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MCS would like to wish our community a Happy Earth Day.  What a lovely opportunity to celebrate the beauty of our miraculous earth. Montessori is known as a method that advocates environmental education and invites children to become stewards of the earth.  Maria Montessori herself said that "children are inspired with a feeling for nature" and believed that nature plays a most important role in the development of the whole child. 

Unconstructed play and exploration in nature foster creativity and independence.  Students learn the value in community and their interconnectedness as they begin to recognize and care for living things.  Richard Louv, author of 'Lost Child in the Woods' and proponent of the need for nature in education noted, “multisensory experiences in nature help to build the cognitive constructs necessary for sustained intellectual development.“ At present, electronics have an overwhelming presence in society and in the development of the child.  Research indicates that this presence has the ability to hinder children's overall development. So what do they need to counter all this visual stimulation?  Outdoor experience! Time and effort in nature gives children the opportunity to experiment with cause and effect and avoidance of immediate gratification, which they experience so frequently with electronics. 

One of the most unique principles of Montessori programs is the Cosmic Curriculum, an overall Montessori approach to education that involves helping children develop an awareness that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent and forms a harmonious whole and that they themselves are part of and contribute to that whole. The Cosmic Curriculum lends itself to exploration and appreciation of nature. Environmental education is a curriculum that encourages children to explore the wonders of nature; including botany, zoology, preservation of the earth, and other scientific concepts that are present in Montessori such as the study of the earth, water, weather and the universe as a whole. These subjects come alive with hands-on experience. 

And so, in honor of this world wide celebration, we offer thanks to Maria Montessori and all those who join us in bettering our children's future as we share insights to miracles of the universe through education of the child.  

“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them in cupboards.”  Maria Montessori

Read more about our environmental education here.








 

 

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GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, Nobel Prize-winning Novelist & Montessori Graduate Dies

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the columbian author who won a Nobel Prize for literature was sent to a Montessori school and is an avid supporter of the philosophy. He stated, " I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life."

His book, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' has been named as the book that has most shaped world literature of the last 25 years.


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"Montessori was like playing at being alive."- Marquez

Farewell Letter - Credited to Marquez

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think.

If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives.

I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them.

Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know. Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.

For you, with much love, Your Friend, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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At 10:15am today our school participated in an earthquake drill.  The students practiced "drop and cover."  Once given the all clear the students and teachers evacuated the building.  The drill was successful and following the drill our staff reviewed additional procedures that would benefit MCS in the event of an earthquake.  Development of our Emergency Preparedness plan is ongoing.  Some information can be found in our Parent Handbooks and we anticipate that by fall we will have a more detailed write-up to share with families.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

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Students practice "Duck and Cover" upon hearing the Earthquake Alarm sound.  

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Teachers call roll upon arrival to the back field.

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Everyone is accounted for!

Audio played over our P.A. system to symbolize the earthquake.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014, Montessori Community School will participate in the Great Utah Shake Out.  Our staff Emergency Preparedness team has met to review procedures and future preparation plans.  Thursday at 10:15 am our students and staff will participate in an earth quake drill where we will practice "Drop, Cover and Hold On."  Then we will practice an evacuation of the building.  Parents will be informed once all students have been accounted for. Many thanks to Ramira, Jan, Bob and the rest of our staff for your commitment to the safety of our staff and students.  
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What has allowed Montessori to stand the test of time?  What has protected the method that first began in 1907?  Many methods of education have been tried and tested for years in the United States but Montessori is one program that has not only stayed around, but is growing and receiving more recognition than ever.  Montessori schools, including those in the public sector, are on the rise in the United States of America.  

Most Montessorians will agree that beneath many layers the most basic element continues to exist.  This simple concept that gives heed to the needs of the child is that of observation. 

