March Newsletter

side. Thank you again for your continued support and trust in my leadership and in our school. Your children are our North Star and we are grateful for them every day.
Athena's February Newsletter
Athena Logo
"We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity."
-Maria Montessori

Sync your calendars with our Google Calendar for Parents and stay tuned to important school events!

CLICK HERE
View the 2020-2021 School Calendar
 
Update on the State of the School: Good News

Dear Athena Families,

First and foremost, I wanted to share that I have been overcome with gratitude so many times this challenging year and have continually been lifted up by your support and encouragement. I am thankful to all of you who have sent emails; donated money to the school; splattered the office with words of affirmation on bright paper hearts; and shared air hugs, masked smiles, warm eyes, and hands over hearts in the parking lot. I am thankful for our amazing team of Room Parents for continuing to think of ways to make our staff feel loved and appreciated as well as thinking of ways to continue nurturing our class communities. I am grateful for the strength of this community and for how supported and trusted I feel by you. 


I also want to express my gratitude for your support of the financial plan I laid out in November to get our school back to financial stability. At a time when banks would no longer loan us money, and I was fearful for the future of Athena, our community came through. I know it was a lot to ask around the winter break to make a financial commitment to pay tuition, pay an unexpected Pandemic Relief Fee, and re-enroll for next year with an increased tuition, for those of you re-enrolling. Your commitment to the continuation and success of our school is greatly appreciated and has put us in a financial position where we will be able to continue to operate, even at a limited capacity, and continue to take care of our teachers and staff who take such excellent care of your little ones. 

I just received word that I have been approved for a second round of PPP funding through the SBA and am hopeful that we will receive those funds soon! If we do, which I expect we will, I will be able to pass on this unexpected financial gift to you and not assess the fall semester Pandemic Relief Fee, as we thought we would have to. 

It is because of the support and generosity of our community that Athena will emerge victorious and healthy on the other side of this unprecedented and enigmatic period of time. We will stand strong to continue to serve children and families for years to come. My hope is that our gratitude for our health and one another, as well as a deeper connection to our children, is what we are left with most on the other side. Thank you again for your continued support and trust in my leadership and in our school. Your children are our North Star and we are grateful for them every day.
 
In gratitude, 
Lisl Friday, Founder
Student Birthdays
3/2 Ilana B.- P1
3/2 Griffin F.- P1
3/4 Sophie S.- P1
3/22 Grace B.- P4
3/23 Fiona B.- P4
3/24 Skye D.- P5
3/24 Lucia V.- P2
3/24 Gautam W.- P1
3/25 Liam P.-P2
3/25 Raghubir M.- T3
3/26 Oaklyn K.- P5
3/28 Miles R.- P3
Staff Birthdays
3/4 Kaitlin- T2
3/5 Carole- T3
3/15 Ani- Office


Reflections From the Garden Fairy
by Janey Lake


This week I have been struggling among our many seemingly dead plants on campus for the ray of sunshine that will inspire us all to make it to spring and the end of this miserable virus. Today it slipped in so quietly, it took me until bedtime to process the words.

As I sat on the lawn making plans with fellow teachers for tomorrow's class, there passed by a most delightful sight: a pair of siblings and their father carrying a 2x4 to the woodworking stockpile. Moments later I was introduced to a small child and her parents. I wondered why it made me so emotional. Now I realize that it is you: parents.

Your presence on our campus is such an integral part of our community and your graciousness in foregoing it in order to keep our community safe is admirable. The bottom line is that we miss you terribly. You add so much. Thank you. Your return to campus is anticipated and we can't wait to be in person with you again as soon as we can. Please know you have been missed! 

 
Want to
Leave Your Mark at Athena?

Get your personalized brick installed on the path by our breezeway.
A form will be sent home with your child in February. You can choose to include your name, commemorate your graduate, or celebrate a teacher. You can even include a custom signature!
Please return your form by March 12th to a member of the admin team at dropoff.

 
Tips and Tricks for Parents
Why does my child always seem to do the opposite of what I'm asking?
It may depend on how you're making your request! Do your requests often begin with the word,"Don't?" Do you find yourself saying "no" or "stop" on a regular basis? Interestingly, our tendency is to focus on what we don't want our children to do, and, before we know it, we've become broken records repeating, "No. Stop. Don't!" And, children are quick to tune out those broken records!

