Teaching Gratitude to Children

One time when one of my boys was about four years old I found myself in a common battle trying to get him to clean take care of his belongings and clean up the toys that were scattered about his play room. I felt good about our system and knew that I was not asking him to complete a task that was outside his ability to complete.  We had cleaned the room successfully on a number of occasions. Finally, out of frustration, I told my son that if he did not clean up the toys I was going to gather them up, put them in a garbage bag, and give them to children who didn't have any toys.  I left the room and, to bolster my threat, returned seconds later with a large trash bag.  My son approached me with an armful of toys and dropped them passionately in to the open bag.  Baffled, I asked "what are you doing?"  and tearfully he replied "I didn't know there were kids without any toys."  

My heart ached.  Not that he had discovered something so disturbing to him, not that I hadn't really intended to make good on my promise, and not even that there actually are children without toys...in that moment my heart ached because I had failed to help instill in him a sense of interconnectedness among our society.  I had a hard moment of realization that this little person was so willing to give of himself and of his most prized possessions and I had not yet given him the opportunity.  Our young children, at their most vulnerable and impressionable development deserve to practice, recognize and express gratitude. Before they are swept away in a growing world of immediate gratification, online shopping, and disconnected communication we should be giving our children true practice with the gift of gratitude. 

Gratitude is a conscious process.  One that takes practice, patience, and a deep consciousness that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Gratitude is scientifically proven to make people more happy. Research from the Greater Good Science Center tells us that "gratitude actually blocks toxic emotions even as it allows us to celebrate the present. What’s more, grateful people are more stress-resistant and have a higher sense of self-worth." Who doesn't want that for their children?  Gosh, who doesn't want that for themselves?

So, how do we teach our children gratitude?  

  • Gratitude, as a character trait, must first be instilled through your children's most influential role model - YOU. Model gratitude for your child.  Express gratitude in their presence regularly.  Recognize that any amount of gratitude can not co-exist in an environment of annoyance or criticism.  Saturate your environment in gratitude and, even in times of irritation or misdeed, seek out the good and say, out loud, that which you are grateful for. 
  • Give children opportunities to participate, make decisions, and develop awareness of the many tasks and responsibilities surrounding them.  Do not allow your children to think that laundry, dishes, dinner, new purchases, etc. go without a certain amount of preparation and follow through.  Share those tasks, involve children in the process, and let them see (and participate in) the complete cycle.
  • Write thank you notes. When your child, or your family, receive a gift or are otherwise cared for, express written gratitude. These notes do not have to be perfect but the effort that goes in to expressing written gratitude is developmentally effective in teaching a lifelong skill of gratitude and appreciation.
  • Teach your child that immediate gratification is a delusion. Example - teach that the vegetables or bread we eat comes from seeds planted, nurtured, watered, harvested, packaged, transported and sold by store keepers and involved many, many people who work hard to put food on our tables. Saying Grace helps us remember to be grateful to all who contribute to our well being. 
  • Spend leisure time doing things that do not involve spending money or result in "stuff."  Teach the satisfaction that comes in accomplishing goals, laughter, fresh air, conversation, story telling, painting, singing, playing instruments, drawing and physical movement.
  • Talk often and honestly about feelings. Share gratitude but also share other emotions.  If your child is sad, validate their feelings of sadness.  If your child is happy, give validation.  Teach them language around feelings and reflect on outcomes.  We have a tendency to talk about feelings or situations "in the moment" but revisiting past events, talking about outcomes, and finding the good that comes from each scenario are hugely powerful in teaching resiliency and, you guessed it, gratitude!

May this Thanksgiving offer you many opportunities to experience gratitude.  May you be enveloped in peace, laughter, friendship and love. 

