April Pigeon Plum Newsletter

Dear Pigeon Plum Families:

Spring has sprung! I hope everyone had a fun and restful spring break. I spent some of my spring break getting caught up in my garden. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that “there must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.” Toddlers are sensorial learners and enjoy the sensorial experience of being in nature. Dr. Montessori understood that children must experience the world through their senses in order for the brain to develop. Being able to feel, hear, see, smell and taste their environment, is critical to their development. Through movement and sensory input, children develop neural pathways, shaping their minds and gaining control of their bodies. While working outside toddlers also learn about the natural world around them and how to care for it. The more children are outside, the stronger their connection with nature will become.

“When children come in contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” Dr. Maria Montessori

The following are some activities that you can do outdoors in nature with your toddler to enjoy spring. Notice the beauty of nature together; listen to the wind in the trees, look at all the flowers in bloom, smell the spring rain, watch insects at work, the movement of the ocean and water droplets on leaves. Find moments of quiet; find a peaceful place to sit and just breathe or sit and watch the clouds. Take a basket to the park or beach to collect leaves, rocks, shells, and sticks. Grow your own vegetables. The garden provides toddlers with a chance to dig in the soil and plant seeds and plants. Ms. Šárka planted tomato seeds in a pot outside of the classroom and now the Pigeon Plums have their very own tomato plant to care for. Soon we will be able to eat freshly picked tomatoes for snack, yum!

“Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath it’s shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Happy Spring,
Ms. Dori and Ms. Šárka

March Gumbo Limbo

Dear Gumbo Limbo Families,

Please join us in welcoming our newest families to our Gumbo Limbo fold: the Schoenberger family ‘Myla’, the Graham family ‘Jude’, and the Barresi family ‘Samantha’, A very warm welcome to our class!

The month of February was very busy and seemed to go by so fast. We focused on Grace and Courtesy, learning the importance of treating others and ourselves with kindness, the importance of friendship, what is love and when do we feel love. We also learned about compliments. What is a compliment? How does it make us feel and how do we give and take compliments to and from each other? We had a Complement box filled to the brim with written notes that the children wrote or drew to give to each other at our circle time.

The Primary students enjoyed the friendship share event. Each of the Primary classes made a beautiful gift as appreciation for each class. The Gumbos created hanging wall posters for the Banyans and Kapoks. For the past few days the Gumbos have been enjoying using the lesson the Banyans created and admiring the poster the Kapoks made. This small event tied together all the learnings of the month.

In a moment of gratitude, I would like to thank you for all the trust that you give us when leaving your precious children under our care. We appreciate the time that we have with your children. There is no better gift than seeing their amazing souls shine, develop and flourish.

Love and play was a lovely day with fun activities and bouncy houses. Thank you all that helped set up, break down and run this event – fun was had by all!
The children have been busy with our continent studies learning about planet earth and its continents, which ties in nicely right on time to start our Cultural Immersion studies. This year, our Cultural Immersion event will take place towards the end of May, and as we are studying the big continent of North America we will start our studies at end of March. The students will also be choosing their own individual animal study.
Our March unit study will be focusing on individual art projects, starting our group art project (for our Art show), and a spring theme.

A great event coming soon is our ‘Follow the Child’ on April 6th. Mark this in your diary, it’s a great opportunity for you to observe your child presenting the lessons in the class.
Thanks again to all the Gumbo Limbo parents for all the support!

Ms.Ann & Ms.Pascale

January Pigeon Plum Newsletter

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone is having a wonderful winter break. I have spent the first half of the break in Virginia visiting with my parents, my sister and brother in law and my niece and nephew. It was a lovely visit but it sure was cold!

During the month of December the Pigeon Plums started to work with lessons that pertain to the holidays and winter months. These lessons included language cards depicting activities one can do outside in the snow, a basket with a box, wrapping paper, tape and a ribbon, a miniature tree with star ornaments to be put on and taken off, a cinnamon stick and a spice grater, and the holiday gift/art project. Not only do these lessons expand their vocabulary but they also assist in strengthening their pincer grasp.

