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Parent Teacher Conferences are coming up this Friday!  Enjoy these helpful tips for making the most of your conference!

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Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Friday, October 10th. There will be no school that day. Sign-up sheets for the conferences are on a table in the lobby, arranged by class, from Toddlers to Middle School (please check the top of each page for the name of the class).  As we do every year, we ask that you observe the following requests:

· Please sign up for one meeting time per child.
· Please be on time for your conference.
· Please help the teachers to stay on time.
· Please arrange for childcare during Parent/Teacher conferences.

We have included some additional tips that might be useful in having a successful Parent Teacher Conference:

  • Write down questions or things you would like to discuss and email the teacher(s) with your questions/comments before the conference.
  • Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with the teacher(s).
  • Keep the conference focused on the child and the purpose of the conference-use your time carefully.
  • Be open to suggestions from the teacher.
  • Be prepared to share suggestions of your own. No one knows your child like you know him/her.
  • If you are unclear about what the teacher is telling you about your child, ask for specific examples. Remember that you and the teacher(s) are a team and your main focus is meeting the needs of your child.
  • Take notes so you can share information with your child after the meeting.
  • Make sure the teachers have the best contact information for you and that you have a clear understanding of the communication protocol.
  • Keep the teacher informed.  Things happening at home often affect children’s behavior at school.
  • At the end of your conference make sure that everyone understands what was talked about and what they can/have agreed to do to follow up.
  • Follow up.  If you have concerns that need to be followed up on, set up that time in advance.
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By: Aliza Jensen, MCS P.E. Teacher

Lower Elementary P.E.

In Lower Elementary P.E., students learn a variety of motor and coordination skills by participating in a variety of sports, games, and movement activities. Students also gain valuable lessons about teamwork and cooperation by playing with others in a team-building atmosphere.

A typical class begins with warm ups. Each child has the opportunity to choose a physical motion that can be performed while moving across the length of the gym or field. Skipping, leaping, and racecar driving are popular choices. The class then does the warm up across the gym or field together. The children really enjoy coming up with new and innovative ways to move their bodies! After warm ups, the children play a game.  Frequently children have the opportunity to choose a game and teach the rules to the class. Children learn how to play games such as soccer, capture the flag, and variations of tag.

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Upper Elementary P.E.

In Upper Elementary P.E. students refine their coordination and motor skills by participating in a variety of sports, games, and exercise activities. Students also explore healthy living by learning about eating healthy, staying hydrated, and staying active.

Each day in P.E., one student is the P.E. coordinator. The P.E. coordinator is in charge of various tasks such as leading the group in warming up and stretching. The P.E. coordinator also chooses a game for the group to play that day. This role allows students to gain leadership skills and gives them an opportunity to guide their own unique experience.

Students play a variety of sports and games in P.E. such as soccer, basketball, kickball and various creative tag games. Students also have the opportunity to research obscure sports such as bobsledding, ice climbing, and surfing and present their research to the class. In upper elementary P.E., children gain life long lessons about sportsmanship and learn the enjoyment and benefits of an active lifestyle.

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We had a wonderful Silent Journey and Discovery experience this month. Fifteen parents were in attendence.  We started in the lobby where we shared the routine and schedule and then headed into the classrooms.  Upon entering each new environment, attendees spent the first few minutes of their visit to access the environment in relation to the students at that level. With some prompting they looked at the nature of the materials in the space.  Then, when the bell rang, they were invited to sit down and engage with the classroom materials.  After visiting each classroom and working with the materials, attendees participated in a student-led Socratic Dialogue.  Following a wonderful lunch, we had an open discussion about the experience as a whole and staff members answered specific questions about the materials, the curriculum, and the Montessori philosophy.  Thank you to those who attended.  We are looking forward to hosting this event again in the Fall and we hope more of our parents will have the opportunity to experience this wonderful event.

 

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SJ&D participants engage with materials from the Practical Life, Math, Language and Sensorial materials in an Early Childhood environment.

 

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Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, gives these parents a lesson on the Division Board during their visit to the Lower Elementary environment.

 

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Parents work independently on Checkerboard Division in the Upper Elementary environment.

 

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Participants explore the Middle School environment where they read about Middle School students experiences of different learning cycles.

 

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Middle School student, Maddi Schmunk, and Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, prepare for the Socratic Dialogue.  Maddi chose the topic quote and led the discussion beautifully. The topic of discussion was quote, "It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life" by Sister Kenny.

 

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Socratic Dialogue

Two parents who attended the Silent Journey and Discovery share their experiences below:

"The Silent Journey and Discovery was a very emotional and powerful experience for me.  I did not attend a Montessori school as a child so I am only familiar with the Montessori philosophy through what I have read and observed in the last two years.  It gave me a great appreciation and understanding of the different developmental levels of the works.  I loved seeing the progression and advancement of the works through Toddler, Early Childhood and up through Middle School.  The grammar and math works were thrilling to learn and experience.  The focus on the sensorial aspects of each work creates a love of learning.  In addition to receiving an amazing education the students are also learning how to be independent, respectful and loving human beings.  I think every MCS parent should participate in the Silent Journey and Discovery to really understand and appreciate the experience and education we are giving our children.  I know that it made me realize that I will do everything in my power to continue my daughter’s Montessori education."

