September 30th, 2019
Hello Rabbit Run!
Can you believe we have already been in school for six weeks? The time is going by so fast! We have moved through the initial transition of coming back to school and are feeling much more comfortable in our routines and schedules. That said, children all move through transitions at different speeds, and while some seem to be fully in the flow, others are still in the process of adjusting. There is no right or wrong here, just meeting each child where they are and supporting them as much as they need in that moment. And of course offering them patience, kindness, and empathy. Things are always changing, always in flux, and in recognizing this we can release any expectations of what 'should be' and simply follow the child.
This week we are learning about the migration of Monarch butterflies to Mexico for the winter. We have noticed the Monarchs arriving, on their way down south. We see them as we walk the paths to the playground and in the gardens. We will be reading two books about it. Monarch and Milkweed, which tells about the relationship between the Monarch and this plant where it drinks nectar and lays eggs. The other book is Butterflies on Carmen Street, which is a bilingual (English/Spanish) book about a young girl who gets a caterpillar at school and watches as it transforms into a Monarch. She doesn't want to let it go, because she worries it won't know how to find its way to Mexico, but her grandfather grew up in a tiny town in Mexico where the Monarchs go during the winter, so he reassures her that the butterfly will know how to get there.
We are also reading Sonya's Chickens, Fall, Shades of People, Tiny Perfect Things, Jabari Jumps, Everybody Needs a Rock, and (of course) Frog and Toad. We have learned a lot of songs together, as well, including You Are My Sunshine, Sunflower Sunflower, Butterfly, Come Let Us Gather and Robin in the Rain. We have been reciting the poem, 'Bed in Summer,' although this week we will leave the summer poems behind and leap into fall (now if only it felt like it!).
In addition to reading books, I have been telling the children oral stories, Dr. Montessori called them True Stories, to support their own internal creation of images and ideas about what they are hearing. Sometimes it's an exciting story, like the story of Max and the porcupine, sometimes it's as simple as watering the lemon tree in my backyard, sometimes it's as mundane as waking up and making breakfast, sometimes it's about hearing an owl in the middle of the night, or going to the grocery store, or noticing the light changing on an evening walk. After every story, hands shoot up in the air, waving excitedly to tell us of their own experiences. Children love to hear these stories, no matter how simple, because they can relate to it. The child in the First Plane of development has not developed the rational mind yet, and so their Absorbent Mind takes in everything as truth. For this reason, we steer away from fantasy stories and offer them instead the books and stories that they see themselves reflected in- caring for animals/pets, taking a walk and collecting bits of nature, watching for butterflies, building the courage to jump off the diving board, finding a special rock, having an adventure with a friend.
I've attached an article about the benefits of oral storytelling, and the particular benefits of parents telling children family stories. Oral storytelling transforms family history into a living and evolving experience. For children to embody their history means strengthening the connection to who they are and where they come from- their sense of identity. In addition, it supports their auditory processing, empathetic response and critical analysis skills. The article below is just one of many studies discovering the cognitive and developmental benefits of oral storytelling. Below you will find a paragraph from the article that I find interesting and inspiring. Thanks for reading and feel free to connect with any questions!
"Over the last 25 years, a small canon of research on family storytelling shows that when parents share more family stories with their children—especially when they tell those stories in a detailed and responsive way—their children benefit in a host of ways. For instance, experimental studies show that when parents learn to reminisce about everyday events with their preschool children in more detailed ways, their children tell richer, more complete narratives to other adults one to two years later compared to children whose parents didn’t learn the new reminiscing techniques. Children of the parents who learned new ways to reminisce also demonstrate better understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions. These advanced narrative and emotional skills serve children well in the school years when reading complex material and learning to get along with others. In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts. And adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety."
What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories
Hello Foxtail community,
We are almost finished with our two first weeks of school, a new place for some of the children and a known place for the returning ones. These past two weeks have been very busy and very fun as well. Over the past days, we have been working on reinforcing the importance of the grace and courtesy lessons. These lessons are some of the most important lessons we offer, not only for the new children but also for the returning ones. Grace and courtesy lessons are key for a positive social environment and show how we treat each other inside our classroom and out. They show how to ask or offer help, how to say no kindly, and how to manage our emotions in a positive way.
During the past days, Mandy and I have been working on establishing connections with the children. It can be hard and stressful to be in a new place for the first time and to be with new friends and new adults. I love music a lot, and music is one of my favorite ways to connect with my classroom- singing songs, dancing, and playing instruments. So for the past days, we have been dancing to a lot of music from all over the world and learning new songs. Some of you might have had your children come home with special requests!
Lastly, I would love to share with you two articles that I find very interesting and important for both our new parents and for our returning parents. The link is from a website called Baan Dek, which is actually a Montessori school up in South Dakota. Baan Dek has such a great blog and articles- definitely one of my favorites out there.
The first article is called "One small change" https://baandek.org/posts/one-small-change/
The second one is called "every day Matters" https://baandek.org/posts/every-day-matters/
Enjoy these two beautiful articles and I am always open to having a conversation about them and to answer any questions that you may have. Remember to follow us on Instagram at Foxtailclass- I will try to post new pictures every day!
Thank you so much for all your trust and support and I hope all of you have a lovely long weekend!