We hope you had a wonderful Fall Break. It is a special time of year as the cooler weather consumes our energies and all of the holiday festivities around the valley approach. For the Children's House aged child, it is a season for sensorial exploration. From smelling different candles, fresh baked cookies to touching the fallen leaves and exploring the intricate grooves of various pumpkins and seasonal vegetables - it can certainly be satisfying for them. In the classroom, this time of year invites specific language classification extensions into botany and biology. This week, we have been discussing the life cycle and external parts of the pumpkin. Next week, we will open our two large pumpkins and examine the pulp, fibrous strands and seeds.
As the holiday season approaches, we find it important to discuss how we embrace and support the uniqueness of human cultures. Holidays are precisely that, predictable universal expression of human cultures across time and space. For cultures across the world, they are an integral part of the cosmic human experience. They can allow us an opportunity to become connected as communities, family and friends as well as offer us orientation and interpretation of our human experience: everyday, profound, known and unknown.
Holidays can be significant in our social, emotional and spiritual life. Holidays are culturally specific, yet they can broaden our understanding and connection to seasons, time of year and understanding of human diversity. One of the creations of the Absorbent MInd (0-6 years of age) that Dr. Montessori observed was deep-seated feelings and attachment for one's time and place: part of these creations are tender around holidays.
In our Children's House, we respect and honor these creations and cultural connectedness. As Montessori guides, we understand the importance of following the child's strengths and interests to connect him to meaningful and purposeful activities. Throughout the holiday seasons, it is often that the child expresses extreme interest in these cultural activities. However, in a culture such as we have here in the United States, we find that the commercialized 'celebration' of many of the holidays can go against the characteristics and needs of children. With that being said, we take careful consideration and offer balancing experiences which can focus and relieve children of materialized holiday hype.
So, how do we do this? First, we research (the older children are often part of this process). We seek information regarding holidays that typically occur in the lives of the children in our community. We then sift through information for concrete (often real - tangible and scientifically guided), sensorial contexts that often once helped previous humans come to terms with some aspect of life on this planet. For example, Halloween was once New Year's Eve, marking the end of harvest and the start of a new year in northern and temperate biomes.
With this information we are able to study and incorperate various origins into the life of the children's community - applying all of the principles of Montessori education, child development and work which inspire Montessori environments. Language cards, stories, songs, specific vocabulary, carefully chosen artifacts, question game/sentence analysis/comprehension, food preparation, expression and art, geography, zoology and botany all provide really great opportunities for structured holiday experiences inside of the classroom.
We also create our own classroom rituals for the children to experience positive roles of everyday human life in a happy, calm and productive way (for everyone). During our classroom meeting in November, further discuss holidays as well as other cultural aspects within the environment. In the elementary environments, they focus more on the history of myths and legends after the child has had concrete experiences with his time in space as well as tangible experiences with reality.
Thank you for all of the families for joining us for our first classroom social of the year! It was a great success! Our classroom parents did a fantastic job coordinating and making it such a memorable evening for all. The children were excited to reflect on Wednesday about their favorite parts of the evening. Enjoy some photos from the event below:
We appreciate your support,
Miss Lauren and Ms. Yadira