Did you know that it takes the human brain a longer time to process negative requests than it does positive requests? And, for the young child, who is still in a sensitive period of language acquisition, negative requests often trigger the opposite of their intended effects. When a child hears, "Don't run," for example, what their brain hears is "Run!" On top of which, this kind of messaging only tells the child what you don't want, NOT what you DO want!
In the Montessori classroom, you will often hear guides using phrases like "walking feet" or "inside voices." Using these phrases in lieu of phrases, such as "stop running" or "no yelling," does take practice; however, the more often you do it, the easier it will become. Best of all, the more you do it, the more responsive your child will become. Try it at home!
Here are a few more examples to get you started:
Instead of saying, "Don't climb on the furniture," try, "Feet stay on the floor."
Instead of saying, "Stop throwing sand," try, "Sand stays in the sandbox."
Instead of saying, "Stop grabbing," try, "Use your words to ask for what you need."

BIPOC & Women Owned Montessori Materials
  • Handcrafted Montessori materials that represent and affirm Black culture. Wooden toys and puzzles, Montessori inspired printables, black history activity packs and more. https://afrocentricmontessori.com/
  •  
  • Inviting children to discover nature through handmade, eco-friendly educational toys. 1 toy purchased = 1 tree planted. Based here in Austin!
  • https://www.austinnatureworks.com/
  •  
  • Family owned and operated toy company with a line of sustainable, engaging toys meant to inspire imagination and exploration through the Montessori outlook. https://www.merakimontessori.com/
  •  
  • Cooking tools designed for little hands. Their mission is to inspire, cultivate and nurture your little chef's curiosity in the kitchen. Everything they carry has been carefully curated not only from a chef's perspective, but also a parent's. https://littlechefandme.com
  •  
  • Line of leaning materials and toys that enable natural innate behavior of concentration and repetition. They use only natural and sustainable materials from their product to their packaging. Together with a non profit organization they employ individuals with disabilities to help finish and assemble their products. https://naturalplaybox.com/
  •  
  • Wooden toys all handcrafted here in the USA that are designed to encourage the child's creativity and curiosity. They bring complex concepts into a hands-on toy that will engage your learner on many levels.
  • https://www.mirustoys.com/pages/about

 

 

 
Do you know a creative young artist that enjoys tiny art, mail, and learning some things along the way?
Then treat that talented friend to a subscription to the First Annual POCKET PRINT OF THE MONTH CLUB FOR KIDDOS Series for 2021 created by Athena's own, Ms. Heather. Each month for an entire year, your young artist will receive a surprise LIMITED edition 5 inch pocket print, created exclusively for the club. With this purchase, they will also receive one natural wood gallery frame to showcase your ever growing pocket print collection and an activity sheet from the artist.
Sign up by visiting: Golden Hour Prints
IMPORTANT DATES

Monday, March 1st
1st Day of Women's History Month

Monday, March 1st
9th Tuition Installment Due

Sunday, March 14th
Daylight Savings Time Begins

Monday, March 15-Friday, March 19th
School Closed - Spring Break

Friday, March 26
Rescheduled Parent Workshop
Beyond the Birds and the Bees


In March we celebrate Women’s History Month. It is important to lift up the often overlooked accomplishments and contributions of the powerful and dynamic women throughout history. One such example is the very prominent figure that graces our school, Dr. Maria Montessori.
Maria Montessori was an innovator, a feminist, one of the first female physicians in Italy, and a strong leader for peace education that made discoveries that were WAY ahead of her time. Brain research is now proving many of Montessori’s philosophies that she developed by observing the children. She allowed the children to teach her, instead of her teaching the children. It was through this freedom that the children were allowed to make contact with their own curiosity. She stated, “To stimulate life, leaving it free however, to unfold itself— that is the first duty of the educator.” I imagine what would make Maria Montessori feel celebrated for her work is if we took a moment out of our busy day to just stop and observe the children in our lives. We can all start by taking a few minutes to watch these videos of young children at work. This will give you a glimpse of the spirit of the child, which is the essence of Maria.

