It never ceases to amaze me how much growth and change we can experience around the summer solstice. The easing of pandemic era limits coinciding with this season of growth and natural light has felt positively transformative these past five weeks at CMC! We have been busy welcoming new friends to our community, exploring our creative capacity, introducing new traditions, and building strong bonds. I'm hopeful the fruits of our labors this summer will be enjoyed for years to come!
Thank you to all that helped make both our Summer Countdown and picnic potluck celebration on the 20th beautiful last month!
At Community Montessori, we start each day with a long, uninterrupted period of work, socialization, rest, and observation called The Morning Work Cycle. This time in Children's House East (which begins as early as 7:45 AM for children enrolled in Before Care and stretches to right around 11:15 AM) is structured to give each individual community member the time and space to meet their own needs - from the physical basics to the loftiest social and cognitive ambitions - while developing universal skills including coordination, planning, and self-regulation.
The opportunities offered in Children's House East during The Morning Work Cycle also build far-ranging specific skills such as taking food from a buffet, cleaning shoes, wiping finger prints off a mirror, building coordinating color schemes, counting by threes, identifying trees, forming letter shapes, or naming and describing art work! The gallery of images below all come from The Morning Work Cycles of our first four weeks of the Summer Session this year at CMC:
The Morning Work Cycle is also the time we work most closely - through invitations to one-on-one or small group instruction and games - with our community members that usually spend their afternoons at home or in the nap and rest room. Here's a great example of that in Roshan's work with our number rods last week:
Other moments are less momentous but no less important to our children's development; check out all the concentration and coordination on display in this three second clip:
Between 11:00 AM and 11:15 AM, many children reach a need for a break from Children's House East. We offer them that break through a gradual transition to our natural outdoor play space or movement room (offering support with clean-up, reminders to use the bathroom, and sunscreen application, as needed). Our gross motor time at CMC offers fertile ground for growing social graces and, ultimately, friendships - wherever it takes place!
After at least a few good runs, scoots, rolls, or jumps, we transition to lunch in Children's House East right around noon. Lunch is a BIG deal in our small world, full of ritual, self-care skill building, and socialization. It's also a time of day that's proven particularly tricky to capture in media. A big thank you to Anna for taking this highly representative shot of the "Big Kid's Table" (named for the high behavioral expectations at the table where I sit most days, not the actual age or size of the children).
The clean up of each individual child's packed lunch marks the start of a complex constellation of afternoon options at CMC. Two of our community members leave to spend the afternoons with their families. Several more choose to transition to nap and rest after our busy lunch period right around 1:15 PM. The children that remain in Children's House East are given the option to "take a break" in one of the more comfortable areas of our classroom or join me in Clean Up Crew (where we do a deep clean of spaces used during lunch while sneaking in reinforcement of language and math concepts the children are working on - like "yu, yu, yu is for Yazan" and "five tens is fifty" - using bubbles.)
Clean Up Crew - and especially the short, celebratory dance party that often flows from it - has become a centerpiece of many of our community members' days at CMC this summer. It seems fitting that a celebration of it should also be the centerpiece of this post!
Thank you to many in my family for handing down a truly diverse collection of 20th century music to me and now the children of CMC (in the form of hundreds of old, often scratched up CDs). Some favorites of our children this spring and summer not featured here include: Ella Fitzgerald; Simon & Garfunkel; and Fleetwood Mac.
You may have noticed in the media above and/or heard from the children in your life that we have added two new spaces for resting and observing in Children's House East this summer: The Peace Cube and The Nest:
These new environmental opportunities for respite from what are for some long, hot, busy days at CMC this summer have been welcome additions to Children's House East.
After the crescendo of the Dance Party most days right around 2:00 PM, we spend the next 90 or so minutes quietly supporting the children in meeting their needs - from engagement in work that requires the greatest focus and patience they possess to outright sleep. We plan to (quietly) busy ourselves over the rest of this Summer Session introducing new ways to fulfill our children's diverse needs in the afternoon while connecting each of them to the best options for their bodies and minds!
During two particularly adorable naps last month, Yaz channeled a late-80s SoCal surfer cool while Roshan slept with his current favorite book at CMC - a colorful treatise on the constructive power of triangles - at hand.
Meanwhile, Amelia might be back in Children's House East developing her spacial reasoning, balance, and sense of order and beauty with the construction of the infamous red rod maze or a flower arrangement (or five):
TJ, Calvin, and Wally add together "really big numbers" to make an "even bigger number" with the aid of our golden beads math materials.
In the three o'clock hour, we wish another group of children a good afternoon while transitioning away from our restful period towards all the energy and fun of After Care (with good doses of carb loading, bathroom using, and sunscreen slathering). Here's Amelia and Rita playing with our much loved "hallway jewelry" one afternoon at Full Day pick-up:
This summer, we've begun welcoming Wally's father, Julian, to CMC on Monday afternoons to help us in organizing and supervising our first ever Soccer Club! This change of pace has been great fun and we're looking forward to five more meetings of Soccer Club this summer. . . starting next week!
On Wednesdays, Carsten's mother, Alyssa, has been leading a growing class of Kidding Around Yoga. It's been an absolute joy to observe her work with some of our children and we're hopeful this experiment will lead to future yoga offerings at CMC.
We had also planned to enjoy some water related play each Friday this summer but have so far only managed to set up and play in our new sprinkler once due to the weather! Luckily, we have access to all the opportunity and fun our gross motor spaces, toys, and vehicles afford us every day of After Care.
I'd like to wrap up this trip through our routine at CMC each day with a big thank you to Calvin and Anna for all their help this summer cleaning up and closing down in the evenings! Either Anna or I would be happy to answer any questions that have come up in reading and watching; we will be back at the end of our Summer Session with more media and Montessori to share. From all of us at CMC, happy summer!