Tonia Hashimoto

Mother of Savvy Williams, Blue Class

 

"Having not grown up in a Montessori environment, it has been difficult for me to understand what exactly a day in the life of my Montessori students is like.  I try to take in as much as I can at pick-up and drop-off, with the occasional visit and guided lesson by my children, but there is no way to fully understand without an experience like the Silent Journey and Discovery.  It was an eye-opening voyage that I would recommend for every parent, and prospective parent.  I want to do it again.

 

Going through a classroom from each cycle really makes the whole Montessori experience come full circle from seeing how the Toddlers get their first understanding of space and shape, to Early Childhood and their practical life lessons, to Lower Elementary and their grammar materials which encourage socialization, to the Upper Elementary complex math problems, to a Middle School student-led Socratic discussion.  We only saw the tip of the iceberg, but the hands-on learning experience helped personify the school life of our children.  I was struck by the thoughtful organization of each room; how comfortable and serene a small space can feel.

 

I also enjoyed the roundtable discussion following our classroom journeys.  We were able to get some insight from teachers, staff, students and other parents.  Because Montessori isn’t the “traditional” schooling for kids in our country, there are obvious concerns and hesitations with going outside the “norm”.  Many of my concerns were put to ease and I feel my children are on the correct path for them at this time.  I appreciated the book recommendations and feel they will help in understanding the Montessori Method and perhaps assist me with decisions for my family down the road.

 

My kids have been at MCS for three/four years now and I feel like I have finally been able to look beyond the curtain of their daily journey, something that every parent should see and experience.  Now, when my kids and I have our chats at the end of the day, I can ask even more detailed questions and have a bit more understanding as to how their day went.  That is priceless.

 

Thanks again to all who helped facilitate the Silent Journey and Discovery."

Carrie Christensen

Mother of Lucas, Oquirrh Class and Emily, Blue Class

In a recent interview, Head of Montessori Community School (MCS) established in 1985, Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan, and a current MCS parent, Marie Bosteels, reveal the difference between MCS and other schools in the Salt Lake Valley.

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Montessori is an authentic curriculum which has been practiced for over 100 years to meet the developmental needs of each individual student.  “We have multi-age classrooms where students are presented lessons with hands-on materials by trained Montessori teachers.  Certified teachers observe carefully and prepare the environment to suit each student in their classroom,” says Robyn. Essentially, students have the opportunity to gain a firm understanding of a concept before moving on to the next concept.

In addition, according to Robyn, it is commonly misunderstood that Montessori is a preschool program. On the contrary, the program offers an authentic Montessori education for children aged 18 months up to 8th grade.

Current parent, Marie Bosteels, shares her thoughts about MCS. “From an early age the children are empowered by learning independently through well-adapted materials with guidance from teachers”, Marie says. “They are confident that the knowledge of the world is at their fingertips.”

Beyond Montessori’s carefully developed curriculum, MCS also offers an enrichment program where students participate in a diverse selection of activities. “Students participate in Art, Music, Dance, P.E., Yoga, Drama, Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoors expeditions. Children can also participate in Spanish instruction at different levels,” says Robyn.

Like many MCS parents, Marie also has her children participate in the Enrichment Program. “We are driven to give our children a rich childhood, where they can explore and experience many areas of life. Thanks to the amazing program at MCS, I always knew that enrichment for my children happened at school,” says Marie. The Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoor Expeditions has supported her family’s desire to have an innate knowledge of the beauty, ecology, and flora and fauna that surround us. “My youngest daughter has a passion for art and because the Montessori materials are so unique and adaptable to the individual needs of each child, the teachers guide her to art projects that integrate reading and writing skills,” Marie says.

Marie shares her thoughts on the most important skills her children have gained at MCS. “Because Montessori adapts to the individual needs of every child, MCS has been the right place for all three of my children,” Marie says. “They have developed organizational skills, a sense of order, the ability to work independently, research, think and analyze, lead meetings and debates, conflict resolution, listening skills, mindfulness, staying connected with your passions, and goal setting. At MCS, my children have been learning and integrating these skills since their Early Childhood classes.”

When asked what sets MCS’s Middle School program apart from others, Robyn responded, “Our Middle School program is designed to meet the unique needs of adolescents.  Supportive of their sensitive period for social development, our program allows children to continue to progress academically at their own level while also focusing on life skills,” says Robyn. In addition, team building exercises, appropriate communication, and rendering service are a few of the skills they develop as they explore social behaviors in a small, protected environment.

