I have been really bad about finding time to blog. My original intent for this blog was to share those little moments that happen during the day that make it all worthwhile. Today as I sit in my office, which I have been in for the last week or more straight, trying to revise the charter application, I decided that I needed to blog. I went to get a bit of fresh air in the schoolyard. I can hear the children playing, and see them as I walk across for a drink or to use the restroom, but today I watched through the window. I saw about 12 logs that we have in a pile from a tree that was cut down, spread across the grass. There were about 7 little chairs lined up for "spectators". The logs were arranged as an obstacle course with a few adults sized chairs to crawl under through the course. There were 5 children, both boys and girls ages 3-7 cheering one another on, watching, and waiting. I went outside with a smile that could not be erased to get a closer look. No one really noticed me, they were focused on the events. A father had pulled into the parking lot and got out of his car just as his daughter was about to strat her turn. He too stood and watched with the same genuine smile that I had. His daughter was not aware of his arrival until she had finished and ran with open arms to him. As they walked down the sidewalk together, arm in arm he said to her, "I enjoyed watching you run that course, I was just in time." As he passed me he said, "This is great, thanks Jennifer".
This is why I do what I do. This was one moment of the day that contained so much for everyone who was a part of it. I will make it a point to share more moments more often. That's what it is all about!
Now that the weather has cooled down, we have begun our bi-weekly animal visits. Last week, we had a nanny goat and her kid. The students had a great time feeding, brushing and watching the goats.
Today was our second music class with the new music teacher. Last year we had a program that involved music, songs, and an instructor who played the guitar. I am not musically inclined, but really wish I was. To be able to read music, play an instrument, wow, what a gift. Circumstances were such that I needed to find a new music program for the school year. I am a firm believer that if cannot do something yourself, like teach music, find someone who can. Because music is offered as an enrichment program at my school, I really wanted to offer the parents a program that I could not give. While taking my 6-9 Montessori training, we were introduced to a lady who was musical. The kind of person that you watch and say wow, she is a children's music teacher. At that moment there was not a need for a new program, but I kept her information. Over the summer I began to reevaluate what I envisioned in a music program for preschoolers and contacted Renee. Her professionalism from the onset was fabulous. She emailed me her program which listed out the national standards for music and how she incorporated them into the music class. I had shared with her that I wanted the children to know beat, rhythm, tempo, etc. but wondered if there could be more. I have learned that young children are far more capable of retaining and gathering information than we sometimes give them credit for. Could we introduce classical music and composers, notes, and music composition, vocabulary, and even possibly an instrument at such a young age for a group? The first meeting we had was very enthusiastic. I shared the glockenspiel, tone bars, rhythm sticks, and box of music notes that I had acquired over the years with Renee and she shared her thoughts and plans that would get them playing the recorder in January. There's enthusiasm for you, but with a realism that made me believe she was going to make it happen. I told her that we could take it one step at a time and see how the group did. For me, I wanted to see how this class was going to be different from the last.
Today I sat in on music class for both groups. As I took notes of the things they were doing, and as I watched the students interacting with each other, I thought wow, what a lucky group of kids. My daughter who is 2.5 years old was in the group of 4-5 year olds along with a couple other toddlers that had signed up. There weren't enough toddlers signed up to form their own group, so I included those with the older group to see their interest level, and they were doing pretty well. Miss Renee showed them a charactercure of Mozart before playing one of his pieces, and told them how he began to play the violin at age 5 and wrote his first piece at age 6. She used movement with scarves and used words like legato and staccato alternately with smooth and choppy to give them an understanding of the words and the movements. She showed them drums and a xylophone and explained how they were percussion instruments because they made sound by hitting them. I was really impressed with the second day of Miss Renee's music class.
Research shows that the brain responds positively to patterns, learns through repitition, and delights in novelty. Early exposure to music and rhythm plays an important role in wiring the brain for reading, language, math, and social skills.
Music class has the novelty in itself that the children look forward to it. They love to sing songs and move about. As a Montessori teacher I would sometimes feel guilty that the students were getting too much or not enough of the music I could plan for them. I have found the balance. Could I research and figure out which instruments are woodwind, percussion, or brass, absolutely. Does it save me so much time to learn from someone who has taught it for 20 years, and in turn can find materials to implement into the classroom as extensions so the students are able to practice the vocabulary and actually learn the propers of music rather than just songs and fingerings--ABSOLUTELY.
The students at Greenhouse are very fortunate that their parents have chosen a school such as this for them. At the end of the day we must remember that they are children, and they learn despite us. The letters and numbers, shapes and sounds will come, it is a part of every school's curriculum. What isn't always a highlight of the week often is: nature, the outdoors, food prep, peace, culture, geography, discipline, music, art appreciation, freedom, individuality, animals, parents who are involved, a staff that puts the children first, and the ultimate goal of creating well rounded children. Welcome to Montessori. Welcome to Greenhouse Montessori.
Summer camp at Greenhouse Montessori is getting rave reviews from those who matter most---THE CAMPERS! Water day at Greenhouse Montessori takes campers back to good ole fashion backyard water fun. Yes, we are talking about sprinklers, Slip n' Slide, water balloons, and water inspired limbo and volleyball. With room to run and grass to play in, staying wet is priority #1.
Tomorrow our Summer camp program begins at Greenhouse Montessori. Even though the Arizona summer heat is creeping hotter and hotter by the day, our vegetable garden is really growing. The kids have really enjoyed the tomatoes, beets, sunflowers, and green peas. Soon we will harvest the honeydew melons, sweet onions, artichokes, and eggplants. Here is a slideshow of our school inside and out.
Well, this is my official first post. My first time ever to blog. Call me old fashioned, a dinosaur, or just plain busy. I, along with a little (ok a lot) help from my friends, are commiting to be more technical. The desire to blog came from a need to share with parents things that happen during the school day. This in turn, opens the communication to anyone who is interested in happenings in the classroom at Greenhouse Montessori. Something really noteworthy happens daily and I am taking babysteps to sharing it with you. I will stop now since this is just a test.