Education through virtual communication and so much more.
By: Shelbi Mohebbi
May 21st, 2020
As we wrap up the end of the school year,
E-learning is in full swing. The staff and families of the MANH community have
been working tirelessly to provide the education and inspiration needed to
provide the best care to our children inspired by the Montessori philosophy we
all know and love. Since we are not able to provide our education in person,
most of the learning is done using technological devices. While this does not
exactly coincide with Montessori work, it is necessary in order to be able to
connect and continue working with our children. As we get through the last few
weeks of the school year and begin to prepare for summer classes, there are
many ways we can alleviate some of the strain of the computer screen and find
those connections with people and nature that we all love so very much - all
while making everlasting memories. Here is how some of our MANH community is
continuing their education outside of the virtual classroom, nurturing their
bodies and minds, relieving stress, and creating memories to cherish with those
they love most.
Blue Lens Glasses
When we are working on the computer or
staring at a screen for multiple hours a day, it can cause stress on our eyes.
This can lead to blurry vision, eye strain, and headaches for your child. One
way to help alleviate stress on your child’s eyes is with blue lens glasses.
Blue lens glasses can help block out the blue light on a computer screen to
reduce the risk of blurred vision or eye strain. Students and sisters Marley
and Violet are wearing their glasses while completing their work. Their mother,
and PTO President, Mandy Lowe stated “One reason I chose to get the glasses is because
Violet suffers migraines and sometimes straining her eyes or too many bright
lights can bring one on. Another reason is that we are a family who doesn’t
have a lot of screen time, so given that e-learning was going to increase
screen time quite dramatically, and quite closely using a laptop, I wanted the
girls to wear the glasses to protect their eyes from straining. I have heard
they can help with the sleepiness that can sometimes come from staring at a
screen for extended periods, too. I do appreciate that there are two schools of
thoughts, one thinks the glasses work and the other isn’t too sure, but I know
they aren’t harming their eyes, so even if they help a little then that’s
something.” We encourage you to research and see if blue lens
glasses are a good fit for your family as well.
Exercise & Meditation
Exercise and meditation have been proven stress relievers and a great way to heal and take care of our bodies. Our bodies are our temples and we should always take care of what we put in it and what we do with it. Yoga is a great way to relax our minds and de-stress our bodies. Whether it was a long day at work, or a fun and exciting day of virtual learning, yoga allows us to release any tension and relax our muscles. For children, it gives them time to be intentional with their minds and movement while focusing on the present. Ms. Anees practices yoga with her children during line time at school and continues this practice online as well. Now, the children can still work on intentional breathing, silence, and slow movements while stretching at home. As you can see in the video, Ms. Anees is practicing her breathing, stretching her muscles slowly, and quieting her mind to relax her body. Try it with her and do the cat pose, I dare you!
Exercise classes with Mr. Michael were
taking place on campus with our children and continue to take place through
e-learning as well. The class is offered two times a week for periods of up to
an hour and the children can choose when to take the class based on their
schedules. The classes entail the fundamentals of physical education -
movement, balance, flexibility, and strength. Mr. Michael also gives them ways
to track their exercise and movement if they choose. If you wanted to continue
practicing physical exercise at home, a family workout session using an online
video is a great idea - fun, and maybe a little silly, too.
Science and Nature
I think we can all agree that our love of
nature and the way things work is one of the many reasons we connect as a
community. As the world continues to heal, science and nature can be done at
home or at an appropriate social distance throughout this pandemic in many
ways. One way is by doing science experiments. For instance, Morgan is
experimenting using vegetable oil, water, food coloring, and an alka seltzer
tablet. The result looks similar to a lava lamp. Try it at home to see what
The area that we live in provides us with many
opportunities to connect with nature, the forest preserves being one of them.
Ellie went on a walk with her parents to Spring Valley Nature Center and was
able to explore the trails, climb trees, jump in puddles, and even find a few
bugs. As the weather starts to warm and the sun begins to shine a little
brighter, I encourage you to step outside and take a walk, explore nature, all
while keeping 6 feet apart.
Science & Nature Extended:
Connecting with living creatures
Have you ever witnessed the life cycle of
a butterfly? Now is the perfect time! Olivia, and her family have purchased a
butterfly kit so they can watch as the caterpillars transform day by day into
beautiful butterflies. This is a great experience for your child and the whole
family. You will need to nurture and take care of the caterpillars as they
change states and go through metamorphosis. In the end, you will be able to
release them into nature, wave goodbye, and tell all your friends about the
life cycle of the butterflies you raised.
