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2017 Uinta Adventure

Last week our Upper Elementary students, the Uinta class, set adrift for an amazing Adventure to Split Mountain, Vernal. They enjoyed three days of fun, learning, and life experiences. Despite the inclement weather they adventured to the max and had a blast. They are made of stern stuff!   Students, teachers and parent chaperones did a service learning project at Josie's Cabin, rafted the Green River (in the snow!), enjoyed a beautiful hike in the area and visited the Dinosaur Quarry. 

Students spent the year earning funds for their adventure through the Montessori Market and preparing for their rafting trip with their in-depth GO studies of the water shed. This adventure was a culmination of many important Upper Elementary lessons; from planning and executing a trip to in-depth follow up to their outdoor studies and many things in between. 

Thank you to everyone who shopped the Market and supported their other business ventures for making this possible.   Below find some fun quotes from parent chaperones and a handful of photos documenting this amazing adventure!




The children were in full on camping mode. The cold rain and snow did not deter, or steer them off course from their planned itinerary. It was obvious that they worked hard to prepare before the trip, as many duties fell into place.
They braved the big, cold waters of the Green River, in winter conditions. They hiked the trails of Dinosaur Nation Park. They explored the quarry and represented The Montessori Community School at its best. Well done children!

Aaron Rashaw 


The Ultimate Adventure!

With Jude graduating from the sixth grade, this will be my last opportunity to chaperone at MCS. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! I’ve never been to Dinosaur National Monument; so to go with nineteen of the most adventurous ten to twelve year olds ever, made the outing that much more enjoyable. Believe me: they braved the elements that only a Utah spring can muster; and they did so with respect of nature and stoic resolve. There was nothing that could have dampened their enthusiasm. I know the students learned a great deal about the hydrologic system of the Green River, but I seemed to be their student as they embraced the desert and embraced life!

Thanks again for the wonderful opportunity!
Gregg Wood








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Farewell from Robyn - MCS Head of School

Dear MCS Families,

As the 2016-2017 year draws to a close I feel such gratitude for all the members of our school community. It is a true pleasure to be working with such amazing co-workers. I am delighted by our children/students and love the opportunities to spend time with them. In addition I feel such strong support from our families.

This year I have been away from school more often than in previous years, mostly because of my mother's health challenges. She is now 91 years old and had had a form of Parkinsons for many years as well as some heart problems. It is increasingly difficult for her to walk and that is very hard for her. She insists on continuing to live in her home and we are so fortunate that the New Zealand government offers free services that include having "helpers" come into her home each morning and evening and also to do her housework and gardening but as my sister and I live in the States and my brother in Australia she does not have any of her children nearby to provide direct support. My sister and I have been going home regularly to assist her. She is most fortunate to have several friends and a few relatives who are also supportive. Anyway because of my more frequent absences during those times many of my responsibilities have fallen on Ramira and Britney. It is difficult to adequately express how much I appreciate everything they do. Of course I am also so appreciative of all the other staff members for their support as well.

Once again we have had an amazing group of parents serving on the PSA this year and because of them and many other parents who have served on committees and in many capacities so many exciting events have happened. I would like to give special thanks to Annie Guerrero who has served on the PSA since she arrived at our school with her son Owen 11 years ago and in the leadership position for many years. She has been unwavering in her enthusiasm and support of our school and it would be impossible to calculate how many hours she has devoted. Owen will be graduating from 6th grade this year and therefore he and his parents Annie and Ryan will be moving on. They will surely be missed and I will be forever grateful to them for all their contributions.

Some exciting news to report is that this year the following staff members have graduated from university:
  • Diana Haro Reynolds with her Masters Degree in Montessori Education
  • Annie (Cassandra) Hayes with her Bachelors Degree in Early Education
  • Kim Brown with her Bachelors Degree in Business and Accounting with an emphasis in HR
  • Amanda Haws with her Masters Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology

We are also delighted to advise that Jennifer Carrino and Fernanda Roesevear will be completing their Toddler Montessori certifications during the Summer. Lindsay will be completing her certification once she returns from maternity leave. In addition, we currently have Candace Leikam and Annie Hayes working on their Early Childhood Montessori Certification through CGMS and Anita Ermish will begin her studies for her Masters Degree in Montessori Education at Westminster College this summer. Also,  Austin Bull, Sage Wegner and Carley Hines will begin their Montessori Toddler training this summer. We are thrilled to have so many of our non-certified staff committing to becoming certified Montessori teachers. This is a special gift to their students.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to those of our staff who will be leaving this year- Evi Bybee, Kenzee Kubilius, Kate Savage, Whitney Franck, Corey Day. Liz Spor, Christine Burningham, Aly Delanty and Amanda Haws. Each of these teachers has played a huge role in the lives of all of our children. Through their observations they have developed a meticulous knowledge of each child, have found their beauty and talents and encouraged them in their growth and also been able to recognize their challenges and been able to guide and support each of them in these areas. They have always been truly committed and have offered so much of themselves to their students and co-workers. What each teacher brings to their students is unique and wonderful and their many co-workers, students and their families will really miss all of them but as the Head of School I fully support them in following their dreams and taking a new direction in their lives. I have hope that sometime in the future some of them may return.

