"There is No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothing."

Last night's forecast promised rain (and snow!) for the weekend.  Today, I have noticed the forecast has shifted from snow to rain and back to snow in just a few short hours.  Ahhhh, Utah! While I love the weather and all it has to offer and am particularly pleased by how Utah weather can change on a dime, I feel fiercely protective of our children and their preparation for the weather.  Nature is a beautiful gift that is best enjoyed when it is respected.  

Parents, please help your students develop a healthy respect for nature by encouraging them to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature has to offer on any given day, especially here at school!  Children should come prepared to go outside in any circumstances.  Layers, good shoes, water resistant outer clothing, and extra options are a great start. 


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

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

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The Uninterrupted Work Cycle - The Basics of Success

A Montessori teacher put it this way: "Protect the three-hour work period with your life! It's one of the most important ingredients in our method."

Parents!  Exciting things are happening around here.  Already, we are beginning to see the inklings of classrooms running like well-oiled machines.  Below you will find a very meaningful article about the uninterrupted work cycle.  While this sounds like more fancy Montessori-esque language, it has great meaning in a successful Montessori environment.  This is the place where the students natural instincts to find meaningful learning experiences is most honored to prepare the child for future learning opportunities.  This is where one child's need for movement is given as much respect and space as another child's need for full concentration on a task.  This is where Montessori shines like a bright star in a sky full of educational opportunities for kiddos.  I hope you'll take just a few short minutes to read below and learn why we want so badly for your child to arrive to school on time each and every day and what great opportunities this important beginning of day time has to offer your child.


"When the children had completed an absorbing bit of work,
they appeared rested and deeply pleased."
—Maria Montessori (author), Paul Oswald (editor),
Basic Ideas of Montessori's Educational Theory

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Becoming Familiar with MCS Safety Policies and Procedures

In an effort to help you get started on the right foot we would like to remind you about some of our safety procedures here at MCS. We ask that you remain mindful of them as they play a very important role in keeping our students safe and accounted for at all times.  These policies and more can be found in our Toddler/Early Childhood Parent Handbook and our Elementary Parent Handbook

and Pick-Up
For safety measures, all students need to be signed in and out each day. Sign-in/out sheets are located outside of each classroom. We ask that you park, enter the school, sign in/out your child and check your child’s bulletin board for special announcements. Only parents or persons with written authorization (either listed in the child’s Emergency Medical Release form or through the Alternate Pickup form) may pick up a child. 

The sign-in and out sheets not only tell us who dropped off and picked up on a given day; they also tell us which students are in the building in the case of an emergency.
If your child has an appointment during the school day and will be picked up and then returned to school, please sign her/him out and back in at the Office front desk.

Alternate Pickup Procedures
If someone other than the parent/guardian will be picking up your child, please fill out an Alternative Pickup Form for authorization. These forms are available in the Administrative Office. A staff member will ask the person you have designated to pick up your child to provide identification (i.e. driver’s license) if that person is
not recognized. The safety of your children is our highest priority.

School Closures due to Severe Weather or Emergencies
The start of school may be delayed due to a temporary loss of heating, water or electrical power or severe weather such as heavy early morning snow. School may also be canceled before the scheduled end of the school day for the same reasons. MCS follows the Salt Lake City school district’s decisions unless our needs dictate measures beyond their decision. The Head of School will decide whether we will have a late start, early closure, or school closure after consulting with Facilities. If the Head of School is not reachable, a member of Facilities and a member of Administration will make the decision. In the event of an emergency or when MCS is closed or its opening is delayed by an unusual situation, notification will be made through School Messenger. School Messenger will use one or more of the following methods for notification: email, text messaging, and/or voice mail.

