It’s that time of year again, the summer is coming to an end and even though this coming school year will once again look different for so many of us, the underlying themes for kids are still there. New routines, new people, and leaving loved ones.
Over the years I’ve written a few different posts about how to incorporate some helpful tips on making the transition to school easier for children. You can read some of them here and another one here. Below are some new and old favourites on our bookshelves at this time of year to help children know what to expect at school.
Jack Goes to Montessori School will always be my most recommended and favourite book to give to new Montessori students. A gentle telling of the routine in a 3-6 classroom, children will easily recognize the materials and flow of the child led day.
If you haven’t seen the Lola series it’s a must for preschool kids! This entire series has been a favourite in my 3-6 classrooms for years because it is so relatable. This book is perfect for any child starting school not just in a Montessori setting but my Montessori students love it too because it focuses on the rhythmic flow of the day which is so important for young children who can’t tell time. Establishing the rhythm and then going over it with your child will help them know what’s coming next at school and after which activity you will come to get them. This helps them feel much more confident at school and safe in the knowledge that you will be there at the same time every day.
This is another old favourite for us. It has everything I love in a book; engaging illustrations, diverse characters and repetitive text. Perfect for the preschool crowd. I wrote a review of it four years ago and we still love it to this day! You can read that post here.
This one is brand new for us and we already love it! A sequel of sorts to the previous book and just as perfect. Focused on a group of children outdoors playing it touches on topics of disagreements and different feelings. Empathy is one of the most important things we can help bring out in children. This book is perfect for bringing up discussions on feelings, how to work through problems and acknowledging others emotions.
It’s been a lifetime since this first day of school picture was taken of Quentin. He begins Upper Elementary this year and although he’s had many years of returning to school, the principles listed in these back to school posts are still very much used to help him gently and smoothly find his way back into the classroom.
September has seen us settling back into the school year routine.
We are often asked to recommend a quality indoor shoe that is appropriate for the Montessori environment. Ever since Quentin started Montessori school, our recommendation has always been Softstar Shoes. You can see him wearing his first pair here and here.
So when Softstar contacted us with a gifted pair for both Quentin and I we jumped at the chance.
We love these shoes for so many reasons but the most important reason is that they support the natural development and strength of feet. Feet, especially those of little children were not meant to be in a hard and un-flexing soled shoe all day. They need to move, to breath and the toes need to be able to grip the floor.
Quentin loves that they are completely customizable from the design colours to the materials. Quentin choose all black (perfect for schools requiring a black uniform shoe) with the rocket button in whiskey orange and gold in Sublime leather. Mine are a gorgeously soft Pebble Grey in Nubuck leather and I let the Elves choose the button motif which ended up being a star in Indigo. A perfect choice for an understated classroom look that goes with everything.
They are absolutely perfect for someone who is on their feet all day in a bustling Montessori classroom. Roo Moccasins are lined with cosy sheepskin and so they are a pleasure to pull on in the morning and keep our feet odour free and breathing all day.
They are also perfect for cosy play at home as the Autumn weather sets in.
We love them so much that Softstar has graciously offered to give away pairs to one of our followers!
Autumn has crept up on us. Many children have already returned to school and with our own first day less than two weeks away I thought I’d share our Montessori essentials for back to school.
The benefit of being both a mother and a trained Montessori Guide is that I live in both the home and school environment. So I’ve compiled a list of Montessori back to school essentials both from a veteran parent and teacher perspective that I’ll come back to and do separate posts on in the upcoming days.
Let’s start from the beginning:
This is the absolute most important part of a smooth transition to school. Children especially those from 0-6 years thrive on predictable family rhythms. If your day (especially the morning) is lacking the routine required for a successful start to the school day here’s our suggestions on how to get everyone on track:
Pick a time in the morning that everyone should be up by in order to get out the door on time. Then add 15 minutes and set the alarm for the adjusted time.
Make sure your child is going to sleep at a time that will allow for them to wake up rested. 10pm Summer bedtimes DO NOT WORK for the school year.
Don’t wait until the first day of school to start this. Start it ASAP, even if you aren’t going out the door today. It will take awhile for your child to adjust.
Make setting out clothes the night before part of your child’s bedtime routine. Make sure they are clothes your child can use the bathroom independently in! Speaking as a teacher, overalls, skinny jeans and long dresses just don’t work for a young school child.
I’ll get into more detail about routine in an upcoming post but those are the basics.
Just like at home, independence in the Montessori classroom is essential for your child’s success. Here’s what you need to know:
Shop to ensure you have variety for the week. Variety will help your child’s lunchbox come home empty
Too tight thermoses filled with tomato soup are a disaster waiting to happen. If your child has trouble eating a particular food at home don’t send it to school
Your child will need to open their own containers. Choose ones your child can open independently and help them practice in advance.
Make sure you know your school’s food/nutrition policy. Many schools have zero junk/zero waste policies or allergy policies. If you are unsure about what to send contact you school or pack a variety of nutrition rich foods in reusable containers.
I’ll get into what we pack and how we pack it later this week.
Above all respect the child
This is an emotion filled time for any child. Some children are looking forward to it, some are more anxious. Some will have changing feelings in the upcoming weeks as they transition into their classrooms. Just like we spoke about here, give your child lots of space, love and encouragement.
If being grilled by a loved one on all the activities you did at work today is annoying, don’t do it to your child. Instead ask them relatable questions such as “What does your playground have?”, or “What did you do that was fun today?”. Be prepared for your child not to be able to answer “Who did you play with?” “What did you do?” kinds of questions. Also be prepared for them to be exhausted. Show them how much you love and respect them by gently offering help if needed, and allow them time to just “be” when they get home. After school IS NOT THE TIME for getting out more Montessori trays off your home shelves. It’s time for reconnecting with a loved one, reestablishing trust and closeness and just relaxing.
Hello September. For those of us in the Northren hemisphere we gathering school supplies and retrieving lost lunch boxes.
Montessori back to school has similarities with mainstream education. The first few days are spent getting to know the ground rules and making new friends. However, there are some important differences.
Grace and Courtesy lessons are introduced the first day of school. What’s expected of the child is modelled with role play lessons not written down on a chalkboard. Real life examples are used and the children take part actively instead of sitting in their desks listening to the rules.
If this is your child’s first time going to school it can be a little intimidating and so I’ve compiled our favourite books to help prepare little ones as the head off.
A little Peace is one of our favorite Peace Education books. It is perfect for the first weeks of school and anytime after that. It’s photographs show children all around the world sharing a smile, lending a hand, and spreading peace. It focuses on an important Grace and Couresty lesson. That peace can happy easily, by offering those around you the simplest of jestures. The Invisible Boy puts the reader in the shoes of Brian. A small shy boy who is kind and has a gift for drawing but is picked last for teams, whispered about at the lunch table and wishes the floor would swallow him up. The illustrations are beautiful and I love that there are discussion prompts in the end pages. This is a great book to open up conversations with a child about friendship and respect for others.
Jack goes to Montessori School is my absolute favorite back to school Montessori book. There are many books about a kindergarten day or a preschool day but sadly very few about what a Montessori 3-6 child experiences in their school day. How goodbyes are said, how to roll out a mat, what the classroom looks like and what materials are used are all featured. This book should be read by every Montessori family and should be in every Montessori schools lending library.
Giving children ample time to process the transition to school is important. Giving them a head start on the Grace and Courtesy lessons will go a long way to helping them feel connected and at home in the classroom.