Before I became involved in the PSA, I noticed for years that most of the burden fell on one or two people, and I thought that was just too much; especially when you are juggling kids, work and life. So when I was asked by the MCS Administration to get involved, I suggested a restructuring of the PSA to become a “Team” representing all the age groups but with an emphasis on the Toddler and Early Childhood groups since they are our meat and potatoes. This PSA Team concept is now completing its second year with, I believe, great success on many levels. First, the obvious, the 6 reps share the roles, no one person is working alone; second, we have more of a presence on campus as a team; and third, we actually enjoy each other and collectively want to generate excitement and enthusiasm within our community. Who doesn’t want to be involved in that?
Since my son is graduating this year from MCS, this is my last year with the MCS PSA and I want to encourage those interested to consider joining the PSA Team next school year. We have such a unique, wonderful and supportive community of children, parents, teachers and staff that it makes it so much easier to be a part of the team.
Thank you for your support,
Utah has the highest melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) rates in the United States (read detailed article here). Given our altitude, a large number of sunny days, great outdoor activities, and a population with lots of fair-skinned people, we have the perfect storm of skin cancer risk factors.
It is important that our kids spend time outside but careful preparation is a must. Below are some measures that have proven effectiveness at reducing UV exposure and helping to prevent skin cancers:
1. Sunscreen reapplication: Unfortunately, sunscreen only lasts ~80 min before the protective effects diminish significantly, so be sure to reapply frequently.
2. Hats: Because the head and neck region is not covered with clothes it receives much more sun exposure than other parts of the body, leading to a higher proportional rate of skin cancers in this region. Hats are an easy method to reduce sun exposure. Be sure to send a hat to school with your child each day as well as taking one along on all your outings that include outside play.
3. Encourage sun-safe clothing, sunglasses when appropriate.
4. Go the extra mile by being an example; wear a hat when you are outside, apply sunscreen to yourself in your child's presence, wear sun-appropriate clothing and sunglasses, and talk to your child about sun safety on a regular basis. Children, like the rest of us, are empowered by knowledge.
Have you ever told your child the riveting and powerful story of their entrance into this great life? This is one of my favorite aspects of parenthood. Instilling wonder and thoughtfulness about your child’s emergence to earth is truly awe inspiring for them. Hearing the story of their own birth can calm a child’s fears, can build a child who feels down or sad and can bring great joy to any child. Understanding not only the emergence itself, but the powerful emotions tied to their anticipated arrival and their delivery give a child perspective into their powers as a human. Understanding their place in a family, their most important community of all, is hugely rewarding for a child. Children deeply appreciate learning how their own birth made a marked difference in the history of the universe.
A child will love this story at any point in their life, but the most crucial and powerful time to tell a child the story of their own birth is during the elementary years, particularly early elementary. The elementary child is finding their place in the world. Their understanding of its vastness has become more easy to comprehend and their curiosity about the interconnectedness of all living things is undeniably enthusiastic. Relationships can become deep and meaningful, particularly those outside the family. Children’s search for what matters, their social sensitivities and their developing moral judgement at this stage of development can often lead to questions like “Who am I...how do I fit in?” These are important questions and for this reason their personal birth story can be relevant pieces of the puzzle they are working on personally.
In a Montessori Lower Elementary program, the study of timelines show evolution of plants, animals, and humans. We work to instill a love and respect for our earth. A child’s place in this evolution helps them relate to their family, their social circle, and reinforces that all living things are valuable. Not to mention, humans develop a core belief about themselves at a very early age. What could possibly make a person believe they matter, that they have the power to change the world, or the power of love more than hearing about the love that enters a parent's
heart when they meet their child for the first time?
How was your child thought of while in utero?
What kind of preparations did you make for your child to join your family?
What kind of dreams did you have for your child and your family?
What was your child’s anticipated arrival like?
What were the feelings you had when your child’s delivery began?
What are the details about your child’s birth?
How did you spend the first moments/hours/days of your child’s life?
My own three children could recite the stories of their births themselves, and still, they ask to hear it often. We share those memories in times of sadness, in times of fear, in times of joy, in times of laughter. Every detail holds deep meaning for each of us and the parts that speak to us change as we change and evolve as individuals and as a family.
Bedtime stories have never been so much fun.
