TSH Observations - 2020 April 27th
Week Beginning April 27th, 2020: From Founder & Principal Mimosa Jones Tunney
Hello TSH Families:
I hope you are all well, doing your best to love each other and offering the kindness and support that is so needed when tensions are elevated. We can’t wait to see you all at Friday’s Wink & Wave. And I’m very much looking forward to the pictures that I’m sure will come our way from Spirit Week. Crazy Hair Day tomorrow!
In addition to the DLPs, the One-to-Ones you can schedule with your Lead Educators and the Activities you can find at www.theschoolhouse.org/parents, I want to continue to offer opportunities for you to personalize or expand your child’s Home Learning experience according to what works for your family. In creating these experiences we’re always mindful that they align with how your child is learning at this time (mostly tactile); make certain that they are individualized; and consider (in this case) the primary tenant of our pedagogy - the mixed age classroom - and the delight that happens when bigs teach littles and littles learn from bigs.
Starting tomorrow each Learner can elect to be a part of our Specialist Sessions. These Sessions work like this:
1. Reach out to a Specialist to schedule a 15-20 minute FT or phone call with the Specialist and your Learner.
2. These sessions stay true to a child’s need to foster independence and for our current family need to often engage children as parents work from home. In the 15-20 minutes make sure your Learner has access to paper and pencil so they can write down the directives from their Specialists. In grades K-6, our Learners can do these activities on their own. For our Pre-Ker, mom or dad will be there to assist.
Ms. Sandy (email@example.com): Gardening & Health
Ms. Trish (firstname.lastname@example.org): Art & Design/Spanish
Ms. Jen (email@example.com): Bedtime Stories
Mr. Jonathan (firstname.lastname@example.org): Movement & Sports
Ms. Anna T (email@example.com): Science/Italian
Ms. Kaitlyn (firstname.lastname@example.org): Meditation
Mr. Willie (email@example.com): Singing
Mr. Heather (firstname.lastname@example.org): Dance
Ms. Janice (email@example.com): Kindness - Huntington Hospital Project
Ms. Cassandre (firstname.lastname@example.org): Kindness - Huntington Hospital Project
Ms. Ingrid (email@example.com): Cooking
3. Each Learner can opt to choose three (3) per week to start.
4. Specialists will find out what your child is interested in learning and also have some of their own projects to introduce and get them on their way.
5. If your Learner masters the lesson, encourage them to video their lesson (3- 5 minutes). We are building a special section at www.theschoolhouse.org to showcase our Learner-Led Lessons. That way, we can all show these lessons to our children, connect them to each other using minimal screen time, foster a lot of independent learning and most important build connections to the student body they love and miss so much.
Family Engagement: A Math Activity that Worked & Why
The experiment I chose this week centered on a question: Could I hold my Learner’s attention on one topic all week? The topic was math and my intention was to do counting on Tuesday, addition on Wednesday, followed by subtraction and multiplication. For a 6 and 8 year old counting seems easy, but still… sometimes I see gaps. And after all, if you can’t count fast and furiously, the other applications are quite hard.
1. Open with a story. I took a quick look at the History of Math. Math began with commerce. We needed to keep track of things. So I asked my boys to get me a few things from the kitchen without counting… hysterical. I also asked them to make big connections… why was Math emerging just as we were moving from hunters and gatherers to agriculture in Egypt? Suddenly, it didn’t matter that your cave-husband killed a beast. It mattered that you went to the blueberry farmer and got 100 blueberries. The story connected them to the work.
2. Make them a special book. The book I made was just plain paper folded and stapled, but I wrote their names beautifully and called it their counting book. They felt special.
3. Give them freedom within structure… but not too much freedom! They could count and record anything they wanted. However, they had three rules. They had to do half of them independently. They had to count twice to verify their first number. And they had to - if possible - touch the object as they counted. This hand-to-brain work is fundamental in Montessori. The result was that they had independence within parameters.
I determined this was successful because they were fully engaged… it was something their mind needed and they did the project for 90 minutes without me. This could be because there were two of them and might have been shorter if it was an only child.
They also moved constantly, so they were joyful, not subdued. They were able to quickly see their mistakes and self-corrected them. And this project naturally led into another: when they counted hundreds of windows in our home (they counted even the little strip panes thinking we lived in the South of France) they found it impossible to keep track of those big numbers. This was a problem for them to solve. And the solution came in setting up groups, which let to multiplication. Finally, when their dad asked them about the best part of their day at dinner, they simultaneously cheered: math!
This project led to a whole week of math including scale, money, building and even a board game. It’s what the Educators know so well to happen when a topic is presented in an engaging way.
This and other projects will be updated every Sunday on the parent’s section of www.theschoolhouse.org so if you’re not doing formal academic work or want to add new projects, you can find them in one place. If you have a project that you feel worked especially well and engaged your child for 30+ minutes please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent Tip: Confidence
This week we skipped Monday school because I had dozens of calls to make. However, I didn’t dare tell them we were skipping school. This would have had the unintended effect of making it unimportant to them. I let them know that I wanted to finish the book we were working on and do our laundry challenge (a euphemism for learning how to move your laundry from the laundry room to the drawers!). These were things I could set up for them in advance and I also didn’t diminish the importance of our school time everyday by “skipping it” without a “reason”.
The AEC is about Freedom within Structure. A parent’s confidence - how they go into a project or frame an attitude for something is structuring the importance of that thing. So the way one speaks to them, the things expected of them and the love exuded to them is vital to their success. Children are a little like reporters (the good ones from 20 years ago). They are unemotional when it comes to expectations. Tell them what you need, explain why, hold your line. Don’t offer rewards in advance… if you need a reward, they weren’t ready to learn it anyway.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” ~ Mother Teresa
See you Friday!