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According to Marie, there are experiences her children have had at MCS that may not have been possible elsewhere. “In Upper Elementary my oldest daughter was able to successfully lead a group discussion with parents. She made sure everyone had a chance to express their opinions and kept the conversation going during silent moments,” says Marie. “She has always followed her passions and inner voice, a quality I attribute to the MCS school environment, where children always have a choice within a well- prepared environment.”

The MCS is located on the South-West corner of Foothill Blvd. and 1700 South in Salt Lake City. The school is open from 7:30am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday. The school day for Toddlers and Early Childhood students is 9:00am-3:30pm. For Elementary and Middle School students, the school day runs 8:30am-3:00pm. “We offer Extended Day programs and Summer and Holiday Camps in addition to the regular school schedule,” says Robyn.

For those interested in applying, MCS accepts applications all year with limited availability. Parents should schedule a tour now for the  2013-2014 Academic Year. Tuition rates and application forms can be found on their website, www.montessorislc.com.

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on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 in School News

 

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Don't forget to take a look at the newest issue of Tomorrow's Child, which will be placed in your child's take-home file this week.  Some of the interesting articles that we recommend include:

The Most Shocking Thing I Learned as a Montessori Parent, by Terri Sherrill Why Montessori for the Kindergarten Year, by Tim Seldin Dear Cathie - Stars and Stickers, by Cathie Perolman

Along with caring for and loving our wonderful students we are always looking for ways to nurture our parent's spirits.  Merging Montessori and parenthood can be a tricky task at times.  Often parents find themselves trying to revisit the reasons they chose a Montessori education in the first place.  Our school spends a portion of our funds allocated for parent education on a Tomorrow's Child subscription for each of our families.  We invite you to nurture your spirit with the inspirations of Montessorians (parents, teachers, and administrators) across the country as they share ideas and reflections of their personal Montessori experiences.

As we consider the best use of funds in the future, we would love your feedback on the Tomorrow's Child subscription.  Please, if you are a regular reader, let us know.  What are you getting from your subscription?  Your feedback on this matter is, as always, greatly valued.

Happy Reading!

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on Thursday, 17 January 2013 in School News

An Update from our Middle School students from Teton Science School!

Monday, January 14, 2013
Today is the first day of our immersion trip and off to TSS (Teton
Science School) it is. We left at around 8:45 and arrived at around 3!
So, not too long of a drive. One TSS instructor named Katie, who is
super fun and nice, greeted us. We walked over to our meeting place,
inside a building with radiant heating. The floors are warm! There we
talked about our schedule and what we will be doing during the week.
When that was over we went to our dorms and got settled in. At 5:30,
we had a delicious dinner of fried rice, chicken & Mandarin salad,
tofu with broccoli and rice crispy treats. To be excused to get your
dinner you have to answer one trivia question with your table mates.
Each evening there is a program, today's was about team-building. We
played games with students from Montessori at Riverton So, good first
day!
- Elise

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on Monday, 14 January 2013 in School News

While reading the SL Tribune on Sunday, January 6, 2013, Robyn came across an article written by Angela Choberka, a fellow Montessori teacher in Utah, about the rights of teachers in Utah schools to carry guns in school.  Her view on the matter resonated truth for the Administration at MCS in that we believe heartily in Maria Montessori's stance on global peace.  Her curriculum is written so carefully as to include many lessons and practices that teach children to solve problems peacefully and with care and respect for their peers.  Montessori was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize and her legacy of peace in education continues to this day.  We are proud to share her philosophy at MCS.

Read Article Here

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MCS Students Walk for Peace 2012

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on Friday, 11 January 2013 in School News

Due to the extremely dangerous road conditions and based on the forecast, which shows that the snow will continue throughout the day, we have decided to cancel Extended Day today, Friday, January 11, 2013.  We would like our students and teachers to travel safely home before it gets dark.  Please make arrangements for your child(ren) to be picked up no later than 3:30 pm.  We invite you to pick up your child(ren) even earlier than that if your schedule allows.

Also, Little Chefs has been postponed.  Ms. Sheila will contact you with the revised date.

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The Middle School students recently completed their Service Learning Cycle.  Below they have shared some of their experiences from the Immersion Week.

The Humane Society

The Humane Society is an animal rescue shelter for homeless house pets. Elise and I volunteered there for our independent service project. We both wanted to help the same organization so we did two things for the same place, that’s why we also raised about seventy-five dollars and donated it to the organization. Elise and I walked four dogs and over twenty cats each, giving the pets fun and loving experiences.

- Emilia

 

The Bicycle Collective

The Bicycle Collective is a non-profit organization that takes in old and unwanted bikes then fixes them up and donates them to those in need. The M.C.S. Middle School class volunteered there for two and a half hours during our service-learning immersion. We fixed small kids bikes that will be delivered on Christmas Eve to homeless or poor children as presents. In all we fixed five and a half bikes, we also “killed” one, meaning we took it apart so they reuse pieces.

