Entries in montessori (3)

Monday
Sep072015

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to Children's House Montessori School of Reston! We're so excited for the new school year to begin. The classrooms have been cleaned, all of our materials are prepared and on the shelves, and the teachers have received their annual training. Now all we need are our eager learners! Tomorrow is the big day, and we can't wait for you to arrive!

We sincerely hope each of our families had a relaxing and memorable summer. We are looking forward to hearing the children tell us of their great adventures during camp and vacations. Please don't forget to have your child wear closed toe shoes every day, and remember to bring your cubby bags and backpacks with extra clothes, labelled with your child's name!

Here are a few important dates to put on your calendar for the next month. Look for details in the family newsletter this week...

  • September 11th - Parent Coffee
  • September 14th - Back to School Night
  • September 25th - Staff Meeting 
  • Septemebr 23rd - Gardening begins
  • September 27th - Annual fall family field trip for apple picking
  • October 2nd - Specials begin
  • October 5th - Parent Night - "How to Foster Internal Motivation in Your Child"
  • October 12th - No School (Columbus Day)
  • October 30th - Fall Festival and Potluck
Tuesday
Sep012015

Children's House Montessori School of Reston: Offering a Unique Experience and an Authentic Montessori Education 

Each school in Northern Virginia offers something unique. When you are searching for a preschool for your child, it can be difficult to identify exactly what sets one school apart from another. So, we're going to make it easy and tell you what makes Children's House Montessori School (CHMS) of Reston so wonderful.

Our community is unique in it's own way - our families enjoy being involved in the school and it is not uncommon for families to form lifelong friendships during the time that their children are in our care. Our families return year after year, child after child - many have trusted us with 3 or more children, have been with us for 5-8 years or more. Our teachers are dedicated, educated, experienced with children, and all are Montessori trained. Our teachers make a difference in our community - in an area as transient as Northern Virginia, it's not common for all of the teachers to return to the same classroom year after year, but at CHMS they do. 

Our family community is strong because we have wonderful families of course, but we also believe in offering opportunities to spend time getting to know one another through events such as the Ice Cream Social and Parent Coffee at the beginning of each year, our fall and spring festivals, the eagerly awaited Parent Day, and the best of the best - our Annual Family Camping Trip - where memories are made that will stick with both the children and their parents for many years to come. It is truly a wonderful experience. 

In addition to our one of a kind community, we put a great deal of thought and effort into providing opportunities for children to explore and appreciate nature through the natural playscapes that we've added to our playground, creating several habitat gardens, a six week fall and spring gardening curriculum, and weekly educational hikes. If you are a lover of the outdoors, appreciate nature, and want your child to learn to love nature and value time spent outside, then you'll appreciate our unique focus on nature.

Our weekly "specials" go beyond traditional extras to offer educational enhancements to our curriculum. In addition to the previously mentioned educational hiking that we do each week as part of "specials," we also offer a spectacular Montessori music program, which Ms. Karen (assistant director) puts together for us each year. The children learn to read, play, and understand music. Classical music and classical musicians are integrated into our daily activites from preschool through kindergarten, and annually we have two music shows for the parents - one during the holiday program and one during the Kindergarten Art Show. Our third weekly "special" is Spanish. We bring in a fluent Spanish-speaking teacher to work with the children throughout the year to introduce them to a new language.

In addition to community, our focus on creating nature-based education, and weekly specials, we also integrate the Virtues Project into our daily interactions. Teaching virtues has made a significant positive impact on our environment. If you observe our classrooms and playground, one of the first things you'll notice is that the children take these virtues to heart and practice them in every interaction - they are cooperative, helpful, thoughtful, respectful, and kind to everyone around them and it shows by how peacefully they work and play together. The Virtues Project is a remarkable program that we are happy to offer.

The final unique program that we offer is one that starts as soon as the children enter the school and is integrated into the classroom throughout their three years with us - it is our focus on art appreciation. In the preschool and pre-k years, the children learn about artists, are introduced to famous works of art, and have ample opportunity to try a variety of art materials. But it is the kindergarten art appreciation classes and annual Kindergarten Art Show that provide the exceptional experience in art appreciation at CHMS. In kindergarten, the children receive art lessons, learn in depth information about 10 or so artists, and create their own replicas of famous art work. Our children leave CHMS with a thorough understanding and appreciation of art history, and we're told that many of them continue in their love of the arts long after they've moved on to elementary school.

