Blog posts tagged in toddler preschool elementary middle school

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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A place for everything and everything in its place is a cliche' based on sound thinking.  Our brains seek order, harmony and beauty in the world, your child's brain seeks it out too. 

Additionally, there's an essential developmental incentive to clear the clutter out of your child's life.  Providing external order for your child allows him to organize his thinking.  He's already taken in so many impressions of the world and now he is categorizing, sorting, grading and matching all these impressions.  (cognitively grasping same and different as well as one-to one correspondence are pre-math and pre-reading skills.) It's confusing, harder to make sense of everything when, right here in his room the crayons are randomly hanging out with the dolly blanket and Tonka truck wheel, if you will.

So here are some strategies you might consider:

  • Go through the books.  If he has long since cared about Pat the Bunny, it's time to remove it from his shelf. Likewise anything that is torn, tattered and colored on.  What should remain are only those that he is now reading or is about to advance into. House the books on shelves just like in the library rather than piled one on top of the other or randomly scattered among other phylum such as toys and stuffed animals.
  • The impedement to finding a toy when one wants it is the toy box.  No matter how cute, inexpensive, convenient or cherished, the large universal receptacle does not lend itself to everything having a place. Shelving is the best.  Categorize the toys by type; each toy deserves a lidded box, then shelved.
  • Discard or repair anything that is broken or missing a part. Wash the comfort-blankets and stuffed animals, otherwise discard them.
  • Four puzzles will be used more often than fifteen.  Likewise dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, Lego sets, board games and coloring books.  You get the idea.  Young children can easily get overwhelmed with too many choices.
  • If your mom sent something that you may have determined is inappropriate, give yourself permission to remove it.  You are the final arbiter of what is appropriate for your child. 
  • If you are having a harder time than your child letting go of some of his possessions, that's ok.  You get to cry about it, but certainly not in front of your child...and pare them down anyway.
  • Create a place in the garage for your child's outdooe equipment such as balls, scooters and anything else you'd rather not have your child using indoors.

Here are a few more considerations:

Your child wants to, and for his optimal development needs to be responsible for his own possessions. Make sure that he can put every toy away where it belongs.  Don't make the tub for the blocks so heavy he can't move it into place himself. Is there a home for his trains? Bags, totes and backpacks all deserve wall hooks hung low enough for your child to hang up by himself.

You probably already have a child-size table and chairs.  A child-sized rocker and/or a reading chair might be nice.  How about an easel for chalking, painting and drawing? Generally, the younger the child, the more he wants to make large sweeping circular arm motions.  You might even consider getting some butcher-block paper for large mural creation.

Sibling fights can be minimized if each person in the family, no matter the age has personal property rights.  If your five year old doesn't want to share some of his toys with your toddler, I suggest that that is his right.  However, you might work with your five year old to go through some of his possessions and together determine which toys he might be willing to share. Further, many of his no-longer-used toys can be ceremoniously bequeathed to his younger sibling. His most prized possessions, however, should have a place in his room. 

Every activity (just like life) has a beginning, middle and end.  Teach your child how to get something out, use it in the place designated for its use and then put it away.  If he moves on to the next thing before putting the last activity away, you can say, "in this house, we always put our belongings away."

And finally, the most effective way to gain his cooperation is to model what you teach.  Maybe it's time for some spring cleaning of your own.

Written by Donohue Shortridge

Donohue, a Montessorian since 1980 speaks and writes on topics related to children and their families in the American culture. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Your child’s education in Montessori is different – so different that it makes you shake your head in wonder and say, “Is this something my child is really learning?” As parents we want our children to excel at reading, writing and math. Yet their Montessori education leads them through strange and esoteric materials. (At least they are foreign to most adults.)

Why would a three year old need to be versed in geometry? Fine, a nice circle, a square and maybe a triangle but what purpose for an isosceles triangle, parallelogram or a rhombus? Then if that is not enough esoteric learning, your child moves on to the botany cabinet. How many three year olds need botany? They are introduced to leaf forms like spatulate, orbiculate, sagitate and reniform. Most of us adults can’t even pronounce them let alone know what they are.