Safety Procedures
While the Montessori philosophy allows for “freedom within limits,” and we want to encourage students to feel comfortable and able to explore in their environment, we keep the safety of our students foremost in mind at MCS. We have a number of procedures in place to ensure that safety:
  • Outside doors are only unlocked during arrival and dismissal times and are locked at all other times.
  • We have a sign-in and sign-out procedure for parents dropping off and picking up students. We also have a signout sheet in the office for families taking their students out for an appointment in the middle of the day with plans to return later. This procedure ensures that the correct person is picking up the student in the afternoon and also gives us a sense of which students are in the building at any given time.
  • We ask all staff to be vigilant and watch for people we do not recognize and to ask anyone we do not recognize how we can help them.
  • We have a required check-in for visitors at the front office, where they sign in and wear a badge notifying our staff of their visitor status.
  • Every classroom has an emergency evacuation plan posted. We practice emergency evacuations once a month, either in classrooms or schoolwide with an alarm.
  • We utilize a texting emergency notifications system in the event of a schoolwide emergency or unannounced school closure.
  • We have phones in every classroom by which the office can issue a schoolwide page in the event of an emergency and with which each classroom can contact the office immediately in the event of an emergency.
  • We have placed buzzers on all upstairs outside access doors that notify us when the doors are opened. Our IT department is currently in the process of designing a more sophisticated entry and exit tracking system through the doors.
  • We have various surveillance cameras placed throughout the school and school grounds.
  • Our teachers are required to be First Aid/CPR certified.
  • At the beginning of the year students receive lessons including a tour of school and general safety guidelines. These lessons will be reviewed as needed.
  • We utilize head counts at various times throughout the school day, particularly when children are in transition (i.e., when children leave the playground and once they arrive back in class).
  • Children check in to use the bathroom. If a child does not return within a reasonable time (age dependent) a teacher will check on them.
  • We often implement a buddy system (pairing younger students with older, more experienced students) for times students are in line, traveling or transitioning. We also place one teacher at the front of the line and one at the back of the line when processing. In elementary classes these precautions are taken at varying levels, depending on the ages and needs of the students.
  • Our most recent Loss Prevention evaluation was performed in July 2016.

Emergency Notifications and School Messenger

Our school has an Emergency Action Plan, which includes procedures for reporting emergencies and evacuating the facility. This document details for the staff the procedures to be followed in case of fire, earthquake, power outage, etc. Evacuation plans are posted in prominent locations in each room or area of the building. The Montessori Community School holds monthly fire drills and semi-annual disaster drills which are documented.

If there is an emergency or disaster that requires us to leave the school building, we will evacuate to the MCS field. If we are unable to access our field, our back up evacuation site will be All Saints Episcopal Church, which is located directly east of our building, or Hillside Middle School, southwest of our building. Each classroom has emergency contact information, medical releases, and an emergency backpack with a first aid kit. The teachers are trained to take those items with them during an evacuation. In the event of an evacuation, MCS will use our emergency text notification system to communicate with parents. The children will remain with and be accompanied by their classroom teachers at all times and we will maintain required ratios to the best of our ability. No child will be left alone or unsupervised. The shed on the MCS field contains stored water, snacks, emergency supplies such as blankets and diaper changing supplies (for Toddlers), and blankets.

MCS uses School Messenger as our emergency notification system. School Messenger has multiple data centers in different regions; they employ a variety of delivery methods (email, text messaging, and voicemail); they have a solid infrastructure to eliminate any single point of failure in communication. They are used to delivering millions of messages quickly, with over 4000 customers throughout the U.S., including various school districts in Salt Lake City, and a customer renewal rate of 98%.

Families will automatically be opted in to receive these notifications via email, text, and voicemail, and can opt themselves out should they choose not to receive them, though School Messenger will be our primary form of communication in the event of an emergency. We encourage families to include at least one out of state emergency contact in their list. Emergency contacts will only be included in communications concerning incidents that affect the greater community in the case that parents are unavailable to receive them themselves. In order to ensure that we have the most current contact information in School Messenger and the most effective communication, please inform the Office any time there is a change in your emergency contacts names and/or phone numbers, or when you have made a change to your own contact information in Montessori Compass.

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Illness Policy - Tis the season....

The beginning of a new school year can bring many wonderful new things; new friends, new classroom works and new routines are just a few of my favorites.  Unfortunately, new illnesses tend to make an exuberant appearance as well.  While we understand that illness at home can impact schedules and routines (for both parents and children) we want to urge each of you to read up on and abide by our illness policy here at MCS.

We will do our part here at school to try to minimize the spread of illness by encouraging lots of hand washing and nose blowing (and then more hand washing) and by sending children and staff home when they are ill.  We ask that you each support us by following the illness policy set forth in our parent handbooks and as listed below so that we might minimize the spread of illness to our students and our staff.  It is so important that our staff remain healthy so that they can be here to help the children settle in and create effective classroom communities.  

Should children become ill at school we will do our best to make them comfortable but please keep in mind that we are not staffed to care for ill children in our classrooms or in the office.  We thank you, in advance, for allowing your child to stay home and rest when they are ill.