For those families who are leaving us I thank you for the privilege of being able to partner with you in guiding your children in their growth and development. I wish you and your children all the best as you embark upon new adventures. For those who are staying I am delighted and look forward to many more special experiences together.

Have a wonderful, full-filled and safe summer.

Warmly,

Robyn

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How can failure be a gift?

When I started teaching 20 years ago, childhood was altogether a different experience.  Raising children looked different than it does now and, since I'm now in the midst of raising my own three children, I believe this more than ever before.  The single most important thing I think we may be missing with this generation of parenting is the realization that growth comes from failure!  Scary concept, right?  But honestly, when everything goes according to plan, there are no hiccups in the way, or any process is simple, precise and easy we learn very different lessons than when we have to struggle and stretch.  I think it would be fair to say that your own failures (or struggles, at the very least) provided clear opportunities for learning and growth. I recently watched a really wonderful TedTalk called "The power of believing that you can improve" by Carol Dweck in which she uses the word "yet" with great meaning and power.  (Watch here.) 


Believe it or not, when our kids become afraid of failure, they become disinterested in learning.  Life gets scary. Autonomy and the ability to bounce back helps kids feel confident and connected.  

What happens if we tell our kids they are the best (at anything!) and they discover that they are not (at some things)? The feeling of failure, of letting us down, of believing they are less than they really are is just the kind of feeling that keeps them from trying again and from experiencing new things.  The realization that they still have space to grow, on the other hand, and the belief that they are surrounded by loving people who will give them space for that to happen? POWERFUL! Our generation of children are learning that there is a lot of immediate gratification in the world.  But let's be real, parents - life includes a lot of waiting, trying again, picking ourselves up off the ground, and re-thinking how things "should" be.  

How do we really step back and let our kiddos stretch?  It's hard, right?  And honestly...it can be totally inconvenient.  Not only is childhood different but so is adulthood.  If I count the number of hours I really get to spend with my own children in a week, it seems far less than ideal.  We are a busy family.  Life is beautiful and lots of fun, but it is REALLY BUSY! So how can I adapt my "helicopter parenting" approach (which is in some ways for my own convenience) to one that gives my kids the best chance at being resilient? 

  • Praise wisely: Point out the effort, the process and the strategies that your child used whether they succeed or fail at something.  Outcomes are typically less than we imagined and so the process is an important one to celebrate, think about and understand!
  • Plan ahead: Ask questions to get your kiddo thinking about outcomes without giving up the best answers.  The more we tell them the answers, the more children lack the opportunity to think of them themselves.  And believe it or not, some day they WILL have to make decisions without you. The small ones they are making now, under our care, are the safe ones to practice on.  
  • Step back: As much as you want to step in and tell them "I already tried that, it didn't work" or "But what if.." DON'T DO IT. Little failures are great opportunities to learn.  And, when we are there rooting for them despite their failures not only do they learn to try differently, but they learn that we are there no matter what. (How comforting.) The other beautiful thing about stepping back is that when they do step in at the face of real danger (I'm talking serious circumstances here) and we step in, they'll know they face real danger.
  • Listen: Guess what?  Our job as parents is not to be problem solvers.  I know, weird right? I have a hard time with this one too. But really, sometimes children just need someone to listen.  They are people and, like us, can oftentimes talk themselves into the best answers.


What I'm presenting here is not an easy feat.  There is no expectation for any of us to get it right every time.  As a matter of fact, the same concepts apply to parenting...we will make mistakes.  And we will learn from them.  And when we are better next time, our kids will learn that being better is the most important part.  I have never apologized more to anyone on this earth than I have to my oldest son. And I believe that my humility and admittance of my failures goes a long way in teaching him that humaning is a process....er, at least I hope it does! If nothing else, he has seen me mess up and get back on that horse!  I will not give up and he knows that. 

In her book The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey talks about autonomy supportive parenting. Clear expectations and clear consequences make people feel safe.  From traffic laws to moral obligation, this is true on every front. I can't tell you enough how lovely a concept this is! 


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ThroughPlay - U of U Study

Whether you participated in the ThroughPlay study earlier this year or not, MCS Parents have been invited to a re-presentation taking place on May 2nd. This presentation has been dramatically overhauled and, we think, improved! There is a greater use of the creative arts to complement our narrative about the importance of play for children and adults, including more film of parents and children in nature, better-designed slides, and more music.



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Join the MCS PSA!

MCS-Parent School Alliance T.E.A.M.
Together Everyone Achieves More! 

Before I became involved in the PSA, I noticed for years that most of the burden fell on one or two people, and I thought that was just too much; especially when you are juggling kids, work and life. So when I was asked by the MCS Administration to get involved, I suggested a restructuring of the PSA to become a “Team” representing all the age groups but with an emphasis on the Toddler and Early Childhood groups since they are our meat and potatoes.  This PSA Team concept is now completing its second year with, I believe, great success on many levels.  First, the obvious, the 6 reps share the roles, no one person is working alone; second, we have more of a presence on campus as a team; and third, we actually enjoy each other and collectively want to generate excitement and enthusiasm within our community. Who doesn’t want to be involved in that? 

Since my son is graduating this year from MCS, this is my last year with the MCS PSA and I want to encourage those interested to consider joining the PSA Team next school year.  We have such a unique, wonderful and supportive community of children, parents, teachers and staff that it makes it so much easier to be a part of the team.

