Term 5 – 2022
Thank you for welcoming me into the class! It has been really great getting to know the students and seeing their growth in many areas of their development.
We had a really lovely time learning a bunch, having lots of fun, and building great relationships Here is an in-depth exploration of some of the important aspects we addressed during the last term of the school year:
During this term we concentrated on encouraging the children to be more independent and to have agency over their learning and school life. It is immensely important for the children to build a strong foundation for the future as whatever they learn now will carry through to the rest of their learning careers. Self-sufficient students are not only better prepared for academics but also will have the ability to build their own self esteem and relationships. For these reasons, there was a special emphasis in providing plenty of opportunities for the students to practice skills that will aid their everyday lives; dressing themselves, caring for their own belonging, practicing good hygiene, following rules and routines, and being aware of social expectation where amongst the many competencies the students got to implement everyday this term. Some of the main ways in which we encouraged autonomy were through a mindful classroom set-up, providing clear rules and routines, promoting leadership and friendship, allocating time for free play and exploration, and most importantly by making everyday fun!
We created a Montessori inspired classroom where we included learning activities that addressed Math, Language, Sensory, Practical Life, Geography and Fine motor skills. It was a priority to provide a calm classroom environment that was fit for concentration and harmony. Maintaining a neat classroom was also an area of focus and we used music and positive reinforcement to give the student opportunities to take responsibility for keeping the classroom clean and tidy. Every activity had a rightful place, which helped the students know where to return the materials after they were finished with them without needing adult assistance. We also provided floor mats as well as extra table space to ensure that each student had plenty of room to to set up their work and not be distracted by clutter or too much sensory stimulation.
During activity time we encouraged the students to work independently and use indoor voices to avoid sound pollution and allow concentration; the goal being that their nervous systems and brains could be more settled and able to learn better. We played classical music such as Mozart and Vivaldi as well as other types pf concentration music.
We also made an effort to clear the walls and shelves from as much visual stimuli as possible in order to not distract the students their work and learning. Instead we clearly displayed some of their best work at the front of classroom (and at eye-level) so that they could clearly see what they had accomplished and be able to feel proud.
It is very important that every student had plenty of opportunities to practice being good leaders. We often asked them to show their peers how to do a “good job” rather than telling them; so often the children would role model for one another and got positive reinforcement for it. We gave them a chance to take be the classroom “leaders” when transitioning in and out of the classroom when going to the forest or another part of the school. This became a sought-out position and those who were chosen on that day took pride on their role and made big efforts to carry our their “leader” duties successfully. Towards the end of the term the students started to join together to share the responsibilities of being the “leaders” and it was a very pleasant surprise to witness them taking the initiative to work together so well.
We also gave the students the opportunities to be classroom “helpers” by doing more than the standard upkeep of our shared space. For example, if an area had been left particularly messy the classroom helper would take the initiative to tidy it up and receive a special sticker for it.
Many students this age are usually learning to navigate more complex relationships with their peers as they are developmentally more social than when they are toddlers. For this reason we worked on this aspect of their education almost daily. We provided many verbal tools that the students could use in order to express their wants and needs. For example we encouraged them to use phrases like “I don’t like it when you…”, “can I please have a turn with…”, “I feel happy when you…”, I feel sad when you…” etc. We also helped the children understand the importance of respecting other’s personal space; for this purpose, they were presented with Ms. Daisy (our puppet lamb) who taught us about how to ask for permission if you want to give someone a hug or being more aware when our behaviour is affecting those around us (e.g., when we are too loud, others may be dislike it or when we give unwanted physical touch to someone, it could make them uncomfortable). Ms. Daisy and friends was a very effective method as we started to see change right away and at the end of term when we reviewed her lessons, it was evident that the retention was there because the students were enthusiastically discussing what we had learned from her.
Here is a special message from Christine and Joanna, our lovely french teachers:
We scheduled time to visit the forest twice a day and we had a lot of time to explore, sing, dance, learn, and play. Here are some of our highlights from out time in the forest:
The students had a great time learning new swimming skills on Fridays!