If that is not enough diversity in the curriculum, Montessori education then introduces them to the whole world of art. They meet Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt. What in the world was Dr. Montessori thinking? And where is the math and reading?

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There is a unique method (no it is not madness) in this approach. Your child is absorbing a tremendous amount of learning and stimuli and beginning to gain the skills of observation and visual discrimination - which is the ability to see differences. The Montessori child is effortlessly gaining a lifetime skill – the ability to see. Yes, we are born with sight but sight is passive where all the images come to us. When we observe, we actively focus our sight. But even focusing our sight does not always let us see what is there. For example, we have all seen pictures that if you look at them long enough the image changes into something else – like the two faces and the goblet or the old woman and the young girl. Skills and even talents need to be trained and refined. A Montessori classroom provides an unending panorama of activities that train and refine the ability “to see”.

Though education is primarily reading and math based, life is about having a clear vision of what is present (and what could be). And though the introduction to geometry (rhombus), botany (reniform) and art (Rembrandt) is rudimentary, it is absolutely foundational to clear-eyed success. For your child everything is new and exciting. To be able to put a name with a form or a shape not only gives great intellectual satisfaction but is the beginning of power to organize, define and categorize the world that is seen.

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Enjoy the voyage of discovery as your child, with bright new eyes, sees the world for the first time. It is this power of visual discrimination that gives strength and focus to the power to read. It is also this power that breaks the world of math into distinguishable pieces with the ability to see patterns and processes.

Montessori truly gives your child the gift of sight!      

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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Your child wants to do what is right, even at the youngest age.  First of all, she wants to because she loves you and wants to be just like you.  She also has a powerful inner drive to adapt to the world around her, the world of your home, and to do so she needs to know what the rules for life are.  She looks to you to show her. 

As parents, if you can keep that in mind, you can create an approach to discipline that is positive, less stressful on everyone and it will assist your child in developing into a competent, civilized, compassionate and joyful person.

So, what are some strategies that you might employ?

First of all, model the correct behavior for your child. For example, if you do not want your child to leave the dinner table in the middle of the meal, then don't you leave the table to take a call or to check an e-mail. If you do not want your child to yell, then don't yell.  

Here's another tip; your child is much more competent that we can even imagine.  Even the youngest children can do chores around the house.  In fact, so much of the trouble we have with our children at home stems from our children not feeling useful.

The younger the child, the less that verbal instruction alone works.  Show him how to sweep the floor, giving him the tools that fit in his hand. Name the tools as you use them, "This chore is called sweeping the floor; I'm sweeping the floor with the broom, then into the dust pan and now I'm throwing it away in the trash." "Now its your turn." Do the task together for the first few times, so that you know she knows how to do it.  

Also, remember that every activity has a beginning, middle and an end. Show your child how to go get the broom and dustpan, use it, and then put it away.

Cooperation and engaging in chores as well as the fun of family life is a sure wan to elicit the good will of your child.  And remember that busy hands in purposeful activities calm your child and help her sort out her emotions.  (Read remainder of article and find printable pdf version here...)

 

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P. Donohue Shortridge, a Montessorian since 1980, speaks and writes about children and their families in the American culture.  She conducts parent night talks, staff in-service sessions and workshop presentations.  Visit her website at www.pdonohueshortridge.com

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What: Admissions Information Meeting

When: Thursday, January 15th from 6:30 - 8:00pm

Where: Montessori Community School

Who: Parents interested in learning more about Montessori Community School.

Open to the public. Sorry, adults only - no childcare provided.

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The teachers and administration of Montessori Community School would like to invite you to learn more about our program. During this hour and a half long presentation we will introduce our programs, administration and staff. And, you will have the opportunity to visit each of our classrooms and meet and greet with the teachers. We look forward to sharing our approach to education and the Montessori method.

Montessori Community School serves children aged 18 months through 8th grade and we offer an extended day program, 7:30am - 6:00pm.

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.