If you are interested please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you for your support,

Annie Guerrero
Uinta Parent





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Sun Safety

As a staff we are always trying to maintain a comfortable balance between sun safety and the immense need to get our children outside for play and movement.  As you well know, our children are not always easily convinced of the critical need to cover adequately.  We go to great effort to teach our children the importance of full coverage and how to apply sunscreen thoroughly (while offering assistance to children as needed).  We encourage our families to advise their children of the importance of sun safety and appreciate the following tips provided by one of our MCS parents.  



Utah has the highest melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) rates in the United States (read detailed article here). Given our altitude, a large number of sunny days, great outdoor activities, and a population with lots of fair-skinned people, we have the perfect storm of skin cancer risk factors.

It is important that our kids spend time outside but careful preparation is a must. Below are some measures that have proven effectiveness at reducing UV exposure and helping to prevent skin cancers:

1. Sunscreen reapplication: Unfortunately, sunscreen only lasts ~80 min before the protective effects diminish significantly, so be sure to reapply frequently.  

2. Hats: Because the head and neck region is not covered with clothes it receives much more sun exposure than other parts of the body, leading to a higher proportional rate of skin cancers in this region. Hats are an easy method to reduce sun exposure. Be sure to send a hat to school with your child each day as well as taking one along on all your outings that include outside play

3. Encourage sun-safe clothing, sunglasses when appropriate.

4.  Go the extra mile by being an example; wear a hat when you are outside, apply sunscreen to yourself in your child's presence, wear sun-appropriate clothing and sunglasses, and talk to your child about sun safety on a regular basis.  Children, like the rest of us, are empowered by knowledge.

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The Power of your Child's Birth Story

Have you ever told your child the riveting and powerful story of their entrance into this great life? This is one of my favorite aspects of parenthood. Instilling wonder and thoughtfulness about your child’s emergence to earth is truly awe inspiring for them. Hearing the story of their own birth can calm a child’s fears, can build a child who feels down or sad and can bring great joy to any child. Understanding not only the emergence itself, but the powerful emotions tied to their anticipated arrival and their delivery give a child perspective into their powers as a human. Understanding their place in a family, their most important community of all, is hugely rewarding for a child. Children deeply appreciate learning how their own birth made a marked difference in the history of the universe. 




A child will love this story at any point in their life, but the most crucial and powerful time to tell a child the story of their own birth is during the elementary years, particularly early elementary. The elementary child is finding their place in the world. Their understanding of its vastness has become more easy to comprehend and their curiosity about the interconnectedness of all living things is undeniably enthusiastic. Relationships can become deep and meaningful, particularly those outside the family. Children’s search for what matters, their social sensitivities and their developing moral judgement at this stage of development can often lead to questions like “Who am I...how do I fit in?” These are important questions and for this reason their personal birth story can be relevant pieces of the puzzle they are working on personally.

In a Montessori Lower Elementary program, the study of timelines show evolution of plants, animals, and humans. We work to instill a love and respect for our earth. A child’s place in this evolution helps them relate to their family, their social circle, and reinforces that all living things are valuable. Not to mention, humans develop a core belief about themselves at a very early age.  What could possibly make a person believe they matter, that they have the power to change the world, or the power of love more than hearing about the love that enters a parent's
heart when they meet their child for the first time? 



How was your child thought of while in utero?

What kind of preparations did you make for your child to join your family?

What kind of dreams did you have for your child and your family?

What was your child’s anticipated arrival like?

What were the feelings you had when your child’s delivery began?

What are the details about your child’s birth?

How did you spend the first moments/hours/days of your child’s life?


My own three children could recite the stories of their births themselves, and still, they ask to hear it often. We share those memories in times of sadness, in times of fear, in times of joy, in times of laughter. Every detail holds deep meaning for each of us and the parts that speak to us change as we change and evolve as individuals and as a family.
Bedtime stories have never been so much fun. 

Happy story telling! 




My beautiful family. My sister introduces her son to his new baby brother for the first time.
The magic of families is endless. 











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The Value of the Three Year Cycle - A Parent's Perspective

The Capstone Year

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the third year of the Early Childhood three year cycle. We made the decision to keep our oldest daughter in the Magnolias Class to complete the cycle (known as the Capstone Year).

Last year, an article in The Atlantic called “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids” (read here) helped support our decision. In the mainstream setting, Kindergarten has become the new first grade, and Common Core standards have laid out academic guidelines for what should be completed in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. Research corroborates that kindergarteners spend more time doing seat work and less time doing art and music.  The net result is 2nd graders who perform worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills. The cause, it is thought, is direct instruction that is repetitive and uninspired which leads to children losing their enthusiasm for learning.




How do we maintain that joy for learning and school that can inspire ongoing discovery? The Montessori curriculum inspires life-long inquiry with a heavy emphasis on social interaction, outdoor experiences, art and music. Communication and dynamic interactions with peers and teachers allow children to be self-reflective critical thinkers.

The groundwork for reading and literacy is language, and the Montessori classroom capitalizes on our children’s sensitive period for language.  Imagine my surprise when my four year old came home recently asking to read a book to me. I indulged her request knowing that she has not quite mastered all the letter sounds, and yet she comfortably read the book.  “Where did you learn to read?” I asked.  “I just know.” she said.  The Montessori curriculum has laid the groundwork so that our children can put it all together in their own time. We only need to give them the freedom and opportunity to do so.