” He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of a man’s intelligence.” -Maria Montessori

The pincer grasp you ask? The pincer grasp is a sophisticated two finger grasp of the coordination of the thumb and index finger. The development of these small muscles builds from the larger muscles of the hand to the more refined movements of the fingers.

Very young children will naturally use a fist grip, grasping objects with all five fingers of the hand, infants and young toddlers use this grasp naturally.

Next, the toddler will typically employ a four fingered grip, coordinating the thumb and the three largest fingers to pick up things. This grip is a important step in the development of the muscles of the hand, even if it is a clumsier grip. From there, toddlers will start to grasp items with just their thumb and index finger.

Practice is the only way to improve this very important skill, that will eventually allow your child to accomplish tasks that we as adults don’t even think twice about such as feeding ourselves with utensils, writing with a pencil and cutting with scissors.

“Those children who have been able to work with their hands make headway in their development, and reach a strenth of character which is conspicuous,” – Maria Montessori

Wishing you all the best in this new year,
Ms. Dori and Ms. Šárka

January Banyan Newsletter

Respected Banyan Families,

Thank you all for your love, support, gratitude, and encouragement that you all have given to us thus far. I am grateful to be part of your child’s day to day life and help them grow in this unique phase and time of their life.

Thank you to all the parents who attended the parent-teacher conferences. I appreciate your presence and value your time. I observe and make notes every day in the classroom, which helps me support and follow the children accordingly. It is my privilege to share my thoughts and observation notes with you during our meeting. Also, it is an opportunity for me to learn more about your child from you and guide them accordingly. I hope you all felt the same way. Our next parent-teacher conference for the school year will be in April.

“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.” – Dr. Montessori

Since we discussed more social and emotional skills at our conferences, I thought this month’s focus should be on social and emotional skills from the experiences I gained/felt and how that has been helpful in the classroom and to our children.

The focus of the month:
The Importance of Social and Emotional Skills in early years

We have been talking and insisting on kids’ needs to feel safe and connected in order for them to start their day in the classroom. Also, in my first newsletter, I discussed the importance of bringing the children early to the school to give them enough time to start their day at school slowly. Believe me, they will not be happy if they do not feel safe, if their emotional needs are not fulfilled, and if their social obligation is not satisfied appropriately. So again, the first step towards supporting them achieve these skills is to PLEASE BRING YOUR CHILD EARLY TO SCHOOL EVERYDAY.

In previous years, I spent more time preparing the classroom environment as I feel more satisfied when I do things by myself. I ended up staying in the classroom even after 8:00 am sometimes and checking/arranging the class and the lessons. A prepared environment is one of the significant elements in Montessori Philosophy, and we cannot expect the students to clean their mess or put the work back on the shelves when the classroom is not prepared. Don’t worry, the classroom is getting arranged as I learn more about time management skills!

I am on the playground in the morning to welcome the students and to spend a few minutes of one on one time with the children and guide them to play and talk as a group or with a new friend. This time in the morning is the most valuable time for the child to set the emotional and social tone for the entire day. I have observed that they spend a significant amount of time in the day preparing themselves for transitions; to go to the playground for afternoon play time, then on the playground getting ready to eat, and during the dismissal to get ready to go home or to aftercare. They are showing us that they need time before and after every transition throughout their day. Then I asked myself a question, wait a minute, What am I doing to keep myself peaceful and calm throughout the day? Oh, I slow down if I have to and feel the inner peace within me, I do things on my own time, I need time to breathe, I need time to think about my day, I need time for my emotional well-being, and I need time to connect with other people. Of course, I can list them all out because I am an adult. Children won’t come to us and tell us their needs. They do not tell us that they need time to talk and visit with their friends or adults in their life. Kids need time to prepare themselves before and after every transition; they need time to plan what they are going to do in their next transition period. Also, children do not tell us that they are emotionally hurt. However, they will show us all these feelings via different actions which we tend to label as “Behavior issues.” Slow down, let us give them enough time and opportunity to practice their social skills, and allow us to provide a healthy environment to nourish and strengthen their emotional well beings.

Children take time to develop these skills at the school. Normalization happens in different forms in the classroom. One of the most common ways of normalization occurs via socialization, especially when the child moves and comes to a new classroom environment. Students build emotional skills via socialization and learn through practice and real-life experiences.