Happy story telling!
My beautiful family. My sister introduces her son to his new baby brother for the first time.
The magic of families is endless.
Our Second Annual All-school Assembly took place Wednesday morning at MCS! All of our staff and students, from toddlers to elementary, gathered for an incredible presentation. The Utah Okinawa Kenjinkai group shared a beautiful performance about their cultural Japanese heritage. They introduced us to Okinawan traditional music, dances, folk craft, and martial arts while briefly discussing the Japanese history associated in a fun and enlightening way.
A lot of our young toddler friends enjoyed singing and dancing throughout the assembly while our older friends were impressed by the costumes and instruments. In the traditional Okinawan dance, the Eisa, there is a closing song to end the performance. We were invited to join the dancers and dance together waving our hands to the beat of the music and drums. It was a great experience for all of our students to enjoy this cultural opportunity as a whole community.
Check our last year's experience here.
By Paola Ramirez
Maria Montessori said "The teacher, when she begins to work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through the work. She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be."
The process of having absolute faith in our little ones to develop in their own time, in their own way, and to their most authentic selves takes absolute faith. We let go of our own egos to allow for the child's great awakening. I will never forget my own hours of study...learning precisely how each material is to be presented, memorizing the sequence and curriculum, identifying sensitive periods in the children, writing lesson plans only to be erased and re-written, and discovering the meaning behind "preparation of the environment". Those hours paled in comparison to the spiritual awakening and rebirth of self that I am honored to experience on a daily basis at MCS.
And so today I applaud all those who have themselves engaged in this transformation process. Hosting interns means that MCS is a place for adult learning, teacher collaboration and exposure to ongoing research. Additional kudos to those master teachers who commit themselves to the process of guiding these new interns; an ongoing process of renewal and one of the beautiful experiences that brings MCS together as community.
The intent behind our Winter Sports Program is that these lessons and experiences let our students have a real-life group driven experience where there is crossover between programs; where there are great opportunities for the students to practice the life skills they have been learning and practicing in such a safe environment here at MCS. It is an opportunity to let our students explore one of Utah's greatest beauties- the mountains and our incredible snow.
Please keep in mind that these lessons are peer-oriented and group options are bound to contain a number of skill sets being presented, developed, and learned amongst the students. Some students are at the peak of that skill set and some are at the base of that skill set. However, those students are all within the same level. It can become very frustrating when friends ski/ board together on the weekends, but are grouped apart for the lessons. However, we ask that you place your trust in the ski program to group our students as they see fit and ask that you remind your children to do the same.
We really want to enforce that as these lessons continue on, it really is a collaboration as a group to learn and practice. Snowbird has hand-picked instructors specifically for our school, and instructors go through intense training on how to meet the needs of each student in the group.
A successful day may not be or mean that your student was the fastest, moved up a group, etc. A successful day should be evaluated on whether or not your student was safe, having fun, in an environment where they can learn without frustration, were able to communicate their feelings appropriately, follow instructions, and engage appropriately with their chaperones, instructors, and peers. Ultimately, when a student is feeling comfortable and safe, there will be more detailed, controlled progress. One of the reasons we appreciate Snowbirds Ski Program is that they take an approach to individualized instruction that is similar to our approach here at MCS. However, their ability to separate every single skill level is limited by a number of factors.
Please have your students meet in the Dance Studio at
6:15 pm. Ensure your student is wearing their pajamas- but not some that might be slippery on a stage.
Sequoias and Magnolias will perform: Tuesday, February 21st
Willows and Aspens will perform: Tuesday, February 28th
We hope to see you there as this is an event you won't want to miss out on.
What is the Capstone Year and why does my child deserve to have one?
We often refer to the 3rd Year a child is in a Montessori program as the Capstone Year. But, what is it really that makes that year so special/important? While the reasons to leave can be compelling and are worth every consideration, we believe the reasons to stay are worth your careful and thoughtful consideration.
Below is a list of 24 reasons we recommend keeping your child in Montessori for the Capstone Year:
- Does your child look forward to attending school? If so, consider yourself lucky. Why tinker with a winning situation when so many other families are frustrated or disappointed with their child’s school experience.
- Your child has waited for two years to be a leaders in their class. The third year students are looked up to as role models for the younger students, and most children eagerly await their opportunity to play this role.
