Getting ready for CMS

You have begun the enrollment process and now you are anticipating your child’s first school experience or Montessori experience in the upcoming school year. Guess what? You do not have to wait for the first day to begin!

Here are some ways you can begin preparing NOW and take an active role in creating a thoughtful transition for your child. . .

Typically, those first days or sometimes weeks are challenging because of the simultaneous changes occurring in their world.

Imagine if we could minimize those feelings for your child by using the information we have to familiarize, prepare, and practice some of what’s ahead. Please consider the below tips before your child’s start date!

1. Begin to adopt the same schedule that we follow at CMS:

  • Drop off is at 9 AM and everyone begins the day with outdoor time for a minimum of 30 minutes. (This can be longer if the weather welcomes a nature walk or even animal tracking!)
  • 9:30 AM Classroom meeting and then work time.
  • 10 AM snack (our school offers fruits and vegetables only. Please encourage this choice at home.)
  • 12 PM lunch
  • 1-2:30 PM Afternoon programs begin (Rest and Sleep, Mindfulness or Kindergarten)
  • 3 PM pick up.

Since you know your child’s day will begin at 9AM, practice that morning routine now! Always have your child participate in the process along the way as much as possible (this will help build independence, create buy-in which results in less resistance). Plan ahead so that you can minimize the feelings of being rushed and panicked. Pick out clothes the night before, eat and finish breakfast on time and maybe let your child pack their lunch in one of our recommended bento boxes. This will help you discover what lunch items can be packed easily in a lunch box as well as what they enjoy eating. Even if you have nowhere to go, plan to leave the house at the same time you will leave to come to CMS. But instead, go for a walk, visit the playground, or maybe a play date? If your child will be participating in nap/rest, please begin napping him/her at 1PM at home.

2. If your child has never been around other children his/her age, we strongly encourage you to find a program or play group where they have the benefit of socializing and interacting with peers. This has the added value of building their immune system before being introduced to the new germs that come with school. Unfortunately, germs and illness are a reality of school. Especially the first year. Which leads to our next tip. . .

3. Build a support system. You will need it. In many ways, school is a commitment, and, in the beginning, it can feel like a lot of work. Transitions can be challenging for adults and children. It will be an emotional experience as you embark on your child’s Montessori education and his/her journey towards independence. Even though we want to build resilience and independence in our children, the practice of it can feel almost counterintuitive.

4. If your child has never separated from you before, find someone that you trust to practice separation. Even if you drop them off and go for a cup of coffee. It is an important and necessary experience for your child. Prepare them clearly and thoughtfully: “I am going to go do my work while you stay and play. I will be back. I love you.” Then leave. If your child cries you must still leave. This is so hard, but it is also a crucial lesson. You are telling your child that they are capable. You are also telling them that they are okay without you and when you return you are showing them that you follow through on your promises.

5. Rethink your child’s current play space. Utilize toys and materials that do not offer electronic feedback. Instead, present a few choices on a shelf and eliminate the toy bin where order does not exist. But, most importantly, encourage your child to complete the “work cycle” by putting things back when they are done. This small habit will go a long way.

6. Toileting! If they can walk, then they are ready to have a child size toilet to be introduced in their world. Choose a place that makes sense for your family. At CMS, we utilize child sized toilets. I will include some details on our approach to diapering and toileting that we follow at CMS. Be sure to complete the work cycle at home by teaching them to pull up their pants and wash their hands when they are finished!

7. Check in with your child to see where they are with their self-care skills. Help teach and support them (when needed) with these daily tasks. For instance, can your child put on their shoes? their coat? or button their pants? How about nose blowing and hand washing? Does he/she advocate when they need help or dislikes something? If not, get started practicing now!

8. Pacifier. Start weaning now.

9. All the children are welcome to help themselves to water throughout the day. At CMS, they practice drinking from a cup. We do not allow sippy cups, therefore, the sooner you can transition to a cup the easier it will be.

10. We have steps at our school. Please practice walking up and down steps using a railing.

11. Natural Consequences. We follow natural consequences whenever possible here at CMS. This is a nonjudgmental, impactful approach to learning. Take some time to read about it and try to adopt these methods at home.