This is exactly why the capstone year is so important. Our children become leaders in the classroom during the third year. They consolidate all the learning that has taken place in the first two years of the cycle. They grow confidence, they enjoy themselves, and they learn new things in a low pressure environment in which they feel very comfortable.

I loved seeing my oldest daughter thrive in her third year. You could see an extra bounce in her step and she loved going to school each day. Her reading and math skills blossomed and her social skills became more nuanced. In short, she thrived.

I was also a little nervous that she would enter her new school behind the other kids who had been in the academic “seat-work” environment for two years already… and I’ll admit that in the first quarter, her reading wasn’t as fluent as some of the other children’s and her performance on timed math assessments was lacking a bit of luster. (Then again, if you know her, you know that anything timed is not of interest to her!)  Interestingly, as the year has progressed, she’s blossomed. It’s as if you can see the cumulative effect of the critical thinking skills and self-directed learning all come together. She’s asking questions about the relationships between different concepts and she’s reading books that really interest her.  I’m not sure she’ll love the timed math tests, but as she says, “that’s just my way”.  The credit for her progress goes to the Montessori Capstone Year.

I’m so glad that we’ve been able to give her the gift of an extra year of play, joy, and mastery. The data and our family’s personal experience support what Maria Montessori knew long ago… The third year of the cycle is a crucial element of the Montessori Early Childhood education.  

You are welcome to contact me if you want to discuss the third year in further detail!

Vicki Wilkins - MCS Toddler and Early Childhood parent

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All School Assembly - Utah Okinawa Kenjinkai Cultural Experience

Our Second Annual All-school Assembly took place Wednesday morning at MCS! All of our staff and students, from toddlers to elementary, gathered for an incredible presentation. The Utah Okinawa Kenjinkai group shared a beautiful performance about their cultural Japanese heritage. They introduced us to Okinawan traditional music, dances, folk craft, and martial arts while briefly discussing the Japanese history associated in a fun and enlightening way.




A lot of our young toddler friends enjoyed singing and dancing throughout the assembly while our older friends were impressed by the costumes and instruments. In the traditional Okinawan dance, the Eisa, there is a closing song to end the performance. We were invited to join the dancers and dance together waving our hands to the beat of the music and drums. It was a great experience for all of our students to enjoy this cultural opportunity as a whole community.




Check our last year's experience here.



By Paola Ramirez


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The Gift of Adult Learning

Today I was graced with the most lovely opportunity to observe a teacher intern in one of our classrooms.  MCS has the ongoing opportunity to support and host adult interns seeking Montessori certification at all levels.  The process of a teacher receiving Montessori training is as well developed a system as the Montessori method itself.  Following an intense period of study of Montessori theory, history, methodology, didactic training and classroom management, an intern spends 1-2 years engaged in a teaching practicum (internship).  During this initial experience as a teacher, with a wealth of newfound understanding and insight to the child and its environment, the teacher goes through the magical process of implementation under the direction of a master teacher. 

Maria Montessori said "The teacher, when she begins to work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through the work. She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be." 

The process of having absolute faith in our little ones to develop in their own time, in their own way, and to their most authentic selves takes absolute faith.  We let go of our own egos to allow for the child's great awakening. I will never forget my own hours of study...learning precisely how each material is to be presented, memorizing the sequence and curriculum, identifying sensitive periods in the children, writing lesson plans only to be erased and re-written, and discovering the meaning behind "preparation of the environment".  Those hours paled in comparison to the spiritual awakening and rebirth of self that I am honored to experience on a daily basis at MCS.

And so today I applaud all those who have themselves engaged in this transformation process.  Hosting interns means that MCS is a place for adult learning, teacher collaboration and exposure to ongoing research. Additional kudos to those master teachers who commit themselves to the process of guiding these new interns; an ongoing process of renewal and one of the beautiful experiences that brings MCS together as community. 


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The Capstone Year...what every Montessori parent should know!

What is the Capstone Year and why does my child deserve to have one?

We often refer to the 3rd Year a child is in a Montessori program as the Capstone Year. But, what is it really that makes that year so special/important? While the reasons to leave can be compelling and are worth every consideration, we believe the reasons to stay are worth your careful and thoughtful consideration.

Below is a list of 24 reasons we recommend keeping your child in Montessori for the Capstone Year:

