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on Monday, 16 September 2013 in School News

The Montessori Community School has recently completed installation of one of Salt Lake City's largest private solar energy systems. The 52.2 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) array will create enough energy to provide most of the school's electrical needs throughout the year. The system is expected to operate for a maintenance-free life of more than 25 years.

The project has a multiple objectives: To reduce dependence on outside electricity supply for the school, provide renewable energy education for students, lower demands on regional fossil fuel generators thus improving air quality, and raise community awareness about renewable energy options. A monitor screen in the school will track the system's performance in real time as a learning tool for students and the community.

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Using conventional financing, the project is being funded by lowering electrical energy costs at the school, a grant from Rocky Mountain Power, and State and Federal TAX credits. It is expected to have a payback period of about 8 years.

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In early September 2013, Montessori Community School of Salt Lake City will complete installation of one of the largest private solar energy systems in the state.  When completed, the large 52.2 kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) array, will create enough electricity to provide most of the school’s energy needs throughout the year.

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To add to the energy efficiency of the system, 197 Enphase micro-inverters (one per solar panel) are used to optimize energy output by working independently to harvest each panel’s potential, thereby mitigating the affects that periodic shade, snow and other factors may have on the collectors. A monitor screen in the school will be able to track the system's performance in real time as a learning tool for students and as a special interest feature for parents and interested public.


Dr. Bob Buchanan and his wife, Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan, who own and operate the school, applied for Rocky Mountain Power’s Solar Incentive Program earlier this year. Through this annual program, Rocky Mountain Power provides a rebate of a portion of the overall costs to selected residential and commercial electricity customers who install solar collectors. The system, which was designed and installed by Intermountain Wind and Solar, one of the region’s largest solar installers, is expected to operate for maintenance-free life of more than 25 years. Using quality American-made 265 Watt SolarWorld solar modules and an innovative tilted racking system manufactured in Utah County by TRA, Montessori’s new net-metered system is a renewable energy landmark for students, teachers, and the community atop this historic school building. These photo voltaic solar panels will provide an estimated 90% of the schools power and the remaining 10% will be supplemented by Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky Renewable Energy.

 

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The project has a three-fold purpose, to reduce energy usage for the school, provide renewable energy education for its students, and raise community awareness of renewable energy options. The installation is expected to reduce the school building’s electrical energy use by more than 95 percent each year, and demonstrates the Buchanans' efforts to promote and support renewable energy in Salt Lake City.

As always, Bob and Robyn's vision is an inspiration to the Montessori Community as we have the opportunity to be a part of this incredible process. The project not only reinforces our commitment to green education but also allows our students the opportunity to learn and observe, on a daily basis, the science behind the process.

Warm appreciations and congratulations to Bob, Robyn, Rocky Mountain Power, and all others involved in this process.

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Britney Peterson

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on Monday, 26 August 2013 in School News

Welcome to the 2013-2014 Academic Year!

Last week we got off to a great start.  We started classes on Wednesday and our returning students had a great day reconnecting with their teachers and friends.  Then, our new students joined class on Thursday.  It's always so much fun to see how our returning students use their well developed skills in Grace and Courtesy to embrace new children in their class.  Montessori's vision of the beauty of multi-age classrooms is apparent from the first day as the new students enter a room where older or more experienced children work busily and with purpose.  Students assist their teachers in giving lessons and serving as a role model to those who are just joining the group.

The teachers are looking forward to talking about what you can expect in your child's class this year at Back To School Night. Even if you are a returning family to MCS, we encourage you to attend so that you can learn anything that might have changed this year.  Also, its a wonderful time to rub shoulders with other parents in your child's class. Children are in a sensitive period for social development and while this varies from program to program and child to child, it can be extremely beneficial for children to nurture their friendships outside of school.  Back To School Night is a great time to get to know the other parents in your child's class and open the door to interactions outside of school.  Early Childhood Back To School Night is tomorrow, Tuesday, August 27 at 6:30 pm and Elementary Back To School Night is on Thursday, August 29 at 6:30pm.

We look forward to a wonderful year and appreciate your continued support.

With Love,

Robyn, Ramira, and Britney

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on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 in School News

We are so excited about the upcoming school year!  We have missed many of our friends and are happy to have had our Summer Camp friends here to keep up company.  We hope you are all having a wonderful summer.  Below are listed the calendars for the 2013-2014 Academic Year.  Also, your Welcome Packet should be arriving shortly.  We invite you to take special note of the first day of school as some students start the 21st and some the 22nd.

 

SEE YOU SOON!