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Winter Sports Registration & Waivers

Winter Sports Registration and Waiver Forms are now available. Please read through, fill out completely, and return to the MCS Office by December 18th. You may pick forms up from the MCS Lobby display or print them. Registration-Forms-Winter-Sports.pdf
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MCS' Holiday Giving Project Through The Neighborhood House

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Raising your Montessori Child


As Montessori parents, we are giving our children a great gift that does not just start at 8:30am and end at 3pm.  This gift should be nurtured, honored and recognized at all times, particularly in the home. Donna Bryant Goertz wrote one of my favorite Montessori books about classroom management in the Lower Elementary classroom, 'Children Who are Not Yet Peaceful'. This book highlights the value of community and truly honoring and trusting each child to develop in their time, in their way, and in absolute authenticity.  It is powerful and inspiring for educators and parents and I highly recommend it to those of you who are raising Lower Elementary age children or who will be doing so in the near future. However, its values are appropriate for children, parents, and educators of all ages. 

In her book, Donna presents some wonderful tips for how to best support children in the home.  Family life for the [early elementary] child should include as many of the following elements as possible:
  • A slow-paced lifestyle with long hours of sleep on a regular schedule, a nutritious diet high in protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of exercise, and a generous amount of time in nature.
  • Someone to behold the child's face with joy, hold her, hug her, and treasure her for herself alone.
  • Someone to read chapter books aloud for twenty to thirty minutes every day, at a level three years beyond the child's reading level.
  • Someone to recite poetry every day, a new poem each week.
  • Someone to sing every day, a new song each week.
  • Someone to tell delightful stories of the child's own life. 
  • An atmosphere of open curiosity and inquiry, in which everyone in the family treasures learning.
  • Responsibility for caring for himself and his own things as well as contributing to meal preparation and the care of the house, garden and pets.
  • A two hour weekly limit on all screen media - movies, videos, TV, and computer games combined. 
  • Freedom from being dragged around on errands.
  • Freedom from the cynicism and sarcasm appropriate to later years.
  • Parents who say no cheerfully and mean it.
  • Parents who wait until their children are in bed to listen to music, watch movies, play computer games, and watch TV programs, even the news, that are not appropriate to the children's ages or that would give the children more media hours that is best for the development.
  • Parents who establish and uphold a family child-rearing culture that is appropriate to the child's age and who support age-appropriate independent thought and action and an age-appropriate role in decision making in as many areas and as often as possible. 

  1. Prepare every room of your home so your child can participate fully in family life. Example: Solicite your child's help in creating a menu, stock the pantry and fridge with food they are allowed to eat, give your child a lesson on how to serve themselves from start to end, including the clean up process, set them up for success.
  2. Differentiate carefully between age-appropriate and age-inappropriate participation in family life. Example: Be clear about the movies, games, etc. they are allowed to view and why those are appropriate.  Stand your ground.
  3. Include the child in plans if you don't want a bored child on your hands. Example: Before you make a new purchase, such as a new dishwasher, show her the features you are looking for, the price range, etc. and allow her to help you while at the store.  Consider giving her a clipboard for note taking, listen to her opinions and explain when, why and how you are making your purchase decision.
  4. Organize family life to fit the needs of your child's age and personality. Example: Organize a bedtime ritual that is appropriate for your child's personality and respect that routine regularly. Avoid variations of schedules and consider individual needs. 
  5. Welcome all feelings and help your child to express strong emotion with clarity and respect. Example: Give your child appropriate language.  "I can see you are angry and I understand how being excluded from your brothers play date can be frustrating. You wish they would include you.  Have you thought of a way you can express your desire in a way that might make your brother want to include you?" 
  6. Explain carefully what's going on in the family, while staying on an age-appropriate level in keeping with your child's understanding and interest. Example: Mommy and daddy are speaking in private often because we are concerned about your brothers school work.  We want to talk about ways we can help him and although we are all upset, we love each other no matter what."
  7. Maintain cycles of activity in balance with basic needs for nutrition, sleep, exercise, quiet concentration, solitude, and companionship that fit your child's temperament. Example: If your child fights with a particular friend during a play date, together make a carefully organized plan for the play date.  Consider how they will spend their time, what they will do if they have conflict, etc.
  8. Participate three times a day with your child straightening his room and bath and putting away his toys, materials and games. Example: Keep only one-tenth of your child's possessions neatly stored and handsomely displayed on shelves. Store the others away and rotate the possessions about once a month, with your child's help, allowing them to choose what is unpacked. 
  9. Treat your child's behavior as "in process" and developmental, never simply as good or bad. Example: Avoid praise and stick to acknowledgement. " I noticed you were so mad and Sandy and you yelled instead of hitting, that shows great impulse control." "I see you threw your socks in the laundry, that is very responsible. Soon you will place all of your clothes in the laundry."
  10. Balance firmness and consistency with a generous measure of hopefulness, good cheer, and joy. Laugh a lot. Tell wonderful little stories of your child's life, often. Example: Calmly and quietly put away your child's bike and make it unavailable to him when he leaves it out in the rain again. Make a date for buying wax and showing him how to repair it before he uses it again. Have fun together repairing the bike and laugh and take pictures of one another, don't focus on the mistake. Remind your child, "Next week when you put your bike away every day, we will ride to the park together." 