  1. Does your child look forward to attending school? If so, consider yourself lucky. Why tinker with a winning situation when so many other families are frustrated or disappointed with their child’s school experience.
  2. Your child has waited for two years to be a leaders in their class. The third year students are looked up to as role models for the younger students, and most children eagerly await their opportunity to play this role.
  3. The third year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the child’s understanding. An excellent example is the early introduction to addition with large numbers through the Bank Game. When children leave Montessori at age five, many of the still forming concepts evaporate, just as a child living overseas will learn to speak two languages, but may quickly lose the second language if his family moves back home.
  4. As a leader in the class, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that he learned when he was their age. Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.
  5. Third Year Montessori children normally go on to still more fascinating lessons and more advanced Montessori materials. The natural process of abstraction or critical thinking around familiar concepts materializes naturally and gears the child up for more advanced skills.
  6. The Montessori curriculum is more sophisticated than that found in traditional programs.
  7. Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know her very, very well. They know her strengths and areas that are presenting challenges. She can begin the year strong, without having to build a relationship of trust with her teacher.
  8. Your child already knows most of her classmates. She has grown up in a safe, supportive classroom setting. She is learning appropriate social boundaries and interactions with a group of familiar peers.
  9.  If your child goes on to another school, he will spend the first half of the year just getting used to the new educational approach.
  10.  Montessori math is based on the European tradition of unified mathematics. Montessori introduces young children to basic geometry and other sophisticated concepts as early as kindergarten. Our spiraling curriculum means students will revisit these skills and build on them throughout their elementary experience.
  11.  Third Years have a real sense of running their classroom community, an important leadership skill that goes on with them.
  12.  In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at her own pace. In traditional education, she will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up or will be forced to move ahead before she is ready.
  13. Beginning as early as kindergarten and continuing through elementary, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning to grow into global citizens.
  14.  In Montessori, students work with intriguing learning materials instead of preprinted work books, allowing a student to work on a skill for the right amount of time for their own understanding and not by a predetermined timeline.
  15.  Emphasis is given to the arts, movement, and outdoor education. Exploration and creativity in these areas are continuously accessible and are encouraged.
  16. In Montessori, your child has been treated with a deep respect as a unique individual. The school has been equally concerned for his intellectual, social, and emotional development.
  17. Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and parents. Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!
  18. Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.
  19. In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.
  20. Montessori students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research. They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon-fed.
  21. Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively.
  22. Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.
  23. Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
  24. Three, six, nine and twelve years old are natural transitional ages for children. They are the best time for children to move to new classrooms or schools.
     Third Year Upper Elementary students sale handmade items at the Montessori Market,
a business that supports their end of year outdoor adventure. This year they'll raft on the Green River!        


             
This Third Year Upper Elementary student creates the square of 19
using a Montessori Math material, the Peg Board. 

     
  
    
Creativity at its finest!


If you still have any doubt, spend a morning observing in your child’s class and compare it with a class in the other school you are considering. Sit quietly and take mental notes. The differences may be subtle, but most likely they will be significant. Then project your child into the future and ask yourself how the positive differences you observed in the Montessori classroom might help shape your child to become the teenager, and later the adult, you envisioned for your child’s future.

(Adapted from Tim Seldin’s 25 Reasons to Keep Your Child in Montessori Through the Kindergarten Year, Tomorrow’s Child.)
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What Makes MCS Unique?


Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education while supporting a charming and safe community for our students and their families. Choosing the right school can be a difficult task as increasing numbers in research show the impact of early education on the growing brain. So, beyond why a parent might choose a Montessori education for their child, I would like to answer some common questions about what sets Montessori Community School apart and how you will know if it is the right fit for your family.
  • Tour, Admissions Meetings and Observation: Inquiring parents are required to visit our facility prior to acceptance of their child. This allows parents to “get a feel” for our campus and to learn specifics about each program from a knowledgeable member of our staff. Following attendance at a tour or an admissions meeting, parents are invited to observe in one of our classrooms. While an observation is not required, our goal is to help parents have a clear understanding of and comfort in the design of our programs before their child attends classes. 
  • Focus on the whole child and their developmental needs: Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education where equal attention is given to a child’s academic, social, and emotional needs. Along with learning at their own academic pace, children are given opportunities to learn self regulation and time management, develop and exercise independence and are given many opportunities to practice and refine social graces. Be it math or conflict resolution, lessons are given as needed, allowing children to progress at their own rate and ensuring success of one skill before moving on to the next. 
  • Mistakes are the best way to learn: We live in a time where safety concerns have made it difficult to give our children space to make mistakes. Montessori Community School is a safe place for children to explore, practice, and learn from their mistakes. Our staff is committed to helping students work through challenges in a safe and controlled environment, preparing them for the world outside of school. Self correcting materials allow children to identify mistakes within their academics and encourage children to try something until they feel confident enough to move on. 
  • Multi age classrooms: Angeline Stoll Lillard, in her authoritative research review Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, describes the Montessori multi-age setting this way: "Montessori encourages learning from peers in part by using three-year age groupings. This ensures that as children move through the classroom they will be exposed to older and younger peers, facilitating both imitative learning and peer tutoring... Dr. Montessori was quite clear about the need for this mix of ages." These multi age groupings also allow teachers, students and parents to develop close relationships, making a team approach to education manageable and effective. 
  • Children get to choose and children get to move: Children like to make choices; they like to be the masters of themselves. In a safe and carefully prepared environment, MCS students are given the option to choose which area of the classroom to work in at any given time. The carefully prepared environment ensures that there are materials and activities to meet a variety of interest and skill level. They decide how much time or energy should be put into a particular task and children are encouraged to revisit materials or lessons as needed, are invited to move forward when they feel they are ready, and have the opportunity to actively research topics that interest them while giving adequate time and attention to the foundational skills needed in each academic area of the curriculum. Children in every program at MCS are able to move throughout the classroom, and sometimes beyond, to meet the very important need for movement in their growing bodies. Movement from work to lesson to snack and so forth ensures that children can stay engaged in their work process throughout the entire uninterrupted work cycles. Growing and changing bodies have many options for work spaces and styles. 
  • Community: MCS prides itself on having a close knit and caring community. You will find community in individual classrooms as students stay in one class for an entire cycle and because of the longevity of our teaching staff. MCS staff have been with us anywhere from 2 to 25 years. MCS parents are committed to supporting our students, our staff and our programs and a variety of organizations exist to allow parent involvement and support. A number of events encourage the community to come together on a regular basis. 
  • Variety in schedules: As part of our commitment to community and family, MCS offers a variety of scheduling options. Parents can be assured that their children are well cared for, well loved, and respected for their individuality and uniqueness without having to transfer to a different program part way through the parents work day.

