In between Sukkot & Shmini Atzeret, I chatted briefly with another Montessori Jewish Day School parent in the parking lot. In the few seconds that we schmoozed, we bemoaned how the Jewish holidays were lovely and all, but really, it was enough with the disruptions of school and routines, etc. I credit the title of this blog post to her, as she told me that she and another friend thought that there should be a Berenstain Bear book all about being chagged-out. And chagged-out we are!
As we enter into our 3rd full week of school since Labour Day, it is hard to believe that September was somewhat of a write-off, from a school calendar perspective. With so few full school days in September, it is hard to imagine how new students have been able to settle into MJDS. But, it is the very nature of MJDS that has helped its new students not only settle and adjust, but already begin to thrive in the school. As such, it turns out that at MJDS, September was far from a write-off. The few full school days, as well as the days with early dismissals were filled with rich social interactions, inviting and engaging programming about the upcoming Jewish holidays, and doing what Montessori students do best – exploring their environments.
Both my children were facing major transitions and adjustments on the first day of school this September. With one starting school full time as a new Casa student, and the other moving into the Lower Elementary class, I was unsure about how their adjustment would go, given the disruptive calendar that lay ahead. However, I also knew what was waiting for them – a caring and nurturing faculty, a familiar and warm space and lots of friendly faces of children who had experienced the same transitions themselves, and who had been guided by their teachers to help welcome my children and the other new children into the class.
Somehow, September was not as much of a challenge or write-off as I had thought it might be. And my kids? They could not be happier. Even as they experience and process their new classrooms, new teachers and new classmates, they are fundamentally comfortable, feel safe and are genuinely happy to be at school each day. The approach that MJDS takes with welcoming and integrating new students into a class encourages this type of comfort, and in turn, it breeds confidence in the child.
It was a pleasant surprise to see so much learning happening in the few days that my children were in school. My 6 year old informed me one day early in September “we didn’t do any work today, we just had lessons” – both in Judaic studies surrounding the holidays, and in math, language, culture and practical life skills, the classrooms were alive with activity. If this is what it was like for them in September, given all of the variables at play, I am most excited to see what this year will bring!