- The third year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the child’s understanding. An excellent example is the early introduction to addition with large numbers through the Bank Game. When children leave Montessori at age five, many of the still forming concepts evaporate, just as a child living overseas will learn to speak two languages, but may quickly lose the second language if his family moves back home.
- As a leader in the class, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that he learned when he was their age. Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.
- Third Year Montessori children normally go on to still more fascinating lessons and more advanced Montessori materials. The natural process of abstraction or critical thinking around familiar concepts materializes naturally and gears the child up for more advanced skills.
- The Montessori curriculum is more sophisticated than that found in traditional programs.
- Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know her very, very well. They know her strengths and areas that are presenting challenges. She can begin the year strong, without having to build a relationship of trust with her teacher.
- Your child already knows most of her classmates. She has grown up in a safe, supportive classroom setting. She is learning appropriate social boundaries and interactions with a group of familiar peers.
- If your child goes on to another school, he will spend the first half of the year just getting used to the new educational approach.
- Montessori math is based on the European tradition of unified mathematics. Montessori introduces young children to basic geometry and other sophisticated concepts as early as kindergarten. Our spiraling curriculum means students will revisit these skills and build on them throughout their elementary experience.
- Third Years have a real sense of running their classroom community, an important leadership skill that goes on with them.
- In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at her own pace. In traditional education, she will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up or will be forced to move ahead before she is ready.
- Beginning as early as kindergarten and continuing through elementary, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning to grow into global citizens.
- In Montessori, students work with intriguing learning materials instead of preprinted work books, allowing a student to work on a skill for the right amount of time for their own understanding and not by a predetermined timeline.
- Emphasis is given to the arts, movement, and outdoor education. Exploration and creativity in these areas are continuously accessible and are encouraged.
- In Montessori, your child has been treated with a deep respect as a unique individual. The school has been equally concerned for his intellectual, social, and emotional development.
- Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and parents. Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!
- Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.
- In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.
- Montessori students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research. They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon-fed.
- Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively.
- Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.
- Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
- Three, six, nine and twelve years old are natural transitional ages for children. They are the best time for children to move to new classrooms or schools.
a business that supports their end of year outdoor adventure. This year they'll raft on the Green River!
This Third Year Upper Elementary student creates the square of 19
using a Montessori Math material, the Peg Board.
If you still have any doubt, spend a morning observing in your child’s class and compare it with a class in the other school you are considering. Sit quietly and take mental notes. The differences may be subtle, but most likely they will be significant. Then project your child into the future and ask yourself how the positive differences you observed in the Montessori classroom might help shape your child to become the teenager, and later the adult, you envisioned for your child’s future.
(Adapted from Tim Seldin’s 25 Reasons to Keep Your Child in Montessori Through the Kindergarten Year, Tomorrow’s Child.)
Students and teachers at MCS had a wild time at camp this past month! Our summer camps allow children to explore other countries and cultures, so we decided to use this year’s winter camp as an opportunity to learn more about our local environment here on the Wasatch Front. Accompanied by real-life materials from mammals big and small, we learned about some of the animals which also call Utah home.
We started our journey with American black bears, letting our friends handle a black bear’s pelt, skull, and rubber footprints. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources lent us front and hind prints of a black bear and, for size comparison, they also lent us a print made from the Alaskan Kodiak bear, Bart (who used to live in Heber, Utah with his trainers). The children were very excited to see the size difference between black bear prints and a Kodiak bear print. After learning more about bears and hibernation, friends made their very own bear den craft with a sleeping bear inside.
Each day, we had a new set of animals to observe and study. We learned about migratory animals like elk, moose, mule deer and pronghorns. We handled antler sheds and talked about the differences between antlers and horns. Friends were especially excited to meet our bobcat and mountain lion pelts and to see the differences in size, color, and the texture of their fur. They made their own animal prints out of clay and we discussed how, unlike coyotes and foxes, Utah’s cats have retractable claws.
On the last day of camp, we learned about our high climbing animals, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. We were able to handle the skull of a male bighorn sheep and to handle the horns of both male and female sheep. We observed the horns and noted that they show growth rings for each year the sheep is alive. Friends made bighorn headbands of their own and spontaneously decided to put on a mountain goat puppet show.
