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Parents, Stop Feeling That Everything You Do Is Wrong

“You should look down at the rocks and make sure they never crash against them, and prepare them to ride the waves.”
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg


Let's be honest, this parenting gig doesn't come with a description of roles and responsibilities that make it completely clear what is expected at all times.  Giving our absolute dedication and best effort just doesn't look the same from day to day (or moment to moment!)  Throw your hands up (or hide in shame) if you have ever ended the day thinking "I am an awful person...my child probably went to bed thinking how awful I am and they don't feel safe and they don't feel happy and I've ruined everything."  Just me?  Didn't think so.

This article really spoke to me in terms of how we can (and should) give ourselves a break.  News flash - we are raising our kiddos to be humans.  Giving them human experience, whether we feel good about it at the end of the day or not, is essential to their success and existence.  I have decided that I have three main goals, call them standards if you wish, for parenting:
  1. Do I honor my child for the person that they are every moment?  (You can't imagine the number of parents I've met who wish their child was different...if you are talking poorly about your child any time you might be doing it wrong.  Not just parenting - but life.) Am I willing to see them change at their own pace and will I fight for their authenticity? Yes - to the death!
  2. Have they heard me say "I'm sorry" and have they watched me make effort at being better? EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Admitting we are wrong shows our kids that it's okay to make mistakes and that doing so in our care is a safe place to do it.  We accept mistakes as opportunities to do better.
  3. Do I follow my own guiding set of principles and give myself a break for being imperfect?  Hmmm...principles, yes.  Giving myself a break...work in progress.

I am the first to admit that I am imperfect and I question myself constantly when it comes to parenting.  But at the end of the day, I really do think that there is more than one right way. My wish for you is that each day ends with perfect love, even when everything else seems to have gone awry. 

Best wishes for a fun-filled weekend,
Britney

My props to Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg and his Lighthouse Parenting strategy, a true delight and inspiration.  His methods are discussed at length in Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust.  (MCS parents - don't forget to log in to your Compass account to place your Amazon order.)
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Preparing Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing.


A Montessori education is designed to provide a love of learning and to give children the means to find the information they need.  We hope to instill a passion for knowledge and the confidence to seek understanding. We provide avenues for curiosity about this big, beautiful world and all it takes to make it tick.  Our objective is to give children the tools they need to follow any dream they may have.  The reality is, they probably won't choose a career and spend an entire lifetime at it....thats just not how the world is turning anymore.  

This really fun article shows one perspective on preparing our kids for what (might be) to come!
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United as Parents

We, unfortunately, missed the opportunity on June 1 to honor all parents around the globe for the "Global Day of Parents."  I found this short blog post on Montessorium very sweet as the things that unite us as parents and that we likely all have in common included:

1. A sense of wonder at bringing a new life into the world.
2. Joy in the small, daily accomplishments of a child.
3. Trepidation about the responsibility parenthood brings.
4. Hope for their child’s future.
5. A desire to see their family grow in health and happiness.

And so, just a few weeks late but with extra attention due to the heartache and disunion going on around the world, I feel inclined to stand as a global citizen and honor my fellow parents throughout the world.  

Keep shining,
Britney





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"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education..."

"Everyone talks about peace but no one educates for peace. In this world, they educate for competition, and competition is the beginning of any war. When we educate to cooperate and be in solidarity with one another, that day we will be educating for peace.”
María Montessori
 
Each year MCS staff and students decorate peace flags, share a peace walk through our campus, and hang a peace dove in our gardens as a way to support, honor, and celebrate peace on earth. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, Dr. Montessori was a strong advocate for peace. She firmly believed that the education of children was the key to future peace. Her vision was the reconstruction of society and formation of world peace through education.




A teacher walks with Toddler students past our Outdoor Classroom where the student's peace flags have been hung. 




Upper Elementary students prepare to carry the Peace Dove to the Outdoor Classroom, where it will be visible to the Salt Lake Community.




An Early Childhood student decorates a peace flag with images that remind her of peace.  Her flag will be hung outside with the intent of spreading love and peace. 




Another peace flag. 




Elementary students help their younger peers locate their flags in the Outdoor Classroom, where the breeze blows the students wishes for peace.




Siblings share a moment. 




Friendship is honored and celebrated. 

