It takes a village to raise a child!
School is a community that together with the family provides the ‘village’ in which children develop. Children do well when they find themselves surrounded by a positive and caring group. The school community as a whole can provide this and function as a myriad of constructive role models in various situations!
A child learns and develops with every encounter. The world is complex and for children to become ‘wise’ within it, they require various experiences upon which they learn to base their own decisions and actions. Since we in general do not live in extended family set-ups any longer, the school community can serve as one of those extensions!
Daily contact is important, a small ‘hello’ in the street, acknowledgements and appreciation. Additionally, when possible, events are being organised to give families different opportunities in meeting each other. We have events for the specific classrooms, parent related, and for the entire family. The events range from educational, social, to pure entertainment!
Every term, a series of information evenings are prepared for families to learn more about child development at large, educational research, the integrated curriculum and theory behind classroom practice. Each location prepares evenings specific to the parents of their own classes and topics that are available to all.
Some example of the different topics:
- Importance of the first six years of life:
- The power of the Absorbent Mind
- From concrete understanding to abstract thinking
- Social awakening
- ‘Help me to think by myself’ – the development of logical and critical thinking
- Holistic Education: Integration of subjects providing a 360 degree view
- The importance of nature, play and the outdoors
- The Eight Intelligences and how to become a well rounded learner
- Freedoms and logical limits serve the development of the child
- Differentiation and adaptations to your child’s learning style
- Introducing the world to the child – Humanities
- Bilingualism and language acquisition of first and other languages
- The glorious curriculum:
- Math is marvellous!
- Learning to write and read
- Discovering the world
- Interdisciplinary units
- Character Development and the Learner Profile
- IB Diploma Programme: Subjects and Assessment
- And much much more!
Windows into the Class:
It is very interesting to sometimes be ‘a fly on the wall’ and get a glimpse of what the children are doing on a daily basis. At school we facilitate this through different events such as ‘Cooking with Toddlers’, Sing-Alongs, art exhibitions, music performances and ‘Windows into the Class’.
The ‘Windows into the Class’ events are wonderful opportunities to get a complete picture of the current work children are doing. Due to the fact that children work in multi-age and therefore multi-level classroom settings, one receives in a nutshell an overview of the subject matters and the related materials and procedures. Often we hear the comment; “Oh I wish I had learned abstract topics in such a concrete, creative manner”! Families are invited to come and see the products and presentations of their child’s class, and are also very welcome to visit other age ranges! Each ‘Window into the class’ is different. You will see projects, math materials, research and related artwork, ingenious ways of presenting abstract ideas and much more.
The Windows event is also a good preparation for parents with children who will move to the next age-range in subsequent year. It gives a good impression of children’s work, how concepts are presented in the classrooms and the related self-esteem that develops alongside!
Children and students are involved in many projects and these can result in social events, presentations to parents, music productions, farmer’s markets and much more. Not every year is therefore the same, and this creates a stimulating and exciting atmosphere for all.
The school has extensive grounds that include vegetable gardens and greenhouses. Depending on the weather and harvest, children might have enough produce to organise a farmer’s market. A good tomato year results in ‘yummy jars’ with tomato chutney and tomato sauce. Pumpkins of various kinds and sizes are for sale, so are herbs, spices, onions, nuts and much more. Proceeds are duly processed and used for various charity purposes.
Contributing to the neighbouring Retirement Home:
Beautiful projects take place between children and residents of the ‘Kleinenberg’ retirement home. Residents have visited the school and school theatre productions. Art sessions have been organised at the retirement home, Christmas music performances in front of the home during the Pandemic, poetry jams and Seasons Greetings cards are made by the children for each resident.
Music and theatre are omnipresent at the school. Young children in Children’s House and Toddler Communities love to sing and perform action songs. Every day, time is set aside for this. The children build up a song-repertoire and sing, sometimes with percussion instruments or one of the music teachers accompanying. Also parents volunteer who can play an instrument and accompany the music session. Every year, singing in Toddler Community and Children’s Houses culminates in a Sing-Along to which the parents are invited. With the help of a beautiful songbook and live music played by the music specialists, everybody sings together!
Music is important. It brings pleasure, enjoyment and additionally strengthens the development of motivation, dedication, motor skills and collaboration. Every child in Primary and Secondary receives instrumental instruction in an musical instrument of their choice. We hear violin, piano and guitar every day! With our team of passionate music teachers and Head of Schools, they build up a collection and prepare music concerts for the parents, both for other classrooms or for the whole school community.