With all of our materials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, as well as some very kind MCS families, we were able to set up a mini-museum on the stage with a range of pelts, skulls, horns, sheds, and prints of Utah’s animals. Lower elementary students, Elyse and Anish, helped to organize the display and label our materials so that returning students could enjoy a piece of our Wild Utah winter camp.
Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education while supporting a charming and safe community for our students and their families. Choosing the right school can be a difficult task as increasing numbers in research show the impact of early education on the growing brain. So, beyond why a parent might choose a Montessori education for their child, I would like to answer some common questions about what sets Montessori Community School apart and how you will know if it is the right fit for your family.
- Tour, Admissions Meetings and Observation: Inquiring parents are required to visit our facility prior to acceptance of their child. This allows parents to “get a feel” for our campus and to learn specifics about each program from a knowledgeable member of our staff. Following attendance at a tour or an admissions meeting, parents are invited to observe in one of our classrooms. While an observation is not required, our goal is to help parents have a clear understanding of and comfort in the design of our programs before their child attends classes.
- Focus on the whole child and their developmental needs: Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education where equal attention is given to a child’s academic, social, and emotional needs. Along with learning at their own academic pace, children are given opportunities to learn self regulation and time management, develop and exercise independence and are given many opportunities to practice and refine social graces. Be it math or conflict resolution, lessons are given as needed, allowing children to progress at their own rate and ensuring success of one skill before moving on to the next.
- Mistakes are the best way to learn: We live in a time where safety concerns have made it difficult to give our children space to make mistakes. Montessori Community School is a safe place for children to explore, practice, and learn from their mistakes. Our staff is committed to helping students work through challenges in a safe and controlled environment, preparing them for the world outside of school. Self correcting materials allow children to identify mistakes within their academics and encourage children to try something until they feel confident enough to move on.
- Multi age classrooms: Angeline Stoll Lillard, in her authoritative research review Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, describes the Montessori multi-age setting this way: "Montessori encourages learning from peers in part by using three-year age groupings. This ensures that as children move through the classroom they will be exposed to older and younger peers, facilitating both imitative learning and peer tutoring... Dr. Montessori was quite clear about the need for this mix of ages." These multi age groupings also allow teachers, students and parents to develop close relationships, making a team approach to education manageable and effective.
- Children get to choose and children get to move: Children like to make choices; they like to be the masters of themselves. In a safe and carefully prepared environment, MCS students are given the option to choose which area of the classroom to work in at any given time. The carefully prepared environment ensures that there are materials and activities to meet a variety of interest and skill level. They decide how much time or energy should be put into a particular task and children are encouraged to revisit materials or lessons as needed, are invited to move forward when they feel they are ready, and have the opportunity to actively research topics that interest them while giving adequate time and attention to the foundational skills needed in each academic area of the curriculum. Children in every program at MCS are able to move throughout the classroom, and sometimes beyond, to meet the very important need for movement in their growing bodies. Movement from work to lesson to snack and so forth ensures that children can stay engaged in their work process throughout the entire uninterrupted work cycles. Growing and changing bodies have many options for work spaces and styles.
- Community: MCS prides itself on having a close knit and caring community. You will find community in individual classrooms as students stay in one class for an entire cycle and because of the longevity of our teaching staff. MCS staff have been with us anywhere from 2 to 25 years. MCS parents are committed to supporting our students, our staff and our programs and a variety of organizations exist to allow parent involvement and support. A number of events encourage the community to come together on a regular basis.
- Variety in schedules: As part of our commitment to community and family, MCS offers a variety of scheduling options. Parents can be assured that their children are well cared for, well loved, and respected for their individuality and uniqueness without having to transfer to a different program part way through the parents work day.
Interested parents are invited to learn more about MCS at an upcoming Admissions Information Meeting on January 19, 2016 from 6:30-8pm. Adults only, sorry no child care provided for this event.
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Meeting starts promptly at 6:30pm
Adults only - sorry, no child care provided
Bring a friend!
Montessori Community School will be hosting an Admissions Information Meeting for all adults interested in learning more about any of our programs for 2017-2018 Admissions. Parents are invited to join us for a presentation about Montessori method, curriculum and philosophy and how they are implemented in our program to educate the whole child. Then, visit individual classrooms to learn more about each program and to meet and greet with our administrative and teaching staff.