 

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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

comes to mind but that is not even the greatest gift your Montessori school can offer.

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What your child needs most is one of the attributes that makes a Montessori school so

special. Yes, it is a safe place emotionally; a challenging place intellectually; and a caring

place socially. It is designed for your child and populated with adults who care. These are

all good things but not the greatest thing your child receives. And your final answer is?

 

Time! Time is our most treasured commodity – we always seem to be running out of it.

We always seem to be talking about “making” time for things when in reality we need to

“take” time – making it a priority. And to make it even more challenging for us, it is not

just “time” but what you do with time that creates its value.

 

With time an acorn becomes an oak, a tadpole becomes a frog, a caterpillar becomes a

butterfly and a child becomes --- What? We are prone to say “an adult” but even that is

not the ultimate destination of time. It is what you do with time!

 

If time were the only factor an acorn would become a bigger acorn, a tadpole a

bigger tadpole etc. but it is time and attention (what you do with time) that begins

this extraordinary transformation. Your child is already DNA’d with the marvelous

characteristics of who they are to become – right-handed, left-handed, artist, musician,

scientist, doctor or Indian chief. It takes time (and observation) for these unique character

qualities to blossom and become apparent. And that is what your school does – is to take

time to know your child, to take time to open the world of learning and to take time to

watch your child grow and learn and to be transformed.

 

If your child doesn’t have time to develop and there is no one there to observe and

encourage development then your child may miss the opportunity to create the person he

or she was designed to be. A Montessori school gives children time to discover – not only

the marvels outside of themselves but the marvels of their personality and passions within

themselves. Montessori offers a child a window on the world and time to take it all in. It

takes time to flourish.

 

There is no need to rush learning. The Montessori secret is that given enough time

children will learn everything they need. And given enough time they will joy in the

discoveries because they will not be pressed for time and they will go on to master what

they have learned.

 

So how do we deal with the pressure of time in regard to our children? Take a deep

breath! In fact, you may need to take many of them as you set your clocks back

figuratively and literally. Figuratively, scale back your time expectations for your child.

Being the first to walk, the first to talk, the first to read or the first whatever has nothing

to do with the marathon of life. It takes time to build a solid foundation. The gift of time

doesn’t mean you lower your goals and expectations. It means you give them the gift

of time to be children; the gift of time to explore and discover; the gift of time to make

mistakes, to recover and to learn from those mistakes. Give them time to discover their

strengths and passions. Give them time to build the adult they will become.

 

Take another deep breath and set your clocks back literally. You have a choice – you can

do for your children (and make them dependent) or you can give them more time (more

time than it certainly would take you) to get dressed, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, feed

the dog, clean their room etc. Part of time is patience – or is that patience is a part of

time?

 

They want to do it for themselves. They want to become independent. Give them the

time to achieve the ability to be independent (self-governing, self-ruling) and to do that

you have to give them the gift of more time. The ability to do things for yourself, to

accomplish, and to finish the task is what builds real confidence and real self-esteem.

 

A Montessori school is successful because it is governed by the observation of the child’s

needs and not the pressure to achieve according to the clock or the calendar. When the

teacher does not seem to share your concern over your child’s progress it is not from a

lack of concern but out of experience and observation knowing that given the time your

child will blossom and learn all that is needed.

 

The great gift of childhood is the gift of time!

 

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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Hello MCS Families,

Things are coming together nicely here at the school. We are still working out some details but are really looking forward to the students return on Monday. Again, we can not express enough our appreciation for all of the offers to assist. And, we want you to know that the teachers at the school have worked tirelessly to prepare temporary classrooms, to support one another, and to keep the energy positive and uplifting. Our teachers are amazing!