Tots child at work

Primary child at work


Books are a powerful tool for sharing timeless messages with our children. Please click on the links below to see some of our favorite Women's History Month Booklists:

 
"Dear Mandy"


Dear Mandy, 
My child keeps coming home talking about being pushed by another child at school. It seems to be the same child over and over. Is my child being bullied? What should I do about it?


Every year the topic of bullying comes up. Parents contact their teacher because another child is hitting or playing rough games that are causing uncomfortable feelings for their child. The parents are worried that their child is being targeted and that they are being bullied. It’s confusing for parents because Montessori and Athena talk about a peace curriculum and parents wonder: “Why is my child coming home and talking about such aggressive behavior?”
To answer this question about bullying, we first have to understand the true definition of the word and that it is not developmentally possible for our age group of children to exhibit bullying behavior. A Bully is a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/ Children ages 2 - 6 do not have the brain development to bully other children. Our aged children are social scientists and they do often test boundaries set by adults and their peers. They can be curious by cause and effect, for example. It can be thrilling to poke a peer and see how big of a reaction you can get out of them. They can feel powerful in those moments. Some children struggle with impulse control and their arms and body move faster than their mind. They can often hit a classmate before any words come out of their mouth or even finish processing their thoughts. Not all children test these limits or struggle with impulse control, but many do. 
Adults can also be quick to judge other parents when they see a child that struggles with impulse control.  We might think, “if that were my child, they would not be getting away with that behavior.”
This perspective was true for me early in my teaching career, and then I started to be my own scientist and tried to understand on a deeper level the children that were in my class. There are always ways we can do better and be better parents, but the most compassionate thing you can do is not be quick to judge another parent for their child’s behavior. Children are born with all kinds of temperaments and I can attest to the energy and tiring thoughtfulness that goes into parenting my own spirited child. We are all doing the best we can. 
So, if we can agree that any acting out and testing behavior that children in this age group are exhibiting does not fall in the category of bullying and we are going to set our own adult judgements down, what do we do with the situation if my child is being hit at school? 
The first step is to reach out to your child’s guide. Share the details that your child is sharing with you. Having the parents and the guide work together as a team is going to be vital to supporting your child. More than likely your child is not being targeted and the child at school is working on one of the challenges I mentioned above. It is important for the guide to know what your child is processing at home. This insight will inform the guide what your child feels incomplete about, as well as any feelings that they are holding on to. The guide can talk with your child and make a plan for the next time a similar situation arises. They can also organize a meeting where the child that feels wronged can set a boundary and make a plan for the future. There is value for children in learning how to set boundaries as well as identifying and claiming their rights.  I do not want to leave out that I have seen immense value in children working through these situations with the child that is working on controlling their energy and body. When there is an appropriate container of safety and oversight, there can be some important and vulnerable growth for both children.
Lastly, I want to talk about how to hold and support your child at home when they are processing with you. First, you want to stop what you are doing and really listen. Validate what they are saying by repeating back what you heard them share. Here are some good questions to ask: “How did it make you feel?” “What did you do to take care of yourself?” “Did you let an adult know?” Then you will want to validate and give encouragement to the choices they made. For example: “It sounds like you set a really good boundary.” “Sounds like you needed help and you did a great job of getting your teacher.” Oftentimes, this is as far as the children want to go with the conversation. They just wanted you to know and then they are ready to move on. If they repeatedly talk about the other child, and you have already talked with the teacher and there is a plan in place, then the best thing to do is to continue to empower your child without demonizing the other child. Label the problem behavior under the category of something the child has not mastered and is currently practicing. “Sounds like Mary is practicing how to use their arms safely.” We don’t want to encourage them to see this child as an “other” or a “bad guy.” This othering intensifies the situation and locks in the pattern. We need space for this child to grow and to create a different pattern. It is okay to help them create the boundary they need.  For example, “I hear you saying that you don't like that game that Mary plays.” “The next time Mary is playing that game you can let her know that you don’t like that game and that you want some space.” “Let’s practice, I will play the game and you ask me to stop.” Role playing is a great way to help your child process. Just make sure that you are following their lead and not making the conversation bigger or longer than is needed.
In conclusion, I want to mention that part of being in group care where we create a community is that we do get hurt by others sometimes. We do get exposed to other individuals' places of growth. The adults work hard to step in before any hurt takes place, and to use these opportunities as teachable moments for all the children. When there is a problem being solved there is often a child across the room watching the boundary being set, or observing a child take accountability for their actions and then practice a more peaceful way of moving through the room. These are priceless moments that create more compassion, empathy, confidence, and a sense of community for everyone involved. 
Please know that my door is always open and if you need time to talk further on this topic, please do not hesitate to reach out. 
Cooking With Kids