Montessori Community School serves children aged 18 months through 6th grade and we offer an extended day program, 7:30am - 6:00pm. Confirm your attendance or interest in coming on our Facebook event.
Montessori Community School's mission is to provide a rich, individualized educational experience, which guides and nurtures the natural unfolding of the whole individual and inspires a lifetime love of learning and peace.
A Few Reminders:
- The doors do not open until 8:00 am and camp also closes at 5:30 pm. Please be mindful of these times. Plan to be at the school no later than 5:25 pm to ensure there are no late pick-ups. -Late Pick-Up Fees will apply.
- Ensure your child brings the following items to camp: winter attire, a lunch from home, and a change of clothes (for Toddler and Early Childhood students). If your child takes naps, please provide a blanket.
- Make sure that your child brings appropriate clothing for any weather, as we will go outside whenever the weather permits.
Click here for a camp schedule.
There is a power in preparing for future events by devising solutions and strategies for goals rather than emphasizing, simply, avoiding problems.
For example, having students identify what their best hopes are for their behavior during a field trip and asking them to identify those hopes in specific detail. If the student is unable to come up with their "best hope" we can ask them to think about what their teacher or parent would likely say if asked that question.
If you have a particular student anticipated in having more trouble than another, you could meet with a parent and/or teacher so they can hear the opinion of that other person word for word.
The following is how our school plans to approach students in preparation for Winter Sports and we suggest parents take a similar approach as you start engaging in conversations about the Winter Sports Program and the ski/ snowboard lessons.
Sample Situation 1:
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
Student, what are your best hopes for your behavior during winter sports (future event) this week?
I will behave myself/ act good/ some other generic response.
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
So, if you were behaving yourself/ acting good (student's words) during winter sports (future event) this week, what would that look like? (student response) What would your ski instructor notice/see you doing? (student response)
[We are looking for specific behaviors here, with as much detail as possible. We also want these behaviors to be positively worded (so it's not an absence of some negative behavior, it's the presence of a positive behavior we are focusing on).]
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
So, let's say that you were able to meet your best hopes. You _________, __________, and ____________ (list positive behaviors they identified they will display). If you did all those things during winter sports this week, what difference would that make?
After each future event, you want to help the student reflect on what went well (so we can do more of what works).
Sample Situation 2:
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
Student, what are your best hopes for your behavior during winter sports (future event) this week?
I don't know.
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
Ok, well, what do you think your teacher would say? What do they hope to see from you during winter sports?
[You are looking for a specific behavior here, with as much detail as possible. We also want these behaviors to be positively worded (so it's not an absence of some negative behavior, it's the presence of a positive behavior we are focusing on).]
Um, the want me to ski well.
Teacher/ Administration/ Parent:
Ok, so if you were skiing well, what would that look like? [Student gives a description of turning, skiing not too fast etc.]
And what else do you need to do in order to ski well? Are there other things that you should be doing in your lessons to help you ski your best? [Leading into positive behaviors such as listening, following instructions, controlling their body, etc.]
So, let's say that you were able to meet your best hopes. You ______________, ___________, and _______________ (list positive behaviors they identified they will display). If you did all those things during winter sports this week, what difference would that make?
After each future event we want to help the student reflect on what went well (so we can do more of what works). Help the student process the event. If an amends are in order consider having the student write an apology letter reflecting on the behavior, and perhaps how that behavior made you and other feel. This will help the student connect their behavior to environmental facets (you, instructors, other students etc).
This information was advised by school psychologist, Dr. Melissa DeVries.
Funds raised during our annual Fun Run go directly toward our Service Learning objectives: Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program (our grandmothers) and our girls we sponsor through the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund, COEEF.
Due to the success of last year's Fun Run, this holiday season, we have been able to send our grandmothers much needed supplies such as wool for weaving, bundles of firewood ($500 each), Fall and Spring Gift Packs, and Food Gift Certificates coming to a total of $2,239.94.
In addition to these items, MCS also sends each of our grandmothers $300 gift cards to Walmart. Please see this letter from the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program Head. We thank you all for your generosity and support in your student's education of service and your example and spirit of love you generate and pass along to the world.
