Featured

Montessori for Elementary: Why Our Students Thrive



Trevor Eissler

Montessori Madness


Montessori elementary classrooms are fundamentally different from traditional elementary school rooms. In fact, they are so different that it can be hard to understand how they work, and why they are so great at helping children thrive.

While it would be easy to write volumes about this topic (and some have: read Paula Polk Lillard’s book,Montessori Today, if you want a detailed description of the Montessori elementary classroom), here are five key differences, and how they matter to your child’s success.

Teachers are guides, not lecturers. They individualize instruction to keep each child optimally challenged. In traditional elementary education, much instruction happens at an all-class level; students generally move through the same curriculum at the same pace. This is more true now then ever, as mandatory standardized testing forces teachers to ensure that all students meet common minimum standards. This approach by definition fails to optimally challenge most of the students, most of the time: a child who is advanced in a subject will be bored; one who is behind will quickly become anxious and concerned about his shortcomings. Montessori is different. Most instruction happens in small groups: teachers observe students and bring together children who are ready for a particular lesson. After a lesson, each child has time to practice a skill or further explore an area, either alone or with freely chosen partners. Writes Lillard: “Because the children are in a period when they have immense energy and curiosity, the secret to maintaining their interest is to keep them challenged.”In a Montessori classroom, an advanced student will be challenged to perform at his best: it’s not unusual for a 3rd grade Montessori student to tackle what would typically be considered 5th grade math, for example. At the same time, a child who struggles can get the extra support he needs, without suffering the negative effect on his self-esteem that comes from needing remedial work in a traditional elementary school setting.

...
More Info
290 Hits
Featured

Great Summer Reading....Teaching Kids Empathy

I happened upon this lovely little post from Tinybop this morning that shares the most wonderful list of children's books that teach empathy.  These are hard times and an important time to teach our kids how to handle the world's turmoil in a healthy way.  What a great summer read!  

13 kids books to spark conversations about empathy

Lately, it seems like every other day, we turn on the news or open up our social media to find that another tragedy has occurred. Each time we’re faced with these events, we may be overcome with sadness, frustration, and hopelessness. But in these times, it’s important to have conversations with the children around us about inclusion and empathy. 

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s what helps us connect to other humans, and what makes us better humans. You may be surprised to learn that empathy isn’t an inborn trait, but rather one that must be learned – preferably during early childhood.

Keep reading...



Image from Last Stop on Market Street


146 Hits
Featured

Stay Cool!



Our Summer Camp students know how to stay cool! This last month, despite the heat, we have been able to enjoy various field trips and activities that have allowed us to have fun and cool off!

We hope everyone is enjoying their summer and finding their own creative ways to stay cool and spend fun time together. It is hard to believe the new school year will be starting soon!
More Info
145 Hits
Featured

Montessori Madness - Trevor Eissler


Montessori education is unique, untraditional, and gaining popularity across not only the state of Utah but the entire country.  During parent interviews we often ask parents "What are your hopes and dreams for your child?" and the following is among the list of heartfelt responses that we often receive:

  • To develop leadership skills
  • To develop self-discipline
  • To develop a sense of personal responsibility
  • To develop independence
  • To develop initiative
  • To discover their passions
  • To develop a lifetime love of learing
  • To build a strong academic foundation

Classrooms at Montessori Community School offer all that and more as we strive to follow each individual child, carefully prepare an environment that supports each of these goals, and work as a community in the best interest of each individual.  

...
More Info
758 Hits
Featured

Parents, Stop Feeling That Everything You Do Is Wrong

“You should look down at the rocks and make sure they never crash against them, and prepare them to ride the waves.”
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg


Let's be honest, this parenting gig doesn't come with a description of roles and responsibilities that make it completely clear what is expected at all times.  Giving our absolute dedication and best effort just doesn't look the same from day to day (or moment to moment!)  Throw your hands up (or hide in shame) if you have ever ended the day thinking "I am an awful person...my child probably went to bed thinking how awful I am and they don't feel safe and they don't feel happy and I've ruined everything."  Just me?  Didn't think so.