Fancy Fruit Kabobs
with
Stawberry Dipping Sauce
Materials:
Several Varieties Fresh Fruit: Grapes, Berries, Pineapples, etc (to increase the challenge include a fruit that your child can cut into pieces)
4 ounces of Cream Cheese
1 cup Strawberry Yogurt (or whatever flavor you like)
Wooden Skewers
Colander
Large towel 
Enough small bowls to hold each variety of fruit
Cutting Tool (if you are using a fruit that needs chopping)
Cutting Board
Steps:
Together, wash hands with soap and water.
Prepare all the materials ahead of time.
Have your child fill the sink with water, wash all the fruit and drain it in a colander. They can then pour the washed fruit out onto a drying mat or large towel.



Help prep the fruits like pineapple that may need to have a thick skin removed or core cut out. Then let your child assist you in cutting the fruit into pieces.



Sort each variety of fruit into bowls. Let your child thread the fruit onto the skewers. They can practice with different patterns, group fruits by color and just use their imagination and have fun!



To make the dipping sauce, let the cream cheese come to room temperature and mix in strawberry yogurt. Invite your child mix them together until well combined. Enjoy!

ENROLLMENT NOTICES for ALL FAMILIES 
 

Current & Newly Enrolled Athena families
Re-enrollment & sibling enrollment for next school year is almost complete. If you have questions or updates related to your child's enrollment for the upcoming school year, please contact Mandy@AthenaMontessoriAcademy.com.
Waiting Pool families
We have begun enrollment for children in our waiting pool for the 2021-2022 school year and will be prioritizing applications received prior to January 2021. Waiting pool applicants are considered according to space availability; our need to balance age, gender, equity and temperament in the classrooms; and date of application.
If you were already enrolled prior to the start of the pandemic and delayed enrollment, please expect more information coming from the admissions@athenamontessoriacademy.com email this month.
If you have a child who will be eligible for the Primary program (2.5 - 5 years old), we ask that you review our handouts Milestones for Primary Readiness and Tips for Toileting, also available on our website. As always, we encourage you to reach out with any questions related to your child's readiness.
A note to ALL families in our Waiting Pool
We highly recommend that you have a back-up plan in place in case you are not admitted into our program at this time. If your child is not offered a spot for this fall, they will remain in our waiting pool and will automatically be considered for any future openings for which they are eligible, including any unexpected mid-year openings, which are not uncommon. If you are offered a spot and choose to decline, you will remain in our waiting pool for future consideration unless you request otherwise.
Meanwhile, we request that you keep us updated with your current contact information, and stay tuned to our monthly newsletters for additional updates. Thank you for your continued interest, and please don't hesitate to contact us at Admissions@AthenaMontessoriAcademy.com at any time during this process.
If you are no longer interested in being considered for enrollment, we request that you assist us in streamlining our enrollment process by kindly letting us know that you would like to be removed from the waiting pool. Thank you!
SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Need labels? Oliver's Labels has labels for backpacks, shoes, clothes, lunch boxes, and water bottles!  Click on the image above to purchase customized labels and Athena will receive 20% of your purchase!


For Small Hands carries a wide variety of items for children, all child-sized, fun and developmentally-appropriate!  Use our code below, and Athena will get a percentage of the sale to apply towards materials for school.
CODE 165595
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Athena Montessori Academy

Office:
1503 Morgan Lane Austin, TX 78704
Parking Lot:
1400 West Ben White BLVD Austin, TX 78704
Tel: (512) 494-6237
Fax: (512) 693-0065
“Athena is Montessori with flexibility. What a perfect combination of Montessori learning and respect with fun. As a working parent I find the after care options and extracurricular programs to be priceless!”
- Rose Koransky (Child now attending Zilker Elementary)