I am excited winter sports season is upon us! Hopefully, the snow stays fresh throughout the season. Last Thursday, December 1st, MCS emailed out our Waiver and Release. As we strive to go paperless, it has been a bit confusing with the different links that have gone out. This far, there has been a link for Snowbird's Ski School Waiver (Mandatory), a survey to determine Snowboarding interest, and MCS' Waiver and Release (Mandatory).
If you have not received or filled out both Snowbird's Waiver or MCS' Waiver, please let the office know.
Thanks so much for all of your support and enthusiasm in helping your student to be prepared for such a special experience and wonderful opportunity to experience activities our beautiful Rocky Mountains allow.
Click here to read full blog post on CGMS's site.
The four-year old girls were good friends, but now they’re angry. One said something to the other, tempers flared, and a friendship is in jeopardy. Fortunately, the children are in a Montessori classroom. Montessori schools use many techniques for harmony, but in this classroom they have a peace rose. One little girl retrieves the flower from its shelf, expresses her hurt, and passes the rose to her friend. Together they explore their feelings, and conflict is transmuted into understanding. The children have learned a process to maintain harmony.
In a time of resurging intolerance, we may turn to our classrooms for reassurance. They are gardens of peace, the fields where we sow the seeds of a better world. We may seek solace in the work we do, knowing that the beauty we nurture will in time blossom into magnificent flowers of justice, kindness and equality.
Recently I have found myself thinking again and again about victory. We know that peace is more than just an absence of war. But what is a Montessori victory? Do we conquer our enemies? No. We will not repair this world by subduing those who disagree with us.
Do we shout down the bigot? How much better for the world if the bigot abandons their bigotry? How much better if the criminal no longer commits crimes, if the sinner no longer sins? The second World War was conceived when the victors of the first war mistreated the vanquished; a third world war was averted when the conquered became allies. Force without justice is domination, not victory.
A Montessori call to arms is a call to the classroom. This is where we cultivate real victory.
True and lasting peace will arise from our schools, where we prepare the next generation of peaceful leaders. The work we do is ever more vital, and I urge you not to despair at the territory we still have to cover.
Let’s recall how far we have traveled from 1907, when Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini in Rome. Nominated three times during her life for the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Montessori worked tirelessly to improve the rights and conditions of women and children. Justice informed her methodology, and peace infuses the very DNA of our classrooms. The strides made for liberty in the past century – the advances made for children, for women, for minorities, for gays and lesbians – do not doubt that even today we see the ripples of her work throughout all the social progress we’ve made.
That the task is not yet complete should not surprise us.
Wherever we look globally, we see the anger and the outrage of those who have felt excluded from the political process. Income inequality is at an all-time high. Far-right parties are rising across the world, fueled by bigotry, economic uncertainty and a populism born of the sense of neglect by elite powers. The political turmoil is only one of the symptoms of our broken world. We do not forget the millions of refugees fleeing war, and the victims of the terrible wars themselves.
Do not be disheartened, for as long as we teach peace there will be a light in this world.
Yes, our work begins in the classroom, but shall we stop there? What else can our school communities do?
It will not be enough for us just to stall some current agenda. When we work to defeat ISIS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa, or unseat some political adversary at home, we earn but a moment’s respite. Unaddressed, hatred and violence will always return in a new form. A lasting peace requires us to heal the deeper wounds of this earth.
Dr. Montessori taught us that when children act out, it is because they have unmet needs. Is this not true of adults as well? Perhaps at no time since the second World War has the planet been so united in angst about the future. Montessori has a healing message for a broken world, and this is the time for us to recommit to telling the story, both inside and outside of our classrooms.
We can begin by speaking our healing message. Shout it from the mountaintop, whisper it in the halls of your school. Organize, promote justice, discuss difficult topics. Model peace in and out of your classrooms. Educate the children and adults in your community. Participate. Engage.
It begins and ends with our conviction that Montessori has a message of peace which will mend this world’s wounds.
Here is my attempt to formulate a Montessori statement on peace. We urge every school to create such a statement and share it. Feel free to use or modify mine as you see fit.
A Montessori Statement on Peace
- We believe that we can change the world.
- We believe that when you work with children, you touch the future.