MCS Administration

Colds, flu and other contagious diseases are a serious issue in a school environment because they can spread so rapidly. Parents are asked to keep children home when they show symptoms of illness. If the child is ill, please call the school before 9:00am to report the absence. If your child exhibits any active symptoms of illness, he/she will not be admitted to the school, both for the child’s own comfort and to minimize the spread of illness to other children in the school. In the event of an outbreak of an infectious disease, such as measles, MCS will follow the guidelines set forth for schools by the Utah Department of Health.

The following tips are to help you decide if your child should be kept home from school:
  • How does your child feel? Variations from normal behavior are the best indicators of illness. You know your child best; trust your instincts.
  • Fever. If your child has a fever at night, he/she must not attend school the next morning. Temperatures are lower in the morning and a fever may occur again in the afternoon. You are required to wait 24 hours after the fever breaks before sending your child back to school.
  • Upset stomach. If your child vomits during the night, do not send him/her to school the next day. You are required to wait 24 hours after a child vomits before sending your child back to school.
  • Diarrhea. Loose and frequent stools have many causes. Do not send a child to school until bowel movements are normal.
  • Cold. Be sure a child knows how to handle tissues for coughing, sneezing and nose blowing, and practice good hand washing techniques. Your child may go to school as long as he or she does not have a fever or discomfort. If symptoms are severe (e.g., persistent cough or severe runny nose with thick mucous that will consistently interrupt their work or rest time), please keep your child at home so he/she may rest and recover.
  • Earache. Never ignore an earache. Contact your physician and keep your child at home.
  • Strep Throat. A strep infection requires a doctor’s visit and medication. Strep can lead to a more serious illness if not properly treated. The child must be on medication at least 24 hours before returning to school.
  • Contagious Condition. Head lice (see below), scabies, impetigo, chicken pox, strep throat, measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough, meningitis and some forms of conjunctivitis (pink eye) are contagious and must be properly treated and no longer contagious before your child may attend school. Please notify the school if your child has a contagious condition so that other parents can be alerted.
  • Head lice. Due to the arrangement of student work spaces in the Montessori classroom and the number of collaborative work spaces and projects, if we find signs of lice (nits/eggs), in order to contain the spread we may ask parents to pick up their student early to begin treatment. If parents detect lice at home, please let the Office know immediately so that we can check the rest of the students in the class. Prior to the student’s return to school, we will need to know the specific treatment that s/he will be undergoing and the date that the treatment began, so that we can follow up regarding the second application of the treatment (which typically needs to be applied 7-10 days after the first application). Upon returning to school, before the child enters the classroom, please bring her/him to the Office where he/she will be discreetly checked for nits, and where we can record treatment dates and methods. Students will be allowed to return to class when they are nit-free. Nit removal can take several comb throughs and we ask that parents check the child each day during their treatment. Thorough combing with an egg removal comb each day during the 10-day period following the first treatment is an essential part of eliminating the lice and helping to prevent a lice recurrence. We will follow up, checking students and classes as needed to ensure that all active lice and eggs have been removed. 
  • If your child has been out of school due to illness, we ask that you consider whether he or she is well enough to be outdoors before you send him or her back to school. The outdoors is part of our program and we do not have the staff to supervise students indoors and outdoors simultaneously.

Illness or Injury at School
If a child becomes ill at school, he or she will be taken to the office sick area. A parent/guardian will be contacted and will be expected to pick up the child as soon as possible. If a child is injured at school, first aid will be administered if the injury is minor. An accident report will be filed for injuries which require medical attention, including first aid. Parents will be asked to sign the accident report when they pick up their child and will be notified immediately if there are any questions concerning the severity of the injury. The student’s emergency contacts and physicians will be called if the parents are unavailable. All classroom teachers are CPR/First Aid certified. Paramedics will be called when necessary.

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  "....doing the right thing for the right reason is an amazing accomplishment all its own."

One of the reasons that a Montessori education has been such a great fit for my own children is that they are given space to make mistakes.  I can honestly say that the greatest opportunities for learning in my own life have been the result of a mistake.  Of course, some were big, some were small.  Some I could identify immediately as a mistake and others revealed themselves as mistakes long past the time I could do anything about them.  Some I can look back on and laugh while others bring a sense of pity and regret.  All that said, the humility that comes with making mistakes and the courage required to step up and try again have been my best parenting (and LIFE) tools so far.  Below is an interesting read from Edward Fidellow about how a Montessori environment builds self-esteem and the beauty in making mistakes. 

