Posted by: CJ | March 20, 2010

New videos – and snow videos

Today we posted lots of my recent videos to youtube. Have a look at all of them here. Below are a few highlights

My first good romp in the snow in a long time:

My music and lumi stick playing with Mama, with a little singing too:

I play with my train set:

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Posted by: CJ | March 1, 2010

School

Hi Parents, We had such a wonderful week here at Harvest. Everyone is starting to normalize which means we can start to schedule observations. We are going to start with the children that attend 5 days a week and then schedule observations with the 2 day a week children. We may ask you all to observe from the outside (there is a window on the back door). I know this seems weird but if you’d like to see your child in action, you can’t be in the classroom. We had a mom come in this week to sub for 20 minutes and that child was so excited that he started throwing materials on the floor. This is not normal for that child but IS NORMAL when a parent enters the classroom. The children just get so excited that they can’t control themselves or exercise their free will as we say in Montessori. The children are so eager to show you everything they do that they end up not doing anything. So for this reason we’d like you to stand outside for a little while and get a true glimpse of how the work cycle goes. I will make sure that you get to see your child work independently and receive a lesson. I am sure you all will be impressed with how well the kids can concentrate. So we are slowly filling the classroom and have a really nice range of ages. I think we have one or two children starting every week in March. I want you all to know that this has a positive impact on the children. Not only do they get more opportunities to interact with other children, they also don’t receive as many lessons. I know this seems contradictory and counterintuitive, however, according to AMI children attending 5 days a week should only receive one to three lessons a week. Two day a weekers probably need one, if that. If we give them more, they become dependent on adults to constantly “show them” how to do things. They need more time to be able to figure things out for themselves or ask peers for help. I have noticed lately that some of the children are rejecting lessons. My guess is that they have received too many and have a strong desire to explore on their own. I know it is hard to do but when you give a child twenty or thirty minutes to dress themselves in the morning, they can do it! We just have to show restraint and let them achieve this type of independence on their own. They then continue to perfect that skill over time if there is no adult interference. With that said, I am going to send emails every other week and Jodi will do the same. That way you always know what is going on (especially since Jodi is there more afternoons than me) and everyone has more time to receive and practice lessons. We are starting our immersion program next week! Carla is officially starting as our Spanish speaking assistant on Tuesday. We interviewed a few people and she has a lot of experience working with children and is very knowledgeable of Montessori. Though we aren’t starting our new schedules until the second week of March, I will post all of our schedules on the front door. Our goal was to provide more consistency for the children and to be able to expose them to a native Spanish speaker. Sorry for a hectic pick up at 1 pm. Our nappers like to go to sleep around one so it is difficult getting everyone changed and out the door so that the other children can sleep. I want to let you all know that we have everyone use the toilet between 12:35 and 12:45. However, some of the children will only sit on the toilet so they then urinate on themselves right afterwards. We’re not sure if there is a way to avoid that. We’d love if pick up could go more smoothly but they drink so much at lunch then pee so much at pick up time. Let us know if you all can think of a better solution. Lastly, we are having our garden day on March 13th at 10 am. We need parents to help us dig up and plant our gardens. We will send an evite so that you have something you can keep in your mailbox to remind you. Please try to come for at least a couple hours to help us develop a beautiful outdoor space for the children. Alon: He is just so wonderful! As of next week he is not the oldest so I am curious how he reacts to this. He loves to feed Turbo, the turtle. He chops apples, brings the stool to the aquarium and feeds Turbo. He loves to juice oranges and shell edamame (I know you said to ease up on soy but edamame doesn’t tend to have the same effect as other soy products). Whenever he sees kids go to the compost he runs over to help. He absolutely loved the wheelbarrow. He used it all morning for our outdoor work cycle and again for our afternoon work cycle.

Posted by: CJ | February 17, 2010

Loving School

This morning was not a good morning.  On a good morning, I get up at 5:20, stretch, meditate, write a minute and have a cup of tea before a bleary eyed toddler makes his way out at 6:30. By that time, I am hydrated, caffeinated, and I have had a minute to myself.  I am happy to see him and we snuggle and nurse until he is awake.  This morning I got up with a toddler dragging me out of bed, demanding, “out mamma!”  Last nights dishes greeted me in the  kitchen.  Dehydrated and cranky.  I made coffee and hot cereal. By the time we got to school I was feeling like a bad, grumpy mamma.  Trying to think of something that would restore my sense of well-being before the workday.