This article really spoke to me in terms of how we can (and should) give ourselves a break.  News flash - we are raising our kiddos to be humans.  Giving them human experience, whether we feel good about it at the end of the day or not, is essential to their success and existence.  I have decided that I have three main goals, call them standards if you wish, for parenting:
  1. Do I honor my child for the person that they are every moment?  (You can't imagine the number of parents I've met who wish their child was different...if you are talking poorly about your child any time you might be doing it wrong.  Not just parenting - but life.) Am I willing to see them change at their own pace and will I fight for their authenticity? Yes - to the death!
  2. Have they heard me say "I'm sorry" and have they watched me make effort at being better? EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Admitting we are wrong shows our kids that it's okay to make mistakes and that doing so in our care is a safe place to do it.  We accept mistakes as opportunities to do better.
  3. Do I follow my own guiding set of principles and give myself a break for being imperfect?  Hmmm...principles, yes.  Giving myself a break...work in progress.

I am the first to admit that I am imperfect and I question myself constantly when it comes to parenting.  But at the end of the day, I really do think that there is more than one right way. My wish for you is that each day ends with perfect love, even when everything else seems to have gone awry. 

Best wishes for a fun-filled weekend,
Britney

My props to Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg and his Lighthouse Parenting strategy, a true delight and inspiration.  His methods are discussed at length in Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust.  (MCS parents - don't forget to log in to your Compass account to place your Amazon order.)
163 Hits
Featured

Preparing Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing.


A Montessori education is designed to provide a love of learning and to give children the means to find the information they need.  We hope to instill a passion for knowledge and the confidence to seek understanding. We provide avenues for curiosity about this big, beautiful world and all it takes to make it tick.  Our objective is to give children the tools they need to follow any dream they may have.  The reality is, they probably won't choose a career and spend an entire lifetime at it....thats just not how the world is turning anymore.  

This really fun article shows one perspective on preparing our kids for what (might be) to come!
161 Hits
Featured

United as Parents

We, unfortunately, missed the opportunity on June 1 to honor all parents around the globe for the "Global Day of Parents."  I found this short blog post on Montessorium very sweet as the things that unite us as parents and that we likely all have in common included:

1. A sense of wonder at bringing a new life into the world.
2. Joy in the small, daily accomplishments of a child.
3. Trepidation about the responsibility parenthood brings.
4. Hope for their child’s future.
5. A desire to see their family grow in health and happiness.

And so, just a few weeks late but with extra attention due to the heartache and disunion going on around the world, I feel inclined to stand as a global citizen and honor my fellow parents throughout the world.  

Keep shining,
Britney





116 Hits
Featured

"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education..."

"Everyone talks about peace but no one educates for peace. In this world, they educate for competition, and competition is the beginning of any war. When we educate to cooperate and be in solidarity with one another, that day we will be educating for peace.”
María Montessori
 
Each year MCS staff and students decorate peace flags, share a peace walk through our campus, and hang a peace dove in our gardens as a way to support, honor, and celebrate peace on earth. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, Dr. Montessori was a strong advocate for peace. She firmly believed that the education of children was the key to future peace. Her vision was the reconstruction of society and formation of world peace through education.




A teacher walks with Toddler students past our Outdoor Classroom where the student's peace flags have been hung. 




Upper Elementary students prepare to carry the Peace Dove to the Outdoor Classroom, where it will be visible to the Salt Lake Community.




An Early Childhood student decorates a peace flag with images that remind her of peace.  Her flag will be hung outside with the intent of spreading love and peace. 




Another peace flag. 




Elementary students help their younger peers locate their flags in the Outdoor Classroom, where the breeze blows the students wishes for peace.




Siblings share a moment. 




Friendship is honored and celebrated. 

513 Hits
Featured

  "....doing the right thing for the right reason is an amazing accomplishment all its own."

