Preschool isn’t just about ABCs

Six of the students in Marcia Schmidtmann’s preschool class watched Thursday as her husband Thom Sch

Six of the students in Marcia Schmidtmann’s preschool class watched Thursday as her husband Thom Schmidtmann tapped the large maple tree on the school’s grounds. Schmidtmann drilled a hole into the tree’s trunk then hammered in a metal spigot and clear liquid started dripping out. Students put their fingers under the tap.

“It tasted good,” 4-year-old Aurora Morley said.

The Montessori School of Amsterdam, which has been operating on Locust Avenue for 15 years, taps the maple tree each year. The sap is then turned into small jars of syrup for each student.

Marcia Schmidtmann said she gets the “pleasure” of boiling the sap to make syrup this year.

“It’s a real chore,” she said. “My entire kitchen gets sticky.”

Schmidtmann said the students will make pancakes from scratch to eat with the syrup once it’s ready. The preschool pupils will then clean up after themselves and wash their own plates.

Pupils at the Montessori school learn more than letters, numbers and social skills, they learn about their community and their environment.

Self reliance is another skill students at the Montessori school learn.

“I zip jackets, but I don’t put on coats. I tie shoe laces, but I don’t put on shoes,” Schmidtmann said.

The students do chores around the school building and clean the playground. There is a room designated for chores where students find brooms and mops with short handles and small bottles of dish soap,

“We want the students to feel like this is their home,” school Director Elaine Ko-Talmadge said.

The students also replace their shoes with slippers once they enter the classroom, which is actually in an old house.

Thursday was the first day since November that the preschool pupils were allowed to play outside. Schmidtmann said the school’s playground was previously covered in snow or the children were too sick to be outside.

“If one kid can’t go out none of us do,” she said.

Schmidtmann said the students are encouraged to be active in their community and take trips to the public safety building along with the Amsterdam Free Library and Walter Elwood Museum. The students also learn manners, problem solving and cooperation.

“When they enter kindergarten they will be ready mentally and physically,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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