 

Click here for the 2013-2014 Toddler Calendar...calendar2013_2014toddlerspdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Early Childhood Calendar...calendar2013_2014-ec_pdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Elementary Calendar...calendar2013_2014elementarypdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Middle School Calendar...calendar2013_14middleschoolpdf.pdf

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YOUNG CHILDREN

September 2001

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

By Alfie Kohn

NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title "Hooked on Praise." For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research -- please see the books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting.

Para leer este artículo en Español, haga clic aquí.

Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: "Good job!" Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together ("Good clapping!"). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic.

Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation ("time out"). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here's why.

1. Manipulating children. Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as "sugar-coated control." Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done -- or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people.

The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience. A "Good job!" to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why.

2. Creating praise junkies. To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behavior. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done. Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, "I like the way you…." or "Good ______ing," the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval.

Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice ("Um, seven?"). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.

In short, "Good job!" doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel.

To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary -- especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development. Unfortunately, we may not have realized that "Good job!" is just as much an evaluation as "Bad job!" The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.

I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, "Good job!" because I don’t want to dilute her joy. I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, "I did it!" (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, "Was that good?"

4. Losing interest. "Good painting!" may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, "once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again." Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a "Good job!"

In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightly less generous on an everyday basis than other children were. Every time they had heard "Good sharing!" or "I’m so proud of you for helping," they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end.

Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.

5. Reducing achievement. As if it weren’t bad enough that "Good job!" can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.

Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to "keep up the good work" that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming.

More generally, "Good job!" is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviors that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviors. For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future.

Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), "Good praising!"

Still, it’s not an easy habit to break. It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it. Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing.

What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. "Good job!" is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us.

This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recommend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids "earn" it. But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values.

So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done. When unconditional support is present, "Good job!" isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, "Good job!" won’t help.

If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehavior, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now "behaving himself"; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him. The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey. (Instead of using "Good job!" to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.)

We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, "What do you think we can do to solve this problem?" will likely be more effective than bribes or threats. It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage. Tossing off a "Good job!" when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why "doing to" strategies are a lot more popular than "working with" strategies.

And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:

* Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be "reinforced" because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – then praise may not be necessary.

* Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement ("You put your shoes on by yourself" or even just "You did it") tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: "This mountain is huge!" "Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!"

If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack." This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking "What was the hardest part to draw?" or "How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?" is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying "Good job!", as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life -- or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head.

It’s not a matter of memorizing a new script, but of keeping in mind our long-term goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.

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on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 in Parent Education

Head of our Toddler Program, Nanette Cenaruzabeitia, shares about the incredible abilites of Toddler children and their sensitive period for independence.

 

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Seeks privacy when going in diaper Shows interest in using the toilet - may want to put paper in and flush (even if they haven't been able to "go") Shows curiosity at other people's toilet habits Has decided he/she wants to use the toilet Not afraid of the toilet Wants to wear underpants and use the toilet

What is the best way to approach toilet training?

Be matter-of-fact

Avoid the power struggle

Overlook failures

Avoid pressure or punishment

Don't lecture

Avoid constant reminders

Relax

Avoid extreme excitement or anger

How do and I start and when is the right time?

Start slow at child's first interest

Allow child in the bathroom with you or siblings when you use the toilet

Start with simple things like:

Dressing/undressing

Practicing flushing

Change diapers in the bathroom

Change diapers standing up (when possible)

Are there times I should avoid Toilet Learning?

Any major changes in the child's life:

New sibling, new school, new house

Switching from crib to bed

Weaning of bottles or pacifiers

Major illnesses

Sleep deprived

Any other stressful situations

What should I do when my child has an accident?

Accidents WILL happen....but it's okay, its a learning process.

The time line will be different with all children. For some it will happen quickly and for others it will take more time.

Some children wet the bed up until 8 years old, this is normal and no cause for concern.

BE PATIENT!

BE CALM!

Allow children to change their own clothing with minimal help when they have an accident.

What are the best diapers to use during the Toilet Learning process?

Once your child has begun the process of using the toilet and has been introduced to cloth underwear it is important that you don't go back to disposable diapers except at bed time.  Pull-ups are a glorified diaper and because they look and feel to the child like a diaper they prevent a child from adjusting sensorially to underwear.

How should I reward my child when they are successful using the toilet?

If a child gets a reward for doing something that is a normal part of development, it can lead to a child expecting a reward for any accomplishment.  Sometimes, rewards put undo pressure on the child and cause anxiety.  It is beneficial for children to learn to follow their internal instincts, reach  milestones individually and at the appropriate and normal stage in their development, and learn early to appreciate the intrinsic value of accomplishments.

What if my child is afraid?

Fear is a normal reaction for children when it comes to Toilet Learning.  It is important to address fears before beginning Toilet Learning.