We focus on the word “preparation” only as a materialized thing as opposed to our feelings on social and emotional skills. I think inner preparation and development is more important than outer preparation. Let us support our kids learn these two skills that are important to become a peaceful human being.

Coming up:

Our school’s most prominent annual fundraising event Comedy and Cocktails will be January 26, 2019.

Each classroom chooses a theme to create a basket of stuff to auction off at the event. This year Banyans have chosen “Tools for Little Hands” theme. Our school raises money through this event to support our scholarship fundraiser.

Online sign-up will be out soon with the details.

January Unit Studies:

Continent, land, water and air

Ms. Karthi and Ms. Desiree

January Mangrove Newsletter

Happy New Years to all our Mangrove Families. I hope your break was filled with joy and celebration, relaxation and reflection as the new year begins.

Montessori focuses on observation and reflection, and many of you do the same as you create resolutions for the new year based on growth (or lack of growth) from the past year. I challenge you to include a resolution that can develop your relationship with your toddler, perhaps using the Montessori philosophy to guide you.

As parents, we can easily become overwhelmed juggling the endless pull and tug from our work, our extended family, our home, our community, ourselves, and of course, our children.  I often find myself in a house full of dirty laundry and an empty fridge, emails that need to be written and children who need my attention, with a personal energy meter quickly depleting. When I am functioning from that space, my family, the ones we cherish the most, do not get to see the best side of me.  Yet I realize that when I spend more time observing and reflecting, I find myself functioning from a place of promise, not a place of discouragement.  And when I function from a place of promise, my interactions with my family become more meaningful and full of connection.   I wish that for every one of you because although life with a toddler can be much like a roller coaster ride, full of highs and lows, it is also the most beautiful and rewarding ride you could ever take.

So the challenge:

Observe your day with your toddler. Then reflect on your day.

What is working? What are you struggling with? How are you responding to those joys and those struggles? What can you do differently to support your child? What are you willing to do to support that growth?

Then put it into action and try it.

Sometimes it can be the smallest adjustment that can bring about the greatest change.  And sometimes the smallest adjustments take the most preparation from the adult.  But as we Montessorians often say, growth comes in the struggle.

If I may, here are some things to reflect on and see if they are ideas that can be incorporated into your family’s resolutions based on the needs and developmental stage of your toddlers. Toddlers are going through the oppositional stage in which they are coming into an understanding that they have an impact in the world and a voice, and they want to use it. If they are not offered opportunities to voice their opinions or work independently, opposition occurs (often in the form of screaming, crying tantrums – we have all been there!).  If this seems to happen a lot, my suggestion to you is to find times in your day for your toddler to express themselves with as much independence as possible, within reason. This comes in the form of offering limited choices where you, the parent, is also satisfied with whatever choice the child picks.  The choice technique can be used throughout the day for various situations such as what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, which book to read, and even which toy to clean up first.

It goes like this:

Parent: Would you like ______ or ______?

It appears simple.The child gets to make a choice, the child gets the feeling that their opinion matters, the child is honored and validated, therefore satisfied. In order for the child to realize this technique will be validated and followed through on, they will push the boundaries first and that is where is becomes complicated.

It may go like this:

Parent: Would you like to wear this blue shirt or this yellow shirt?

Child: Yellow shirt.

Parent: Great, you can put on the yellow shirt.

(Yellow shirt goes on)

Child: I want the blue shirt

Parent: You chose the yellow shirt. Today you are wearing the yellow shirt.

Child: I want the blue shirt.

Parent: You chose the yellow shirt today. You can choose the blue shirt tomorrow.

Child: (loses his/her mind)

It gets hard before it gets easier and the tips we follow are:

Offer only two choices.
Do not give in or back down.
If child doesn’t make a choice, you let him/her know that the choice will be made for them and then that choice is final.
If the child’s choice changes, after the final decision has been made it is no longer a choice.
Child can try again making choices the next time.
If you have more question about the choices technique or anything else, please ask. And join us for our Toddler Education Night on Tuesday the 23rd at 5:30 where we are focusing on Toileting.