Interested parents are invited to learn more about MCS at an upcoming Admissions Information Meeting on January 19, 2016 from 6:30-8pm. Adults only, sorry no child care provided for this event.

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2017 Admissions Information Meeting - New Students

2017 Admissions Information Meeting - New Students

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Meeting starts promptly at 6:30pm
Adults only - sorry, no child care provided
Bring a friend!

Montessori Community School will be hosting an Admissions Information Meeting for all adults interested in learning more about any of our programs for 2017-2018 Admissions. Parents are invited to join us for a presentation about Montessori method, curriculum and philosophy and how they are implemented in our program to educate the whole child. Then, visit individual classrooms to learn more about each program and to meet and greet with our administrative and teaching staff. 
 
2017-2018 Application Packets will be available.

Montessori Community School serves children aged 18 months through 6th grade and we offer an extended day program, 7:30am - 6:00pm. Confirm your attendance or interest in coming on our Facebook event.

Montessori Community School's mission is to provide a rich, individualized educational experience, which guides and nurtures the natural unfolding of the whole individual and inspires a lifetime love of learning and peace.

   

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Toys and the Boxes They Come In

"Whatever do you think they'll do with all those boxes? Well..." —Min Flyte, Box





You're thrilled with the gift you've chosen for your toddler, and you can't wait to see her open it up. She takes forever tearing off the paper, and becomes enchanted with the ribbon and wrappings. You help navigate the opening of the box and express your excitement over the surprise inside. She explores the gift for a minute or two, and then returns to the paper, ribbons, and empty box and spends the next half hour discovering all their possibilities.

It Doesn't Take Much

A young child doesn't need much to become engaged with the world. Children can spend hours playing with the simplest items. They love empty boxes that might hold their treasures. Ribbons, paper, string, and tape are perfect for creating whatever they might imagine.I recall seeing young neighbors having a grand time with the runoff from a rain shower, along with a stick, a few rocks, and a piece of string. First, they watched the string float down the stream, and then did the same with the stick. Next, a few rocks dammed up the flow and the string floated in the pool until the water flowed over the dam. A leaf came down onto the pool which was picked up by one of the children who pierced it with the stick. It floated like a little boat down the stream until it got stuck against the rocks. I watched these budding engineers for fifteen minutes, but I'm guessing they continued to play for a long while after I left.

Consider a Box

What can you do with a box? Of course it depends on its size and thickness. Many a game or activity await, and here are a few ideas:

                Play catch. Toss a beanbag or a paper ball into the box, and continue to move further away. This can be a solitary or group game.

                Open up two ends of a long box and roll a ball through the tunnel.

                Lift a toddler inside a big corrugated box with a crayon or two in-hand, and watch time fly as she decorates each wall.

                Play a game of peek-a-boo when the box is big enough for a child to hide in or small enough to fit over someone's head.

                Several boxes can be put together to make a skyscraper or doll house.

                With a little handiwork, a box can become a car, a firetruck, an airplane - and be wearable, too!
                Cut out the bottom and top, draw or paint the sides accordingly, and then attach ribbons to go over your child's shoulders.

                Give your child a plain gift box and some crayons or markers - then discover what he creates.

                Use a sturdy gift box without its lid to hold an activity for your child, like two small pitchers, one filled with rice, to practice pouring.

                An appliance box will give children endless options for play. It might become a secret quiet place, a fort, or a garage for the scooter, wagon, and wheelbarrow.

Classic Toys Come In Boxes

Some toys are as basic as the boxes they come in. A kaleidoscope, a magnifying glass, a small wagon, or a top never go out-of-date. Children love the wooden "work bench" pounding toy. A substantial set of wooden blocks will be used by your children for years to come. When your children are older, they can use the same blocks to engineer more complex structures such as airports and towns.

Create a treasure hunt by placing a ball, yo-yo, or little book in the smallest of several graduated sized boxes. Consider pairing a doll or stuffed animal with a favorite childhood book - for example, a plush bear and Winnie the Pooh. Children like to string beads, stick stickers, play hopscotch, and paint.

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Victory and Peace...Marc Seldin

This morning, after spending several hours in one of our classrooms for a most lovely observation, I was lucky enough to open my email and find this beautifully inspiring message waiting for me from our Montessori friends at CGMS.  Written by Marc Seldin. 


Click here to read full blog post on CGMS's site. 

The four-year old girls were good friends, but now they’re angry. One said something to the other, tempers flared, and a friendship is in jeopardy. Fortunately, the children are in a Montessori classroom. Montessori schools use many techniques for harmony, but in this classroom they have a peace rose. One little girl retrieves the flower from its shelf, expresses her hurt, and passes the rose to her friend. Together they explore their feelings, and conflict is transmuted into understanding. The children have learned a process to maintain harmony.

