Welcome back, and Happy New Year! For this newsletter, I asked what you wanted me to touch on and you overwhelmingly said “whining“. Children using whining as a way to communicate when they are tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed, and they continue to use it when it works for them. In the classroom, In the classroom, if a child whines, I try to take a moment and get down on their level. I say, “it sounds like you are trying to tell me something”, or “you are making a noice, but I don’t understand what the noise means. Can you please tell me what you are trying to say?” Usually they are able to tell me in their normal voice, what it the issue is and move on. Sometimes I ask questions based on what’s happening, “are you making that noise because you are sad?”, for example. I might then say, you can let me and (dad or mom) know that you are sad with your words so that we can know how to help you. Janet Lansbury is a great resource, and she breaks this down into steps: https://www.janetlansbury.com/2011/08/why-the-whining-and-4-steps-to-eventual-peace/.

What does it really mean to send your children to a Montessori School? I think it’s a common misconception that children in the Montessori classroom do whatever they want, so I thought I’d try to clarify that what happens during our mornings. Think of it this way, a Montessori Education is about helping the child find what he/she truly loves and cultivating that love within the prepared environment. Children are free to choose the work (or materials) of their choice, and we use positive discipline to help them when they make choices that hurt themselves, others or classroom materials. This means we are kind when talking to them, but we’re also firm, if we say “one more time”, we only let the child do whatever it is they wanted, one more time. The child may want to continue, and that’s when we acknowledge they want to continue, but we are firm and say, you can play with this again tomorrow or jump more tomorrow, whatever it is they want more of.

Next month we plan to move from just practicing rolling rugs to starting to use the rugs as a way of defining each child’s work area. It also helps children contain their materials by giving them a visual boundary. “Grace and courtesy” is a phrase often used in the Montessori classroom to describe lessons in kindness and care of the environment.

Katie Williams (Hayden’s mom) joined us to make snowballs on Wednesday morning, and on Thursday we made them in the classroom (we ate them with snack).
In case you want to try these at home, here is the recipe:
1 tablespoon of Sunflower butter
1 teaspoon Honey
1 teaspoon of Cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of Grated coconut
1 teaspoon of Puffed rice cereal
Mix all the ingredients together, divide into 2 balls and then roll in the grated coconut.

Since it’s normally cold in January, we have been focusing on polar animals, snow and ice. For example, we have orcas that swim through “ice.” We have polar bears and walruses for imaginative play.

In our practical life area, we have added transferring water with a little pipette and straining acrylic ice cubs out of water. We’ve also added transferring items with tongs of different sizes and materials. These activities encourage concentration as the child tries to transfer water or items from one container into another. Spilling does occur, and when it happens the children are learning to take care of their environment and clean up after themselves. They proudly get a small towel or the sweeper, depending on the type of material that needs cleaning up. By teaching the children how to clean up after themselves, we are giving them skills they can use at home and throughout their lives.

At this point in the year, the children’s vocabularies are showing tremendous growth. They often team up and make up stories to go with the materials they use. Using the wooden fruits and veggies, dishes and pots and pans to cook for the baby and each other, is a favorite theme. At other times, we’ll walk by a child and hear him or her singing to themselves. It is such a treat to get to hear the sweet songs and wonderful places their imaginations take them.

Next month, we’ll look at body parts and emotions. We’ll also continue pickup on the playground for February.

Books we are reading:
When Snowflakes Fall by Carl R. Sams II
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Build a Snowman, 1, 2, 3! by Megan E. Bryant
Winter Friends by Carl R. Sams II
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See?

Songs we are singing:
(Sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star)
Snowflakes, snowflakes all around
In the air and on the ground.
Some are big and some are small
You can roll them in a ball.
When the sun comes out to play
Watch the snowflakes melt away

The Coat Flip
The children are working on mastering the “coat flip” – a fun and efficient way for them to put on their coats without adult help.

Here are the steps that you can try at home:
1. Lay the coat on the floor with the lining on top and the hood or neck next to the child’s feet. We say, “tags to toes.”
2. The child slides his arms into the sleeves and lifts the coat over his or her head.
3. The coat slides neatly down over his or her back. We get the zipper started and let the child finish.

Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting on one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.” – Maria Montessori

Betty and Erica