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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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Sun Safety

As a staff we are always trying to maintain a comfortable balance between sun safety and the immense need to get our children outside for play and movement.  As you well know, our children are not always easily convinced of the critical need to cover adequately.  We go to great effort to teach our children the importance of full coverage and how to apply sunscreen thoroughly (while offering assistance to children as needed).  We encourage our families to advise their children of the importance of sun safety and appreciate the following tips provided by one of our MCS parents.  



Utah has the highest melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) rates in the United States (read detailed article here). Given our altitude, a large number of sunny days, great outdoor activities, and a population with lots of fair-skinned people, we have the perfect storm of skin cancer risk factors.

It is important that our kids spend time outside but careful preparation is a must. Below are some measures that have proven effectiveness at reducing UV exposure and helping to prevent skin cancers:

1. Sunscreen reapplication: Unfortunately, sunscreen only lasts ~80 min before the protective effects diminish significantly, so be sure to reapply frequently.  

2. Hats: Because the head and neck region is not covered with clothes it receives much more sun exposure than other parts of the body, leading to a higher proportional rate of skin cancers in this region. Hats are an easy method to reduce sun exposure. Be sure to send a hat to school with your child each day as well as taking one along on all your outings that include outside play

3. Encourage sun-safe clothing, sunglasses when appropriate.

4.  Go the extra mile by being an example; wear a hat when you are outside, apply sunscreen to yourself in your child's presence, wear sun-appropriate clothing and sunglasses, and talk to your child about sun safety on a regular basis.  Children, like the rest of us, are empowered by knowledge.

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The Montessori Method: An Education For Creating Innovators

Imagine an education system that trained students to be creative innovators and leaders without the use of grades, tests or homework. It actually exists and it’s called the Montessori Method.

The Montessori Method focuses on fostering a hands-on, self-paced, collaborative and enjoyable learning experience. It teaches students to start small with their ideas, to build them through experimentation and to solve the problems that come up along the way with a sense of stimulating curiosity.

Read more here.


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What a Fun Run!

An obstacle course bounce house, the new format for the Fun Run this year, was a great success with all the Early Childhood and Elementary students. They were so enthusiastic in their participation and we were quite impressed with how many times so many of the children completed the course. Several parents came to cheer on their children and that of course made them want to complete extra laps.


As the course was not suitable for the Toddlers, they ran their laps on their own playground and once they got the idea they ran with great enthusiasm. They got so excited it was a challenge to get them to stop in the end!



With the online pledges to date plus individual donations already handed, in the students have earned over $5,500! We are still shooting to meet our goal of $7,000 and would appreciate your support. Please be sure to get your pledges turned in as soon as you are able - our goal is within reach!


Donations may be made through the website, www.mcsfunrun.org, or turned in directly to the office in the form of cash or check (payable to Montessori Education Foundation, or MEF). We will of course accept donations that will be used exclusively for our grandmothers Elvira and Anita and our students in Ethiopia at any time. Your students’ efforts, along with all your support will make such a huge difference in the lives of those served by these contributions.


Robyn
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PSA and Building Community





This year, our PSA Committee reinstated Coffee Tuesday. The first Tuesday of every month from 8:15 - 9:30 am Coffee, Tea, and a light snack were provided along with MCS' PSA members.

What a wonderful opportunity these gatherings were to get to know our families and create a greater sense of unity.
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Author Jane Nelson Speaking May 5 - Montessori Academy

Jane Nelsen, author the Positive Discipline books, will be speaking at our school on Thursday, May 5th, at 7:00 pm. The topic is "Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World", and Dr. Nelsen will be focusing on independence and the benefits of self-reliance for children. Her talk will include all age ranges through adolescence.

Dr. Nelsen does charge a speaking fee, so we are charging just enough for tickets in order to pay her fee ($15 per ticket). We have already offered tickets to our parents and we still have some availability, so we would love to extend an invitation to any Montessorian that would like to attend.

You can purchase tickets with a credit card by calling Ms. Terra in the front office at (801) 566-6962, or you can mail us a check, or call and reserve some tickets and then pay at the door. It seems that we all get so busy from day-today that we rarely see each other, and we would welcome the opportunity for our teachers to have a chance to associate together with you and your staff.

We will have some refreshments and time after the presentation to mingle. We hope to see some of you here!

Angie Johnson
Curriculum Director

Mountain West Montessori Academy
4125 West Foxview Drive
South Jordan, UT 84095

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Competition in Montessori

As the mother of 3 very healthy sons, competition is a large part of the parenting challenges that I face on a regular basis.  How do I teach my children to be healthy competitors (always striving to be their best selves) and still celebrate the accomplishments of others?  Montessori is a great environment for children to learn a nice balance of respecting and appreciating their peer group while knowing what it takes to push themselves.  Enjoy this article by Edward Fidellow on Competition in the Montessori environment. 

