Child psychologist Dr. Jamie Howard, Director of the Trauma and Resilience Service Child Mind Institute, offers some valuable insights on how to talk to children about COVID-19 in a way that is reassuring during these stressful times.

These excerpts were taken directly from the Child Mind Institute website: https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/ 

  • Encourage children to ask questions and try to answer with fact-based information that is reassuring.
  • Don’t avoid questions you cannot answer. Be comfortable with saying “I don’t know.”  Teaching children how to tolerate uncertainty is key to reducing anxiety and helping them build resilience.
  • Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information that can be overwhelming. Try to answer your questions honestly and clearly.
  • Invite your child to tell you what they know about coronavirus and how they feel. The goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
  • Deal with your own anxiety so you can respond calmly when talking with your child. Be reassuring.
  • Help children understand that very few kids are getting sick, and that they are unlikely to catch it.
  • Focus on safety measures. Kids feel empowered when they know how to keep themselves safe, especially by wearing masks and washing hands frequently with a 20 second song they can sing while washing. Keep talking.
  • Let your kids know that you will keep them updated as you learn more. Most important is keeping the lines of communication open.

GMS staff greatly appreciates parents’ support in helping our school community stay safe by ensuring children are tested and will remain at home if there is any health concern related to COVID-19. 

We’re delighted to see new and returning children enter GMS with smiling eyes, which even their masks can’t hide.  Once they have said their difficult goodbyes to parents, the hum of children actively engaged in lessons, working with Montessori materials, and socializing with classmates can be heard in classrooms throughout the school.

We are so proud of all our students– toddlers, casa and elementary! The children are adjusting with such grace and a positive attitude toward the new protocols and changes in the school environment due to the Covid-19 policies and regulations. Hands are washed regularly, and face masks are kept on while casa and elementary students are indoors. Even the 3 year-olds are keen to wear masks, some quite innovative, featuring cats’ noses and whiskers or mighty dinosaurs! In classrooms, each child has a designated workspace, with class supplies provided for individual use only. Montessori materials never fail to spark the children’s interest while engaging them in “hands on” learning.  Once they have finished working with specific materials, students responsibly return each item to a central station to be disinfected for another classmate to use.  

Every effort is being made to keep our children physically safe, with separate cohort groupings, physical distancing, masks, frequent handwashing, routine disinfection of the physical environment, plexiglass partitions in elementary classes, air-purifiers and round-the-clock janitorial services. Lessons and activities take place outside as much as possible, so children can get lots of fresh air while weather permits.

Our staff continues to focus on supporting our children emotionally, making sure their individual needs and voices are constantly heard and acknowledged. Even with physical distancing, the community spirit within each classroom and our school remains strong. “Taking Care of Each Other,” is the theme we are highlighting this year. Through practicing kindness, responsibility, empathy, integrity, respectfulness, cooperation and fairness, we are imparting to students those qualities and actions with which we can best support one another.

We extend a warm welcome to all our GMS students and families. During these unusual times, we thank you for the trust you have placed in our school to provide a safe, enriched learning environment for your child. As psychologist Genevieve Von Lob states, “During periods of uncertainty and change, what our children need most from us is to feel safe, loved and protected”, and this is our ultimate goal. 

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Dr. Montessori’s birth. Her legacy is as relevant today as it is was a century ago, enlightening parents and educators world-wide with her profound educational insights and deep respect for the young child.  “Each child is truly a miraculous being and this should be felt deeply by the educator. Children are human beings to whom respect is due. “

Valuing the uniqueness of every child, Dr. Montessori insisted education must be individualized, to meet the child’s needs and interests. Dr. Montessori applied her scientific observations and research to form the basis for her “Montessori Method,” guided by the child’s developmental stages while supporting “experiential, hands-on” learning. “The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”

Dr. Montessori viewed the child as both the hope and promise for mankind. ”If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.” She believed “the greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” 

As we honour this 150 year legacy of Dr. Montessori, her methodology continues to successfully educate children around the world. “It is not true,” insisted Dr. Montessori, “that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” 

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact Ontario and areas throughout the country, we wish to reassure our school community that the health and safety of our families, students and staff remain a top priority. In support of Ottawa public health containment measures, GMS will follow the Ontario government’s directives and remain closed until further notice. We will keep you updated.

Once GMS reopens, we will require that individuals returning from high risk areas or who have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, inform our administrative office and remain out of school for 14 days, following the date of return or contact. This includes all staff, children and family members, individuals with drop off and pick up privileges, and visitors.

GMS teachers are providing home study lessons and guidance to our students during the extended break. We will continue to monitor phones and emails on a daily basis, and reply within 24 hours.

We hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

Sylvie Rankin, GMS Director

How to Talk to Children When the Grown-Ups are Scared –  A Montessori Foundation Webcast

We must prepare ourselves:

• Self-regulation-awareness of feelings, stressors and ways to self-calm

• Self-calm helps us listen, reflect, and respond to the needs of our children

Steps to a positive conversation – with an understanding of your child’s developmental level:

1. Start with questions – What have you heard? What do you know? What are you wondering about?

2. Listen to your child – maintain eye contact, observe your child’s facial expression and body language.

3. Reflect on what you think you heard; mirror if necessary, to ensure you heard correctly.

4. Ask, “How do you feel?” Listen, reflect, validate, empathize.

5. Ask, “Is there more?”

6. STOP – (gap) Reflect on what you have heard, how your child has said it, what does his/her behavior tell you. THINK – What response does my child need from me? CHOOSE.

7. Conversation: Be factual but simple, direct but give limited information. Use developmentally appropriate vocabulary. Be willing to pause to let your child respond.