- Emilia

 

Tree Utah

One of the service projects we did as a group was with Tree Utah. Tree Utah is an organization that’s mission is to “improve Utah’s quality of life for present and future generations by enhancing the environment through tree planting, stewardship and education.” One of their main goals is to plant a million trees. What we did to help Tree Utah was paint dead tree logs to make signs so they could label the wonderful trees they planted in their eco garden. We painted ten logs and worked eight hours total as a group.

- Noah

 

Montessori Community School

What I did for my personal service project was I went around doing everyone’s school service and helping out the school. Some of the jobs I did were shoveling snow, sweeping the gym and put away dishes. We were planning to rake the field but there was a lot of snow fall and the next day it was really hot after it snowed so it was more like ice picking. Doing all this work took three hours total on my own

- Noah

 

Wasatch Community Garden

On the Tuesday of our immersion week Upper Elementary sixth years and us Middle School students went to the Wasatch Community Garden. The Wasatch Community Garden is a place where people that live in Salt Lake can have a plot where they can plant whatever plants they want. Some of the things we did to help this organization were mix compost, water plants, make green houses (that were really warm inside), feed chickens and feed worms. Our total amount of time that we donated was twenty-two hours!

-Elise

 

The Stable Place

On the Monday of our service learning immersion week we went to the Stable Place. The Stable Place is a farm that has horses, pigs, dogs, cats, a goat, and a goose that have all been rescued. Some of the things we did to volunteer were: feed and groom horses, walk dogs and played with cats, pigs and a goat. It was really fun!! Our total about of hours that we gave to this organization was twelve hours!

-Elise

 

Sarah Daft Home

For my service learning project my mom and I went to the Sarah Daft Home. The Sarah Daft Home is a home for old or disabled people who need help taking care of themselves. When we first arrived we vacuumed the halls so it would be nice and tidy for them. When we were done with that we went door to door giving the residents beverages to keep them hydrated and healthy. This experience was so fun but I think my favorite part of this experience was putting a smile on their face. I hope to visit them again soon.

- Maddi

 

Aquarium

When we first arrived at the Living Planet Aquarium we went into a working room. Our mentor, Melisa, told us we were going to do an assembly line to make goodie bags. The goal of this was to help out the workers so they wouldn’t have to do it by themselves. There were five stations; opening bags, putting toys in the cups, bagging, tie and curling ribbon. Once we filled up 3 huge plastic boxes we saw all the fun things the aquarium had to offer, such as eels, sharks, and otters.

- Maddi

 

Dixon’s Farm

For my service I decided to help out a local farm but they had changed their policy. For legal reasons I had to be sixteen to go. So instead I thought I would help my mom’s friend, Monica Dixon, we called her up and asked if she was going to be home Tuesday November, we told her it was for a school project. When we arrived at roughly 10:30 we went to say hi to Monica and the animals. She has three goats, chickens, a cat named Doodle and Daisy her horse.  The majority of her animals are rescued (Which means they were adopted from Situations were the animal was not being taken care of properly) which is why we decided to go her farm. We started by replacing the food for the animals, after that was done we changed the bedding in Daisy’s stall, changed the goats bedding, played with the goats and walked Daisy around the arena.  Over all I think we helped a lot in her day. And I really enjoyed myself.

-Bjorn

 

Camp Kostopulos

We went to camp Kostopulos, which is a place that people with mental and physical disadvantages can go to participate in ropes courses and other outdoor activities. They have a stable and the main thing we did there is cleaned the different stalls, clean out the snow in their dumpsters, bring the old hay to the dumpsters in wheel barrow, sweep the floors, muck the stalls, pick up the poop we also shoveled snow and cleared the ice. I think this was one of our greater services we got a lot done and I hope we helped in their day.

-Bjorn

Happy New Year from the PSA!

I hope you all had a fun, relaxing break and are ready for a great 2013!

Since there are many new families who have joined the school this past fall, I thought it might be a good time to send along a few reminders and updates.

Feeling connected to your child’s school and teachers is something that is very important to many parents.  Below are a couple of great ways you can be involved in your child’s classroom:

 

From 8:30-9am each morning in the Toddler and Early Childhood classes and 8:00-8:30am in the Elementary and Middle School classes, parents are welcome to be part of your child’s class – if your schedule permits, you are invited to stay during this time and do some work with your child.  It’s a great way to feel a part of their learning experience as well as getting more familiar with the Montessori methods and “works”, and most importantly, your child will LOVE showing you a work and will be so proud when their parents stay to observe and participate.

 

Each class has office hours where you can check-in with the teachers. Please know this doesn’t just need to be used if you are having an issue or concern about your child, it is also  a great time to just say hi to the teachers and see what your child is working on.  If the office hours that your class has doesn’t work for your schedule, you can always call or email the teachers to set up a different time to meet.