In a time of resurging intolerance, we may turn to our classrooms for reassurance. They are gardens of peace, the fields where we sow the seeds of a better world. We may seek solace in the work we do, knowing that the beauty we nurture will in time blossom into magnificent flowers of justice, kindness and equality.

Recently I have found myself thinking again and again about victory. We know that peace is more than just an absence of war. But what is a Montessori victory? Do we conquer our enemies? No. We will not repair this world by subduing those who disagree with us.

Do we shout down the bigot? How much better for the world if the bigot abandons their bigotry? How much better if the criminal no longer commits crimes, if the sinner no longer sins? The second World War was conceived when the victors of the first war mistreated the vanquished; a third world war was averted when the conquered became allies. Force without justice is domination, not victory.

A Montessori call to arms is a call to the classroom. This is where we cultivate real victory.

True and lasting peace will arise from our schools, where we prepare the next generation of peaceful leaders. The work we do is ever more vital, and I urge you not to despair at the territory we still have to cover.

Let’s recall how far we have traveled from 1907, when Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini in Rome. Nominated three times during her life for the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Montessori worked tirelessly to improve the rights and conditions of women and children. Justice informed her methodology, and peace infuses the very DNA of our classrooms. The strides made for liberty in the past century – the advances made for children, for women, for minorities, for gays and lesbians – do not doubt that even today we see the ripples of her work throughout all the social progress we’ve made.

That the task is not yet complete should not surprise us.

Wherever we look globally, we see the anger and the outrage of those who have felt excluded from the political process. Income inequality is at an all-time high. Far-right parties are rising across the world, fueled by bigotry, economic uncertainty and a populism born of the sense of neglect by elite powers. The political turmoil is only one of the symptoms of our broken world. We do not forget the millions of refugees fleeing war, and the victims of the terrible wars themselves.

Do not be disheartened, for as long as we teach peace there will be a light in this world.

Yes, our work begins in the classroom, but shall we stop there? What else can our school communities do?

It will not be enough for us just to stall some current agenda. When we work to defeat ISIS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa, or unseat some political adversary at home, we earn but a moment’s respite. Unaddressed, hatred and violence will always return in a new form. A lasting peace requires us to heal the deeper wounds of this earth.

Dr. Montessori taught us that when children act out, it is because they have unmet needs. Is this not true of adults as well? Perhaps at no time since the second World War has the planet been so united in angst about the future. Montessori has a healing message for a broken world, and this is the time for us to recommit to telling the story, both inside and outside of our classrooms.

We can begin by speaking our healing message. Shout it from the mountaintop, whisper it in the halls of your school. Organize, promote justice, discuss difficult topics. Model peace in and out of your classrooms. Educate the children and adults in your community. Participate. Engage.

It begins and ends with our conviction that Montessori has a message of peace which will mend this world’s wounds.

Here is my attempt to formulate a Montessori statement on peace. We urge every school to create such a statement and share it. Feel free to use or modify mine as you see fit.

A Montessori Statement on Peace

  • We believe that we can change the world.
  • We believe that when you work with children, you touch the future.
  • We believe that peace is more than the absence of war. We will repair this planet by building a lasting peace.
  • We believe that anger comes from hurt and that hatred comes from fear.
  • We believe that a lasting peace comes from understanding, respect and love for all life.
  • We believe that Montessori is education for the 21st century, and the 22nd, and the 23rd – that this is the best and truest method for preparing children to become the next generation of leaders.
  • We will prepare the peace by addressing the causes of suffering, and prepare the children in our classrooms to look suffering in the eye and say “no more.”
  • We believe in the dignity of the child and of the adult. We believe that it is possible for mankind to live in peace and harmony. Moreover, we are going to make that happen.
  • We believe that all people have a place at our circles. We commit to bringing into our circles those who have been most excluded.
  • We believe that all voices should be heard. We know that when people shout, it is because they do not feel that we are listening.
  • We will always stand with the oppressed, but never fail to hold a hand out in peace to the oppressor – for we know that someday they will take it. On that day we will all be free.
  • We believe the world may be made forever safe from demagogues and dictators. As Montessorians, we know our students will laugh off the shackles of fear that tyrants use to bind the populace. Furthermore, what tyrant could ever arise from our beautiful, peaceful classrooms?
  • We believe that we may go forward so that we will never go back again.
  • We know that when we march forward from dark spaces, we will bring all of our sisters and brothers with us into the light - and leave none behind.


May we all increase our efforts to make peace.  May we all have peaceful hearts.  May we all believe in the beauty of a future full of hope, love and peace. 

With love,
Britney
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Peer Conflict - What is a parent to do?

A note from our school psychologist, Dr. Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., on how parents can effectively support peer conflict with Early Childhood aged children...Enjoy! 
 

Handling Peer Interaction Complaints From Your Early Childhood Student

It can be difficult to know what to do when your child voices complaints about negative experiences with classmates. Parents natural response is to be protective. Thus, many of us jump to the defense of our child, driven to find an expedient end to the problem such as asking classroom teachers to stop it from happening again. While well-meaning, this may not be the most feasible or beneficial way to handle peer problems.