8. Main message to your child should be reassurance of safety, health and care. “I love you.” “The grown-ups are going to manage this.”

9. Share what each member of the family can do to stay healthy:

• Wash hands often.

• Keep hands away from faces.

• Develop a daily schedule and routines.

• Stay in contact with friends, family, classroom and school.

Be open to having versions of this conversation multiple times. Be prepared to be flexible. Give your child lots of affirmations and encouragement and express your love often.

GMS takes this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy New year!

Our Senior Elementary students enjoyed a day of Skiing at Ski Vorlage this week. The weather and ski conditions were perfect and the students had a very enjoyable day. Two more ski-days are planned for January and February!

The Museum of Science and Technology will welcome our Senior Elementary and Casa students over the next few weeks. Senior Elementary students look forward to creating a complex chain-reaction machine, using familiar materials in unusual ways and casa children will discover how daily and seasonal cycles of the earth affect everyday life.

The junior elementary students’ field trip will take them to Ottawa’s beautiful National Art Gallery. Students will explore Inuit prints, and printmaking, as they prepare to create their own printing plates and prints in the studio.

Parents will enjoy a coffee or tea and treats when they browse through the many wonderful books on display at the GMS Scholastic Book Fair Café next month. Proceeds will go toward purchasing books for the classes.

Winter is here and GMS is bustling with activity!

By Savka E. Wisecup, Glebe Montessori School’s Educational Consultant

The Montessori Method has been in existence for over 100 years, with schools located all over the world. This educational system was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor, who studied and researched the physical, intellectual and emotional development of children. Her studies and observations gave new light on how to teach and educate children.

Yet, the Montessori method is still questioned and misunderstood!

• What is the Montessori Method?

• How can children learn in an open classroom?

• Why are children of different ages in one classroom?

• How can children progress academically when selecting their own work?

The Montessori Method is based on several principles which Dr. Montessori established as her educational philosophy. These principles include the importance of the prepared environment (the classroom and materials), honoring and respecting each child’s uniqueness, allowing children to progress at their own pace, and promoting independence.

The Montessori classroom is a well-prepared learning environment. The teachers serve as guides, providing information and feedback to ensure the academic and personal success of each student. The materials are educational, sequential, self- correcting and thoroughly captivating. Dr. Montessori developed these specific materials to respond to the many stages of a child’s mental and physical development. All the materials are designed to be presented in sequential order; when the child masters a skill, the next lesson and material is presented. Very young children start with Montessori Practical Life activities that teach them to take care of themselves and their environment. These lessons develop coordination, concentration, and a sense of order. The Montessori Sensorial materials are designed to develop the senses, such as discriminating colour, size, texture, shapes, scents and sounds. The Geometry cabinet is an example of a sensorial material. The Montessori math and language materials give the child concrete, hands-on, experiences to gain a comprehensive understanding of these subjects and of abstract concepts. Geography, music, world culture, art, history, yoga, science, foreign languages, science and technology are all included in the Montessori curriculum, starting from preschool through elementary. It is no wonder that Montessori students gain a strong academic foundation in their early years, which translates into advanced academic standing in later years.

Why are children of different ages grouped together? Each Montessori classroom has children of 3 different ages. Older children reinforce their skills as they serve as mentors, and younger children accelerate their learning through observing and interacting with their older classmates.

“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.” Dr. Maria Montessori

How can children accelerate when they choose their own activities and work at their own pace? Children naturally love to learn. When offering an enriched environment and curriculum, children are eager to explore and meet new challenges, under the guidance of their teachers. Dr. Montessori respected differing learning styles and created materials to address these differences, which enables each child to succeed and advance. A child who is strong in a particular subject should not have to follow the pace of a peer who may need extra support. For this reason, the curriculum and lessons are highly individualized, responding to the needs and uniqueness of each child.

The development and growth of independence are highly encouraged and supported in the Montessori classroom. Independence goes hand in hand with self-confidence. It is important to offer students the opportunity to make choices while selecting work, and take responsibility to reach their goals, with the teacher’s assistance. “Help me do it myself!”

“The essence of independence is to be able is to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play…. it is the work he must do in order to grow up.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Based on the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, this methodology continues to successfully educate children world-wide, by nurturing, supporting and honoring each and every child. “If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.” Dr.Maria Montessori

To learn more about the Montessori Method, we invite you to attend Glebe Montessori School’s Information Evening at 6:00 pm, Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 at Glebe Montessori School, 650 Lyon St. South, in the Glebe.

The next two months will be filled with many events for our GMS Community. GMS families will enjoy seasonal concert performances, workshops, field trips and more.

Remembrance

November will once again be a time of remembrance and learning of the great sacrifices made by others. Mr. Pollowin a decorated veteran will visit our elementary students as he has done for many years. Mr. Pollowin has become a GMS treasure and our students cherish his yearly visits.

Music Performance

GMS Music teacher, soprano Ania Hejnar will perform some beautiful opera highlights for the students in November. She will be accompanied by Jean-Hee Lee on violin, Desiree Abbey on cello and Judith Ginsburg on piano. A wonderful opportunity for our students to enjoy Ania’s beautiful voice accompanied by violin, cello and piano. The performance will be followed by a  Q & A.

Toddler Holiday Breakfast

The festive Month of December starts with the Holiday Breakfast for the toddlers and their parents. Toddlers will be busy baking and making crafts for this very special event.

Gingerbread Social

December also brings us our “Gingerbread Social”, an event enjoyed by all!

Winter Concert

Casa children look forward to performing festive songs, skits and dances in front of their families during our annual Winter Concert in December. Elementary students are already busy practising for their roles in the musical production of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen!

Senior students will visit the Glebe Centre to perform a medley of their musical songs in December.

GMS takes this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!