Competition in Montessori? Well, No! Which is it? Is there competition in the Montessori classroom or not? Well – yes and no! Let’s examine the “No” first. There is no formal institutionalized competition in the Montessori philosophy because Montessori is about your child not about your child in competition with others. Your child is not competing with any one else. Nor is your child competing for stars or popsicles or even attention. Your child is not being compared to anyone else in the environment nor is your child being set up to win or lose. Competition is not part of the curriculum or the philosophy and yet there is competition in the classroom. So where does it come from? It walks in the door with your child. Competition is part of human nature. Some of us are more competitive than others. Some of us lean more to cooperation but all of us have some of the competitive gene. What Montessori education can achieve is to help a child recognize and manage this human characteristic. Traditional education often uses the negative aspect of competition (“I’m better than you.”) to motivate learning and behavior. Children are unfairly forced into competition with others who may be more talented or gifted in certain areas while their own personality strengths (determination, aesthetic, creativity, compassion etc) are not recognized or valued because they do not fit the educational matrix that is being graded. Yet, it is these other strengths that in the end determine the satisfaction of a life well lived. Here, competition can be destructive to the developing self-image of the child. How many brothers and sisters grow up competing with each other – wasting years of energy – only to realize that they are in different races, have different personalities, different talents and different goals?

Learning to manage the positive aspects of competition has great value. In the Montessori classroom children get to choose the arena of their competition. It is never the slowest child who accepts the challenge of a race with the class sprinter but yet there are always takers. There are those who enjoy the demonstration of their abilities and those who want to stretch their own limits – which is only done against good competition. Montessori children (and mature adults) realize that there are venues in which they cannot compete and realistically assess their own goals and abilities. Montessori children can grow up into adults who have no need to compete with Hollywood looks, Wall Street money or professional athletic prowess because they are secure in knowing who they are and what their gifts and talents are. So, where do we find and how do we judge healthy competition in the Montessori classroom? We find its most excellent use in the Montessori concept of mastery. Mastery brings out and into focus the child’s most significant competitor – himself or herself. Mastery says “I’m not working for a grade, I am not working to get by or to do the least I can do. I am working for excellence. And I am my own competition.” And that is the mind set that produces success in life. Choosing your goals wisely (learning to choose wisely is another Montessori quality) according to your abilities, passions and goals brings the kind of success that is meaningful. Many people have found that unless you know who your real competitor is you often run races in life that give you no pleasure and bring you no closer to your goals. Montessori children are afforded the opportunity to compete with the best – themselves.
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Owner's Manual for the 3-6 Year Old Child

Donna Bryant Goertz, one of my favorite Montessori authors, wrote this beautiful Owner's Manual for parents of three to six year old children.  It is not only touching, but provides great opportunity to reflect on how we function as parents and in our homes.  Our children are little for such a short time and the effects of their childhood experiences last an entire lifetime, making our responsibility as parents quite paramount.  Enjoy Donna's words, written from the perspective of a child. 

Dear Parent,

I want to be like you. I want to be just like you, but I want to become like you in my own way, in my own time, and by my own efforts. I want to watch you and imitate you. I do not want to listen to you except for a few words at a time, unless you don’t know I’m listening. I want to struggle, to make a grand effort with something very difficult, something I cannot master immediately. I want you to clear the way for my efforts, to give me the materials and supplies that will allow success to follow initial difficulty. I want you to observe me and see if I need a better tool, an instrument more my size, a taller, safer stepladder, a lower table, a container I can open by myself, a lower shelf, or a clearer demonstration of the process. I don’t want you to do it for me or rush me or feel sorry for me or praise me. Just be quiet and show me how to do it slowly, very slowly.

I will demand to do an entire project by myself all at once just because I see you doing it, but that’s not what will work for me. Be firm and draw the line for me here. I need for you to give me just one small part of the whole project and let me repeat it over and over until I perfect it. You break down the project into parts that will be very difficult but possible for me to master through much effort, following many repetitions, and after long concentration.