  • We are looking for an old washer and dryer that can be used to clean our mops and some carpets that were submerged in water. Please contact the office if you are getting rid of any old machines that the school could use temporarily.
  • Thank you to all who attended Parent Teacher Conference last week. We were so excited to launch our online record keeping system, Compass, which will allow you to get activity reports about your child's school experience. However, with all that has happened with the flood and the temporary displacement of classrooms and students we have decided to put a temporary hold on the activity reports. Thank you for your patience. As mentioned previously, every one of our classrooms are being effected in some way and we feel it is most important that the teachers energy be placed on providing structure and support to the students. Thank you for your understanding.
  • The Silent Journey is postponed until further notice.
  • We anticipate that the Halloween Carnival will still happen and more details about it will be available Monday.

Enjoy the remainder of your unexpected break in this most beautiful fall weather.

With deep gratitude,
MCS Administration

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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.

You begin the implementation of Montessori at home by creating opportunities for choice. When my son was two we began choice making with something as simple as breakfast. We would offer him the choice of two cereals. I would ask, “Do you want this or that?” And he would make a choice. (However, since I didn’t use the proper names of the cereals, cereal became known as “dis and dat”.)

Choice making has to be real. Don’t offer a choice and then negate their choice. “Do you want carrots?” “No.” “Well, here you are anyway.” Real choice would ask, “Do you want one spoonful or two?” Other examples of empowering choice might be “Do you want to wear blue pants or black”; “Do you want to brush your teeth first or a take a bath first?” There are endless choices to make each day.

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Along with choice goes responsibility. When you make a choice you own the choice because with choice goes the responsibility of fulfilling it. However, a great lesson to learn is that not all responsibilities are our choice but once given to us it is a wise choice to fulfill them.

Chores at home become part of this process of wise choice making. How do I choose to fulfill my responsibilities? Doing my work well, finishing on time and finishing thoroughly are key ingredients of lifetime success. In life we are often faced with situations that offer no real choice – paying taxes, stopping at red lights etc. Teaching your child to make wise choices (even when there is no choice) is to teach them to choose their attitude when faced with less than desirable choices. They can learn this if you let them practice at home.

Article written by Edward Fidellow 

www.crossmountainpress.com

 

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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.

In a traditional classroom environment children are forced into a mold; fairly standardized and compartmentalized. Doing what everyone else is doing, becoming what everyone else is becoming; rushing headlong to achieve external goals that are set without regard to their personality, character, ability or interest. And from this their only escape from this standardization is the occasional art work sent home.

In a Montessori classroom this unique creativity of their personality is an ongoing daily occurrence as they discover the world about them, as they discover the joy within them that rises as they discover the joy of all the creation about them. They are not rushed from subject to subject but get to explore and enjoy the mystery of how numbers work or the mystery of how their language is put together. They discover animals and leaves, science and art. They develop their senses. And it is those senses that create in them the wonder and the enjoyment of the learning that is all about them. They are creating within themselves reservoirs of joy and fascination, interest and passion. (They will learn the names of all the dinosaurs or rock formations or a hundred different avenues of learning because they have created a passion for it out of their daily experiences and discoveries.)

This ongoing creative experience blossoms within them as they are introduced to music and art, color and form. They become experienced (and passionate) observers of all that is around them. Their early experiences with what the Montessori classroom labels the “sensorial” materials heightens and trains their senses. Those pink cubes and the red rods, the circles and squares, the colors and sounds are laying the creative foundation within the child preparing them physically, psychologically, aesthetically and intellectually for a creative response to all of life that is around them.

The real music they learn to sing, the real art they learn to create in their life will arise out of the great work of creating their own personality. Their creativity in Montessori will not only be an escape from the drudgery of traditional learning and conditioning but will be a magnificent expression of the joy they find in learning and the world all around them. While you may not have many pictures to put on your refrigerator you will have a living portrait of a child full of joy and wonder. Now, that is a creative marvel!       

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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Montessori Children Handle Big Words and Big Ideas

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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.

The beginning formation of their language skills is “ice bergian.” Ninety percent of what they know supports the ten percent that is audible. The structure of their language has been constructed by and large with little direct input. They have been sorting out the complexity of words and phrases. They don’t yet possess all the building tools to communicate to the world they inhabit. That is why at an early age two phrases dominate their conversation – “Why?” and “What’s that?” They are continually constructing and they need solid linguistic materials to build with.