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"The Montessori Method continues to serve children well because it is based on the scientific observation of individual children....The lessons, the materials, that careful order of presentation, work because, and only because, they respond to the observed needs of the individual child. Montessori requires consistent and objective research into the conditions of each child. Montessorians often seek peace first and precision later.  But it is through the specificity of unbiased observation that our compassion emerges for each child we serve.  It is by understanding the needs of each child, as a unique and concrete individual, that we see his humanity."  
Catherine McTamaney, The Tao of Montessori.   

Montessori teachers are carefully trained in the skill of observation.  Preparation of the environment, lesson plans, and daily scheduling are all reliant on their precise understanding of the needs of the children, which comes through observation.  Through observation they gain the full picture and see any outlying factors that might affect a students learning patterns or behavior. Once a new concept is presented and practiced by a child, the adult is responsible to watch the child and ask "does the child do what they have been taught to do?"  Again, this can apply to their practice of the materials and concepts in the classroom but is also applicable to behavior, social interactions, etc.  Montessori teachers are also taught to think twice before interfering with anything a child is doing.  Is the action purposeful and intentional? Is anyone or anything being harmed?  Is their opportunity for growth?  

In addition to the careful observation of the Montessori teacher, we encourage observation by the child in a Montessori environment.  Through observation, children learn more than one way of doing things.  They also learn the important and essential skill of patience.  Children are encouraged to stop and think.  As they learn to observe, they give themselves time to evaluate and think of outcomes.  Observation is a beautiful skill for our young people as it allows them the ability to see the perspectives of others and the recognition that there can be more than one way.  It supports the idea that we teach children to learn to think and love to learn. 

 "If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future."  Maria Montessori




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"As soon as children find something that interests them they lose their instability and learn to concentrate."
-Maria Montessori

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One of the great attributes of success is confidence. While success breeds confidence, confidence also breeds success. However, there are no real courses on success, no seven easy steps, no magic potions, so how do we help our children build this important component into their lives? 


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The first level of building confidence is the ability to finish a project. In Montessori you introduce activities that are reasonable for the child to achieve. Second, you then give the child the time to achieve. Third, the project has to have value; it has to be worthwhile. (Learning to tie your shoes for a young child meets this need.) For confidence to build the project also has to have an element of real challenge – not one that can be accomplished in a moment or a day – learning to read fills this bill. Real confidence has to take you through all kinds of situations for which you are not prepared – which is pretty much a definition of life.

A Montessori classroom offers a child the ability to work at a problem (and the one that follows that etc) for a long time, while making mistakes (and not being devastated by them) and working your way to a satisfactory conclusion. Confidence just doesn’t come from finishing but by surmounting the problems that prevent you from reaching an easy victory. Confidence comes amidst the obstacles, the problems and the difficulties.

As parents, we don’t want our children to struggle so we often short circuit the confidence process by doing the heavy lifting or rescuing our children. We often don’t hear the child’s inaudible cry, “Help me do it myself.” Dr. Montessori heard it and developed a whole environment to make it possible for them to do it themselves.

Confidence also comes and is aided by people who tell you that you can, instead of telling you that you can’t. The seeds of confidence are tiny and are watered by small words, small deeds and small accomplishments. A Montessori environment opens to your child not only the realm of the possible but the realm of the impossible. When you are three or four years old so many things seem impossible – math, riding a two wheeler, jumping rope. Ironically, as you grow the list of the impossible grows along with you because now there are so many more things you never even know about that seem to go on the impossible list.

This is where real confidence begins its ascent of the mountains of impossibility. Everyday in a Montessori classroom where your child has a plan of activity, works through mistakes, takes one bite at a time of the problems, is being encouraged and works at the challenge again and again is laying the bedrock for a lifetime of confidence.

Confidence is like the ancient story of the shepherd boy David who said, “I killed the bear and the lion, this Goliath (of a problem, a challenge an impossibility) will be no different. Confidence – been there, done that – bring it on!

by: Edward Fidellow 
www.crossmountainpress.com

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Raising-Resilient-Children.jpgRaising children in the twenty-first century is a most rewarding challenge. In modern society we have increased access to mass media and greater sprawl within families. Youth are increasingly influenced by sources of information beyond parental control. Thus, our task as parents is to figure out how to balance sheltering our children while still preparing them for the future.