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Basic Herbology and Practical Potions

Basic Herbology & Practical Potions

with Donda Hartsfield, Outdoor Classroom & GO teacher

Wednesdays, 3:45 – 5:00, November 18th – January 27th

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MCS Halloween Carnival 2015

MCS would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all of the parents, grandparents and other community members who worked together to make our Halloween Carnival such a smashing success.  Thank you to those who came out to play and enjoy this great event with all of us. And, congratulations to the Uinta class on the success of their first Spook Alley.

An Early Childhood Aspens class student smiles for the camera.

As always, the reptiles and other creatures were a huge draw, exciting children and adults all throughout the night. 

Two families with students in the Magnolias class enjoy the trunk-or-treat in the parking lot. 

This Early Childhood student had a great time showing off her wings all night. 

We had a great time watching the magician.

Hey Chris!
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Montessori Parents' Guide to Snowbird Mountain School

Montessori Parents’ Guide to Snowbird Mountain School
February 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, & March 2nd, 2016

Print article or read on:

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Halloween Carnival

This year's Halloween Carnival is sure to be the best yet. There will be games, activities and a lot of fun and laughter! Tickets can be purchased from the MCS office.

Ticket Price: $5 in advanced / $6 at the door

Some of the activities are:

Trunk or Treat
Spook Alley
Kim's Cold Blooded Creatures
Pumpkin Pick & Paint

Costumes are most welcomed and encouraged!
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"There is No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothing."



Montessori Community School has always made it a priority to integrate nature into our program. Students are offered a wide variety of opportunities to extend their learning beyond the physical classroom and, in keeping with the Montessori philosophy, students are invited to experience nature as a hands on experience.  We love the phrase "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."  The Portland Montessori Collaborative posted the following on their website and we are proud to say, "We couldn't agree more!"

We believe in integrating the outdoor classroom into every child’s experience at school. The outdoor environment is a place for big body play, where we value natural opportunities for children to challenge themselves physically. Children will find compelling reasons to hone large motor skills through joyful interaction with a landscape similar to that found in nature. In the outdoor classroom, open ended and collaborative play are valued, documented, and encouraged. Opportunities to practice practical life skills like woodworking and caring for plants and animals are available. A relationship with the plants and animals that live in our creek side ecosystem is developed through a process of ongoing, child-led/adult fostered investigation. There is dedicated time outside every day, rain or shine.  We believe that ‘ there is no bad weather, only bad clothing’, and children come to school well equipped to enjoy their time outside regardless of weather.

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The History of Montessori

Enjoy this beautiful timeline of Maria Montessori.

The History of Montessori Education by Giraffe Childcare
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MCS & The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program

On Thursday, November 5th our Lower Elementary, 3rd Year students will have the opportunity to learn about the Navajo way of life at the Deer Valley Navajo Rug Show. For more than fifteen years, the Montessori Community School has sponsored our Navajo grandmothers through the Adopt-a-Native-Elder Program.  

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Fire Safety and Fire Drills

This last month our Toddler and Early Childhood students participated in an in-house field trip where a local Fire Department spoke to the children about fire safety.
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A Closer Look at Montessori Math

The Montessori math curriculum is quite unlike the traditional approach that each of us experienced.  It is based on developing a strong foundation through concrete experience and manipulation until the time a child reaches the age of abstraction, typically around nine years old. As they engage in the Cosmic Curriculum, children are given a basis for the interconnectedness of all things and encouraged to engage in the wonder and magic of mathematical concepts.  Various activities and materials develop the mathematical mind, preparing the child for their inevitable explosion in to abstraction and connection to the power of relationships. 