 

Each class has a email address and if you have a question, concern, or idea and want to communicate with the teachers via email, please do so.  If it is an urgent issue, please call the school and ask to speak with the teacher as they usually do not have time to check email during the day.  The teacher email addresses are easy to remember and can be found below.

 

The teachers welcome parents who would like to come read a book to the class, do a cooking activity, share a talent or special tradition etc….if you want to do something with the whole class, just let the teachers know!

 

The school is always looking for new field trip ideas (or new presenters to come to the school), if you have any ideas, please let me or Ramira know!

 

Save the date:

 

As you may know, our school has a partnership with the Adopt-a-Native Elder program. The students communicate with our Navajo Grandmothers and the Grandmothers come to visit each year. Our youngest grandmother, Elvira, participates in the Deer Valley Rug Show each year and the children who attend have the opportunity to spend some time with her.   On March 22nd our school will be hosting a Navajo Children’s Rug Show at the school – if you didn’t attend last year you should plan to this year – not only are the rugs made by children gorgeous, but there are many activities for our children to participate in and learn so much about the Navajo culture. You can learn more about the program at www.anelder.org.

 

The annual Fun Run is set for April 1st – this is a really great day for the students, but also our main fundraiser for our Navajo Grandmothers and Ethiopian children. Community Service is an important part of the Montessori Education  as students learn to care and contribute to others , the value of volunteerism, and begin to recognize their connection to people all around the globe.

If you would like to be involved in the Fun Run or any other PSA events or committees, please let me know!

 

Finally, we are always looking for ideas for community building events – classroom specific events as well as school-wide events.  If you have an idea, please let me know (even better, if you want to plan a community building event and get hours towards your parent participation, that would be fabulous!).

 

Thank you for all you do to support the PSA and school at large.  There is such a great group of families that are part of the school and I look forward to the coming year!

 

Aimee Brewer

PSA President

 

Classroom Email Addresses:

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on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 in School News

In the midst of this Holiday Season I give thanks for our precious children, dedicated and caring staff and our supportive families. This year we have had the highest enrollment since we moved to our current location and I attribute this to the fact that we have such incredible teachers and support staff and also such wonderful families who often make financial sacrifices to ensure that their children have all the opportunities that a true Montessori school has to offer them. These children will of course grow academically in our school and in addition they will grow in so many other ways. They will learn how to learn, to respect themselves, their peers, teachers and support staff and their environment, they will learn to become independent, free thinkers, learn how to be flexible and co-operative, to be innovative and to solve problems and so much more.

In our current world environment so many of these skills are just as important or more important as achieving academically. In the past many of us have chosen a career path early in life and have stayed in that field for an entire working career. Some of our current parents might end up having that  opportunity. However, with the speed of changes in technology and many other developments in our world there will be so many new and innovative opportunities in the future and people may change career paths several times during their working life. I believe that many Montessori students are likely to be some of the innovators- just as Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the CEO's of Google, who attribute their success to their Montessori education where they were encouraged to "think outside the box", are innovators.

Another aspect of Montessori education that will be so important in the influence it will play in our students lives will be the  fact that they have learned how to get along with others - to listen to each other, have their own opinions but  consider others viewpoints, be empathetic towards others, honor other people's choices, work towards peaceful outcomes and know how to communicate effectively with others.

They will also have learned to think of others and to have the desire to give to other who are less fortunate. I realize that parents have played a big part in donating to all the "Giving Projects" this holiday season and hope that you took the opportunity to include your children at the level of involvement that is age appropriate. I am grateful for the generosity of all our families who were in a position to contribute to those who have such great needs.

In closing, on behalf of all our staff I would like to say that we send our best wishes to you for a very special Holiday Season with family and friends. May your time together be all that you hope for.

Have a lovely break and we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Arohanui,

Robyn

 

 

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on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 in School News

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on Monday, 17 December 2012 in Parent Education

We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the Sandy Hook Elementary community and also take this opportunity to communicate our own emergency protocols to MCS parents.  In light of recent events, we are moving forward more urgently with the plans we have been developing in conjunction with a few dedicated parents who have formed our Emergency Preparedness Committee, particularly Sara Hart, who spearheads the committee. The lockdown procedure has been a priority for us since the EPC formed last spring.