Research has identified many key elements that predict better quality of life in adulthood; academic achievement, absence of medical and mental health problems, financial stability, and rewarding social connections with others. Yet most of us at one point or another face situations that create vulnerabilities in these areas. So this begs the question, how do we bounce back? And more importantly, how do we teach our children to demonstrate the same perseverance when faced with stressors?

Everyday I work with families who are striving to bolster the skills and abilities of their children. They seek to help them to adapt to current stressors and challenges, and to acquire characteristics likely to help them lead a successful life in the future. My method of teaching is based on building resilience.

Drs. Goldstein and Brooks, authors of Raising Resilient Children (2002) stated, “Resilient children can cope effectively with stress, pressure, and everyday challenges. They appear capable of bouncing back from disappointments, adversity or trauma. They learn to develop and set realistic goals for themselves and those in their lives. They are capable of solving problems and interacting comfortably with others. They possess self-discipline and a sense of self-respect and dignity.” Temperamental differences can play a role in how resilient children are, but this mindset can also be taught in everyday interactions.

One of the most inspiring lessons I have learned through teaching others is that there are so many consistencies between the guideposts of Resilient Parenting and the tenets of the Montessori Method. Let’s examine a few:

First, resilience-minded parents teach their children to solve problems and make decisions. This allows children to have a sense that they can control what happens to them. This mentality fosters independence and a sense of responsibility. The Montessori classroom allows children to develop self-reliance by making choices and dealing with the consequences of their choices. Children develop awareness and trust in their decision-making through the feedback loops of choices and consequences.

Second, resilience-minded parents discipline in ways that promote self-discipline and self-worth. This helps children to appreciate mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than indications of failure, furthering the child’s emerging sense of ownership and responsibility. Positive feedback, encouragement, natural and logical consequences are all powerful teaching tools. The Montessori classroom also encourages children to learn from mistakes and successes by allowing for independent decision-making. Children make choices and experiment within a well-prepared environment that promotes creativity, confidence, and a sense of purpose. It is appreciated that children need time and practice to master new skills and that unnecessary help actually hinders development. Montessori truly embraces the “help me help myself” attitude.

Numerous other similarities can be drawn out between the Montessori Method and resilient parenting practices such that I consider Montessori a model of resilient education, with well-trained teachers to serve as additional charismatic, influential adults in our children’s lives during the school day. As parents, we are in a unique position to extend these teachings. Parents can adopt a mindset of resilient parenting “to foster strength, hope and optimism in our children” everyday.

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Please join us on March 4th from 6:30pm - 8:00pm as Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., an MCS parent and our school psychologist, shares more about raising resilient children and how a Montessori education supports resiliency.

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As a parent at the Montessori Community School you have access to a private parent center which allows you to interact with your child's teacher and classroom, collaborate with other parents, communicate with the school and others in our community, find educational resources.
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The Willows and Sequoias Music and Dance Performing Arts Showcase “Commotion in the Ocean” on Tuesday night was a great show! The performance began with both classes singing a variety of songs and this was followed by four group dance numbers - two from each class.

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As usual, we had our little extroverts who danced and sang with such enthusiasm and on the other end of the spectrum those who were more shy and reserved. It is all a learning experience and we were absolutely delighted to see them growing and celebrating together.

Many thanks to all the parents, grandparents, and family friends for coming out to support your children. They are all beautiful and talented. We are very grateful to be working with them!


Aspens and Magnolias Music and Dance Performing Arts Showcase “Commotion in the Ocean” on Tuesday was absolutely delightful!

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*Please watch for an announcement of upcoming Arts Showcases to display Art Specialist Kindra Fehr's work with our Kindergarten through Middle School students later in the Spring!*

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The theme for Winter Camp this year was “Icy Oceans - the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans." With Corey heading the camp and Kellie assisting her the children had the opportunity to be involved in many fun-filled activities.

