Sunday, August 26, 2012

Montessori math and philosophy with MissE Carolan

Last Monday, August 20th, more than 20 NHMA members met to refresh themselves with a review of Montessori math materials and presentations. MissE Carolan, who is a consultant with New England Early Childhood Associated (NEECA) and has been an instructor with NMI since 1992, took us through the presentations of the Golden Beads and its foundation, and then materials that help those children who are moving into abstraction and memorization. And in between, we discussed some basic philosophy and the nitty gritty of math in our classrooms.
It was a great way to get ourselves “jazzed up” about the beginning of the school year and a lovely way to get back in touch with everyone after such a wonderful summer. And I went home determined to split my huge albums into more manageable smaller ones!

Our thanks to Wanda and her staff at Green Valley Montessori School in Pembroke for hosting in their gorgeous facility. I wish my school was looking that put together that early. And many thanks to Laura and Gail for putting this workshop together. Now let’s bring on those children!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No More Tears-Back to School no. 2

At Blue Heron School, our goal is to start the school year without tears.  One of the things we do to reduce separation anxiety is to ask all of the families to borrow or buy a copy of The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn.  Parents read the story to their children at home, as often as needed, and we read it every day at school.  The reassuring message of the story and the familiarity of the book help new children feel comfortable, and returning children enjoy the ritual when they are coming back to school.
What do you do at your program to help children make the transition to coming to school?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School 2012

          At some time every summer in August I begin to notice asters blooming when I am out walking.  Asters are the signal for me that the start of the school year is coming around again.  I begin to think about which children are returning, what the new little ones will be like, and I am reminded that it is time to send out that back to school letter. 
          Another August back to school activity is what has become our annual NHMA workshop.  This year MissE Carolan, AMI primary certified teacher, NMI site director and NEECA school consultant and educator, is presenting a four hour workshop on the wonderful Montessori math materials.  It is always rewarding for teachers to assist children working with the beads and see their brains assimilate the patterns and knowledge there as they begin to figure them out.  We are excited to share this presentation by MissE to review important math presentations and see variations and extensions and deeper meanings that may be new to us.  Our batteries will be recharged and we will go into the new school year with fresh enthusiasm for these brilliant materials.

Friday, July 20, 2012


            Group time at Blue Heron School is for singing, dancing, yoga, listening to stories, and sometimes for talking it out, all together.  During the last week of school, the energy level was high, the volume of voices was turned up, and it seemed harder than it had been to focus on absorbing activities.  We sat together at group time, on the penultimate day of school, and talked about mixed feelings.  Even as adults knowing how to act and what to say can be a challenge when we are experiencing conflicting feelings, and spring is full of events that provoke these, with graduations, weddings, and other transitional events.  It is easy to understand that it is even harder for young children, who are just learning to manage their feelings in appropriate ways, and how to express them with language.  So we took a break from all the busy, end of school activities and talked about how we were feeling.  The children were excited about the beginning of summer, and, for the older ones, the anticipation of going to "the big school" in the fall.  At the same time, over the course of a school year a community has formed, with children, teachers and parents and the greater SLNSC staff.  We enjoy the experience of becoming acquainted, and then developing friendships.  We can't imagine that we will not continue to see one another every day.  We celebrate the wonderful growth and accomplishments of each child over the course of the year, and we acknowledge our sadness that it is time for the child to move on.
            However, it is a part of the process of school, and life, that endings come, and lead to new beginnings.  We wish the children all the best in the next stage of life and school.  We look forward to hearing about their new experiences.  We happily look forward to reuniting with returning students in September, when school resumes, and the younger children come back another year older, the new leaders of the class.  We know, too, that new families and children will come to Blue Heron in the fall.  We look forward to knowing them, and to recreating our community with continuity from last year and fresh energy that new and returning friends bring to Blue Heron.
Reprinted with permission from Blue Heron School at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.