Remember, that the little changes we make in our lives (our little resolutions) can actually make a much bigger impact than we may even realize. My favorite Montessori quote is, “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”  Just think, the work you do today to support your children and help them to reach their potential will ultimately effect the future because that is what our children are – the future! (Sappy but true). So, make some resolutions and then go give your future a good squeeze!


Ms. Liz and Ms. Victoria

May Gumbo Limbo Newsletter

Dear Gumbo Limbo Families,

We’ve been real busy with our African Unit. The children are getting so excited. The students have been creating African crafts in the classroom and also learning about different African instruments and singing African folk songs with Ms. Ann. A big thank you to her time with the children, they really enjoy her music class!

As our Cultural Immersion Day approaches we will be transforming our classroom into an African living museum; displaying our studies and research. The individual projects ‘Habitats’ which the children have been making at home should come in no later than the 10th of May in order to display the children’s work for Cultural Immersion day which is the on the 12th.

As we approach our last weeks of school we are mentally preparing ourselves for the clean up and organization of our classroom, any help would be very much appreciated during the week of 12th-16th of June after school has finished. Also this year the Gumbos are responsible for the school wide end of year party clean up. Please check up if you need to complete parent hours. All parents are invited to help and assist.

Important dates:
Monday May 12th Cultural Immersion Day

May 15th and 18th Kindergarten and Elementary field trips

Thursday June 8th Graduating  Kindergarten Parents’ Thank You Breakfast 8:00-8:30, followed by video interview of students 8:30-9:00, then Kindergarten Graduation 5:30-6:00.

Thursday June 8th  6:15 All families are invited to our End of Year Party Pot Luck

Friday, June 9th  We are  thinking of having a  fun day with an end of year class party on the last day of school, any parent involvement, any fun ideas, and activity ideas are very welcome.

Thank you to all, our parent conferences went well and some good information was shared. We would like to extend a huge thank you to our room mum, Narceline, and also to all who provide our daily delicious snacks, throughout the year, A BIG thank you.

As we look forward to seeing you all for our Open Cultural Immersion day and Art Show the Children will be displaying their own individual pieces, as well as our large Auction piece. Which is coming along nicely with all the Mahoganies that where given to create this art inspired by Africa. All proceeds from the auctioned art piece goes to our class. All Primary and Elementary classes will be open for all to browse and admire, the students hard work and visit all the different continents! We really look forward to sharing and seeing you at this great event.

We will also be having a 50/50 raffle this night.  Funds raised benefit our Primary playground renovation. We are endeavoring to beautify and renovate our Primary playground  by adding more green space, fort areas, and interactive activities. All donations are truly appreciated. Make a donation today towards next year’s Work/Pay or Fundraising hours.

LOOK out for Summer camp info and sign up sheets we have (4) four, two-week sessions available. Summer camp will start on the week of the 19th June.

Love and peace Ms. Nicole and Ms.Pascale

April Spanish Lime Newsletter

Dear Spanish Lime Families,

March was an exciting month getting out and exploring our community and the people that serve it. The Spanish Limes visited the hospital to hear from our very own parent, Sean Hickey, to gain knowledge about his daily operations working as a medical helicopter nurse. Luckily for us we got to watch a helicopter land and tour the vessel. Before spring break Ms. Nancy, accordionist extraordinaire, has been visiting us weekly to share Eastern European song and dance! We came back from spring break eager for our field trip to Grimal Grove; to taste tropical plants, learn about the founder Adolf Grimal and his vision of the farm. There was also a blacksmith on duty that showed us how to forage metal, using tools to hammer, and bend. The blacksmith enjoyed using horse shoes as his medium and demonstrated how to craft it into other uses; knives, nails, hammer, home décor (bottle holder, picture frame). Did you know long ago when homes were built with iron nails they would commonly burn their houses when they would move so they could recover the nails to be used on the next house!?  Long ago you could find most blacksmiths carried nails in their pocket because nails were equivalent to currency. They could trade nails for mostly anything they desired.