One of the reasons that a Montessori education has been such a great fit for my own children is that they are given space to make mistakes.  I can honestly say that the greatest opportunities for learning in my own life have been the result of a mistake.  Of course, some were big, some were small.  Some I could identify immediately as a mistake and others revealed themselves as mistakes long past the time I could do anything about them.  Some I can look back on and laugh while others bring a sense of pity and regret.  All that said, the humility that comes with making mistakes and the courage required to step up and try again have been my best parenting (and LIFE) tools so far.  Below is an interesting read from Edward Fidellow about how a Montessori environment builds self-esteem and the beauty in making mistakes. 




Montessori and the real building of self-esteem

Montessori education has been building self-esteem for over a hundred years long before it became a
popular buzzword and a psychological “distortion” of reality. All the trappings of the modern self-
esteem movement – participation trophies, not letting children fail, everyone’s outcome is equal – have
no place in Montessori or the reality of the world.

Practical life in Montessori is the foundation of all this reality that is to come. Every practical life exercise
has a beginning, a process and an ending – just like successful life. But there is something in this process
that is so simple yet dynamic – the child builds and feels a sense of power, control, and accomplishment.
It is these early experiences, these early real successes that become the foundation for all the success
that is to come. This self-esteem is internalized and does not come from outside, from what people tell
you but it wells up from within. It comes with the beginning of concentration and self-control (which is
the biggest challenge of life – and a great giver of self-esteem.)

True self-esteem is an approval that comes from within. It is not about pleasing people or being
validated from outside. That is why grades, awards, punishments are not motivating factors in a
Montessori environment. Ironically, self-esteem built in Montessori is not self-centered. The lack of
outward competition (for grades and prizes) creates an attitude of family and community where we help
each other to succeed which also affects how we feel about ourselves.

The real self-esteem of Montessori comes from the continuing sense of accomplishment and of mastery
as the student faces greater challenges and complexity in life. Since making mistakes is part of the
Montessori learning process making mistakes does not undermine a child’s sense of self-esteem nor
does the child crater when faced with “failure”. Montessori children learn to pick up the pieces and get
back in the game. The game of life does not have four quarters, nine innings, eighteen holes or two
halves. It is a continually evolving game as you learn new strategies, techniques, gain new information,
practice new skills and begin to recognize the patterns of life that lead to success. Montessori children
learn first-hand that actions have consequences, that success is spelled w-o- r-k, and that some of the
biggest rewards of life are just personal and do not require anyone else’s acknowledgment or
affirmation. And that doing the right thing for the right reason is an amazing accomplishment all its own
- an amazing adult lesson learned very young.



Self-esteem is “practiced” every day in a Montessori environment. Try – and try again until you reach
your goal. Montessori children don’t wait for an adult’s approval because they learn early that it is their
effort that achieves success. And every goal that they achieve – on their own - builds that unique
amazing sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.

Edward Fidellow


141 Hits
Featured

PSA and Building Community





This year, our PSA Committee reinstated Coffee Tuesday. The first Tuesday of every month from 8:15 - 9:30 am Coffee, Tea, and a light snack were provided along with MCS' PSA members.

What a wonderful opportunity these gatherings were to get to know our families and create a greater sense of unity.
More Info
384 Hits
Featured

Competition in Montessori

As the mother of 3 very healthy sons, competition is a large part of the parenting challenges that I face on a regular basis.  How do I teach my children to be healthy competitors (always striving to be their best selves) and still celebrate the accomplishments of others?  Montessori is a great environment for children to learn a nice balance of respecting and appreciating their peer group while knowing what it takes to push themselves.  Enjoy this article by Edward Fidellow on Competition in the Montessori environment. 

