MMS News December, 2011

News and Reminders

Thursday December 15th: Staff Meeting:Early dismissal for 1:30 kids.  1:30 kids must be picked up by 12:25 so we can start our staff meeting promptly at 12:30.  All other schedules stay the same.  Thank you for working with us!

Thursday December 22nd:  School Closed.  Staff Day

Friday December 23rd-Monday January 2nd:  School Closed. Winter break.

Tuesday January 3rd: School Re-Opens

Interesting Article

I am passing along the link to an interesting article in the New York Times this past week about blocks.  Check it out when you have a minute!

And Another Interesting Article

Jonathan Liu, a self proclaimed geeky dad, wrote an article, “The 5 Best Toys of All Time”.  With the holiday season upon us, here are some more ideas…….Read it, I think it’s great.

Ideas for activities in December!

The following list of ideas was adapted from “Little Eco Footprints” from the Living Montessori Now website.  Each day of the month corresponds to a fun nature play or eco craft activity.  Here’s our list. Feel free to join in our eco countdown to the December break.
1. Go for a walk and see how many signs of animal life we can find.
2. Build a robot out of rubbish.
3. Visit the beach and write our name in the sand and try a few other beach art ideas
4.Visit a local nature park or zoo.
5.Make a pair of binoculars out of toilet rolls and go for a walk to spot wildlife.
6.Paint a picture using flowers and leaves instead of paint brushes.
7.Make a gift for the birds or a biodegradable bird feeder or a birdseed ornament.
8.Go for a walk, collect some sticks, build a twig tower and bring home a few sticks
9. Make a boat out of sticks or recycled materials-float it in the tub!
10.Make a nature mobile.
11. Make a magic princess wand from a stick and recycled felted wool.
12. Make a branch vase
13. Make some seashell or seed pod candles using beeswax.
14. Play the magazine alphabet game.

Conflict: How can it help us grow?

This month I have been thinking about how we as humans think about and handle conflict.  Partly, I am thinking about this because many of our applicant families have asked the question,”What is your discipline policy?”, partly it is because with holidays, family visits and an upcoming stretch of vacation days, conflicts are bound to arise.

Conflicts between people serve an important function in our relationships.  Conflict provides the opportunity for each person to define him or herself.  If handled well, conflict can be a platform for reaffirming  relationships.  Shying away from, or denying the existence of a conflict usually just builds resentment and misunderstandings. As teachers, we are committed to helping our children resolve conflicts peaceably, and as adults, we strive to resolve conflicts peaceably with each other.   All of us  work towards this goal, and I invite you to as well.  Strive to resolve conflicts peaceably within the adult relationship(s) in your home as well as in the relationship(s) with the children in your home.

Healthy resolutions of conflicts requires that both parties are heard and that the solution addresses each person’s desires.  There will have to be a compromise, there is no way around that.  Some tools that we utilize at Morningside, and that you can utilize to resolve  your own conflicts include:

-Acknowledge the other person’s feelings.  You can make a statement saying, “I understand that you are angry.”  You could go so far as to say, “You are right to be angry.”  Even if your conflict partner is not completely correct, there has to be some truth in what s/he is saying. The agreement does not negate your own feelings or ‘rightness’ in the conflict either.

-Empathize.  Take a moment to try to see the world through the other person’s eyes.  (We do this part with the children every day!)  Say something that indicates that you get where s/he is coming from.

-Use “I” statements. Saying “I feel badly”  or “I am upset that we are having this problem right now” paves the way towards solving the problem more successfully than saying, “You made me feel this way.”

If your goal is to solve the problem, you”ll have to let go of being ‘right’.  Can you do that every time you have a conflict?  Probably not.  But each time you think about solving the problem instead of focusing on just being ‘right’, you will get closer to handling your conflicts more peaceably.

This is the idea behind the conversations we have with the children.  On any given day, teachers can be heard helping children find the words to create “I” statements.  There is always a part of the conversation where a child is asked to look at their friend, think about how the friend is feeling.  They are asked to reflect on how they can communicate more effectively, and what they can do the next time a conflict arises.

We could all take a lesson from these conversations.  I know I”m trying.