There were science experiments where the children learned how snow turns to ice, why icebergs float, how glaciers move and how temperature and salinity affects the melting of the ice.

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The children also learned more about the location of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans and why they are so cold. They participated in exploratory activities about Giant Jelly Fish, Polar Bears, Narwhals, Emperor Penguins, Ring Seals, The Northern Lights & the conditions that create such amazing colors, plants and organisms that grow in ice and on the ocean floor, and so much more!

This was definitely a fun filled six days and all the children had a wonderful time. Our thanks to Corey, Kellie and all the teachers who participated.

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An MCS Kindergarten student works on the Addition Strip board discovering "Ways to Make 10"

Kindergarten is the harvest year for all the planting and intellectual tending that has gone on for the preceding years in preschool. The kindergarten child’s learning explodes into an avalanche of reading and writing and math. All of the earlier preparation (practical life, sensorial) now finds academic outlets. The kindergarten child not only gains a wider breadth of knowledge but a deeper understanding of what she has learned and now is able to use this knowledge to enhance her own intellectual pursuits.

A Montessori education is not just cumulative in its learning; it is exponential in its understanding. The learning that happens in kindergarten is not just adding another year’s knowledge but multiplying what is learned and applying it to what is to come.

It is common for Montessori kindergarten graduates to be able to read well (and write) and to understand math far beyond addition and subtraction all the way to multiplication, division and geometry.

To miss this formative year that sets successful life patterns is to miss the ultimate advantage of this unique preschool experience.Maybe even more significantly, the lifetime patterns of responsibility, goal setting, having a work ethic, working through mistakes, inquiry and curiosity are being firmly set.

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The kindergarten year in a Montessori classroom is also the year of mentoring. It is the year when the five year old is able to really help her classmates. This mentoring year is significant for two reasons. First, when you teach others, you really master the subject for yourself. Second, when you are asked to teach you demonstrate your mastery of the material. It is this mastery that produces the profound feelings of self-confidence and assurance that is the hallmark of Montessori students. Real achievement and real achievement demonstrated builds real self-esteem.

Leaving the Montessori program before kindergarten often places a child into an educational setting that is not as advanced; nor one that allows for the initiative that has been carefully cultivated during the earlier preschool years. The child is often introduced to a different curriculum one that lacks the individual intellectual satisfaction that comes from exploring and discovering the wonderful world of learning found in Montessori.

The essence of successful life is to be able to make wise choices. The Montessori kindergarten student is at a major threshold of exercising that wise decision making power. To lose that opportunity is to lose a significant part of the hard won success of the preceding years.

The great gift of an education is not the accumulation of facts and statistics but the lighting of the fire of learning, discovery and joy. It is a gift that Montessori children have the privilege and pleasure of opening and using for a lifetime.

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Our Annual Admissions Open House is coming up.  If you are interested in learning more about any of our programs we invite you to join us.  Call the school for more information.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_jim_valentine.jpgAs we mentioned in a previous email a few weeks ago, we had to have most of an old elm tree which was located in the Outdoor Classroom cut down as it was shading part of our photovoltaic panels. This was a great loss for some of the teachers and students.

One family decided to spearhead a fundraiser in order to hire a wood carver to change the stump into something beautiful that all the school could enjoy. They asked me what I thought of the idea and although I loved it I felt that it was not the time of year to ask families if they would like to give money to the school for this project. I suggested that we wait until the Spring and then consider it. As it turned out this family who has asked to remain anonymous was so fired up that they decided to fund the project themselves as a gift to the school.

So for the past two weeks Jim Valentine, wood carver extraordinaire, has been working on our elm and the carving is near to completion. I would invite you to check out his work on Facebook and of course to visit our beautiful carved tree.

We feel so blessed to have been given such an incredible gift and know that it is going to be such a special place for our children to gather and enjoy for many years to come. We are truly grateful to our family who made this wonderful gift possible.

