
Isaac strikes a pose after matching objects and beginning sounds.
Henry reacquaints himself with the binomial cube.
We’ve had a great start to the year in the Birch Room. It’s been so nice to see our new Olders begin to take on the role of classroom leaders by modeling the routines of the classroom, assisting younger children with works and self-care, and choosing challenging works of their own! Part of each new year involves some adjustment to school routines and new roles after summer break. Children can express anything from excitement to trepidation about coming in to school in the morning. Sometimes they even feel a lot of different emotions at once and don’t know quite how to process them. This is completely normal, just like it would be for us if we started a new role at work or returned after a long vacation. We will definitely let you know if your child seems to be having difficulty with the readjustment to school, but also feel free to check in with us any time about what he or she is doing!

Have a great weekend!

-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam 
Willow Room
Annabel practices cutting on a line.
Mazin paints in the art area.
Athena works with the barn and animals.
The Willow room has had a nice transition to our first week of full days. Our returning children have been helpful in teaching our new children about the classroom. They take great pride in showing lessons and particulars about the routine that they have already mastered. It’s been wonderful to witness this growth!

Throughout our mornings together, the children have the opportunity to make choices and engage with different materials for an uninterrupted period of work time. We call this the Work Cycle. Children can choose materials or “works” independently from any area of the classroom and it is also a time where Jonathan will give individual or small group lessons. Currently, many of our works are centered around the theme of ocean life. You may notice children bringing home booklets on the parts of a fish, or art work made from shell stamps. 

We’ve also been learning about the Peace Table, and how it can be used in our classroom for conflict resolution. The Peace Curriculum is a big part of our classroom and we will share more about it as the weeks go on. Feel free to ask about it if you're curious.

Each child has a paper cubby or “mailbox” in the classroom where they keep their artwork or any paper work. Please check this cubby regularly to see what your child has been up to!

Parent Orientation Night is coming up! It is Thursday, September 14th from 5-6 PM. Childcare will be provided.

We look forward to getting together with our Willow Room families to share more about our classroom and to learn more about each other.

Have a great weekend!

Jonathan and Rebecca
Lower Elementary
Older girls during S.S.R. (Silent Sustained Reading)
Claire and Alica count using Roman numerals.
Lower El students practicing their observation skills and recording what they notice in their nature journals. 
Making art inspired by the story of the Earth.
We were happily busy this week in Lower El, despite the mostly gloomy weather. Here are some highlights from our week:

  • We followed up our Coming of the Universe story with creation stories from around the world. 
  • On Tuesday, we beat the rain and went outside for some observation time. This gave us an opportunity to draw and write in our handmade nature journals. 
  • We chose just-right books for our book boxes. Ask your child about the "five finger rule!" 
  • We had our first Writer's Workshop, focusing on journal writing. 

First Field Trip: On  Thursday, October 12th, we are planning to hike Putney Mountain. We welcome drivers and chaperones for this Lower El community outing. If you are able and willing to drive, please let both Patrick and Kerstin know, via email ( or, how many children, with booster/car seats, that you can fit in your car. We will plan to leave at 8:45 that morning and return by 11:15am.  Our rain date for this hike will be on Friday, October 13th. 

Finally,  our first Work Share will take place on  Tuesday, October 3rd.  From 3:00 to 3:25, let your children teach you what they have been working on in the classroom. Then, when they go off to After Care (free of charge for those attending Work Share), we will present some of what we do in our writing curriculum until 3:50. This will leave everyone with time to pick up their children from After Care by 4:00.
We hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend.
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia 
Upper Elementary
Preparation for the Upper El Pinnacle Trip
Middle School
Guests come to teach us about mycology
Mushroom foraging
Journaling her own 1/4 acre
The Middle School emerged from Upland today after spending the last four days in the woods. We are a bit damp and tired but had a formative, fungal, and fun time together.
Ready to bake
Singing in the rain
Making focaccia dough for dinner
Discovering the connectivity of an eco system 
Community News
Hilltop Montessori School | 802-257-0500 | Fax 802-254-2671 |