The Power of E-Learning

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 happens!

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 well.

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 & Connection

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,

MANH Staff