See more work from Jim Valentine

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b2ap3_thumbnail_nudaysyria2.jpgDear Montessori Community School,

As you all know we have been collecting items for Syria such as coats, warm clothes, diapers, baby formula, and shoes. Thanks to all your help and generosity we were able to ship a 40 foot container and have enough items to fill a second 40 foot container and ship it.

These items will be going to Syrian people who have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing war and live in refugee camps near the border of Turkey. These people have lost their homes, members of their families, income, basic requirements to support their families and most of all, their sense of security. They are living in tents, some with nothing between them and the ground but a piece of carton. They have no electricity, some have no access to clean water or even food.

My Syrian friend who is working with many Syrian humanitarian organizations found that NuDay Syria can pay, through donations, for shipping containers overseas if we can fill them. So she decided to help prepare those helpless people for winter which is quickly approaching. Her project was called Keep Syria Warm.

Thanks to all the help from the community we were able to collect thousands of coats and sweaters, winter boots, medical supplies for the injured , baby formula and basic needs.On behalf of all the Syrian refugees anxiously awaiting these supplies, and myself, thank you to all of you for helping us send that container. It wouldn't be feasible without your kindness. Also a special thanks to Robyn and Ramira who supported the project.

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The Toddler Parent Education night on Positive Discipline was a great success. Thanks to Ms Meghan for co-ordinating the information and setting up the program and also to Ms Nanette, Ms Sophie and Ms Kenzee for their informative and often entertaining presentation. At various points during the evening parents asked follow up questions. The teachers always had great suggestions but reminded the parents that sometimes certain approaches will work and other times not and it is important to keep trying new tactics. It was stressed that it is vital to always be respectful of each child and to try not to get into a power struggle as this always ends up with one winner and one loser. It was also suggested that if a child was pushing them to their limits that they try to have the child take a break to calm themselves and if possible take a break themselves.

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It is always heartening to hear other parents speaking of their struggles and frustrations so that it is clear that most people are experiencing the same issues and that this is normal stage of development for each child and that there are many ways to help make the process more manageable and hopefully enjoyable. There is no doubt that Toddlers are sometimes challenging but they are also so delightful, capable, inquisitive, lovable and growing and learning at such a rapid pace. We are most fortunate to have these children in our school community and our Toddler teachers are amazing. We are constantly impressed with their knowledge, patience and loving attitudes.

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Dear Montessori Community School Families,

Please find below a list of the Giving Projects that our classes have chosen to support this Holiday Season. We sincerely thank all of you who have already donated. If you have not had the opportunity and would still like to help any of these adults or children who have great need of support please feel free to donate to any of the projects. You may well be drawn to one more than another and we want you to know that anything you can give to any of these projects will be so gratefully received and will make a real difference in the recipients lives.

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Oquirrh: Thanks to all of our parents and families who donated to our November charity, the YWCA!

Wasatch: We will be collecting items for children and teens at the Christmas Box House through Friday, December 13th. If you would like to help, we are looking for clothing, toys, books and athletic gear for youth and children. Thanks to all of our families who have shown their support!

Willows and Aspens: We are happy to announce that by your generous support, we have been able to collect a full bin of books for PCMC Hospital’s “Traveling Library.” A big Thank You goes out to parents and families who donated to this special charity. We will continue to collect books for the library through Friday, December 20th.

Toddlers: Help a refugee family in need make a new start here in Salt Lake City. This family is from Mynmar and has only been here only about a month.

We are still looking for items such as pajamas, underwear, sweaters and toys for the children (boy, age 3 and baby boy, age 1). Mom and Dad are also in need of sweaters and warm clothes (Mom, size S and Dad, size M). Please sign up outside the Suns Class to help this family in need.

Sequoias: We are collecting items of all sorts: clothing, hygiene items, educational toys, books and games for the Volunteers of America non-profit organization. They would be so grateful for any donations. Please see the list of suggested items outside our classroom next to the donation bin.

Magnolias: The Ghalley-Sarki Family, from Bhutan (Mother is 23, with son 6 and daughter, 2)

A refugee family from Bhutan is in great need of a necessary living articles- new and gently used.