Baby talk is sweet but does not contribute to linguistic development or communications. At an early age, at least by three if not sooner, children are ready (and capable) of big words and big ideas. A Montessori education builds on this sensitive period for language and learning by introducing advanced concepts. Parents are often amazed that their child can say “equilateral triangle” let alone know what it means. But is equilateral triangle any more complex linguistically than Elizabeth Washington?

A Montessori classroom is constantly introducing new concepts and constructs and a major part of this introduction is linguistic. It does little good to point out squares or circles unless you can call them by name, define them and find them again. Montessori education is noted for its “Three Period Lesson.” First, you present the article. “This is red.” “This is blue.” Second, you ask, “Can you touch the red?” “Can you touch the blue?” (You see if they have understood the vocabulary.) Third, you ask, “What is this?” They answer “red.” “What is this?” They answer “blue.” (You see if they have mastered the vocabulary and the concept.)

Language starts with the concrete – mama, doggie, cat and proceeds to action – “me go, I jump.” And then it begins to add the color of adjectives – tall, short, biggest, smallest (all demonstrated in the classroom) until language blooms into conversation, discussion (and debate.)

When our son started Montessori at 17 months we wanted to be good Montessori parents by offering him choices he could make. Everyday for breakfast we held up two boxes of cereal and asked, “Do you want this or that?” Cereal, thereafter, became known as “dis and dat.” (In hindsight, we should have been correct and named the cereals for him – but it would have ruined a good story!)

It is important that we correctly name the words and actions of their lives. A Montessori classroom is constantly adding vocabulary to a child’s linguistic development. Studies have indicated that extensive vocabularies are a hallmark of successful adults. This process and habit of vocabulary acquisition is a foundational concept of your child’s Montessori experience.

 

While we do use body language and facial gestures, oral language is the predominant means of communication. Helping your child communicate clearly their needs, desires, frustrations, etc helps them to move on to the more complex use of language and culture – the ability to define (and embrace) intangible concepts like love, hope and faith. Ironically, (and I don’t know how it comes about) the first intangible concept they latch on to is wrapped up in the words, “It’s not fair.” But it is from there that justice, respect, duty, honor, honesty, loyalty begin to form with the child and are defined.

One of Montessori education’s great gifts to your child is the emphasis and focus on observation. Your child is given training and time to become an observer. As has been said, “You can see a lot if you just look.” The materials and exercises of the classroom are designed to aid your child during these earliest formative years to develop the habit of not only observing but of naming and defining the experience.

 

It is never just the accumulation of knowledge (or vocabulary) but the ability to use that knowledge to think, to communicate and to formulate the actions that are necessary for success. The more you talk with your child the more you develop the communication skills your child needs to succeed in the world. 

 

 

 

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

 

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What’s the Big Deal about Table Washing?

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

Many parents are attracted to Montessori because of its tremendous reputation for giving their children a great academic education. Parents are willing to spend impressive amounts of money to give their children this academic advantage. But as often as parents are impressed with Montessori excellence, they are a little bewildered that their children come home excited about mopping floors, doing dishes and washing tables. (This is what successful people hire others to do.) So there is a real disconnect between what you want, what you are paying for and what you think you are getting.

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How then does Montessori get this academic reputation if all you are seeing for six months or a year is table washing and practical life? Montessori success is not built on its finished academic product but on its sure foundation. So what kind of academics comes from table washing? It is the foundation of what constitutes Montessori education which is built on an enduring set of scientific principles. The first is that you always begin with the concrete before moving on to the abstract. There is nothing more concrete in the child’s life than the exercises of practical life. Second, Montessori education begins with the development of all the senses before moving on to the intellectual. Rest assured your child will arrive. Third, Montessori starts with the control of the physical abilities as a precursor to control of intellectual capacity. Fourth, it builds physical discipline – being able to follow through and complete a project before embarking on intellectual discipline. Fifth, it significantly develops focus on details as a skill set to accomplish academic goals. There is a major difference between 2 + 3 and 2 X 3 – and it is only a minor detail. Sixth, table washing (and all of practical life) is not only a physical challenge for beginner learners but becomes an emotional and psychological building block in the development of confidence and self esteem. Real confidence and self esteem is not built on words such as “You did a good job” (whether you did or not) but is built on real achievement and mastery. For a three, four or five year old the process of successfully completing table washing or any other practical life exercise begins a pattern of success. It is a success that comes from beginning a project, working it step by step for as long as it takes until you come to the successful conclusion. This pattern becomes the model for the next stages of academic competence.