As part of our Emergency Preparedness, various members of the EPC have taken FEMA courses online that provide advice about preparing for various emergency situations. At our November meeting, one of our parents brought back what she had learned from the Lockdown course specifically. She is preparing a presentation to faculty about the contents of the course and we will incorporate many of its recommendations. Throughout the fall our facilities staff has been laying the hardware necessary for installing phone lines in all the classrooms. This would ensure that in the case of a lockdown situation we could communicate to all the classrooms at once. Phones will be used strictly for emergency purposes. We will finalize the installment of the phone lines over the winter break. Every classroom now has an updated evacuation plan, thanks to parent Jodi Geroux, who was instrumental in bringing building safety to our attention last year. In her capacity as an architect she re-created emergency evacuation route maps.  We have regularly practiced fire and earthquake drills this year so students and teachers are aware of the evacuation routes. We have spoken specifically with specialty and extended day teachers about practicing these routes. We will continue these monthly drills and plan to implement a lockdown drill once phone lines have been installed. We will notify parents before our first lockdown drill. Teachers will prepare the children for the drill and we ask that parents also discuss it with their child(ren). The other priority for us has been identifying potential emergency notification systems to communicate with parents in the event of a school-wide emergency. We have been researching voicemail and texting services. We will continue to use Facebook and our website as a form of communication with our parents. Outside doors are only unlocked during arrival and dismissal times and are locked at all other times. We ask all staff to be vigilant and watch for people we don’t recognize and to ask anyone we don’t recognize how we can help them. We ask and expect every visitor to check in at office. Parents are required to sign children in and out each day so we have an accurate idea of who is and isn’t in the building at any given time.

We recognize that children will have questions. Teachers will address questions simply, and invite children to discuss the events at home. We welcome any questions or concerns you have. Our Emergency Preparedness Committee includes Bob Buchanan, Jan Bosen, Ramira Alamilla, and parents Sara Hart, Jodi Geroux, Rachel Koontz, Vicki Wilkins, Christopher LeCluyse, and Deidre Becker.

We are grateful for each member of this community and it is our highest priority to ensure the safety of all of the children you entrust to our care.

Warm regards,

 

Robyn, Ramira, and MCS Administration

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on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 in Classroom Updates

 

Enjoy this update from our Dance teacher, Katie Meehan, about what is happening is the Dance Classes this month.

Early Childhood- We looked to the Nutcracker for movement inspiration. Observing different characters (The Nutcracker prince, the sugar plum faires, flowers and snow flakes). We listened to the dynamic soundtrack of The Nutcracker as we moved like these various characters. Taped pathways on the floor added a navigational component and spatial structure to our movement.

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Lower El- We explored using various props as a way to further our experience with dance composition. We worked in groups of four with each group having different props. Some props we used were scarves, hula hoops, hats, sequin fabric, etc. The students all had an opportunity to work together to find a cohesive vision and voice for their dances. The resulting dances were all very playful and enjoyable for the kids to watch as they each performed for their classmates. We have also been working with mirroring in partner format. Mirroring with partners has helped to refine our artistic eyes as movers and observers.

Upper El- We have been looking at various choreographers in the Modern dance field as well as some dance for camera work. We viewed dance pieces by Shen Wei Dance Arts, Trisha Brown, Miguel Gutierrez, DV8, Pina Bausch, etc. Not only have we been observing the choices of these artists but the varying movement qualities of each. In Dance for camera we get to look at the art of dance from a different lens. Deviating from the traditional proscemium setting of a 2D perspective, we further examine movement from different angles with a more intimate perspective.

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on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 in Parent Education

Through the years I have commonly been asked about Montessori students and their development of social skills. Some parents, when considering a Montessori education, become concerned that because of the size of the facility, the mixed age groupings, or the limited number of classrooms that their child will somehow be "missing out" on some aspects of social development. The short answer is that although there might not be as many children on our campus, the opportunities to develop socially are unlimited in the organization of the classrooms and curriculum.

 

Montessori herself said that "Social life does not consist of a group of individuals remaining close together, side by side, nor in their advancing en masse under the command of a captain like a regiment on the march, nor like an ordinary class of school children. The social life of man is founded upon work, harmoniously organised and upon social virtues - and these are the attitudes which develop to an exceptional degree amongst our children. Constancy in their work, patience when having to wait, the power of adapting themselves to the innumerable circumstances which present themselves in their daily contact with each other, reciprocal helpfulness and so on, are all exercises which represent a real and practical social life and which we see, for the first time, being organised amongst the children in a school. In fact, whereas schools used to be equipped only so as to accommodate children, seated passively side by side, who were expected to receive from the teacher (we might almost say in a parasitic manner), our schools, on the contrary, have an equipment which is adapted to all those forms of work which are necessary in an active and independent little community. The individual work in which the child is able to isolate himself and to concentrate, serves to perfect his individuality and the nearer man gets to perfection, the better is he able to associate harmoniously with others. A strong social movement cannot exist without prepared individuals, just as the members of an orchestra cannot play together harmoniously unless each individual has been thoroughly trained by repeated exercise when alone."