Montessori and the real building of self-esteem

Montessori education has been building self-esteem for over a hundred years long before it became a
popular buzzword and a psychological “distortion” of reality. All the trappings of the modern self-
esteem movement – participation trophies, not letting children fail, everyone’s outcome is equal – have
no place in Montessori or the reality of the world.

Practical life in Montessori is the foundation of all this reality that is to come. Every practical life exercise
has a beginning, a process and an ending – just like successful life. But there is something in this process
that is so simple yet dynamic – the child builds and feels a sense of power, control, and accomplishment.
It is these early experiences, these early real successes that become the foundation for all the success
that is to come. This self-esteem is internalized and does not come from outside, from what people tell
you but it wells up from within. It comes with the beginning of concentration and self-control (which is
the biggest challenge of life – and a great giver of self-esteem.)

True self-esteem is an approval that comes from within. It is not about pleasing people or being
validated from outside. That is why grades, awards, punishments are not motivating factors in a
Montessori environment. Ironically, self-esteem built in Montessori is not self-centered. The lack of
outward competition (for grades and prizes) creates an attitude of family and community where we help
each other to succeed which also affects how we feel about ourselves.

The real self-esteem of Montessori comes from the continuing sense of accomplishment and of mastery
as the student faces greater challenges and complexity in life. Since making mistakes is part of the
Montessori learning process making mistakes does not undermine a child’s sense of self-esteem nor
does the child crater when faced with “failure”. Montessori children learn to pick up the pieces and get
back in the game. The game of life does not have four quarters, nine innings, eighteen holes or two
halves. It is a continually evolving game as you learn new strategies, techniques, gain new information,
practice new skills and begin to recognize the patterns of life that lead to success. Montessori children
learn first-hand that actions have consequences, that success is spelled w-o- r-k, and that some of the
biggest rewards of life are just personal and do not require anyone else’s acknowledgment or
affirmation. And that doing the right thing for the right reason is an amazing accomplishment all its own
- an amazing adult lesson learned very young.

Self-esteem is “practiced” every day in a Montessori environment. Try – and try again until you reach
your goal. Montessori children don’t wait for an adult’s approval because they learn early that it is their
effort that achieves success. And every goal that they achieve – on their own - builds that unique
amazing sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.

Edward Fidellow

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Parenting Young Children through Fear

The things we hope to teach our children seem to be countless and I have discovered that just when I think I have overcome one parenting hurdle, immediately following that nice pat on the back, I find another hurdle standing in my way.  Fortunately, we live in a day and age where accessing helpful information can be so easy.  While it can be hard to rifle through all the information that is available and decipher the good information from the bad information, as long as we stick to our guiding set of principles, we can find some truth and some support in a variety of wonderful places.  I always like to share some of my favorites...especially from the list of things that we never even realize we will face as parents.

Children's fears are ongoing.  How do we teach our children self-soothing, positive self-talk, how to recognize their true feelings, and, most importantly what to do with their fears to become better and more resilient humans? My 13 year old son's fears have shifted...gone are the days of monsters under the bed.  I am discovering that helping him develop his own set of guiding principles becomes increasingly important with each passing day.  The Fred Rogers article below gives some helpful insight to helping young children through their fears.


Parents want their children to be afraid of some things, because fears can keep children from doing dangerous things. But we don't want our children to develop irrational fears that hold them back from doing healthy things, sleeping well, and making friends.

Part of our "job" as parents is to help our children feel safe and secure. Sometimes it can be very frustrating to try to explain to a frightened child that a monster or witch or some other imaginary thing isn't real. We adults have already learned that, read more here.

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The Basics of Montessori Learning

As Montessori teachers and parents…

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Montessori Equals Innovation, Creativity, Wonder, and so much more...

“…Most highly creative achievers don’t begin with brilliant ideas,
they discover them.”
Peter Sims, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, April 2011

Enjoy this wonderful video on the beauty and benefits of a Montessori education. Click here.
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Parent Education Night

Sign-up outside of your student's classroom.

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

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

(Your attendance can go toward Parent Volunteer Hours).

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Spring Cleaning as Brain Food by P. Donohue Shortridge

The holidays have come and gone and spring is just around the corner.  This might be a fine time to consider sorting through your children's possessions.  If you take a close look at the sheer volume of your child's books and toys, you may determine that just like adults he uses only a percentage of them.