What practical life achieves in your child is first a feeling of “I can take care of myself” whether it is table washing or tying shoes. I am given a sense of security that I have some control over my environment and my place in it. Second, it teaches me how to follow steps to success. Third, it builds my confidence by having mastered some challenge which prepares me to tackle even more complex challenges. Fourth, it refines my senses and muscular control so I can effectively use all of the hands on materials in the Montessori classroom to advance my intellectual development. Every sense, every motion, every action is focused to help me achieve academically. The academic success you hear about in Montessori is built on humble and less than impressive activities that are foundational to this amazing achievement that develops the whole child and prepares him or her for significant academic success.

Practical life is a portrait of the future!      

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_thumb_scaled.mariamontessori.pngMaria Montessori - Her Life & Legacy

As we are so deeply indebted to the great work and legacy of Maria Montessori, and in light of her birthday on August 31st, we would like to honor Dr. Montessori by telling her story. Born in a small town of Italy to parents, Renilde Stoppani and Allessandro, Maria forged her own educational path, even in childhood. Throughout her youth, she acquired a very ambitious taste for science and mathematics, which was extraordinary for a girl during the time. After attending a tech school, Maria Montessori decided to study medicine. Throughout an intricate and complicated series of events (including a letter of recommendation for college acceptance by the Catholic Pope himself), Maria went on to Medical School to become the very first female Doctor in Italy.

During Maria’s residency, she spent time working with children in a psychiatric hospital. She had not been working there long, when a nurse who was watching the children in the ward said to her: ‘Look, I can’t believe that they are picking crumbs up off the floor to eat! How horrible.’ Maria said to the nurse: ‘They aren’t eating the crumbs, they are studying them.’ In a bare, sterile psychiatric hospital, where the walls were white and there was not a single toy or object for a child to engage with, Maria Montessori discovered her first realized observation: the necessity of environment.

Dr. Montessori was stirred by this, and a miraculous turn of events then followed. After some time, she redirected her research to completely service children. In time, Maria’s method became world-famous. She traveled to teach it, winning many hearts with her curriculum. In 1913, Maria published her first book on children "The Advanced Montessori Method", selling 17,410 copies. She even attended the 1915 World Fair in San Francisco to share her research and teaching method. Maria continued to share her knowledge for many years in her own country, until her teachings were banned from Italy due to world conflicts with Fascism. She was forced to leave her home, but she continued her work in Amsterdam, and later in India, where Maria would stay for over 10 years. Even after World War II broke out, Maria stayed to complete her work of the early childhood years in her study of the “Absorbent Mind, “ and her extensive study of infancy and the development of the “Cosmic Curriculum.”

By 1946, over 1,000 people had been educated by Dr. Montessori. Maria continued to travel through Europe, Africa and Asia, lecturing until the age of 81. Maria Montessori has been nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes for her contribution to education, but also for her overall effort to improve conditions for women and children around the world.

We owe so much to this extremely brave woman, who endured conflicts of career progression, family separation, gender bias and war to bring her teaching methods to light. Maria Montessori was a leader in every step she took, and her work produced amazing outcomes. Maria sought to educate children, but she also saw a magic in them. Within each child, she saw: the need, the power, the magic… to learn.

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ATTENTION MCS PARENTS: 

Speech and Language Screening will be September 9th. The screenings will be a brief measure of your child’s speech and language skills in order to determine if further speech and language, or hearing evaluations are needed.