When you do decide its time to start the process its important to make sure that all of the child's care givers are on the same page.  The routine should be consistent for the child no matter who is caring for them.  Send your child with a lot of extra clothing when they are with a care giver.  Also, be sure that your child is dressed in clothes that they can get on and off themselves.  (Avoid belts, too many layers, etc.)

YOU CAN DO THIS!

BE PATIENT! BE CALM! FOLLOW THE CHILD! ALLOW THE PROCESS! RELAX!!!

Thank you to Alia Boyle Hovius for gathering and sharing this information.

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on Thursday, 20 June 2013 in Parent Education

Now that summer has arrived and you are spending more time with your children I thought this video might be of use....ENJOY!

 

Jane Nelson E.d. D., a parenting expert, shares ideas that support Montessori's respect of the child.

 

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on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 in School News

For the most part, Montessorians do not hugely advocate homework.  When parents ask what their children should be doing at home we commonly respond with a list of practical life activities that can benefit the child.  Some of these might include helping with the meal menu and preparation, planning activities or outings for the family, care of self, tree climbing and art projects. However, almost any educator will stress the importance of reading on a regular basis. Reading is enormously beneficial for a number of reasons.

 

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Books have the ability to expand a child's world in a large variety of ways. Reading is a chance for children to experience more of the world.  Conflict and resolution are introduced through a variety of themes, giving children the opportunity to learn coping skills, resiliency, cause and effect, logic, consequence of action and tolerance. Children build imagination, vocabulary and creativity along with a sense of curiosity and adventure. Exposure to different methods of illustration might engage a child artistically.  Development of grammatical skills and an understanding of appropriate use of language might spark the interest of a future writer.  The possibilities are endless....

Reading with our children creates opportunity for bonding and intimacy. Also, it increases opportunity and skills involving communication.  Reading promotes the development of an extended attention span, a huge benefit for young children preparing to enter school. And, believe it or not, reading skills (top to bottom, left to right, etc.) help develop the mathematical mind.

This being said, it can be difficult to keep our children excited about and engaged in reading throughout the summer months.  One of the most important things we can do to assist our children to continue to grow their reading skills is to provide them with literature that they enjoy and appreciate.

But, as parents we don't always know exactly what types of books are appropriate for our children at their ages.  Most children love to be read to and its quite simple finding appropriate books to read TO them.  However, choosing books that are developmentally appropriate and nurture our children's sense of self can be somewhat more difficult.  This is especially true as children are in the process of becoming independent readers.

A few excellent sources for finding the right books for your child can be found below:

Montessori By Hand

Reading Rockets

Education.com

Some fun family reading tidbits to keep in mind include:

When a child starts to "memorize" the words in a book, it is cause to celebrate.  Encourage children to point to the word they are reading and their ability to learn words by sight increases. REPETITION IS GOOD!  There are numerous benefits to a child reading or listening to the same book over and over.  More than anything they are developing an important sense of order.  Once they've met an important need, they'll move on...until then, use it as an opportunity to ask things like, "What do you think will happen next?" and other comprehension relevant questions. I've found that with my more advanced readers they still enjoy being read to.  The benefits are great as children develop comprehension and fluency skills.  To get your child reading you might take turns....ie, you read a page and then they read a page. Audio books are fantastic.  It's awesome to listen to a book together.  Narrators engage children in a way that can stir up emotion or engage listeners as we feel familiar with the characters. Invite your child to draw a picture of what you read.  This is a great way to build comprehension and is a wonderful conversation starter. Children mimic behavior so one of the most generous gifts we can give our children is the gift of watching us read for pleasure.  Visit the library together and create a cozy space in your home where you can all read.  Even non-readers benefit from looking through books as they sit next to a group of family readers.

HAPPY READING!

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Summer time and the livin's easy....UNLESS your child is set to spend the majority of their summer in front of a screen of some kind. The statistics regarding children and screen time are absolutely FRIGHTENING these days.  Click here or here to read more about the ill effects of too much screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics have strongly suggested that children are over-exposed but we live in a society that thrives on ipods, ipads, iphones, video gaming, and more....

Our kids are growing up in a generation that doesn't quite know how to function without a screen right at their fingertips.  My boys and I just moved to a new house and have been without television or internet for a month.  I kept delaying the process of getting us "connected" until the other night while I sat on my porch watching my boys (ages 10, 8 and 5) play a game of "pick up" ball.  They used a plastic pipe as a bat, a tennis ball, and several other random objects as bases.  There were no gloves.  But, they laughed, chatted, and created rules for their new game in ways that my three competitive sons rarely do with one another.  It was a beautifully decisive moment for me when I considered that if we had television and/or the internet as an option one of them would most likely be inside glued to a device.  We will be officially "disconnected" this summer.