Only Ellie and her daughter were in the class.  I chatted with Ellie and Brandi about cloth diapers. Alon put on his crocks and headed to work on a puzzle with Ellie’s daughter. Patiently they cooperated on the puzzle.  They decided to they wanted Laura bars.  Alon cut his first and then cut and gently placed pieces on the girl’s plate.  He didn’t try to take any of “her” pieces.  She waited while he muscled through the thick bars.  It was lovely. He was independent, engaged, polite, helpful, and useful.

I had been concerened about the afternoons.  I worried that it was too long and Alon might be just hanging around till I get there.  Ellie assured me that he sleeps till 4:30. Wakes, eats, and changes clothes and then just re-engages with the materials till I come.  My day is set straight just by knowing he is in a good place.

Being a working mom is a tremendous juggling act. Today I am thankful that school is working well.

Posted by: CJ | February 15, 2010

week 7

looks like we’ll have a Spanish emersion program by the end of February. The school is certainly evolving quickly! Don’t forget about the round table at 9 am on the 20th. I may skip the weekly update that week since I will be at the school all weekend. Ellie

Alon: He loves to carry things. He carries the compost from our room to our pile outdoors. He moves all the chairs in the morning and still appreciates being asked to carry the water pitcher when it is too heavy for the other children. He wakes up ravenous after nap. He usually just goes straight for the food after he wakes and changes only after a snack. He learned to take the lid off of the water container and recycles the water. He had lessons on potato scrubbing, flower arrangements, and raking. He is doing really well with dressing himself however, Jodi and I usually have to walk away from him so that he’ll try it on his own.

Posted by: CJ | February 8, 2010

School Week 5

Hello parents, I first off want to thank all of you for bearing with us while we transition into full time. We feel that we are really getting our routines down. Please keep in mind that we are always trying to accommodate the needs of the children first and those of the parents second. We want to make sure that the program is working for you all so if there is something specific that you all would like, let us know. I know some of you had expressed that you’d like the kids in their pull-ups at pickup. There are varying pick up times so we decided to have everyone changed by 5. Again, if this doesn’t work for you just let us know. Also, I asked Brandi why we weren’t buying the gerber training pants at target. She doesn’t want the urine to hit the floor. The Bambinos have a vinyl liner and this also makes it easier for parents to let the children wear them out in public without having to fear cleanup. So we had a lot of rain this week but we still got outside. We were even able to get out on Thursday in the rain. The children loved it but melted down after about forty minutes. Jodi and I have noticed that the children are starting to normalize. The other day we actually had a moment where we just sat and watched the children work. They love being able to take part in caring for their environment. Someone is always cleaning the mirrors, filling the dish bins, watering the plants or washing their hands. We are dying to get our compost to start our gardening program though it needs to dry out so it can be shoveled. I have introduced more food prep activities because the children love making their own snacks and I am slowly introducing art (chalk, finger painting, and molding clay). If you are looking for an activity to engage the children, give them a clementine and loosen the peel a little so they can peel it (they like to put the peel in a bowl to then be composted) or a banana and butter knife. They do a lot of spreading too. They want to feel like they are part of something bigger so try to use the food in your meal or just serve it as a side dish. It’s worth eating spaghetti with a side of apples and nut butter just to see how proud they are. On a side note, I am working with some organic foods suppliers to sponsor our school. I am trying to start family classes that will cover a range of topics such as nutrition and cooking, toilet training, and Montessorizing your home. It is so important to me that we raise a generation of happy and healthy children and that you all have the most wonderful experience parenting your children. With that said, I want to ask you to not let your toddlers watch TV. I know this is hard but just google the effects of letting a toddler watch TV and you will feel inspired. I’m sure you all know that it leads to obesity and aggression but studies have shown that for every hour a day that your toddler watches the TV, the chance of developing ADHD increases by ten percent. When you let your toddler watch TV, you are setting a terrible precedent for stimulation. TV over stimulates children under age 2 and you are showing them that this is acceptable and normal. They will expect this type of stimulation all the time and this will backfire on you badly. They need opportunities to find their own entertainment. One of the worst effects of TV is that your children don’t learn to play on their own. If your child is fussy while you are making dinner, hand them a bowl of cornstarch and water and let them play. If you need to clean the bathroom, stick them in the tub with a sponge and a squirt bottle. I know this is hard to do at first, but leaving the TV off gets easier and will result in a healthier child and a more unified family. –Ellie and Jodi Alon: Jodi informed me that he has had a surge in testosterone. We’ve been having him do all the moving and heavy lifting in the class. He puts the cots down and helps me move the tables and chairs. I have the other children ask Alon to carry and empty the water into the dish bins if they fill the pitcher too much. He is the only one who can do it and enjoys helping out. I have definitely noticed that he needs more opportunities like this. Once the inclement weather subsides, he will have a lot to do on the patio preparing for potting plants. We will start to borrow materials from Brandi’s room (pouring and transferring). He ate like a champ on Friday. After nap he got straight up and prepared his own snacks. He did clay modeling for a minute then went back to eating. I wanted to give you praise for nursing for as long as you did. For a Montessori classroom to thrive, the children must trust the guide. Nursing creates a bond between mother and child that helps children feel loved and nurtured and helps them trust people more easily. I can tell which children have been nursed into toddler hood as they are calmer, more trusting, and more aware of their own bodies and abilities. Please believe me that the nursing was worth it as Alon is absolutely thriving in our classroom.