In fact, situations like these represent a unique opportunity for parents to engage their child in problem solving and social skill-building. They learn these skills by (1) observing parent reaction and problem solving styles, and (2) practicing new skills on their own during future problematic encounters. The 3- to 6-year age group is a crucial time for learning social emotional skills that research shows contribute to success later on. Over and above acquisition of early academic skills, children who develop their functional communication, the ability to tolerate delayed gratification and the ability to comply with reasonable requests (i.e., follow directions) show better school performance (and overall life skills) down the road.

The next time your child comes home with a complaint about a negative peer interaction consider the following thoughtful response methods:

  • Offer Empathy and a chance to tell their story...“I am sorry that happened today, tell me more about ________________. How did you feel when _________________ happened?” If you feel inclined to react with your own emotions, do your best to take a breath and a break, followed by empathy. Remember that your reaction may encourage or discourage a variety of emotional responses from your child.

  • Consider whether you need more information from another perspective… all stories have more than one side. We can better process the event and plan our response when we have more information. After taking time to visit with your child about the event, author an inquiring email to their teachers if you still have questions. Remember to remain factual. Present what your child said (in their own words) and ask not for a solution (yet) but for more information. What have the teachers observed? What has been tried and worked or not worked for these situations? What can you (the parent) be doing to support your child?

  • Understand what your child would like to see happen instead… We may intuit that our child is bothered by the interaction because they felt the need to tell us about it. But, we should ask specifically what was it that bothered them and why? For example, what did they want or expect to happen that didn’t? How would they have preferred the interaction to go? What would like they you (the parent) to do to support them? If their response involves a reasonable goal, we can find a different way to help them achieve that goal.

  • Teach, model and offer opportunities to practice (through role play) a new way of responding… Help your child generate ideas about other ways to respond should the situation occur again. What can they do differently and what do they think the outcome might be of those new responses? Practice using role play skills. Don’t forget to anticipate both positive and negative outcomes (as these provide opportunities to practice handling disappointment and persistence, but also helps maintain hopefulness that things can get better.)

  • Email your child’s teachers again with a plan you and your child have worked out at home...make the classroom teachers aware of the plan so they can be supportive of the newly learned skills your child will be using and can continue to follow up if other skills are needed. AND, don’t forget to check back with your child about how the new plan is working!


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Silent Journey's Of Past...

Wondering what you might get out of attending this year's Silent Journey and Discovery?  Below are some experiences shared by attendees of the past...
We hope you can join us this year!!!


2015 Parent of Lower Elementary MCS Student (student is still in Lower El for 2016-17 year) 

"I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful silent journey and discovery on Saturday.  When I originally chose Montessori for Luka at age 3, I read the book Understanding Montessori, but this was the first chance I've had to personally work with Montessori materials. 
 
Everything I saw on Saturday validated my choice for Luka's education and in particular my choice of Montessori Community School.  The environments are beautiful and so well-prepared and the teachers are well spoken advocates and role models for little people.  Bravo!"

Karna Sacchi



2014 Parents of an MCS Toddler student (student is now a third year Early Childhood student):

"Our little girl started this October in one of the Toddler classes. We felt and understood how this would be a good environment for our daughter--we saw a difference in her after only a week! The only thing to say after experiencing Silent Journey is we THOUGHT we understood how good of an environment this is for our daughter. The progression through the classrooms and the works is absolutely brilliant. There is no way we would want anything different for our precious little girl. The system set in place is orderly, focusing on progression, growth, and learning pertaining to independence, reading, math, social skills, morals, ethics, and problem solving. We noticed how 'hands on' and multi faceted every work is designed to engage the children on their level with their own learning abilities and processes.

We were also so impressed with the educators- the individual time, care, and attention they put into their students. They truly know and understand each individual child they work with.

We discovered how the works build. The one that stuck out to us the most was the math. Starting early with dimensions, and stacking blocks moving toward cubes and counting- and onto multiplying enormous numbers by using a mat and beads- Absolutely incredible.

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Silent Journey 2016 is quickly approaching. Sign up now!

Silent Journey and Discovery is an opportunity for parents to spend a morning experiencing our school through the eyes of the children. Parents and adults will spend time in each of our programs, starting in Toddlers and ending in Upper Elementary, discovering the magic and process of the Montessori materials.

This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the Montessori Curriculum and begin your own journey to a lifetime love of learning and peace.



Brunch will be served.

There is no charge to participate, however space is limited! Please sign up in the office.

Childcare will be provided for those who sign up in advance.

November 19, 2016

9:00am - 1:00pm





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Seeking Volunteers

MCS Halloween Carnival

Friday, October 28th 6:30-8:00pm

More Volunteers Needed!

** Great way to get your parent participation hours **

Needs:
1-2 volunteers for pumpkin cleaning – 6:30-7:15pm
2 volunteers for event break down – 8:00-9:00pm
1 volunteer for ticket table – 6:45-7:30pm
1 volunteer for mini golf –7:15-8:00pm
1 volunteer for Earthwings – 7:15-8:00pm
1 volunteer for plinko – 7:15-8:00pm
2 car volunteers for Trunk or Treat 6:30-8:00pm

If you are available for anything and would like to
help, let us know and we’ll get you an assignment!


Please contact Jessica Pechmann at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Rockband!

Michael, Emil’s and Anja’s dad, is looking for musicians to start a band project. I suggest one or two monthly rehearsals and perhaps the occasional gig. Seeking all instruments (and singers!). Style negotiable.

Write/call Michael at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (385) 444-8207


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