As parents, we can see the changes happening in our children physically on an almost daily basis.  My middle son literally grows out of shoes in about 3 weeks time.  (His toes are as long as my fingers.)  What we might not be as connected to is the emotional, spiritual, and philisophical growth that they are experiencing.  These aren't always as easy to spot as the physical changes but they definitely exist.  Montessori spoke very clearly about the connection between the child's hand and brain.  If our children are to develop at their fullest potential, they need to MOVE.

I urge you, with everything inside me, to get your little ones MOVING this summer.  Engage them from every angle.  Sure, a family movie night won't do harm.  And there are some excellent computer programs out there that might keep them up to par with their math and reading skills but DO NOT let yourself believe that hours upon hours of screen time is beneficial in any way. Our kids have plenty of time in their future to commit to sitting still in front of a screen. (In the coming weeks I will be sure to post even BETTER alternatives to keeping your children's math and reading up to par.)

 

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In her article "Screen Time and Childhood" Jennifer Rogers says the following; "Children spend an average of five to seven hours every day in front of a screen. The only activity that occupies more time for children is sleeping. These same young kids are experiencing speech and language delays, and chronic attention problems. Literacy is becoming increasingly hard to achieve, creativity rare. Though there is little research to establish connections between so many young children’s failure to thrive and their over-exposure to technologies, the conclusion that screen time is corroding young minds seems ridiculously obvious to most teachers." (Link above.)

What are your plans to keep your children from spending too much of their summer in front of a screen?  Montessori was firm in her belief that children needed physical activity in order to develop fully and to their greatest potential. Below are a list of ideas that might help you engage your child.  I have learned that when summer (or, winter) sets in its important to sit down with the kids and talk about ideas.  When my kids say "I'm bored" I either refer them to the list of activities we created together. If nothing on the list looks inviting there is always the list posted on the other side of the fridge labeled "CHORES."  We often have a list of activities that can be done together, at home or away from home, as well as a list of individual activities for when mom or the siblings aren't available.  Our list might include some of the following ideas:

 

Dark Dancing - my kids and I love to turn out all the lights in our basement and crank the music.  Dancing in the dark encourages my boys to move in ways they might not feel totally comfortable with the lights on.  Plus, they aren't so embarrassed by how completely uncoordinated their mother is. Jump Rope - this is especially fun with older children.  There are a lot of fun songs and rhythms that can accompany jump roping.  It is a wonderful team building exercise. Obstacle Course - Build an obstacle course in your living room or in the back yard. As your children get used to the idea they are likely to come up with some very creative ideas.  Get the timer involved and invite children to beat their own time.  (Think: hula hoops, high jumps, assembling and disassembling a lego toy, long jumps, etc.) Making and Flying Kites -  see here. Build a Fort - Backyard and Living Room forts are the best.  Be prepared to let it stay in the middle of your space for as long as it keeps the kids happy.  These make a wonderful space for reading and playing board games. Pen-Pals - Get your littles in touch with someone via "Snail-Mail."  There is NOTHING more exciting than checking the mailbox to find a personal letter from a far-away friend. Grandparents, cousins, old classmates....the list of possibilities are endless. Make Home-Made Popsicles - combine your favorite fruits with some delicious yogurt (we prefer greek) and water or juice and freeze it in popsicle molds.  If you dont have popsicle molds, ice trays or your small cups and popsicle sticks work like a charm.

If all else fails, head to the Dollar Theater together.  Don't forget visiting your local library, family reads, books on tape, building a volcano (plus a million more at-home science projects,) cooking, gardening and puzzles.  If your children are part of coming up with the list of ideas and then gathering the materials, they are likely to find enthusiasm in carrying them out.

In teaching our children the dis-importance of extensive amounts of screen time, my very best advice is this: BE AN EXAMPLE.  Limit your own screen time and get in on that messy paper mache' project the kids are so enthusiastic about!

Happy Summer!

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on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 in School News

A parent recently brought to our attention an article in Slate magazine about preschools. The article (read here) explores the question of whether preschools really give children an advantage in life. In an interesting reference to Montessori, the author cites Angeline Lillard’s research, which finds that “classical” Montessori programs--those that follow the mixed-age groupings, do not perform testing, and mainly present concepts with hands-on Montessori materials--do provide an advantage, more so than “supplemented” Montessori programs, which can segregate by age and mix traditional Montessori materials with activities like pretend play and direct instruction. Children in the classical Montessori program “exhibited better working memory, planning, reading, and vocabulary skills, and they displayed a better understanding of fairness and willingness to share.”