The following was written by Lower Elementary Spanish teacher, Diana Haro Reynolds.

Mathematics is the study of quantity, form, and magnitude. We live among it. It is in the position of the sun and in the shell of a snail. We carry math in our pockets, in our devices. It is what makes our communication possible. We touch and live math, whether we know it or not. It is our responsibility as Montessori guides to help the child discover this framework of mathematical order that makes up our world. This rationale proposes several reasons for teaching math in the Montessori classroom. It will explain the journey the child will take from concrete concepts through to abstraction.

Human beings have a tendency for order. Since the beginning of human origin, math has been used to unlock the mysteries of the world. It began with a man’s need to
keep track of his belongings. Then came early techniques that created the experience
with numbers of counting. After a long time, came comprehension, which led to
improvements and shortcuts. Finally, humankind reached abstraction. This same
process is seen in a child. (Doer, 2012)

Mathematical order leads to a mathematical mind. As the mathematical mind unfolds, it develops capacities such as sensorial interaction among objects, observation
of patterns, and awareness of the physical world, mental classification, abstract thinking, and knowledge of the power of relationships. Math supports understanding by encouraging order, concentration, independence, special relations, patterning, one to one correspondence, combination, difference, and similarity. Additional goals supported by math are predictability, exactness or sense of accurateness, concreteness, logic and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making skills, as well as refinement of the mind and thinking. (Stockton-Moreno, 2015)

Why the need to teach math in a specific Montessori way? There are a lot of aspects that prepare the child for math. These include the prepared environment, giving the child the power of choice. Practical life works build concentration and confidence. The child enjoys practicing a task over and over for the pure pleasure of it. The joy is in the process. This mentality is preparing him for the academic areas. Sensitive periods serve as the specific times in a child’s development where part of their needs include an insatiable thirst for specific tasks. There is a sensitive period for concrete tools of precision. We must capitalize on these sensitive periods. (Stockton-Moreno, 2015)

The aims of Montessori math are to make the child aware that math is a part of her life; to build confidence and prepare the child for life. Confidence comes from the sequential growth in which the materials are presented. It starts with the importance of the Three Period Lesson. The first period being the presentation of the concept. The
second period is where the child practices and shows that which has been presented. In math, this second period is much longer than in other areas of study. This is the time in which the child is practicing, exploring and making discoveries, day in and day out, about the concept presented. The third period is that in which the child shows understanding of the concept through teacher observation or helping someone else.

The main goal of Montessori math is to move the child from concrete to abstraction and helping him form a mathematical mind. In the book, A Way of Learning, Ann Burke Nerbert explains that “the mathematical mind derives from experience” (Stockton-Moreno, 2015). We must not rob the child from forming her mathematical mind. She must have ample time to experience the joy of working with the materials and for understanding and internalizing the processes and concepts. The materials are
multimodal in that they appeal to multiple senses. This aids in the "permanent wiring of the brain that will be available as your child gets older and uses her brain for analytical thinking and problem-solving" (Duffy, 2008). Knowing is not understanding. Montessori math provides the path toward understanding.

According to Michael Doer, the passage towards abstraction is done in four stages. The first is the Concrete stage. This is where the child works purely with the material. No works is shown on paper until the child is nearing the end of this stage. The second stage is Concrete Materials lead to Symbols. This is when the child works with
the materials and records the process in writing. This is the longest stage and requires
that the focus be on the process, not the end result. This is the time in which the child is “internalizing the algorithm” (Doer, 2012). Towards the end of this stage the child may begin to work with charts rather than manipulatives. The third stage is often overlooked perhaps because it is the shortest. This is the stage when Symbols connect to Concrete Material. Essentially it is the reversal of stage two. The child does the work on paper then uses the materials to check their answer. The Symbolic stage is the fourth and final stage. This is where the emphasis is on showing the written work. (Doer, 2012)

Doer also emphasizes mental calculations and mental carrying as the two key elements in reaching abstraction. Mental calculation or memorization requires that the
child know math facts with accuracy and speed. The child should take no longer than
three second to recall a fact, otherwise, memorization has not been reached and the
child is calculating. Accuracy should be no less than 98%. It should be recall only. The
second key, mental carrying, requires that the child be able to keep track of the carrying without making a mark on paper. Having the child work on other forms of memorization, such as poems or definitions, will greatly help achieve this goal.

