June 27th, 2020
When our doors closed due to the order of Governor Cuomo on March 13, we created a very successful distance learning program with a focus on keeping our students connected to each other and to their teachers. In Montessori every child is viewed as an individual and we carried this philosophy into our distance learning program. Our teachers worked closely with each family to create a plan that worked for them and their child under these extraordinary circumstances.
On March 17 every student was invited to pick up a packet created specifically for him/her by the teachers. Every week new packets were sent via email and/or created to be picked up for each student. Our distance learning program was so successful that we were contacted by alumni and asked if they could join our online classroom meetings. This is what our distance learning program offered:
Weekly themed lesson plans - These lessons were introduced at our daily morning circle held Monday through Friday on zoom. The weekly packets shared ideas for home-based learning expanding on these themes. (Subjects include: Math, Language, Science & Nature, Art, Music, Food Prep and other Practical Life activities, and Sensorial)
Individual lessons – Every student was offered a weekly one on one zoom lesson time with their teacher.
Weekly specials for students and alumni – Every Tuesday on zoom we offered a music special, Wednesdays a Nature special with Naturalist Betty Boomer and Thursdays a French special.
While we could not replace all that was possible in person, every day between 15-20 students were happy to see each other and their teachers. They were stimulated to learn and had an opportunity to share their work. The students and the teachers smiled, laughed, and sang every day and most importantly their love of learning was nurtured!
When faced with a decision about summer camp, I spent a lot of time looking at regulations and how, or if, we could run a summer camp in person. Most importantly I spent a lot of time thinking about the many issues opening the camp brings up. As any MNP family knows, all of my decisions are made with your child's best interests at the core. At Montessori of New Paltz our focus is on teaching the whole child. We are not only interested in cognitive growth but the social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of your child as well. Given the current circumstances, making sure your child is "safe and happy" at school takes on a whole new meaning. Children are craving socializing with friends but at this time we feel it is best for you to explore social contact independently this summer through play dates. Here is a helpful article that we recommend reading about creating social bubbles published in the NY Times.
We are offering virtual summer programs beginning July 6 so that our students can continue connecting with each other while having fun learning without potential health risks.
Our goal is to open our doors again this Fall if authorized by our local and state officials. We have a beautiful three acre campus and will spend most of our time using our outdoor classrooms, big open backyard and nature trail. Whether indoors or outside we will adhere to the highest standards following all CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines to keep the students and staff healthy. We are currently researching ways to improve our distance learning program while also preparing to have in-person classes, or a hybrid of the two programs. Plans are in the works to create the safest possible indoor classrooms. In addition, the staff and I are spending this summer focused on trainings and webinars to prepare for the emotional and psychological implications this virus is having on our children as well as preparing for the challenges of the new guidelines we will be implementing. The staff and I will continue to share resources with parents about mental health, dealing with stress and trauma, and guides to self-health. We can only help our children if we are healthy ourselves!
Thank you for your interest in Montessori of New Paltz.
Be safe and be well.