Hearing about this article now seems appropriate, as we are continually assessing ourselves in an effort to remain as authentic to Montessori’s vision as possible.  In 2012-2013 we have been excited about various projects and activities that promote this goal:

We sent four teachers--Lara Althouse and Evi Bybee from Early Childhood and Bonnie Bracken and Brandi Allen from Lower Elementary--to the new AMS (American Montessori Society) Montessori teaching credential  program at Westminster, which began last summer. While they already had one Montessori certification, each teacher chose to pursue further education by working towards an AMS certification. They will be doing their practicum in their classrooms in 2013-2014. Kate Savage is currently finishing her two-year training with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She will be doing her onsite training in Louisiana in June and is sitting her final exams later this summer. This summer Lauren Bornschein is beginning the Master’s in Montessori Education at Westminster, and two of our Toddler teachers are beginning their Infant/Toddler training with the Institute of Guided Studies out of South Carolina.  We are excited about these teachers’ training because having certified teachers is key to a “classical” Montessori program, as the teachers are the main observers and guides for the children’s progress.

In keeping with Maria Montessori’s emphasis on global education, and caring for the community beyond ourselves, we took Service Learning into the SLC community with Upper Elementary’s work with the Bicycle Collective and the Humane Society. Middle School students spent an entire immersion week on service projects of their choice, ranging from the Sarah Daft Home to Wasatch Community Garden and The Stable Place (for more on their immersion experience, click here. Lower Elementary students continued their service learning within the classroom and the school building, watering the school plants, cleaning their classroom and taking care of their classroom pets.

At the school wide level, we raised awareness about giving to others through the Fun Run.  Sadly, one of our Adopt a Native Elder grandmothers, Grandmother Roseline, died this year and after a relationship of seventeen years we will miss her greatly. The children raised over $6500 for the  Adopt a Native Elder and the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEEF) organizations. We were so grateful for everyone’s efforts in supporting the seven young women who would not be able to attend school in Ethiopia without our assistance and in supporting our Navajo grandmothers, whom we have supported for seventeen years. Though the concept of raising money to give to others can be abstract,  in order for the children to feel more of a connection, we made a real effort this year to educate the students about the people the money they raised would go to. Our contributions make such a profound difference in all of their lives.

As an extension beyond our conscious, pre-planned efforts to involve the community in service learning, the community, particularly those involved with Toddlers, came together to support Nico in many ways.  Many people took it upon themselves to plan and carry out special events to raise funds to assist his family. Ms. Sophie, one of our Moons class teachers played a pivotal role in the fundraising efforts. This was the perfect example to our students as they observed a need and saw the community come together to fulfill the need. Another example of this was when one of our families had some crippling financial needs this year. Many families in our school supported their Facebook appeal.

We have appreciated everyone’s patience as we spent the year developing our new website, which we plan to launch for the 2013-2014 academic year. The new website will have an updated Parent’s Center that will combine parent education resources with classroom updates. We are also excited to be adding an alumni section, which will allow past graduates to touch base and to let us know how they are doing. We plan to gather more information in general from our alumni about how they fared in the transition from Montessori to a non-Montessori environment.

As a school we set the goal this year of improving our communications, among teachers and with parents. We streamlined our weekly email newsletter, and encouraged families to refer to that one centralized location for all classroom and school announcements. We added a second set of narrative evaluations at the Toddler and Early Childhood levels in order to increase feedback parents receive from teachers. We continued having two sets of parent/teacher conferences and teacher office hours, when parents can come in with their questions about their children in the classroom.

Aimee Brewer has surpassed all our expectations in her role as a stellar PSA President this year and we are infinitely grateful. Though she maintains an extremely busy work and family schedule she brought her innovative ideas to our annual school/family events. We wish her and her family the best in their move to the East coast this summer; we will miss them all dearly.

We are so fortunate and grateful that Ann Beverly is stepping forward to take over the role of PSA President next year.  Ann was instrumental as the Chair in the Green Committee’s efforts this year, with extensive help from Jaymison Peterson. The Green Committee planned events such as the MCS Clothing Swap. They also initiated a school wide glass recycling collection on Wednesdays this year. We thank and appreciate them for their efforts in keeping our school “green.”

We also want to thank Stephanie Thatcher for her leadership with the LegoRobotics team this year. The Virtual Vikings took 8th out of 20th overall and earned an Honorable Mention from the judges at the Lego FIRST Regional Competition in January. We want to thank Stephanie for her time and dedication in continuing the program, and we look forward to the efforts of the Upper Elementary students next year.

We are so appreciative of all the parents who are generous with their time and energy.  A variety of people coming together to serve one another in multiple ways as we seek to nurture the whole child is the true essence of community.  Each of your individual efforts helps make our school unique.  Many, many thanks for your continued contributions. We would not have such a warm, giving and caring community without you.