Connection through animals can offer
physical and emotional support. Animals can provide unconditional love, and
even a few kisses if you’re lucky! Some of us may have pets at home that are
helping us cope through this mysterious time. For others, connecting with
animals virtually is an option. Many zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries are
offering virtual tours and live web cams of their animals so you can still
connect and see your favorites. Another way many people in our community are
spreading love to animals is through fostering and adopting from local
shelters. In the pictures above, Mandy Lowe and her daughters (Marley, Violet,
and Winnie) are helping by fostering baby ducklings for the weekend. They needed
to look after them, care for their basic needs, and give them all the love
their hearts could handle. It turns out, the mallard ducklings could swim
underwater and loved to be read to. This goes to show there is no one way to
connect with animals, both two legged and four legged.
Creative Work Spaces
Since the majority of our families are working
from home, or at least home together for longer periods of time, having space
to work together and separately is important. The environment you create to
work in sets up the amount of creativity and focus you have for the day. Some
children prefer to work at the table with a snack. Some children prefer to work
on the floor with a pillow, or on the back of the couch hanging upside down.
Others may prefer to be encased in blankets and boxes so they have their own
fort of creativity, like Julia. Each of our mind’s work best in different
environments and will not all look the same. What is important is whether it
works for you and, most importantly, your child. Find your space and use it
Crazy Hair Day
As we get through the stay at home order
day by day, new challenges and experiences can take a toll on our emotional
well being. Last week, the elementary students of MANH celebrated and connected
emotionally through spirit week. Even though this was originally planned to be
together as a group in person and celebrate the daily “spirit” that has been
chosen, the children and staff enjoyed celebrating all the same together. One
of the spirit days that was celebrated was crazy hair day (no, I am not talking
about the hair that stands on end when you wake up, so you put it in a messy
bun and hope it stays as you work through the day). The children worked hard to
make their hair messy and crazy to show to all of their friends. Abrielle,
pictured above, made her hair literally stand up. That is both crazy and defies
gravity. Spirit week is a great way to share virtual smiles and laughter. It
creates an emotional connection and a memory to last for a lifetime. Create a
spirit week at home and share with all of us!
Virtual Communication &
Staying connected in a bubble is hard, but so many of you are making it work. It is hard for our children to not physically be able to see each other every day as they were used to while in school. It is hard to not be able to give hugs and help each other when we are hurt, or to share a victory. It is just plain hard - but we are doing it. We are doing it better than we could have imagined. While staff are working hard to make sure those connections through lessons are there, they are also working hard to make sure the friendships and bonds with each other remain stronger than ever. Meetings are set up so your children can meet one on one with their teachers. Online classrooms are formed so everyone can see each other’s faces. Younger toddlers are able to join a virtual line time so they can share their experiences at home, read books together, and sing their favorite songs. Even though we are not physically able to be together, the connections are there and they are so incredibly strong.
Outside of the classroom, we encourage you to
stay connected with those you love. You could set up an after school virtual
hangout like Harper did. You can increase family game nights or arrange a water
balloon fight with your neighbors (respecting distance, of course). Most
importantly, hug those in your home a little tighter. Kiss them goodnight a
little more often. Tell them you love them even more than yesterday and you
cannot wait to virtually explore with them tomorrow. Cherish the memories and
experiences as we get through this whole pandemic day by day.
Remember, Always Make a Memory
As we are nearing the end of the school year, we share some bittersweet memories. Memories that were made both in the physical classroom, and the virtual classroom. Memories that were made with our MANH community as a whole are what we hold on to dearly as we near the hopeful end of a pandemic. These memories are never to be forgotten and will always have a place in our hearts. I think we can all agree that we did not picture the school year coming to an end like it is. While the memories we share are now made through virtual videos and group times, online hangouts after school, science experiments at the table, and socially distanced nature walks, they still feel as warm as a huge hug - or that snuggly fort Julia made to work in. But how? How can it feel so warm without the physical feeling of a hug? By the hard work and dedication we are all putting in to make our community as strong as ever. As we head into summer, let’s continue to stay connected and strong while making even more memories.
Sending virtual hugs,