The speech and language screening will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete. After the completion of the screening, we will identify if there are concerns regarding your child’s speech and language skills or hearing. A note will be sent home with your child regarding the results of the screening and if further assessment is warranted.

You might consider having your child’s speech, language and hearing screened if your child shows one or more of the following:
· Your child has a difficult time learning and using new concepts and vocabulary
· Your child has had chronic ear infections
· You and others have a hard time understanding your child’s speech. Your child’s speech is less intelligible than their peers
· Your child does not combine 2-5 words in their speech
· You suspect your child may have a fluency disorder: stuttering
· Your child has difficulty asking and answering “wh” questions
· Your child becomes easily frustrated when trying to tell you something


·See www.letstalkspeech.com for more information on speech and language delay warning signs


Speech and Language Screening is $20.00
Speech, Language, and Hearing Screening is $35.00
Checks can be made out to Let’s Talk! Speech and Language Therapy
* Please find registration forms in the lobby area.

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As you may already know from your communications with your child's teachers, MCS classrooms begin the year with a heavy emphasis on our Grace and Courtesy curriculum.  The article below, written by Edward Fidellow, will help you understand the benefits of a Grace and Courtesy curriculum and might offer some ideas how to reinforce the lessons at home!

Happy Reading!

 

Why is Grace and Courtesy a big deal in Montessori?

Edward Fidellow

 

www.crossmountainpress.com

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You cannot observe a Montessori classroom for even a short time without coming away with an impression that Montessori children are by and large very polite, orderly and impressively quiet and serene. This atmosphere is created by the lessons of “grace and courtesy”. Grace and courtesy – good manners, caring about each other, putting others first – are solid virtues that make possible the extraordinary academic gains of a Montessori classroom. Grace and courtesy is one of the non-traditional academic foundations of a successful Montessori education. It is significant even beyond the academic accomplishments that your child will achieve in Montessori.

Many lessons in Montessori (and life) are learned obliquely or indirectly as a by product of other lessons. (For example, in Montessori all of the lessons of practical life are really preparations for reading and writing.)

While the exercises of grace and courtesy are tremendously valuable all by themselves they also lead to four significant outcomes.

While the Montessori environment is a classroom of individual learners, each progressing as quickly as they can, it is also a community of learners who help, encourage and teach each other. The courtesy of using an inside voice so as not to disturb their classmates; the courtesy of walking so as not to disrupt the learning going on is just the beginning of creating a unique learning environment. Sharing the learning materials, waiting your turn patiently, preferring and helping each other transforms the classroom into an oasis of peace where concentration and learning can happen. Valuing community is a significant outcome.

Second, grace and courtesy leads to the most significant lesson in life – how to love. Love is the ability (and the desire) to put someone else’s needs in front of yours – wanting the best for them. Whether it is holding a door, letting them go first, or doing what pleases them, love is a great lesson (most often demonstrated in small actions and ways.) Grace and courtesy is the doorway to love.

The third benefit of grace and courtesy is the building of self respect. Interestingly, when we are kind and courteous to others we like ourselves better. The young child cannot articulate all the conflicting emotions that are part of growing up but the structure of grace and courtesy helps them enjoy the feelings that come from a calm and orderly environment. They are much more at peace with themselves when they are at peace with their neighbor.

The fourth benefit is that grace and courtesy contributes to the development of self control. Grace and courtesy give children an external set of markers that they internalize and practice which in turn leads them to change their own behavior. This is the first step to controlling themselves. Self control will lead to focus; focus will lead to accomplishment; accomplishment will lead to success.

Not a bad byproduct for “Please” and “Thank you”.