We are delighted that most of you will be continuing this educational journey with us next year, and we look forward to an exciting and fulfilling year. For those who are leaving us at this time, we are thankful for having had the chance to walk the same path while you have been here and we wish you the best. Best wishes to all of you for a safe and happy summer, Robyn & Ramira       Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan Head of School   Ramira Alamilla Associate Head of School   image

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on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 in School News

 

Tickets are on sale in the office now for our Annual MCS Family Carnival!

Many thanks to those who have organized this exciting event!

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"I'm so glad we are all good at different things."

Today I was performing a task alongside a collegue of mine and I expressed how much I loved the task to which she responded with the above comment.  This struck a deep chord with me as I was preparing to write this webpost about the beauty of authenticity. All of the greatest improvements throughtout history have come from people who were able to think outside the box.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children knows that they are small people with BIG vision.  I applaud those parents who have embraced the uniqueness of their children and are making an effort to give them the continued gift of being unique in a society that largely embraces conformity.  As children discover their world they do so with their whole selves.  An engaged child often uses more than one sense to discover and their entire little bodies are prone to form or move in order to fully engage.

Maria Montessori described ages 0-3 as an unconscious absorbent mind.  This means that a childs brain works like a sponge-absorbing almost everything in their environment and then the information sinks deep into their psyche, developing various observations and ideas of the world that will likely remain with them into adulthood.  This theory speaks to the importance of the early years...hence; our Toddler environment.

Maria Montessori then described the ages 3-6 as those of a conscious absorbent mind.  The sponge is still in tact-the child absorbs exorbient amounts of information using multiple teqhniques and senses.  But, their consciousness now plays a role in decifering information.  These children begin to be led and guided by their personal interest and intrigue.  Children begin to gain the ability to think and reason.  Their desire to participate as part of a community develops as the find themselves repeating tasks in an effort to master their bodies and minds. The beauty of this is evident in a normalized Montessori Early Childhood environment.

The transformation to an elementary aged student, about 6 years old, is like a huge explosion into a much bigger world.  They can see and recognize a world outside themselves.  These children begin to discover that they have something to contribute to a larger community.  The elementary years find a child with big thoughts and big ideas paired with the ability to take ACTION! At 6-9 years old they find satisfaction in collaboration and their big ideas grow as they learn to combine ideas with their peers.  Big idea plus big idea equals enormous idea.

Although we see a child become slightly more "me" oriented around nine years old, we now have a child with the ability to transform their ideas into other ideas as the skill to abstract grows.  They see the change they are capable of making.  Now, we are looking face to face at these big thinkers who have, hopefully by now, experienced the satisfaction of making some signifigant contribution(s) to whatever society they feel they are a part.

One of the most disheartening things about society, to me, is its huge impact on taking away big ideas.  No matter how big the box, the truth remains, we don't all fit inside it.  Our world thrives on originality.  Our children deserve the opportunity to be empowered by the big ideas floating around inside their little bodies.  Having all this wonder and hope and excitement about the world can hardly make a change if we take away the ability to apply them.  How can we do that in a system that expects the same things from each person?  The video below supports the idea that our children deserve to have a voice and we, at Montessori Community School, are proud to have the ability to give it to them.  We are more than the private school down the street. What do our children want from their education?  Are they able to voice the importance of their needs and wants?  Are we listening when they do?

I invite you to take three minutes to hear one perspective on the subject and when you are done watching pat yourself on the back with the knowledge that just by reading this post or watching this video you are taking steps in the right direction as we strive for a better, more authentic education for our big thinkers!

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The Spiritual Preparation of the Montessori Teacher

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The curriculum and the philosophy of Montessori are both based on her careful observation of individuals.  As she watched the children develop and explore their environment she brought essentials in to the environment that would support their natural development.  This action clearly supports her theory that entering a classroom and guiding a child in their development as a whole person means the teacher must be well prepared.  The teachers personal preparation and commitment to the students and their paths is extremely important.  Maria Montessori was the ultimate example of careful observation, preparation and honoring the spirit of the child.  But, as anyone who has participated in a Montessori training program can attest to, that preparation is necessary of any Montessori teacher.

“The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” (The Absorbent Mind)

According to Montessori, to work effectively with children, we must tear out our most deeply rooted defects, especially those that would hinder our relations with our children. In true humility we must look at ourselves to identify our strengths as well as our weaknesses.