As her philosophy developed, many standards were set into place which help a student develop socially. Some of those include:

 

Grace & Courtesy: An essential part of the Montessori curriculum is the opportunity for children to develop skills of grace and courtesy. Children learn to interact appropriately with one another through dialogue with adults, they learn to greet and host guests into their classroom, and they learn to dialogue with their peers in classroom meetings. As early as three years old students use the "peace table" as a place to they learn to recognize personal feelings and express themselves. They often share a "peace object" of some kind (ie; rock, flower...) that can be passed back and forth as they work to solve problems with their peers. As part of the Grace and Courtesy curriculum, children prepare and share snacks within the classroom. They are given lessons on appropriate meal behavior and sometimes teachers will join students at the lunch table to model appropriate meal behavior. Small Group Lessons: Though many lessons are presented to students individually, at all levels students participate in small group lessons. These lessons allow students to express their thoughts and ideas in a safe environment. As they dialogue with one another regarding their thoughts about a particular subject, teachers can assess conversational skills as well as how much or little a child may be grasping an important concept. When a child is uncertain or misunderstands a concept, teachers will represent material in a different way or within a different setting rather than reprimanding or shaming a child for misunderstanding. In these group lessons, students learn to listen to and respect other children's perspective. Care of Environment: At entry into a Montessori environment children are given lessons on care of the environment around them. They are taught that the space in which they learn is their space, it belongs to them. They are taught the value of community and learn their role in a community. They are also taught to respect and value the roles of their peers within the same community. Freedom to solve problems: Along with lessons on how to solve problems, children are given the freedom to actually practice the skill in a safe environment with caring and observant adults nearby. Montessori believed that children like to work out their own social problems and she said, "When adults interfere in this first stage of preparation for social life, they nearly always make mistakes....Problems abound at every step and it gives the children great pleasure to face them. They feel irritated if we intervene, and find a way if left to themselves." In order to accommodate this freedom, teachers use lunch, recess, and transition times to continually model appropriate social interactions. The time for lessons does not stop once the bell to step outside the classroom rings. Lack of Competition: Mixed age classrooms, individual progression, and self-correcting materials are all contributors to the ability to avoid competition among children in a Montessori environment. Students have a natural tendency to assist one another and collaborate. Oftentimes only one material of its kind will exist within a classroom, teaching children patience as well as allowing them to plan ahead, and accommodate change. Montessori said, regarding classroom materials, "The chid comes to see that he must respect the work of others, not because someone said he must, but because this is a reality he meets in his daily experience." Self-Correcting Materials: Work in the environment is set up to allow the child to use the materials to check their work. As students discover mistakes for themselves, the ability to correct becomes innate and they do not lack confidence for fear of being told they are wrong. It also allows the children to have purposeful movement. Celebration of Individuality: As students are allowed the opportunity to choose what to work on and how long to spend on an activity and the ability to not be rushed to understand concepts, they are able to celebrate their individuality. Some children will grasp a concept more easily than another, some students will embrace one subject at a different time than their peers and as they work with those sensitive periods they grow as individuals. Then, within their roles as an important part of the classroom community, they are able to share concepts with others.

 

In these ways and others, children in a Montessori environment are given the very best opportunities for appropriate social development.

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on Tuesday, 04 December 2012 in Parent Education

Thank you to those parents who recently attended our Elementary Admissions Information Meeting.  Remember, if you have a child who is moving into 1st or 4th grade next year, this meeting is MANDATORY for both parents.  Also, if you are currently still in process of deciding whether your Kindergartner or 3rd grader will continue with us next year, we recommend you come to the next meeting where Margaret, our Elementary and Middle School Program Head, will answer your questions regarding curriculum as well as social develpment of Elementary age students.  Many of the attendees of our meeting last Friday were especially excited by the brief overview of the Montessori Math materials.

During the meeting some questions were raised about Montessori students transitioning to schools with a more traditional approach to education.  Tim Seldin wrote an article entitled "What are the real benefits of sending a child to Montessori?" which sufficiently explains the ways in which Montessori children are prepared to transition to other environments.  I recommend this article for any parent who has a child enrolled in a Montessori program or who is considering a Montessori education for their child.  Read Tim Seldins article here...

We invite any parents with questions regarding enrollment for your child next year to make an appointment with either your students teachers or a member of our Administration where we will be happy to address any questions or concerns you might have.  Also, dont forget that our next Elementary Admissions Information meeting is coming up this Friday, December 7th @ 8:30am.

 

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This Upper Elementary student works on the Peg Board during work time.

 

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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 in Parent Education

One question that regularly comes my way this time of year is "what should I get my child for Christmas?"  Finding developmentally appropriate gifts that will keep our children happy and entertained, but still support their growth, can be challenging.  If you are anything like me, you don't want to spend a bunch of money on toys that will end up broken, lost, or forgotten by days end.  Below we've listed some of our favorite resources for finding the perfect gift for your Montessori child....

Small Hands is a wonderful resource for choosing gifts that support the Practical Life skills your child is working on regularly in the classroom.

Daily Montessori shares information about choosing the right gift for children at the right age.