Thinning the herd, so to speak, offers much to recommed it; Its a lot easier to find things if there are fewer things to find. 


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Raising Your Successful 35-Year-Old: Motherlode, New York Times


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Parent Teacher Conferences, Feb. 27, 2015


Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Friday, February 27th. 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.

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Silent Journey and Discovery 2015



The Silent Journey and Discovery is coming up on February 7th from 9:00am - 1:00pm.
Sign up in the office, space is limited. Attendance is free of charge, brunch will be served & child care will be provided to those who sign up in advance.

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Help me do it myself! The drive for independence.


The biggest challenge parents face is their children’s drive for independence. A toddler or a preschooler’s drive for independence is even fiercer than a teenager’s. While a teenager may be looking to undo parental control your preschooler is looking to share control. They are trying to become part of your world by taking responsibility for their own actions.

This drive for independence is slow and messy. Learning to walk – the first great independence is full of falls and scares (more for Mom than for baby). And it is a slow and unsteady success. Even when they accomplish vertical independence their rate of locomotion impels us to pick them up and carry them if we want to get anywhere now.

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What Every Child Needs!

What is it that every child needs that parents don’t seem to have? (Life time passes to

Disney World and unlimited shoe budgets don’t count!) You can fill in your own blanks.

It is something that a Montessori school can help offer. Of course a good education

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Home – The Montessori Frontier

There are many parts to a Montessori education. There certainly is the beautiful materials that add so much to the enjoyment of learning. There is the educational philosophy that goes along with the materials. There is also the part that looks at your child’s gifts and abilities but the most crucial part of  a Montessori education is the part that nurtures and helps transform your child into a successful adult. Ultimately, Montessori is a philosophy of life, of a way to approach the challenges and blessings.

If you love what Montessori does for your child at school begin to implement at home those actions that will continue the transformation. We are not talking about red rods, alphabets or math but about the core value that makes Montessori dynamic and transformational. It is all about making wise choices.

It is a simple formula – learn to make wise choices – but it is a complex process made up of multiple simple actions that combined together create this outstanding outcome for your child. Montessori succeeds because it gives children the opportunity to make choices (and deal with the consequences). If you have made a bad choice, to be able to make another choice until you come to a positive outcome.

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Upcoming Parent Education Night

Parent Education Night is coming up next Thursday, October 2nd from 6:30-8:00pm.  Toddler, Early Childhood and Elementary parents are invited.  Child care is provided, free of charge, but must be signed up for in advance in the office.
Scroll down for more information about each programs presentation details for the evening.
This is a great way to earn Parent Participation Hours AND stay in touch with your child's Montessori experience!
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Creativity in Montessori

Montessori parents have often voiced concerns about creativity in a Montessori classroom. They just don’t see it. The concern is very similar to the fact that they also see few “academic” papers coming home. They don’t receive many brightly painted pictures to adorn their refrigerators. And so naturally wonder if a Montessori classroom is giving their child an opportunity to express their creative side.
As concrete and hands on as a Montessori classroom and a Montessori learning experience are it requires a good measure of faith to await the outcome of a Montessori experience. Every Montessori teacher (and parents too) for the last one hundred years have often held their breath waiting to see the fulfillment of this amazing process. And then they exhale with great relief and satisfaction. After a while you no longer hold your breath because you know it is going to work – and even better than you imagined – because you see your children learning and growing.

So how does this apply to creativity which seems to be in short supply as far as “art work” is concerned? The creative experience in Montessori is an internal experience. The great creativity is focused on the child creating their own personality. They are forging who they are to become by internalizing all of the experiences of both home and family with their experiences of discovery and exploration in the classroom, mixing these with the intangible aspects of their own DNA, their talents and gifts, inclinations and proclivities. They are taking in these seemingly random elements and creating the uniqueness of who they are.

Their great creative work is themselves.

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Learning the Language of Life

Montessori Children Handle Big Words and Big Ideas


As a parent I was surprised about the words my children knew and used correctly (no, not the bad ones.) We’ve experienced them going from crying to making sounds, from sounds to their first words (mama, dada), from words to phrases (me go) to sentences – “I want candy.” It seems like a long (and sometimes frustrating) process for both children and adults to begin to communicate. We can’t wait for them to start talking and then ironically, we spend a lot of time telling them to be quiet.

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What’s the Big Deal about Table Washing?

What’s the Big Deal about Table Washing?

Edward Fidellow

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