Competition in Montessori? Well, No! Which is it? Is there competition in the Montessori classroom or not? Well – yes and no! Let’s examine the “No” first. There is no formal institutionalized competition in the Montessori philosophy because Montessori is about your child not about your child in competition with others. Your child is not competing with any one else. Nor is your child competing for stars or popsicles or even attention. Your child is not being compared to anyone else in the environment nor is your child being set up to win or lose. Competition is not part of the curriculum or the philosophy and yet there is competition in the classroom. So where does it come from? It walks in the door with your child. Competition is part of human nature. Some of us are more competitive than others. Some of us lean more to cooperation but all of us have some of the competitive gene. What Montessori education can achieve is to help a child recognize and manage this human characteristic. Traditional education often uses the negative aspect of competition (“I’m better than you.”) to motivate learning and behavior. Children are unfairly forced into competition with others who may be more talented or gifted in certain areas while their own personality strengths (determination, aesthetic, creativity, compassion etc) are not recognized or valued because they do not fit the educational matrix that is being graded. Yet, it is these other strengths that in the end determine the satisfaction of a life well lived. Here, competition can be destructive to the developing self-image of the child. How many brothers and sisters grow up competing with each other – wasting years of energy – only to realize that they are in different races, have different personalities, different talents and different goals?

Learning to manage the positive aspects of competition has great value. In the Montessori classroom children get to choose the arena of their competition. It is never the slowest child who accepts the challenge of a race with the class sprinter but yet there are always takers. There are those who enjoy the demonstration of their abilities and those who want to stretch their own limits – which is only done against good competition. Montessori children (and mature adults) realize that there are venues in which they cannot compete and realistically assess their own goals and abilities. Montessori children can grow up into adults who have no need to compete with Hollywood looks, Wall Street money or professional athletic prowess because they are secure in knowing who they are and what their gifts and talents are. So, where do we find and how do we judge healthy competition in the Montessori classroom? We find its most excellent use in the Montessori concept of mastery. Mastery brings out and into focus the child’s most significant competitor – himself or herself. Mastery says “I’m not working for a grade, I am not working to get by or to do the least I can do. I am working for excellence. And I am my own competition.” And that is the mind set that produces success in life. Choosing your goals wisely (learning to choose wisely is another Montessori quality) according to your abilities, passions and goals brings the kind of success that is meaningful. Many people have found that unless you know who your real competitor is you often run races in life that give you no pleasure and bring you no closer to your goals. Montessori children are afforded the opportunity to compete with the best – themselves.
346 Hits
Featured

9th Annual Fun Run Fundraiser: Service Learning



On Monday, May 16th, our students will be participating in our 9th annual Montessori Community School Fun Run! And this year, the run will be enhanced by a bouncy obstacle course!
More Info
512 Hits
Featured

Teaching Children "Soft Skills"

While the ultimate goal of parenting is to prepare these little humans to be successful, happy, and fulfilled adults it seems that more and more, parents are taking the opportunity away for their children to develop the skills necessary to accomplish goals of lifelong success, happiness and fulfillment.  The terms "helicopter parenting" and "overprotective" become more and more frequent and, as an educator I have seen the negative impact of this shift on my students over the years.  As a mom, though, I am mostly unsure how to avoid it.  I want to give my kiddos every opportunity and worry that the things they miss will have a great impact.  This article by Peter Davidson (Mariamontessori.com) is really wonderful in reminding us that "soft skills" are the things our kiddos really need in their tool box to successfully and confidently pursue lives of happiness and fulfillment (let alone be successful college students!)

Happy Reading,
Britney  


I had an interesting conversation with a prospective parent recently who teaches at a local college. She shared that she and her colleagues are constantly discussing “how underprepared kids are for college in terms of ‘soft skills.’” By soft skills she meant skills other than the purely academic — the personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make someone a successful college student and, by extension, a good boss or employee later in life. She had just come from an observation in toddlers and primary and was surprised to have seen that in Montessori, “starting in toddlers students develop the self-motivation, independence, and follow-through that many college students lack!” In other words, beginning at these very young ages, Montessori children are already developing the soft skills that will benefit them so greatly later in life.