Please look through your wardrobes if you have extra warm clothing (socks, coats, sweaters) in childrens’ (6/7) and toddlers’ (2/3) sizes; and clothes for Mom (age 23)- size Small. We are also hoping to provide children’s toys, ie: basketball or soccer ball, and other educational games/toys. Household items: pots and pans, and hygiene items are also needed.

We thank the families who have donated, and we hope that we can collect many more items before Friday, December 20th. Any item you are able to donate will make such a difference to this family.

To help, please sign up indicating which items you would like to donate on the list outside the Magnolias classroom!

Middle School: Our students are collecting coats, in particular adult size coats for the Road Home. These can be new or gently used. With the freezing temperatures that we are experiencing lately you can imagine how hard it would be if you did not have a coat to keep you warm.

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“Weaving all begins with a string, and the string tells a story. For the base of the loom is the earth, and the crest of the loom is the Sky; and there is rain, sunlight, thunder, lightening and roots in between. With weaving, and with everything in our culture, there is a purpose.”

---Native Elder, Julius Chavez

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Each year we have the opportunity to take a field trip to the Navajo Rug Show and visit with our Grandmother Elvira and other Native Elders. It is our tradition to invite our 3rd year students in Early Childhood and Lower Elementary to join us on this occasion in honoring these special women and men. This is a wonderful event and tradition, hosted by the Deer Valley Resort in support of the “Adopt-A-Native-Elder” non-profit organization.

The purpose of this yearly event is to observe the traditions of our Native Elders, and to show support to our own Grandmothers as we join in the celebration of their traditional living and centuries-old skills. Through storytelling and music, jewelry making, and of course, the extraordinary artistry that is weaving; together we can appreciate the truly remarkable traditions of our Native Elders.

As we entered the gallery, we began our journey together and found ourselves surrounded by rich colors and warm hearts. While we took in the beauty of each hand-woven rug, we listened to the stories and legends of the Dine people and learned about their traditional way of life. We heard songs from some of the attending Elders, and as we listened, another group of Elders showed us the steps that are taken to create a traditional rug. It was truly an educational experience to witness first hand the life cycle of wool; as it is cut, carded and twisted into yarn, then dyed, and skillfully and artfully woven into a magnificent, authentic Navajo rug.

After the program, we went to visit with our own Grandmother Elvira. Each year she makes the long journey from her home and family in Arizona to participate in all of the activities at the Deer Valley Rug show and a very important part of her time in Utah is the opportunity to visit with our MCS children. Grandmother Elvira spoke to the children, and told them that they were her own Grandchildren. She spoke to them in love, saying that she prays for each of them, that they will be healthy and grow big and be happy. She then presented us with a gift of Cedar Beads, meant to protect us and create harmony with nature. The children made a gift to her also, cards and drawings that we collected and presented in a large pink valentine. She held it close to her heart, and gave her blessing to the children. Grandmother Elvira and the other Native Elders have so much to teach us. Through their stories, we can learn to be brave, to be passionate, to be grateful and to love.

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It has been our opportunity as a school to support our Navajo Grandmothers by way of our annual food drive and proceeds from our Spring Fun-Run. These donations go far in providing firewood throughout the winter, grocery certificates, and Walmart certificates that allow them to purchase basic necessities such as clothing and household items and even yarn for weaving beautiful rugs that are sold to provide further income.

We were so happy to visit with our Grandmother Elvira. Our students have created sent special cards and letters for our Grandmother Emma as well and they will be send to her, along with some gifts at Christmas time.

This year we have had to bid a loving farewell to our Grandmother Rosaline who died at the age of 94. We think of her often and wish her family well.

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As we return from a holiday marked by tradition and thanksgiving, we wanted to share our experience with all of our MCS families. We are grateful for the opportunity to give, to love and appreciate, to teach our students and our children the importance of knowing the world’s people, the needs of others, and the importance of family. In truth, we are all connected by the uniquely lived-in fibers of humanity. We can grow as human beings, and we can cultivate the human spirit if we are able to identify with one another, share our gifts and love.