Apart from the instrumental development, music and performance are also integrated. This evolves during the Primary and Secondary levels and results in unique and original productions. Productions can be by individuals, groups of children and also by whole classrooms or sections of the school. The entire product is created in collaboration with classroom teachers, students and music teachers. The text is ‘home-grown’, they practice songs, make music, create props, costumes and much more! These events are so good that the students like to perform them several times.
‘Hof Kleinenberg’ has its own theatre facilities. Shows can happen in the multifunctional ‘barn’, but also outside, in the park, in Cultural Centre ‘De Kam’ or ‘Waranda Poort’ in Tervuren. The location depends on the topic, the aims, and developmental objectives. Also young children and their parents are invited. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children to be the audience in a large theatre and to see what they will be involved with in the future. For the Primary students it is great practice with an enthusiastic audience!
Theatre can also culminate in Secondary as an exam subject. In the Diploma Programme the Arts is offered. Theatre consists of a wide curriculum that includes study of historical and contemporary theatre styles, analysing theatre, creating productions and the evolution of personal theatrical skills. Theatre boosts the self-esteem and has a great impact on presentation skills.
Art is a product and a process. From a very young age, we see that children are creative in different ways, and this is nurtured over the years. One stream of creativity results in visual arts. Children are exposed to art, research artist, analyse art and practice different techniques. Art is a subject in itself and is applied to all other projects, resulting in beautiful visualisations of abstract and less abstract phenomena. These processes and products are displayed during the ‘Windows into the Class’. Visual Arts can also be a Diploma Programme exam subject, which culminates into an art exhibition that can be visited by all. It is well worth visiting for young and old as very interesting pieces are created every year again!
Christmas Craft and Christmas Market:
In the winter, the school locations are transformed into cosy Christmas dens. Classrooms have their Christmas tree (grown in our own Christmas grove) and children make many art related presents, cards and home decorations. It makes the last three weeks of school very special. The final products are collected and taken home on the last day of school.
An all-time favourite is the Christmas Craft Event that is held on a Saturday at ‘Hof Kleinenberg’. The school is ‘packed away’ for the day and a new atmosphere takes over. The teams from all Montessori school locations provide lovely and very unique craft activities for children and parents to make. Grandparents and other relatives that have come to visit families for the festive season are very welcome as well.
An artisanal Christmas Market is held simultaneously and a variety of ‘home-made’ goods are for sale. Individuals can sign up for the market and we find that many a teacher and parent provide a lovely stall with very crafty materials. Jewellery, paintings, tree decorations, dolls, candles, and much more is on offer. The Secondary students provide the catering and have cooked and baked ahead of time. New stallholders are always welcome to join. The proceeds go into the school’s charity account ‘Reaching Out’ and are donated, amongst other causes, to Ecole Maternelle Simandari in Burkina Faso. Together with other donations and fund raising we sponsor every year 24 students in this school.
End of Year Event:
When summer is on the doorstep one can do beautiful things outside. One of the events that involve the whole school community is the ‘End of Year’ event. A different theme is chosen every year. To give a glimpse: Farm Life in the 50’s, Art-Farm, Circus in the Tent and Paris on a Spring Day – are some of our past End of Year themes. Different interactive displays are provided by the team and parent volunteers to enjoy such as: stalls, folk dances, wood work displays, arts and crafts, vintage cars and tractors, collection of Flemish folk games and a second-hand market. New ideas surface every year!
Parents who like to be involved on a practical level are very welcome. Parents can share their trade, skills and hobbies via the Parent Participation form or join as a volunteer and help with large-scale events.
The possibilities vary: in Children’s Houses this can involve presentations of a particular culture (music, dress, food), nature projects or music performances. In Primary this can extend to helping with the preparations of a theatre production, participating with outings, or giving a guest lecture addressing a specific interest. Secondary students function more independently from their families and often take public transport to their destinations; therefore, less parent involvement is required with excursions.
Should you have particular skills or interests that you would like to share with children, please let the coordinators know. They like to know about your expertise and call upon sharing topics that fit nicely in the integrated curriculum such as intercultural presentations, cooking sessions, professional instruction, and skill sharing.
For more information on events, please check the newsletters and/or subscribe to the school’s Google Calendar.