Read More


399 Hits
Featured

Parenting Young Children through Fear

The things we hope to teach our children seem to be countless and I have discovered that just when I think I have overcome one parenting hurdle, immediately following that nice pat on the back, I find another hurdle standing in my way.  Fortunately, we live in a day and age where accessing helpful information can be so easy.  While it can be hard to rifle through all the information that is available and decipher the good information from the bad information, as long as we stick to our guiding set of principles, we can find some truth and some support in a variety of wonderful places.  I always like to share some of my favorites...especially from the list of things that we never even realize we will face as parents.

Children's fears are ongoing.  How do we teach our children self-soothing, positive self-talk, how to recognize their true feelings, and, most importantly what to do with their fears to become better and more resilient humans? My 13 year old son's fears have shifted...gone are the days of monsters under the bed.  I am discovering that helping him develop his own set of guiding principles becomes increasingly important with each passing day.  The Fred Rogers article below gives some helpful insight to helping young children through their fears.

Enjoy,
Britney

Parents want their children to be afraid of some things, because fears can keep children from doing dangerous things. But we don't want our children to develop irrational fears that hold them back from doing healthy things, sleeping well, and making friends.

Part of our "job" as parents is to help our children feel safe and secure. Sometimes it can be very frustrating to try to explain to a frightened child that a monster or witch or some other imaginary thing isn't real. We adults have already learned that, read more here.

409 Hits
Featured

Our Girls We Sponsor Through COEEF: Celebrate Education for Women





"We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words.
More Info
387 Hits

MCS and Friends for Sight Review


Last week, Friends for Sight came to our school and gave free eye exams to all of the Early Childhood students, 1st graders, 3rd graders, and 5th graders. Please see the letter below and respond if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback for Friends for Sight.
More Info
307 Hits
Featured

Annual Kids Clothing & Gear Swap


383 Hits
Featured

Parent Education Night - Preparing for Adolescence

MCS Parents,

Please join us for Parent Education Night next Tuesday, March 8th, from 6:30-8pm. Child care will be available but must be signed up for in advance. There is a sign up sheet in the office.

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D, MCS School Psychologist and parent will be talking about adolescence...because its never too early to prepare. Below is an excerpt from Melissa about her upcoming presentation.

“We should be like lighthouses for our children—beacons of light on a stable shoreline from which they can safely navigate the world. We must make certain they don’t crash against the rocks, but trust they have the capacity to learn to ride the waves on their own.” –-Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP

Adolescence is a uniquely challenging, yet rewarding period of development for both parents and teens. Teens are trying to find the answer to “who am I?” by striving for more independence, seeking new experiences. Meanwhile, parents are realizing their time and direct influence is decreasing and they may fear “how will I ever be able to let them go?” or “are they ready?”

No matter your child’s age, it is never too early, or too late, to start thinking about adolescence. Not just getting through the here and now, but preparing your children to survive and thrive far into the future. Join us for an informative evening of education and discussion about parenting during the adolescent years presented by MCS School Psychologist, Melissa DeVries, PhD. Information presented will include an overview of research on adolescent brain development, and parenting strategies from a leading expert in adolescent medicine with an emphasis on how these strategies fit with a Montessori perspective.


Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist who provides contracted psychological services to the Montessori Community School and Valley Behavioral Health. She holds a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Arizona. Dr. DeVries has co-edited textbooks and numerous book chapters on various topics within child and adolescent mental health and developmental disorders. Dr. DeVries provides psychotherapy and behavioral consultation for children and adolescents, parenting education and classroom consultation. She also possesses extensive background and experience in comprehensive evaluation for learning, behavioral, and emotional disorders across the lifespan. In her free time, Dr. DeVries enjoys playing recreational soccer, skiing, running and rock climbing.
367 Hits
Featured

Studio Classes Foster More Learning and Discovery



Of course we know our students are amazing, bright, and beautiful; however, this Winter Session Performance from our studio classes, Broadway Kids and Pitched Perfect, was a reminder as to how radiant our students shine. Read more to learn about the benefits extracurricular activities have in your child's life.
More Info
500 Hits
Featured

The Basics of Montessori Learning




As Montessori teachers and parents…

More Info
505 Hits