Math is part of our society. We need it in order to function. But there is also a math phobia. Math in Montessori makes it more than accessible, it makes it real. Whenever possible, real life problems should be presented to the child so as to give her
the context for these new skills. Among with word problems, research in the area of
math is a great way to expose the child to the practicality of math. We must cultivate a love and understanding of mathematics in our children by proving the keys and allowing them to make their own discoveries.

Diana Haro Reynolds - Lower Elementary Teacher/Intern


Doer, M. (2012). Numbers: Montessori arithmetic for lower elementary.

Duffy, M. (2008). Math works: Montessori math and the developing brain. Hollidaysburg,

PA: Parent Child Press.

Stockton-Moreno, L. (2015). MONT. 633*01, week 1 notes [PowerPoint slides].
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Montessori, Why Not?

I choose a Montessori school for my son almost as an act of faith. At that time my knowledge of the method was null, besides having heard of small chairs and colored beads. But seeing my son happy day after day encouraged me to study and deepen the Montessori’s ideas. What I had discovered astonished me as a father and as a scientist. As a father, I found how children are really respected and prepared for the future. As a scientist, I found solid scientific foundations for everything Maria Montessori proposed.
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Parent Education Night

Sign-up outside of your student's classroom.

Childcare will be provided, however, you must sign up in advance.

This is a really great night full of insight regarding the education of your child in relation to Montessori Philosophy. Don't miss out!

(Your attendance can go toward Parent Volunteer Hours).

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A Peek Inside a Montessori Classroom

In a Montessori classroom, order and creativity coexist. Animated conversation and silent observation work together in the same space. In the best environments, children of all races and cultures learn side by side.

The Montessori approach offers children intentionally prepared environments that are full of beauty and order. Materials in the classroom are appealing and designed to meet the developmental needs of each child. Montessori-trained teachers are the bridge between the environment and the student, first through careful observation of each child, and then by providing appropriate instruction and guidance.

This video was created as part of the documentary film project, Building the Pink Tower"What if we were to set aside the noise of failing schools, teacher evaluations, test scores, achievement gaps, and funding issues — and ask, instead, what is the true goal of education?" 
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2015 - 2016 Winter Sports Program: Snowbird

Winter is just a season away. Please keep in mind that all students participating in the Winter Sports Program this year will be REQUIRED to have helmets and goggles and there will be no daily rentals at the resort.

The PSA is working on potential discounts for MCS renters and will keep us updated. For now, please check out the list of Ski Swaps coming up.

Click here to see a list of upcoming ski swaps.

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Montessori Meal Times

Food and meal times are an important and essential part of every day life.  In a Montessori classroom we work to create a peaceful and healthful meal experience for our children as we place great value on both the experience and the consumption of food.

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Farewell to 2014-2015 - End of Year Carnival

MCS was "rocking" on Friday evening, May 29th, as two high school bands from The Wasatch Music Coaching Academy performed for attendees at the "End of Year Carnival."  The young performers impressed young and old alike with their performances and several children really showed off their moves during an outstanding rendition of Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk."


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Uinta's May Outdoor Adventure

Early this month the Uinta class (Upper Elementary, 9-12 year olds) embarked on a great adventure to Fremont Indian State Park as part of their Great Outdoors Expedition.  The students have spent time in the classroom studying the Fremont Indians and on GO they have given attention to human interaction with nature and so this was a great way to culminate their studies as they walked the trails and read the stories of the Fremont Indians while eating and sleeping in the out of doors. Students, teachers and parent chaperones worked together to create a comfortable camp space and prepare delicious meals to be shared.  


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