At Home:

Alon had a late night with Rocket on Thursday while Momma and Papa went to see Avatar.  He was overtired and difficult when we got home, but it was worth it.  He is using lots of new words and new combinations this weekend.  New signs of independence and challenging his body, mean that we need to be more vigilant.  He wants to be useful and if he is not being useful he will be busy. That generally means he is making a mess.

He is interested in longer books. “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is a current favorite and he is starting to tell me the story as we go through the book. Track continues to be a favored toy.I hide the track away when not in use to decrease its rotation.

Alon is very organized in his activity.  He comes in the door and takes his shoes off and hangs his coat.  He thrives on the order of the classroom.

Last week was his first full week of school and he showed some signs of stress.  Those seem to have subsided.

On Sunday we played with lumi sticks as a family.  Alon was ecstatic.  Banging sticks together, as a family, inside?  He loved it and kept rhythm very well.

Posted by: CJ | February 3, 2010

School Week 4

Hi Parents,

As you all know we are going full time next week. I wanted to go ahead and send this information to all parents so you all know how naps and afternoon activities are handled in lieu of any future changes to enrollment. As the children who are only doing half day are being picked up, the rest of us will use the toilet, and get our nap items (this includes a blanket and pillow brought from home). We will set up our cots together then read stories and sing lullabies. After that we rub backs until everyone is asleep. When the children wake we will have snack and they can choose work or go outdoors. We will be starting to fill planting pots and mixing soil and compost for our garden. Pickup is at 5:30 and we will probably be outdoors at that point. Expect tired children next week as it is a big adjustment. We will let them sleep as long as they need to and make changes only if you, the parents, request it.

I wanted to let you all know that we were not able to get the bulk order of training pants. Brandi has called the both the distributor and the manufacturer and they are backordered. We are thinking that we are going to target to buy the fuzzi buns (I may have the wrong brand) and just call it a day. We did find a woman who is starting her own business and willing to make specialized sizes, however, she needs a couple weeks to get them made. In the mean time we will just have to use target training pants. THIS WILL NOT COST YOU EXTRA! Just wanted to make that really clearJ. We are committed to supporting small businesses and providing our children the best quality possible. We had no idea that buying training pants in bulk would be so difficult. The good news is that if you all are interested in selling yours once your child is done with them, we will offer a trade/barter system so you can get most of your training pants fee back.

So we got a lot of exercise this week. We took walks on both Tuesday and Thursday. We actually made it down to the chickens on Thursday. The kids were exhausted from it but loved seeing the chickens and walking through puddles and mud. It is a long walk for our little ones so we won’t do it too often but they all did great and never asked to be carried! We did a lot of food preparation. The children love it and so I will soon be adding extensions to include lessons of grace and courtesy. I have ordered more materials and will be introducing them slowly so the weekly emails will be a little more interesting in the following weeks. I have started to have the children walk down the steps by themselves (I walk in front of them of course) without holding my hand. It is a great opportunity to refine gross motor skills. They learned to hold the railings and take one step at a time. Even our youngest was able to do it! This may seem mundane to the average adult but it is a big step towards independence for your child. Remember to celebrate these types of feats as they mean a lot to your little ones. –Ellie and Jodi

Alon: He was so tired after our walk on Thursday and was asking for “night night”. He did banana slicing and Lara bar slicing (using a different hand slicer). He loves the fire truck book and always brings it to circle. The weather was nice enough on Thursday that we were able to leave the back door open. Alon loved this and he swept the deck for us. We also worked on getting on the toilet according to AMI guidelines (they climb around the toilet seat). I can tell this is easier for him on our toilet. We will keep working on this next week.
At home Alon did a lot with train track this week.  We are reading a book about the subway and another about a baby that goes through many first words.  We are having some incidents of breakdown over very small things, like going to get his socks.  Words are coming together in new ways and we heard him use the present progressive for the first time this week “momma drinking it”.  He is starting to refer to himself as Alon.