In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I feel a great desire to share my own understanding of the deep and ongoing preparation that our teachers commit to in order to be present and attentive to our children.  First of all, this preparation requires a moral preparation as well as a spiritual preparation. In an effort to model appropriate behavior and interactions, they must be non-judgemental and able to see a situation from many angles.  A Montessori teacher is required to observe the children and attune to their needs while she acts as a natural part of their environment and presents lessons in such a way that she entices each child, each day, and in each area.  Her depth of understanding the emotional status of each child must be sharp.  Her ability to assess, during her presentations, what a child is understanding must be present at all times.  There is no space in a classroom for judgement or prejudices.
As you know, ours is a program which teaches many practical skills. Therefore, assessing the needs of the children on a daily basis is a necessity in being prepared to follow their needs. They must let go of anger and pride as they step into the classroom each day.  They learn to model peaceful conflict resolution and learn to sit on and meditate with decisions in an effort to be fair and constructive. They learn to trust the process and see even the slightest change in their students.
My experience has been, and continues to be, that these wonderful people who are drawn to the philosophy of Montessori have a special gift.  Sending love and appreciation to the amazing teachers here at Montessori Community School.  Your dedication to Montessori, our children, and your own personal growth does not go unnoticed or under-appreciated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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"(Parents) alone can and must save their children.  Their consciences must feel the force of the mission entrusted to them by nature for...in their hands lies positively the future of humanity, life."

Maria Montessori

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The philosophy of Montessori has, at some point, called to each one of us.  Over the years I have seen parents and teachers "fall for" Montessori for a variety of reasons and with a variety of intentions or hopes for its outcome.  Whatever the reason we chose this particular journey, it has probably become as clear to you as it has to me that a Montessori education is bigger than the 8 hours a day that our children spend inside the walls of Montessori Community School.  Our children are coming home with the ability to think  with initiative and innovation.  They have the desire to extend their learning outside the classroom.  From the time they are small, children are naturally learning.  They begin life touching and tasting everything in their path in an effort to learn as much as they can about their environment.  For a child who has been in a Montessori environment, their desire for knowledge has not changed much from the time they were infants.  They seek knowledge everywhere they go!

One of the most popular questions I get from parents is "how can I support the Montessori philosophy at home?"  What are we to do?  How do we keep that flame alive so their desire for knowledge continues to grow as they learn the tools necessary to obtain knowledge? As a Montessori mother I can assure you that the items below will make your job bringing Montessori home a whole lot easier as well as making your child’s Montessori experience more rich and meaningful than if it were to stand alone as a “school” experience. Slow down, model appropriately, and STOP hurrying our children: Our children are watching us.  And they are in an environment where they are learning appropriate social behavior.  They are learning skills necessary to recognize and communicate their needs and desires.  In our homes we can give them a voice!  The moments we spend effectively communicating with our little ones will serve them for a lifetime.  In addition to hearing their voice and giving it a fair amount of power, we need to SLOW DOWN.  Let us all make a committed effort to teach our children to stop and smell the flowers.  Lets show them that the only job worth doing is a job done well.  Effort and desire produce meaningful results. Preparation of the environment: Preparing an environment where the child can continue their patterns of growth and discovery is essential to supporting our children’s Montessori experience.  This is because our children are in a state where everything in their environment is of essence to their experience as an individual.  Our school environment allows the child space to learn in many aspects but often our home environments are set up to suit the needs of the adults.  Montessori said, “(The child) absorbs the life going on about him and becomes one with it....The child’s impressions are so profound that a biological or psycho-chemical change takes place, by which his mind ends by resembling the environment itself.”  Providing our children with an age appropriate, enriched environment is part of the gift we can give them in support of their Montessori education. Give our children space to explore their passions: These little ones are learning to find enthusiasm and joy in different tasks.  They are given freedom to explore topics of interest.  When we hear their voice and honor their passions, we support their love of learning.  A child who has developed an interest in plants desires nothing more than a parent who will listen and actively encourage their passion by providing them books, field trips, and conversations about plants.  A person truly masters a skill or subject when they can teach another person about it.  I urge you to give your children space to teach and share their passions with you. Accept their contributions: Our children are being taught to be contributing members of a community.  How can you allow your child this opportunity at home?  Their ability to contribute is usually beyond what we might think they are capable.  When we maintain our space as a family community we then have the opportunity to explore, play, and learn as a community.  My experience has been that to be an effective Montessori Parent, I have no choice but to understand and fully embrace that I have three little individuals on my hands. Their ability to truly and effectively contribute to society is one that makes me feel honored and privileged. I don’t advocate for having a house full of Montessori materials.  Our little ones spend many hours in a day working on academics.  They are most served at home when we allow them to participate in practical tasks and explore their surroundings.  When I invite you to bring Montessori home I certainly don’t want anyone getting the impression that I think our children should be home working on math.  I am saying that we can indulge their love of learning by hearing what they are interested in.  We can support their development of imagination by reading wonderful, adventurous books with them.  We can support their love of nature by hiking and camping and exploring with them.  We can teach them the beauty of the earth by walking slowly with them.  We can nurture their ability to build meaningful relationships by seeing them and hearing them and touching them.  We can teach them to be confident by looking them in the eye while they speak to us.  We can teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully by modeling peaceful conflict resolution.
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Britney Peterson

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on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 in School News

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Thank you to all the families who participated in the Children’s clothing swap last week. We had a record amount of clothes donated! I hope you all got to update your growing child’s wardrobe a little bit.