For those that came to ‘Follow the Child’ I hope you enjoyed observing and asking questions about the lessons your child was sharing. It was spectacular to see the student’s interactions with the lessons when it was their turn to present. Some appeared nervous while others gleefully moved about the classroom sharing their experiences.  If you missed ‘Follow the Child,’ then mark your calendars for our second annual Student Led Conference Monday, April 17th at 2pm located in the Spanish Lime Classroom. Parent-Teacher Conference is Wednesday, April 19th and Friday, April 21st from 1-5:30. Sign up is located on attendance binder outside front office.

May is just around the corner and that means my favorite school fundraiser of all time, Cultural Immersion Day/Art Show. Friday, May 12th  from 5-7. It can be compared to a miniature version of Walk on White with student art hanging throughout the front lawn of our campus. Bring a picnic basket/ blanket and tour all primary and elementary classrooms. Each classroom will have studied a particular continent, and have designed a visual of their animal research. This year our classroom will be studying Australia. Each child will conduct elaborate research on an animal of their choosing. Australia’s eco system is an unusual one because of its remote locations. As a result, there are many animal species that occur here and nowhere else in the world. We will be doing this research in the classroom and will need your help to collect shoe boxes, unusual cardboard or crafting items that we could add to our project. In order to enhance our cultural study if any families have a piece of Australian culture that they want to share; artifacts, photos, stories, books, etc. we would love to borrow them temporarily. Thank you all for your help and support.

Many Thanks,

Ms. Sally

The Montessori classroom follows a three-year-cycle.  Each level of Montessori consists of an age range of three years: birth to 3, 3 to 6, 6 to 9. The methods allows children to emerge from each cycle with skills needed to succeed in the next cycle.

While progressing through our Primary program your child will remain in the same classroom with the same teacher.  This allows your child to form a bond with his or her teacher and provides your child’s teacher with a keen understanding of his or her uniqueness.

Whether your child is transitioning from a Toddler program or this is your child’s first experience with Montessori or being away from home his or her entry year will be similar in nature.  First and foremost the classroom teachers will help the child develop familiarity, routine and comfort in his or her new environment and with the people in it. Establishing a sense of security and consistency is paramount to moving forward.

Everyday activities in the practical life area of the classroom form the basis for your child’s independent work.  Therefore all children are introduced to the practical life area upon first attending entering our classrooms.  More than likely your child already experienced several of these lessons when he or she came to meet with a teacher.   Throughout the first year your child will be given many lessons in the practical life and sensorial areas of the classroom as well as daily lessons on grace and courtesy.

The skills the child develops through their work in grace and courtesy, practical life and sensorial areas of the classroom lead to greater success and mastery of academic studies. Through the development of concentration, self-regulation, problem solving, patience and internal motivation during your child’s first year at Montessori he or she will have the foundation for learning.  Without first developing these skills academic learning may be hindered and frustrating.

By encouraging your child abilities in independence at home you should begin to notice less power struggles and more control over self-will. Your child is learning to follow direction better and take on more responsibility.  Your child is developing his or her own work ethic.  A parent focused on effort as opposed to result or process as opposed to product helps the child build a sense of self worth and supports internal motivation.

Parents are encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the Montessori method, materials,  and our approach to discipline by attending our parent education classes offered throughout the school year.

The information presented above is common but by no means a benchmark experience. In Montessori, we usually avoid generalities because of each child’s uniqueness. One child’s year in Montessori may vary significantly from that of another child. The equalizing factor is always the final year of the cycle. The first two years allow the teacher and child to set the stage for the final year when it all comes together.

Spanish Lime December Newsletter

Greetings Spanish Lime Families,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break! Thank you all again for the surprise celebration for my birthday. It was such a warm feeling to have all of you there. Your kindness, generosity and support this year has reminded me how thankful I am to live among my island family.

This fall harvest the Spanish Lime students gave thanks to our new friends in the toddler community. We prepared a homemade applesauce and friendship mix (chex mix) and came with decorative leaf banners with the symbol, friendship (crossed arrows), to commemorate our feast. The toddler friends made a fruit salad and carrot muffins! We ended our feast with a little fun and play on the toddler playground, showing off our big kid skills!