- We believe that peace is more than the absence of war. We will repair this planet by building a lasting peace.
- We believe that anger comes from hurt and that hatred comes from fear.
- We believe that a lasting peace comes from understanding, respect and love for all life.
- We believe that Montessori is education for the 21st century, and the 22nd, and the 23rd – that this is the best and truest method for preparing children to become the next generation of leaders.
- We will prepare the peace by addressing the causes of suffering, and prepare the children in our classrooms to look suffering in the eye and say “no more.”
- We believe in the dignity of the child and of the adult. We believe that it is possible for mankind to live in peace and harmony. Moreover, we are going to make that happen.
- We believe that all people have a place at our circles. We commit to bringing into our circles those who have been most excluded.
- We believe that all voices should be heard. We know that when people shout, it is because they do not feel that we are listening.
- We will always stand with the oppressed, but never fail to hold a hand out in peace to the oppressor – for we know that someday they will take it. On that day we will all be free.
- We believe the world may be made forever safe from demagogues and dictators. As Montessorians, we know our students will laugh off the shackles of fear that tyrants use to bind the populace. Furthermore, what tyrant could ever arise from our beautiful, peaceful classrooms?
- We believe that we may go forward so that we will never go back again.
- We know that when we march forward from dark spaces, we will bring all of our sisters and brothers with us into the light - and leave none behind.
May we all increase our efforts to make peace. May we all have peaceful hearts. May we all believe in the beauty of a future full of hope, love and peace.
Handling Peer Interaction Complaints From Your Early Childhood Student
It can be difficult to know what to do when your child voices complaints about negative experiences with classmates. Parents natural response is to be protective. Thus, many of us jump to the defense of our child, driven to find an expedient end to the problem such as asking classroom teachers to stop it from happening again. While well-meaning, this may not be the most feasible or beneficial way to handle peer problems.
In fact, situations like these represent a unique opportunity for parents to engage their child in problem solving and social skill-building. They learn these skills by (1) observing parent reaction and problem solving styles, and (2) practicing new skills on their own during future problematic encounters. The 3- to 6-year age group is a crucial time for learning social emotional skills that research shows contribute to success later on. Over and above acquisition of early academic skills, children who develop their functional communication, the ability to tolerate delayed gratification and the ability to comply with reasonable requests (i.e., follow directions) show better school performance (and overall life skills) down the road.
The next time your child comes home with a complaint about a negative peer interaction consider the following thoughtful response methods:
- Offer Empathy and a chance to tell their story...“I am sorry that happened today, tell me more about ________________. How did you feel when _________________ happened?” If you feel inclined to react with your own emotions, do your best to take a breath and a break, followed by empathy. Remember that your reaction may encourage or discourage a variety of emotional responses from your child.
- Consider whether you need more information from another perspective… all stories have more than one side. We can better process the event and plan our response when we have more information. After taking time to visit with your child about the event, author an inquiring email to their teachers if you still have questions. Remember to remain factual. Present what your child said (in their own words) and ask not for a solution (yet) but for more information. What have the teachers observed? What has been tried and worked or not worked for these situations? What can you (the parent) be doing to support your child?
- Understand what your child would like to see happen instead… We may intuit that our child is bothered by the interaction because they felt the need to tell us about it. But, we should ask specifically what was it that bothered them and why? For example, what did they want or expect to happen that didn’t? How would they have preferred the interaction to go? What would like they you (the parent) to do to support them? If their response involves a reasonable goal, we can find a different way to help them achieve that goal.
- Teach, model and offer opportunities to practice (through role play) a new way of responding… Help your child generate ideas about other ways to respond should the situation occur again. What can they do differently and what do they think the outcome might be of those new responses? Practice using role play skills. Don’t forget to anticipate both positive and negative outcomes (as these provide opportunities to practice handling disappointment and persistence, but also helps maintain hopefulness that things can get better.)
- Email your child’s teachers again with a plan you and your child have worked out at home...make the classroom teachers aware of the plan so they can be supportive of the newly learned skills your child will be using and can continue to follow up if other skills are needed. AND, don’t forget to check back with your child about how the new plan is working!
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Hoodies may be tried on during school hours. A clothes rack with the various sizes and colors may be found in the school lobby.
To order, go to www.mcsslc.com/gear.