Jessica Mueller shares some wonderful gift ideas for Infants, Toddlers, and Pre-Schoolers on her blog "Our Montessori Home."

Montessori by Hand shares a great list of children's books.

Support your Upper Elementary or Middle Schoolers love of science with some of these aweseome items from Science Discovery and Fun.

 

Best of luck on your search for the perfect gift!

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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 in Parent Education

Why Montessori for the kindergarten year?

Written by Tim Seldin with Dr. Elizabeth Coe

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Every year at reenrollment time, and in thousands of Montessori schools all over North America, parents of four-almost-five-year-olds are trying to decide whether or not they should keep their sons and daughters in Montessori for kindergarten or send them off to the local schools.

So here are a few answers to some of the questions parents often ask about Montessori for the kindergarten age child.

Naturally, to some degree the answer is also often connected to the question of family income as well, although we are often amazed at how often families with very modest means who place a high enough priority on their children's education will scrape together the tuition needed to keep them in Montessori.


It is a fair question and it deserves a careful answer. Obviously there is no one right answer for every child. Often the decision depends on where each family places its priorities and how strongly parents sense that one school or another more closely fits in with their hopes dreams for their children.

Read More...

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on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 in Classroom Updates

The Middle School students are at the completion of another cycle.  They have spent the past five weeks talking about how to be involved in the community and how service is a way to be involved and be supportive.

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During their Immersion this week the Middle School students are focusing on Community Service. They have visited Wasatch Community Garden, The Stable Place, and The Living Planet Aquarium where they have rendered different services.  They have prepared and organized independent volunteer opportunities which they will participate in tomorrow and have also planned trips to the Bicycle Collective and Camp Kostopulos.  They are expecting a visit from Tree Utah on Friday.

Check back soon for a more comprehensive report of what they've been up to, what they learned along the way, and how this process suppports adolescents in their development.

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The Montessori philosophy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori through careful and thorough observation of the child.  Having studied to become a medical doctor, much of her theory was developed based on the biological growth of the child.  In developing her theory, Montessori discovered that children go through sensitive periods in their development.  What is a sensitive period?  It could be defined as a special sensitivity related to certain elements in the environment towards which the organism is directed with an irresistible impulse and a well-defined activity.  In other words, and in relation to our children, sensitive periods are periods of time in which children are directed by an inner pull towards a certain activity, impulse, or characteristic.

Montessori herself described sensitive periods stating, "Children pass through definite periods in which they reveal psychic aptitudes and possibilities which afterwards disappear. That is why, at particular epochs of their life, they reveal an intense and extraordinary interest in certain objects and exercises, which one might look for in vain at a later age. During such a period the child is endowed with a special sensibility which urges him to focus his attention on certain aspects of his environment to the exclusion of others.  Such attention is not the result of mere curiosity; it is more like a burning passion.  A keen emotion first rises from the depths of the unconscious, and sets in motion a marvelous creative activity in contact with the outside world, thus building up consciousness."  Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work, pp. 120.

This means that we have a great responsibility to provide our children with an environment in which their inner urges can be satisfied in the development of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Montessori described missed sensitive periods as dropped stitches.  Once a sensitive period has passed, it will never return with the same intensity and completeness that it once existed.  In each period, the child is endowed with special powers to direct and guide the learning process to its greatest potential.  Montessori describes the child's development of language as "one of the most wonderful."  Between the ages of 0 and 6, a child is in a sensitive period to develop language.  A child learns to speak and communicate simply by being in an environment rich with language.  One of the main goals of our Toddler and Early Childhood programs here at MCS is the development of appropriate language communication.  Our Dual-Language programs are based on research indicating the importance of exposure to a second language before the age of 6 is most effective.

Of course, language is not the only sensitive period through which our children pass.  Order, small objects, refinement of senses, learning good manners are just a few others. Some sensitive periods manifest one way in one child and quite differently in another.  We might see a child developing their sense of order by building blocks or laying objects in neat rows.  Another child in the same sensitive period might insist on a specific bedtime or morning routine.  Yet, another child developing order might choose the same puzzle over and over again.

It is important to note that sensitive periods often pass as quickly as they come.  Therefore, the importance of a well prepared environment speaks volumes for the child's devel0pment.  Along with a prepared environment, we must consciously observe our children and place in their paths the appropriate opportunities for growth.  Each of our programs is built on the stages of growth that our students will experience and our specific activities placed on the shelves are a result of careful observation of the needs of our developing students.  The Montessori curriculum supports sensitive periods at each level.  For example, children aged 6-9 years old are in a sensitive period for development of social skills and appropriate communication.  Therefore, if you walk into one of our Lower Elementary classrooms you will find many students working in pairs or small groups as they collaborate on projects within their learning environment.  Of course, this is just one example of how our Montessori environment supports the sensitive periods of the students.