Throughout the month of December we will be busy organizing ourselves for our first student led conference (see invitation). Student led conferences will be held December 5th and parent teacher conferences will be the 7th and 9th from 1-5:30. See sign up located on clip board in front of office.

“…this practice is the biggest breakthrough in communicating about student achievement in the last century. When students are well prepared over an extended period to tell the story of their own success (or lack thereof), they seem to experience a fundamental shift in their internal sense of responsibility for that success. The pride in accomplishment that students feel when they have positive story to tell and tell it well can be immensely motivational. The sense of personal responsibility that they feel when anticipating what it will be like to face the music of having to tell their story of poor achievement can also drive them to productive work,” Rich Stiggins, Phi Delta Kappan, November 1999.

Wednesday, December 14th from noon-2pm we have been invited to watch the Key West version ballet of the Nutcracker. This production is only in town every other year and is a humorous yet beautiful portrayal of the Nutcracker in Key West, with angel fish, chickens, shrimp and more! We have 17 tickets available which means one parent from each household is welcome to join us. Please email before December 12th if you plan to attend. More information on times, transportation and location to come!

December 16th is another pajama party, from 5:30-9! Dinner, snacks and activities are provided. $40 per child or $70 with sibling. Kids event only, parent night out!

December 20th is our schools annual conch train ride to see the holiday lights around town. This year is our classrooms responsibility to set up and clean up for this event. Look out for email on how you can help.

I wish you all a happy holiday and I look forward to catching up with you all after the new year!

Many Thanks,

Ms. Sally

Kapok December Newsletter

Dear Kapok parents,

We hope you had a nice and peaceful Thanksgiving break. During the months of November and December Cultural Studies is the focus of our classroom. During the month of November we were busy learning about sharing, being thankful, how to give each other compliments and Thanksgiving.

Our harvest share event was very sweet and successful! It was a beautiful lesson on the process of food, services skills, table manners and internalizing what we are truly thankful for.

Kapoks loved making the “Stone Soup”, ask your child about it. Stone Soup is a popular European folktale that has been told and retold for centuries. Everywhere the tale is told, the plot ends with the optimistic realization that when each person makes a small contribution, the collective impact can be huge.

The version of Stone Soup we read in the classroom took place in a village where people learn about the pleasures of sharing. Kapoks worked very hard peeling and cutting to make our delicious and healthy “stone soup” to share with the other classrooms. I am proud to say that most Kapoks tried (some for the first time) raw vegetables! They tried onions, potatoes, carrots, celery and even a very small piece of ginger.

After days of reading and talking about the meaning of being thankful, we asked the children what were they truly and thankful for. Here are their answers…

Alice – Mom and Dad
Cecelia – Gymnastics
Aralynn – Mom, Dad and baby brother
Gabriella – Pizza
Scarlet – Mommy and Daddy
Beau – My cup (pointing at his glass cup)
Tiberius – Mommy and Daddy
Reef – Turkey
Summer – Mom and Dad
Charles – Pizza Friday
Cormac – The planet Earth
Jack – Turkey and Dinosaurs
Addyson – Mommy and Daddy
Alexander – having a cup to drink water
Isabella – Soup
Naia – My friends
Penelope – Mom
Leila – Mommy
Some Kapoks are still deciding what are they Thankful for.

We have also incorporated our Classroom jobs. Kapoks are very proud of being a productive part of the classroom. Ask your child about his/her job for the week. When meaningful tasks are assigned to students they understand and feel capable and responsible. Classroom jobs are a fundamental part of our classroom. The process of choosing a job is complex and starts with the Job descriptions, then comes the job applications (oral), here we include skills and past experience, based on that they might get the job or have to re-apply next week. If the job is not performed by the standard set then the agreement is broken and the classroom as a whole has to decided if the student can keep the job or should they be dismissed. Being unemployed is not fun!

Please don’t forget to sign up for Parent-Teacher conferences. Parent-Teacher conferences will be held on Monday December 5th, Wednesday December 7th and Friday December 9th.

Time for conferences has been divided into 25 minute intervals starting at 1:00pm and ending at 5:00pm.

Below you will find a link to Parent-Teacher Conference sign up sheet.


Thank you
Ms. Marjorie and Ms. Karina