 

 

Glass recycling Wednesday is getting off on the right foot! Each week we continue to see more and more glass coming in for us to recycle. Keep it coming! I hope you find this a useful service.

 

I wanted to publicly acknowledge the Green Committee members who have made our efforts to green MCS a success this year. You are all amazing and passionate about improving the school and the environment for our children.

 

One Green Committee member needs a little extra acknowledgement, Jaymison Peterson. With out Jaymison’s efforts the clothing swap just would not have happened. She sorted and folded so many kid tee shirts I think she will be folding in her dreams for quite awhile! Throughout the entire swap Jaymison was there, straightening and organizing, in order to make it easier for all of us to find what we needed, in the right size! And the wonderful signs for Glass Wednesday, you guessed it, Jaymison made them! Most Wednesdays she is one of the members taking the glass to be recycled. She is a vital part of the Green Committee and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her efforts and commitment to our Committee and to MCS. Thank you Jaymison!

 

And, thank you to all MCS parents and students for making the Green Committee a success again this year.

 

Ann Beverly

Chair, Green Committee

 

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on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 in School News

As you are aware our Annual Service Fundraiser –the Fun Run- will be held on Wednesday, April 17th.  Our goal for this year is to raise at least $6500 for our two special Navajo grandmothers, Emma and Elvira, as well as our seven students from Ethiopia.

As we have 220 students enrolled at this time this means that if each child could aim to raise $30 we would reach our goal. We are aware that this will be an easy target for some families and more difficult for others and want you to know that anything you can offer will be so gratefully received.

The Adopt A Native Elder program has an excellent website that we invite you to view at this link- www.anelder.org The website gives so much information about the work of the organization. We are aware that there are many other grandmothers who would really benefit from sponsorship and therefore if we meet our goal this year we hope to adopt another grandmother.  We have been sponsors for Grandmothers Emma, Roseline (who recently died), and Elivira for about seventeen years now and know how much our support has helped provide a higher quality of life.  As you know from some of our Weekly Email newsletters we hear from our grandmothers on a regular basis and having spent time with each of them on the reservation Robyn and Bob know what great an impact our commitment and support has on their lives.

Recently we received new photos and thank you letters from our sponsored students in Ethiopia. We include two of their photos here.  Along with the correspondence we received a recommendation to watch the following link -http://youtu.be/cYumqw7idQY On the video you will see that one of our students, Bethelhem Eyob, (who is one of the girls shown in the photos attached) speaks about her experience at school and her gratitude for her sponsors (in this case our school). In a recent communication from Rick Egan at COEEF he wrote, "Bethelhem Eyob is a brilliant student, and so I thought you may be interested in seeing a short video we put together from our last visit to Ethiopia. It includes a short interview with your student,  Bethelhem Eyob, talking about Mr Solomon and St Michael's School where she attends.

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Once again we thank you in advance for your support.

Warm wishes,

Robyn and Ramira

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Shakin' it for Nico!

 

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Deacon, Drake, Meghan and Sophie volunteer their time at the Zumbathon.

 

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A small crowd of attendees before the madness began!

 

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Shakin' It for Nico!

 

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Excited children watching their parents dance!

 

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Alyana and Lauren, volunteering in Child Care, bust out a move.

 

For those who participated in the Zumbathon last Friday night, we cannot begin to thank you enough.  The energy was incredible and seeing the event come together, as a community of loving adults put their dollars AND their enthusiastic energy into this project, was a touching experience for many.  We raised well over our anticipated goal and some of our staff members are looking forward to presenting the money to Nico and his family next week.

 

This event is just one reason we are all proud to be a part of the Montessori Community School...when we bring together our talents, our good intentions, and our positive energy-we can do amazing things!

 

Special thanks to the following:

Sophie Lake -MCS teacher, event organizer, event volunteer

Cinthya Barajas - MCS teacher, Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer, event organizer

Ralynne Purdy - Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer

Jena Marston - Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer

Meghan Burrows - MCS teacher, event volunteer

Alyana Kay - MCS teacher, event volunteer

Lauren Bornschein - MCS teacher, event volunteer

MCS Facilities - event organization, set-up

Drake Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

Tanner Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

Deacon Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

And especially to all the community members (MCS Community as well as many SLC Community members) who participated in the event!

 

Many, Many Thanks!