A special thanks to all of our parents, students, teachers and staff who made this field trip possible, and a great success. In the words of Kindergartener, Carolyn Altman: “It was a hit!”

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by Edward Fidellow

It is amazing to observe the breadth of accomplishment that a Montessori environment fosters. Courage is not traditionally thought of as an educational outcome but then again Montessori is not traditional. For children, courage is the ability to try new things even if I am afraid. And as they mature courage becomes the ability to do what is right and to do what is good.

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For a child everything is new. That is the reality of childhood. The awesome task and purpose of childhood is to create the adult. Life takes courage to navigate and to become a fully functioning independent adult. And it is this kind of courage that must be nurtured and practiced for it to become a practical virtue.

We tend to identify courage with physical courage – running into a burning building, pulling people out of rivers etc. However, real life every day common courage demonstrates itself in intellectual, emotional and spiritual settings. The courage to do what is right, to do what is good for others, to use our gifts, talents and opportunities well and wisely is the kind of courage practiced and displayed in a Montessori environment.

We well understand that the opposite of courage is fear. But for a child fear doesn’t yet have a definition. It is represented by an indistinct but palpable feeling of unease. For a child fear is “defined” by the unknown, the unfamiliar. (That is why Montessori children love and are so at home in their environments because of its constant sameness and familiarity.)

For the child conscious fear starts from the unknown – the dog, the dark, strangers and then becomes attached to the inability (and frustration) of not being able to handle and control the environment – bringing it back to sameness. (Perfectionist children come to this earlier than others.) Then this fear attaches itself to the perceived rejection that comes from disapproval. The child, unconsciously thinks, that if I only do what is absolutely safe or what receives guaranteed adult approval I don’t have any reason to fear or face disapproval.

One of the hardest concepts for a new Montessori teacher to understand (and embrace) is that of not correcting children in the middle of their work. (This is particularly difficult for perfectionists and controllers.) Unless the child is damaging the material or endangering others or himself or being rude you let them continue. There are two outcomes to not correcting the child in the midst of the work. One, the child discovers his own mistake and corrects it which produces a sense of accomplishment and control. The second outcome is far more subtle. Because you are not corrected at every turn, you do not freeze up; you do not constantly look over your shoulder; you are not waiting for the next shoe to drop. You gain breathing room to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. In this way mistakes do not become the end of the universe or the world as we know it. The child is willing to try something new (which is an act of courage) without being weighed down with the fear of failure or reproof.

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Not being corrected (all of the time) is the strange and unique Montessori training ground for courage. In trying something new the child gets to practice courage every day. Eventually, the child becomes use to trying new things without the overpowering fear of failure. The child learns to work his way through mistakes which becomes a normal part of life and the learning process – which is a significant part of adult life.

Life requires courage to live fully. The Montessori classroom provides daily opportunities to develop and practice courage.

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Becoming a Montessori Parent

by Edward Fidellow

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This Montessori parent, and school administrator, joins her three Montessori children on a field trip this fall.

There are seven simple steps to becoming a Montessori parent. When we say simple we don’t mean that they are not challenging. It is a lot like the definition of bull riding. “The object is to keep the bull between you and the ground.” Simple – but challenging.

The first step to becoming a Montessori parent took place when you enrolled your child in a Montessori program. That in itself is a challenge. Most of us weren’t raised in a Montessori school. The whole concept is foreign and takes a bit of courage to step out of the norm and our comfort zone. We may have chosen the program because it wasn’t like our school experience (which is why we chose it.) Or we chose it because we saw something unique in a Montessori child we knew. Or we were just plain lucky and stumbled on to a Montessori school and were fascinated by what we saw. Even then we had to deal with the question, “If this is so great, how come the whole world isn’t lined up outside the door to enroll?” (Which is the same question Montessorians keep wondering about too!) But you made a complex and challenging decision to become a Montessori parent. And here you are. So how do you get the best out of your decision? You go to step two.