I want to think like you, behave like you, and hold your values. I want to do all this through my own efforts by imitating you. Slow down when speak. Let your words be few and wise. Slow down your movements. Perform your tasks in slow motion so I can absorb and imitate them. If you trust and respect me by preparing my home environment and giving me freedom within it, I will discipline myself and cooperate with you more often and more readily. The more you discipline yourself, the more I will discipline myself. The more you obey the laws of my development the, more I will obey you.

We are both so fortunate that within me I have a secret plan for my own way of being like you.  I am driven by my secret plan.  I am safe and happy following it.  It is irresistible to me.  If you interfere with my work of unfolding myself according to my secret plan and try to force me to be like you in your own way, in your own time, by your own efforts, I will forget to work on my secret plan and begin to struggle against you.  I will decide to wage a war against you and everything you stand for.  That’s my nature  It’s my way of protecting myself.  You could call it integrity.

Depending on my personality, I will wage the war more openly or more covertly; I will fight you more aggressively or more passively.  A great deal of my incredible energy, talent, and intelligence will be wasted.  You will probably win in the end, but I will be only a weak version, a poor substitute, a forgery of what I am capable of being, and you will be exhausted.  Please take the pressure off both of us by preparing my home environment so I can do my work of creating a human being and you can stick to your work of bringing one up.  I’ll do what I do best and you do what you do best.

I am capable of being the finest example of your best attributes and values expressed in my very own way.  If you will prepare a home environment carefully and thoroughly for me, keep my materials and tools in order and good repair, set the limits clearly and firmly, give me long slow periods of time to work on my secret plan, I will do the work of developing a new human being, me!  Did I mention that I need materials to be set out in every room of the house?  I need to have materials available for quick and easy access wherever I happen to be in the house and wherever you are.  I need to have the option of working and playing close to you.  Most of the time, I need to use activities close to the shelf where they belong in order to form the habit of putting away.

...
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9th Annual Fun Run Fundraiser: Service Learning



On Monday, May 16th, our students will be participating in our 9th annual Montessori Community School Fun Run! And this year, the run will be enhanced by a bouncy obstacle course!
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Teaching Children "Soft Skills"

While the ultimate goal of parenting is to prepare these little humans to be successful, happy, and fulfilled adults it seems that more and more, parents are taking the opportunity away for their children to develop the skills necessary to accomplish goals of lifelong success, happiness and fulfillment.  The terms "helicopter parenting" and "overprotective" become more and more frequent and, as an educator I have seen the negative impact of this shift on my students over the years.  As a mom, though, I am mostly unsure how to avoid it.  I want to give my kiddos every opportunity and worry that the things they miss will have a great impact.  This article by Peter Davidson (Mariamontessori.com) is really wonderful in reminding us that "soft skills" are the things our kiddos really need in their tool box to successfully and confidently pursue lives of happiness and fulfillment (let alone be successful college students!)

Happy Reading,
Britney  


I had an interesting conversation with a prospective parent recently who teaches at a local college. She shared that she and her colleagues are constantly discussing “how underprepared kids are for college in terms of ‘soft skills.’” By soft skills she meant skills other than the purely academic — the personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make someone a successful college student and, by extension, a good boss or employee later in life. She had just come from an observation in toddlers and primary and was surprised to have seen that in Montessori, “starting in toddlers students develop the self-motivation, independence, and follow-through that many college students lack!” In other words, beginning at these very young ages, Montessori children are already developing the soft skills that will benefit them so greatly later in life.

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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.

Enjoy,
Britney

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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Summer Camp Teacher Assistant



Montessori Community School
Summer Camp Teacher Assistant
June 13th – August 12th, 2016
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Free Introduction to Herbalism by MCS' Outdoor Classroom Teacher


You're invited to attend a free introductory class on herbalism through Tea Time on the Trail with Donda Hartsfield, MCS' Outdoor Classroom Extraordinaire. 
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Spring Camp 2016

Spring Camp 2016
This year, Spring Camp brought an underground adventure to life through the exploration of caves. Monday, our students learned about the formation of caves and the different types of caves that exist throughout our planet. Students worked together to construct a large cave.
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Custodian and Maintenance Position



Custodian and Maintenance Position

Montessori Community School

2416 E 1700 S

...
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Montessori Toddler Teacher Position

 



Montessori Community School
Certified Montessori Toddler Teacher

 

Montessori Community School of Salt Lake City seeks a full time certified and experienced Toddler Teacher to co-teach in a classroom of approximately 18 children with the majority of the children aged 18 months through 3 years old.  MCS has 3 Toddler classrooms and the teachers in the program work closely together to plan and implement curriculum.  

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