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Tonya Reynolds

Tonya Reynolds

Natalie Fisher

Natalie Fisher

Goldfinch Room is a Lower Elementary classroom for levels 1-3 on the Toledo Campus. Natalie Fisher and Tonya Reynolds are the classroom’s co-teachers.

Parenting during the summer can be a bit more challenging since many children have less structured time.  I am familiar with this as a parent of two elementary children.

I recently completed the STEP Parenting class taught by Lynn Fisher. This book is a great resources for me as a parent and a teacher. It is rich with ideas for handling those sticky parenting issues such as, what do you do if your children are arguing, what do you do if your child won’t eat supper, and what do you do if your child won’t complete a task?

Here are a few of my favorite advises from the book and from my experiences using them.  If this raises your curiosity, Jenn Schoepf and I plan to offer this course each school year.  It is a wonderful resource, a great way to get suggestions, and one of those classes and books you can read and reread.

I hope this helps!  Enjoy your children!


Natalie’s Go To Parenting Strategies

1..  When issues arise, give your child choices.  For example, “You may eat more of your dinner and receive a snack or you can stop eating and not have one.  You pick.”  Walk away without anymore feedback.  Another example is, ” You may eat with us politely or you  may leave the table.  You decide.”

2. Offer encouragement vs. praise.  Encouraging words will help your child build self-esteem.  It acknowledges the child’s work.  Praise is a type of reward.  Children may work for praise from others, but not ever learn to internalize it for themselves.  Encouragement may sound like, “You worked so hard on this paper to get them all correct.” vs. “You are such a smart girl.”

3..  When a child is sad, angry or seeking attention, use reflective listening.  “I see that you are upset you have to clean up your room now.”   or ” I can tell you are sad at your friend. Things will get better.”

4.  Use I-messages with children.  “I feel upset because the movement and noise is so loud from the back seat that I am having a hard time driving safely.”  Then offer a choice, “You may calm down or I may have to stop the car and pull over.”  Stick to your words.  It will only happen once or twice and they’ll catch on. I messages  tell how you feel without blaming, for example, When you__________, I feel ________ because________.

5.  When issues do arise, make sure the consequence fits the action and respects the child developmentally.  Maria Montessori said, “With freedom comes responsibility.”  To have it children must be able to handle it or they lose the privilege.

6.  Be patient with your yourself.  Parenting is a work in progress.

West Side is very fortunate to have acres of trails filled with various habitats from wetlands, to prairies to temperate forests.  As often as we could we took the students for nature hikes in every season.  Connecting students to nature also fit this year’s lower elementary theme, Nature and You!  The lower elementary students had a nature day in the fall, snow day in the winter, and even connected our Right to Read with Nature.  The Montessori culture curriculum is rich in lessons on botany and zoology and we made connections between our lessons and the land.

Here are some spring photos of students hiking around our pond filled with frogs, toads, and thousands of tadpoles.  We gathered tadpoles and brought them into the classroom to observe their metamorphosis.  Also included is our third graders examining the food chain by dissecting owl pellets.

This summer, keep the natural world alive for your child.  In Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods:Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, he discusses the challenges we face in our busy, technology rich lives.  He concludes that the outdoors is getting lost for our children.  There is much to learn from the beautiful outdoors.  This book provides suggestions if you need any.  This summer visit the Metroparks, the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, the Toledo Zoo, farms, and just let your child play outside.



Click on the following link for the fun activities planned for the last week of school!

Last week 2015

The last math fact test will be Wednesday, May 27th. Please make sure that your child continues to practice math facts over the summer.  See our summer blog for additional math ideas and websites.  Have a fun summer!

Your students have grown to be great readers, writers, and mathematicians this year.  They have gained many skills that will still need to be practiced over the summer to ensure retention.  Thus, it is important to keep your students reading, writing, and practicing math over the summer.  This work in the summer can bridge the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.

Try these fun websites for activities with your child.

  4. Mania
  6. AAA Math

Some tips for summer reading and writing!!

  1.  Sign up for the Summer Reading Program-Children keep track of the books they read and are rewarded at various stages of reading during the summer.
  2. Help with meals- Read a recipe to get the ingredients, write a grocery list (using commas), find things at the grocery store, and read the recipe aloud to mom or dad.
  3. Keep books in the car and make sure a good book gets tucked into sports bags and campers’ backpacks.  Have your child read aloud to you and ask them comprehension questions.  Why was the boy mad at his brother?  Do you like the book?  How might you change the ending?
  4. Connect reading with other summer activities.  Read books about places you will go over the summer or things you will be doing.
  5. Read it, then do it.  Does your child want to learn magic tricks? Juggling?  Dancing?  There’s sure to be a book that can help.  Have your child read the instructions and then give it a try.
  6. Change an ending to a book.  Read a favorite book and write a new ending.
  7. Write letters– The art of letter writing is lost.  Introduce your child to letter writing and ask grandparents, cousins, or friends to write back.
  8. Write a book.  I would love to read it in the fall!!!
  9. Have a no talk day.   Only write and read notes back and forth to each other.
  10. Read license plates.  Have your child use their phonics rules to “read” personalized license plates.
  11. Practice math facts while shooting a basketball, throwing a Frisbee, or diving into a pool. 
  12. Help pay for an item with money at a store or restaurant.
  13. Use the newspaper to hunt for numbers into the thousands or to read $ amounts.  Give your child $10 play money to go shopping in a store. Have your child add the money and make change.
  14. Tell time on an analog clock daily and to the nearest minute!
  15. Do math story problems while driving on a long trip.  For example, There were 14 cookies and you ate 8.  How many were left?
  16. Play the game Battleship on long car rides.  There are printable versions on line.  It is great for reading coordinates.
  17. Do experiments of all kinds.  Online has great kid friendly experiments.
  18. Take recyclables from around the house and have your child create a new invention or make a trash city.
  19. Read nutrition labels to make wise choices in food items purchased.
  20. Buy a math or language workbooks at your child’s age level and have your child work on it 2-3 times a week for 15-20 minutes.
  21. Make sure your child can tie his or her shoes independently!
  22. Have your child be part of the family by having your child take on daily family chores.  It is a great way to feel part of the family and to develop their sense of independence.
  23. Visit the University of Michigan Natural History Museum, the Cincinnati Natural History Museum, a nearby cave, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential House, Edison’s birthplace, or the Neil Armstrong museum.
  24. Take nature hikes and turn them into scavenger hunts.  Look for certain colors, flowers, leaf types, shapes, birds on your hike.  Rainy day indoor scavenger hunts are also fun!  Can you find 5 paper clips? Can you find something white and thin?
  25. Make sure your child knows his or her full name, full address, and at least 1 phone number with area code.

Have fun and stay safe!  

 Natalie and Tonya