You begin to understand the core philosophy of what Montessori is all about. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a Montessori teacher to be a good Montessori parent. (You don’t have to know how to manipulate all of those materials and you don’t have to keep fifteen children from climbing the walls.) The most significant Montessori concept is to respect the child. I can almost hear the wheels turning “Of course I respect my child, I love them very much that’s why I have them in Montessori, I want the best for them.” Of course you love them – but respect is different. Respecting the child is first, to respect the nature of children. Children are not mini adults waiting to be molded. They are like tadpoles and caterpillars that have their own form and function of life waiting to become what they are intended to be. We are often impatient for them to become because we don’t realize that childhood – with its curiosity, playfulness, messiness and all – is part of the process of them transforming themselves into the adults they will become. We have to respect that process – which doesn’t mean they always get to do what they want. One of the operative words in Dr. Montessori’s writing is the word “train”. We do need to train our children but we need to train ourselves “not to destroy that which is good” in the nature of our children. The second part of respect is to respect the personality of your child. Your child is not a blank slate. They are already imbued with the unique characteristics of who they are. The artistic bent is already there. The math bent is already formed. The leader, the follower, the giver, the taker, the extrovert, the introvert are already dna’d into your child. Right or left handed, right or left brained are already formed.

So how do you cooperate with nature? You become an observer. That is the next step in becoming a Montessori parent – you train yourself to observe. What does your child gravitate to? What gives them great joy? What occupies them endlessly? These are all clues to who your child is becoming. You are fortunate that you have a trained helper in your child’s Montessori teacher. Your next parent conference should ask more than what has she done but who do you see her becoming. It is hard to cooperate with nature if you are not aware of the nature of your child.

Our third step is to become their champion. I know. I hear you say, “Of course, I’m their champion. I love them.” And so you do. But are their goals your goals? Translation: Do you have goals for them that do not take into account who they are. (There are many jock fathers who do not have jock sons.) Yes, you have many wonderful goals for them to be caring and loving, honest and faithful, upright, truthful, etc – and these are worthy, significant and meaningful goals which they should attain to. But the expression of their lives – career, vocation, work – is best met and fulfilled according to their gifts. When your five year old says, “I want to be a fireman.” He may be reflecting the latest book or television program he’s seen. However, if you continue to ask the why questions, “Why do you think that would be a good job? Why do you think that you would enjoy that?” you may discover that your child is not drawn just to the excitement but to the fact of wanting to help people or he likes the aspect of being part of a team. All are important clues to his personality. Your child needs you to champion and encourage his personality (especially, if it is different than yours.)

The fourth step is to practice what they learn at school – grace and courtesy. Please and thank you, may I, excuse me, please forgive me and a host of other considerations practiced (and modeled) at home will go a long way to giving your child every advantage in life. People respond favorably to a child with great manners.

Fifth, practice independence. Independence is the ability to be self-governing and that comes from making choices, living with the consequences and having responsibilities. As often as possible give your children choices. “What do you want for breakfast, cereal or eggs?” “Do you want two spoonfuls of carrots or one?” (Don’t offer choices where there are no choices. “Do you want carrots? They say no and you serve them anyway.) Give your children chores they can accomplish – making their beds, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, dishes in the dishwasher, etc. Chores build responsibility; responsibility builds independence; independence builds confidence.

Sixth, give them the gift of time. Give them time to accomplish their chores. Give them time to be children. Give them time to breath. Give them your time.

Seventh, practice humility. They have a lot to learn from you. What is easy for you as an adult is mystifying and beyond challenge for them. Let your words be seasoned with grace. Look for the good in what they do. Their motives are often pure; their actions imperfect. Yet, we have a lot to learn from them also. And when you are wrong (when, not if) practice the humility of saying, “Please forgive me.” It will not destroy your authority or their respect for you. It will teach them one of the great lessons of life – when you fail, whether it’s in a relationship, school, career or life – own the failure and start over again – to succeed another day.

Becoming a Montessori parent is to become the best parent you can be.

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