We hope that you've clicked on the links throughout this blog post to learn more about what makes Children's House Montessori School of Reston so special. We welcome your questions via phone or email (703-481-6678 or Keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com), and look forward to getting to know the new families who will join our CHMS community this year.

 

Thursday
Apr162015

Spring Gardening with Children: Our Six Week Montessori Approach 

 

Gardening with preschool to kindergarten-aged children can be a relaxing and enjoyable learning experience for all. At our Montessori school in Northern VA, Children's House Montessori School of Reston, we have fall and spring gardening time broken down into one simple task each week so that it is fun and even our youngest helpers feel successful.  The children love learning all about the worms and their castings, how to create compost and ensure the soil is rich with nutrients for their plants, and they take pride in caring for their plants and animals living in our garden.

If you've thought about getting your children involved in gardening, we've provided some information about what they learn at school each week during spring gardening to help you extend what they've learned into your own gardening experiences and to help any new readers of our blog learn a little about how you can bring some Montessori ideas into your own garden:

Week 1 - CLEANING/PRUNING:  Clean out the garden and do any required trimming.

  1. Trim plants and remove any plants that may not have survived.
  2. Once the flowering bulbs have bloomed by early April, we remove the bulbs and dry and store them for next fall to make room in our small garden. You can also leave the bulbs if you have a large garden. 
  3. Cuttings are added to the spring compost bin, which was started with fallen leaves just a few months ago.

Week 2 - COMPOST: Composting is a great example of how recycling makes things new again. It teaches the children about the lifecycle and they become more aware of the fact that things have more than one use.

  1. We loosen the soil prior to having the children mix the compost into the soil in the garden area. The garden is now ready for spring plantings. 
  2. A favorite activity is making new compost. Leaves form the base of our new compost by emptying them into the compost bin, filling the bin to the brim.  They quickly disintegrate to make room for new contents. 
  3. Lots of water in the compost bin is good at this stage, as it speeds up the decomposition process. 
  4. Any cuttings, annuals, and lunch leftovers such as bits of fruits and vegetables are collected daily and added to the bin.
  5. We also add a bag of soil to the bin to help with decomposition, and a few worms are added as well.

Week 3 - PLANTING:  We include plant seedlings, vegetables, and herbs.  Child-sized gardening tools are provided to each child to promote independence and reduce accidents.  These tools can be found at Target or any local store in the early spring. 

  1. Purposefully show the children how to hold the tools and to dig a place for their plant in the soil. 
  2. Earthworms are essential in our garden – their waste (called castings) are a form of fertilizer. We have a container for making castings and then add it to our garden each year.  The children are fascinated by this process.  Castings are added to the soil after the hole has been dug, then we place the plant on top of the castings and gently cover the roots with soil.
  3. We teach the children how to water their plants gently with a beaker or small watering can, near the base of the plant as to protect their leaves and flowers.

Week 4 - MULCHING:  We begin mulching by explaining to the children that mulch is made from old trees that have died and been chopped up.  We use old trees because the nutrients that were part of the tree when it was living are used to feed the new plants. Mulch acts as a blanket in the winter and as a filter for the spring rain so that the nutrients get to the roots of the plants. 

Small buckets are used for this activity (margarine tub sized). A wheel barrow is used to hold the mulch and the children fill their buckets with the mulch.  The mulch is gently emptied out and spread around the base of the plants by hand.  The children often repeat this process several times.

Week 5 - WATER…water…water…and water some more: 

Use small watering cans or beakers to help the children learn to control where they are pouring, keeping the water around the base of the plants rather than pouring it on top of the plants or flowers.  At CHMS, the children can water the plants while they are outside for playtime as well.  If the watering activity is available during playtime, we fill a large bucket with water and the children know that they can use the beakers to transport water around the garden to the areas that need it.

Week 6 - FEEDING:  While working in the garden each week, we encourage responsibility by having the children to help take care of their habitat garden by rinsing out the water bowls, humming bird feeder, and completely emptying the bird food containers.

  1. Seed is poured into the bird feeder. 
  2. Fresh hummingbird water is poured into the hummingbird feeders. 
  3. Suet is places into the suet holders. 
  4. Water bowls are filled with fresh water. 
  5. The butterfly dish is filled with fresh sand and stones and filled to the sand level with water to provide a place for butterflies to rest and drink water without drowning. Grapes can be added, but that can also attract bees.

So now you are ready to let your little ones get their hands dirty! We have additional information in our Gardening Curriculum guide in the office if you're interested.