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The students loved visiting the aquarium. It has been one of the most fun field trips of the summer. We spent a lot of time observing in the Shark Tunnel and the Touch Pools. Many students were quite taken with the octopus, turtles, and clown fish. 
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The Penguin exhibit was so much fun! We were able to see and hear a presentation on penguins and enjoyed watching their feeding time. We learned that penguins really love fish! We were also able to cross the netted bridge in the aquarium's 'Journey to South America' exhibit. 
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Measuring up with Megalodon and the penguins from around the world was a wonderful experience. The students were so proud they were almost taller than the Emperor Penguins, the tallest penguin in the world. 
There were many other school groups there that day, but our Montessori students were the best! 
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Not only have our students enjoyed the many art projects, activities, and field trips; our Summer Adventures Kangaroos have enjoyed learning fun and creative music originating and/or themed about Australia and Australia's culture.
 
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We have the best teachers who are dedicated, loving, and creative. Montessori Community School wants to thank our teachers, beautiful student body, and supportive parents for the surreal community we enjoy in this amazing school.  
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Our toddlers love lunchtime! They are always curious to see what each friend brings. 
 
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They are responsible for getting their lunch out of their cubby and preparing their food (with assistance from teachers when needed). 
 
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When lunch is finished, our toddlers are able to pack up their lunchbox, clean up their eating space, and return their lunchbox to their cubby. What darling, responsible little ones we have here at MCS! 
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When asked "In what ways has your child thrived in the MCS environment?" this was one Montessori Community School parent's response:


Every one of my children is different. Because Montessori adapts to the individual needs of every child, the Montessori Community School has been the right place for each of them.

Many of the skills that are essential to function as happy, passionate, and contributing members of our society, do not come naturally and take years to master. Entire books have been written and read by adults on how to acquire the skills to be effective members of the society. I think about, organizational skills, a sense of order, the capability to work independently, research, thinking and analyzing, leading meetings & debates, conflict resolution, listening skills, mindfulness, staying connected with your passions, goal setting. At MCS, my children have been learning and integrating these skills starting in early childhood. The process is so natural that they do not even realize it. When leaving on a camping trip, I can always count on Elise to make the checklist and organize the trip. She started planning all our camping trips in 3rd grade! In upper elementary she was able to successfully lead a group discussion with parents, make sure everyone had a chance to express their opinions, and keep the conversation going during silent moments. She has always followed her passions and inner voice, a quality I attribute to the school environment where children always have a choice within a well- prepared environment. She knows how to bring order and re-organize living and work spaces. She even enjoys it, as that is the kind of environment she has always known at home and at school. As a middle school student today, she helps my husband come up with solutions to problems that arise in the daily management of our business. Thinking things through is something they have always done at school.


My son started MCS only in Kindergarten. It took him a long time to feel safe in a larger group. His teachers were well aware that he needed to observe his environment first, before he could start working on reading and writing skills. As he was not subjected to testing, he never felt behind. Today at 9 years old, he is a confident reader and does not want to put his reading book down at night.

Annabelle, my 6 year old loves art. Half of her time at home is spent doing art project. It has been wonderful for her to continue doing art project at school and still work on her reading skills. Because the Montessori materials are so unique and adaptable to the individual needs of each child, the teachers guide her to art projects that integrate reading and writing skills.
She also loves to do everything by herself and is convinced that is how she learned reading and writing. I love that in the Montessori method. From an early age on the children are empowered by learning independently, through well-adapted and beautiful materials, with little guidance from the teachers. They are confident that the knowledge of the world is at their fingertips.

-Marie Bosteels 2013, current MCS Parent

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This article made me smile.  As a parent I often have a difficult time seeing past my own expectations of how things should be.  Spills, messes, fighting...they make me crazy and I forget that my boys are simply practicing, in the safety of my home, how to manage these simple realities of life in preparation for the bigger and greater things that are in their (hopefully very bright) futures.  While I appreciate pristine floors and the sounds of laughter and kindess amongst my three children, I am trying each day to embrace their journey and experience. My hope for them is that when I allow them to really experience mistakes and explore solutions on their own, they are experiencing a gift that they will carry with them always.  I hope you enjoy this blog post from a fellow Montessorian as much as I did...Click here.
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Montessori Community School offers a unique outdoor education program at each level.  We value the opportunity for children to become stewards over the earth and explore their natural environment. You can read more about our Outdoor Classroom and Great Outdoors programs here.
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