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Proud as a Peacock! May 25, 2012

Proud as a peacock!

Proud as a peacock!

Ah, graduation ceremonies – Pomp and Circumstance, the caps, the diplomas, the laughter and the tears!  I’m British, so I’m doing my best to keep a stiff upper lip, but I have to admit that my bottom lip has started to wobble whenever I think of this year’s graduates.  This is my fourth year as administrator at our school, so I have known all of our graduates for all of their years at the Montessori School of Pullman, even those who are completing their fourth year.

Now we are doing a lot of reflecting and remembering.  I am very busy giving tours to new and prospective families.  When our soon to be graduates see the new families, they ask questions.

“Did my Mom and Dad visit before I started school?”

“Was I that small?”

“Was I shy?”

“Did I cry on my first day?”

I try to give our soon to be graduates accurate descriptions of my first memories of meeting them and their first days at school.

“I remember meeting you in the hall with your parents.  You were about this tall, and very shy.  You wouldn’t talk very much at first.”

“I remember when you volunteered to act as Goldilocks when we were acting out the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.  You got into the middle of the circle, and then you were too shy to do anything else, so we all helped you out.  Then when you went home, your Mom said that you acted out all of the roles for the whole story.”

At our school, we have some important graduation traditions.  Along with receiving a diploma, the teachers share some special qualities of each graduate with the class and our guests.

“She is a big sister to all of the younger children.”

“He makes us laugh every day.”

“She loves math, and shares her excitement about numbers with all of the other children.”

“He is so kind, especially to the younger children.”

Our graduates also choose a peacock feather to take home, because they all should be as proud as a peacock of their accomplishments.  During their time at Montessori, they have learned how to read and write, count, learn about other countries and cultures, sew, clean, create, and be leaders in their communities.  (Thanks, Ms. Linda, now retired, for starting the peacock feather tradition.)

In recent years, our graduates have also chosen a special item from nature – a special rock, a shell, a  pine cone.  (Thanks, Ms. Heather and Ms. Megan for starting this tradition.)

Such items are so much more memorable than a plastic toy that will soon be forgotten.


The End of Year Wobbles May 20, 2012

Ms. Jane’s classroom, early morning, on the first day of school.

End of Year Wobbles!

At this time of year, as we enjoy end of the year traditions (a hike, a walk downtown for ice-cream) and prepare for graduation, we notice a few children having a case of what we call ‘the end of year’ wobbles!  Already this year we have said goodbye to a few families who are moving from Pullman to faraway places.  We’ll miss the families and especially their children.  Other children are preparing to leave the safe, secure, familiar feeling of their classroom, where they have grown and learned for three, and in a few cases, four years, and move on to elementary school.  They are going from being the big fish in a little pond to the little fish in a much bigger school.  Many of our four-to-five year olds will be dual enrolled next year, spending half the day with us, and half-the-day at Public School kindergarten.  Many will begin riding the school bus on a daily basis.  Change is unsettling, exciting, and a little scary.

Our soon to be graduates often go through a heightened flurry of activity.

“Oh my gosh, it seemed like I had forever to paint a map of the world, count to a thousand, complete my book of division work, read all of the Bob books, write my story . . . and now there are only three weeks left!”

They also go through a heightened need for hugs and conversations.  I can no longer slip into a classroom to quietly deliver a message, without being bear hugged by our kindergarteners.

As a parent, if you look back at times of change in your own life – leaving home to go to college, getting married, becoming a parent – you’ll perhaps recognize those feelings we call ‘the end of year wobbles’.  Lots of emotion, lots of excitement, all mixed together with a sprinkling of butterflies and nerves.  You might even be having some of these feelings, too, as you watch your once so little child, now with a big kid smile, walk proudly forward to receive a graduation diploma.  Treasure each stage and age, because before you know it they’ll be walking across a high school stage to receive a diploma, and worries about the first school bus ride will be replaced with worries about the first time driving the family car!


Tea Time is a State of Mind May 9, 2012

Filed under: Practical Life — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:32 pm
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Food for Thought

Afternoon Tea

            Growing up in England, in what seems now a bygone age, I had afternoon tea with my Mam and my sister every day.  Over a cup of tea (or glass of milk) and a snack, my sister and I shared with one another and our Mam the highlights and lowlights of our day.

Afternoon tea was also a special treat for my children, and they especially loved sharing afternoon tea with their friends, both real, and imaginary.

The children in our school are so excited to have a tea party with their Moms.  Several of them danced around and around, singing, “I’m so excited.  I’m so excited.  It’s time for tea.  It’s time for tea!”  I must admit that I am excited, too.  The Moms’ Day tea is one of my favorite events of the year.

The classrooms look beautiful – tablecloths, real china cups and saucers, flowers.   I am reminded of the value of setting time aside for a little tea and conversation with those you love.  And also, once again, of the importance of preparing the environment.  A tea party just wouldn’t be a tea party without a little effort in making the tables look pretty.

Summer is the perfect time for afternoon tea in the garden, picnic style.  Here are some suggestions, all also perfect for a picnic  or school lunch, and all providing lots of opportunities for practical life activities and grace and courtesy:

tiny sandwiches – cucumber and cream cheese, hard boiled egg and sprouts, mashed avocado and bacon.  To make the sandwiches extra fancy, cut them into shapes using a cookie cutter.

fruit – strawberries, of course, but also slices of apple and pear

vegetable sticks and dip – carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery

scones or toast or English muffins, toasted, with a little butter and jam or honey or marmalade

What you eat is really not that important.  Teatime is more a state of mind.  Use your prettiest china, or a special tablecloth or picnic blanket.  Dress up.  Wear a hat.  Make a centerpiece of flowers you have picked together.  Invite the teddy bears in your house to a picnic.  Use a real basket.  Go to the park.  Use fabric napkins.  Drink sleepytime or peach tea (favorites of many children) or make home made lemonade or drink juice you have squeezed at home.

A friend of mine also insists that all afternoon teas should begin with a poem.  Perhaps you might like to include a favorite poem or story book.  How about reading, “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert M. Munsch in honor of mothers?

“I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.”