We have been practicing counting with montessori rod set.  He is recognizing numbers and I have seen him accurately counting items to himself.  Potty training is going well.  I suspect we will be using diapers only at night in another month.

He is enjoying school.  Mostly he talks about the food.  But I suspect that is in part because he has more words for food than for most other activities.  I also think the repetition of food prep is more memorable than the activities which are not repeated daily.
Alon has moved back into his own bed and is showing more signs of independence.  I am concerned about his stress level and am making an effort to maintain routines, clarity in the home, and limit my expectations.  He is very well behaved.

Posted by: CJ | January 24, 2010

School Week Three

Despite some inclement weather, we had a great week. The farm machines were a big hit! All the children were exhausted by the end of the day so I hope they all napped well for you. The chickens were particularly loud that morning which stirred up quite a bit of excitement in our toddler group. I am planning to get to the chickens by mid February. The children are all beginning to show signs of prolonged concentration which I did not expect to see so soon. This means we will be able to have observations sooner than later.             We are getting some more materials this week for the children to explore. Brandi is bringing in a sand table and we are getting a couple of truckloads of compost so we can start gardening. Brandi is thinking about getting a booth at the Green Market at Piedmont Park on Saturdays to raise money for our garden. We could sell…..? We are thinking about taking orders for bulbs through Flower Power and we could do a bake sale or make herbal salves with the children. Please let me know if you’d like to help organize a fundraiser for the beginning of March. Lastly, I will be putting up a sign up sheet for snack. The kids LOVE food prep so we want to phase out morning snack and offer food prep instead. I will leave a small grocery list (a few types of organic fruit or veggies) on the sign up sheet. Please let your child participate in picking out the food and carrying it in as this is always very exciting to them. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns. –Ellie and Jodi

Alon had a lot of lessons this week. He did banana slicing; the object permanence boxes; apple and cheese grating; and we did the nesting doll again. He really enjoys working on the puzzles after lunch. Alon seems to have a good sense of his own rhythms. He is focused and determined in the mornings during our work hour, energetic during our outdoor time, and quiet after lunch. He does not let himself get over stimulated and seems to follow the needs of his body.

From the Mom

On Friday when I let Alon know he was going to Stephanie’s he insisted, “school, like school”.  So I think he is ready to be going full time to the classroom.  Thats great because next week is his last week of part time school. I am very excited about having only one place to go.

This week Alon has been very focused the the match game he got at his birthday from Steve and Karen.  He is also putting more words together more and his diction just took a big step forward.  His body filled out considerably this week.  His legs and butt look very solid.  I have brought out the 2t pants.  We took Alon to his first movie yesterday.  We went to an IMAX film called Wild Ocean.  It was a good first movie. Lots of swimming sardines and sharks.

Alon got to ride in a firetruck yesterday and blow the horn.  I think that was the highlight of the week

Potty is going well.  Alon is gaining more awareness and control over his body.  We are not pushing this process.

We started saving coins for a balance bike.  Alon understands that coins and bills have importance in our society.  He understands that when we “buy it”  we take possession of something.

Posted by: CJ | December 30, 2009

I’m 2!

Today’s my second birthday – yeah! Cake, party, presents…some of my favorite things!

I certainly love to have a good time. I can amuse myself for a long time with trains or even just a light:

And I get a kick out of watching that video, I laugh the same way each time!

But life’s not all fun and games at 2. Recently I also got a job. Now I work as Tech Support for Dell:

Best part is, I don’t even have to know how to fix anything!

PS. To all my followers, Papa just fixed the babyalon.com domain so you can get here with that again 🙂

Posted by: CJ | December 28, 2009

Dressing up: Pirate

Mama got me some hats and now I get to dress up like some of my favorite characters. I like being a Fireman or a Cowboy, but the new fun game was in being a PIRATE!

Check out the video below of me and Papa in pirate-mode.

Posted by: CJ | December 25, 2009

It’s a party time of year!

i’m a big fan of this time of year – there are parties galore! mama and pap had a big party at our house for the Winter Solstice.

My first Solstice party was last year and I took a big nap beforehand so I could stay up for festivities. This year, I talked with mama and papa and knew the party would be big, have lots of people and included some great food and decorations!

I was really surprised that there was a lot of new fun activities too! Like the fire ladies (Hot Toddies Flaming Cabaret)! These lovely women ate fire! Wow – that doesn’t happen every day!

then later I joined the band and room full of people chanting. I found the musicians had a great selection of toys my size!

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