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Learning the Language of Life

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.

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Easy Transitions...Saying Goodbye to your Child

Welcome Back!  School is officially in session. We are looking forward to our new students joining us tomorrow.  But, saying goodbye can be hard.  As excited as we all might be about school it can be difficult to say goodbye.  Separation anxiety is a normal part of the routine and we would like to offer some tips that might be helpful...
 
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  1. Prepare  your child.  Be sure to help them understand what they can expect.  Talk about how the routine will go... "We will walk to your cubby first and put your things away.  Then, I will remind you where to find the bathroom and then I'll take you to the door of your classroom.  Your teacher will meet us there and we will give one hug, one kiss and one high five and then I will leave."
  2. Don't be surprised if your child is having a difficult time even if they are returning to the same classroom, with the same teachers, and the same peers.  
  3. Stick to your routine!  A change in routine can make separation anxiety even more intense for a child.  If you say you are going to give one hug, one kiss and one high five, DO IT!  Drawing out the goodbye not only makes it hard but also hinders your child's ability to develop confidence that you are both really expected to do what you say.
  4. Refrain from entering the classroom.  We try to give our students the first 6 weeks to make the environment "theirs" and develop a routine before inviting parents inside.  If you have questions about how or what your child is doing be sure to ask their teacher at the end of the day.  Or, feel free to call our office and we will check in on your child.  But, trust your child that they can develop the skills to make it through their school day.
  5. Stay calm and let your child know you trust them.  Although you might be concerned that your child is going to have a hard transition, be sure to express your confidence in them.  If you aren't comfortable leaving campus until you know they are doing okay, you are welcome to hang out in our lobby and our staff will check on your child.  Or, give us a call on the phone and we will be happy to check.  
  6. Keep it short. Avoid lingering...this can cause further distress. Rest assured that if your child is unable to settle or remains distraught, we will call you.  It is important to us that your child feels this is a safe and peaceful place.  If they need a shorter day here in order to build that confidence, we will support them.
  7. Give it time.  It can take up to 6 weeks for children to "normalize."  If you have concerns that it is taking your child too long to adjust, be sure to speak with the teachers. They might have some good ideas to help you both.  
  8. Return on time.  It can be difficult for children to build trust if their parent and/or teacher tell them that mommy or daddy will "be here soon" and you are not.  If you are going to be late, give us a call so we can prepare your child.  Unexpected events occur and we are happy to support you and your child so call our office if you are running late. 
  9. Show your child that you trust the teachers.  If they feel that you lack confidence in the teachers or the school, they will also lack confidence.  Again, if you have concerns about your child's care, please speak with the teachers or administration.  
  10. Ask your child about their day. Let them express frustrations but also ask specific questions that might lead them to remember the good parts of their day.  "Did you play in the sandbox today?"  "Did your teacher read any stories today?  What was the story about?" 
  11. Most importantly - be consistent!
We are so happy that you have entrusted us with your precious children.  We look forward to a wonderful year and invite you to let us know in person, over the phone, or via email if you have any questions or concerns about your child's transitions.  
 
Featured

Lunchtime for Toddlers

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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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MCS Parent Testimonial

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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.

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A Day in the Life of a Montessori Community School Toddler

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Now Enrolling Toddlers 18 months to 3 years. Read Below Why Early Education is so Beneficial!

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Toddler students from MCS practice Yoga.
 
 
Current research and various studies support Maria Montessori's approach to Early Education. She discovered that children 0-6 years old were in an absorbent mind, where children absorb information from their environment with little to no effort. Montessori wrote and spoke about "Sensitive Periods", which are periods in a person’s development when they are more responsive to certain stimuli and quicker to learn particular skills. She also taught us that when these crucial stages are missed (which she referred to as "dropped stitches", learning becomes a more difficult process.  For example, children who are exposed to a second language in their first six years have an advantage over people who learn a second language later in life, when the sensistive period for language development has passed.  
 
Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come. In recent years, researchers have learned that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons, and is at its most receptive to learning, between birth and three years of age. In fact, the intake of new information is critical to the formation of active neural pathways (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). 
 
 
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MCS Toddlers do scrubbing work. 
 
 
The Toddler Montessori environment is carefully designed to meet the children's needs in this critical stage of development.  Exploration of their environment through the five senses coupled with a rich socially prepared environment with children of different ages and abilities allows Toddlers the opportunity to develop the following:
  • meaningful relationships, mutual understanding, and approprite social skills 
  • values and ethics
  • motor skills
  • creativity & imagination
  • self correction and overcoming fear of making mistakes
  • self expression through arts, music, dance, building and exploration of materials
  • ability to process emotions and life events in a safe and loving environment
  • cooperation
  • development of language
  • independence
  • control of body
  • sense of order
Montessori Community School is currently accepting applications for our Toddler program.  Toddler enrollment is limited to the beginning of the academic school year, August, and January.  Contact us for a tour now! 
 
 
Resources:
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What Are Your Summer Plans? Becoming Media Savvy Families

MCS School Psychologist Melissa DeVries, Ph.D.
 
With the end of the school year fast approaching we are all likely finalizing plans for how our children will spend their summer days, whether it be a day camp, travel or time at home with a parent or other caregiver. Whatever your family’s summer plans may be, it seems that the majority of us loosen up a bit during these summer months. The rush of the typical school morning is long forgotten, bed times creep later into the evening and a sense of relaxation sets in. With our children having more free time, it can be easy to reduce the amount of time spent in organized activity in lieu of more free-choice. Oftentimes, however, free choice can result in increased access to technology. Youth may spend more time watching TV, YouTube and movies, playing on game apps, browsing the Internet and social networking. While these activities can be fun for children, it’s important as parents to maintain an awareness of our children’s media and the impact of that access. 

How much media content does the average child in America view?

A 2010 study noted that children aged 8 to 18 years watch an average of 4 hours of television and spend 1.5 hours playing video or computer games per day. Children will see an average of 2 gun-related violent acts for every hour of television they watch. As of a decade ago, 40% of the top grossing non-animated G- and PG-rated movies featured at least one character with a firearm and an average of 4.5 armed characters per film. Even current animated films and television often contain some intense scenes with aggressive, if not violent, acts among characters. Often pitched as slapstick humor and “jokes for adults that simply go over a child’s head,” children are exposed to violence, aggression and adult innuendos in animated features as well. Approximately two-thirds of E-rated video games contain intentional physical aggression.

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In younger age groups it appears that 66% of children aged 6 months to 6 years watch television every day, averaging 2 hours per day. In children under the age of 2 years, an astounding 83% use some form of screen media on a typical day.

What do we know about the cognitive and behavioral impact of media on child development?

It is difficult for research to keep pace with the advancements in technology; however, years of research on children’s television viewing have produced impactful findings. According the existing research, consumption of violent media predicts increased aggressive behavior among youth because children imitate the scripts they see modeled by others. They can also become desensitized and condoning of violence, believe that the world is hostile, and lose empathy for victims. Longitudinal studies have revealed that 1st and 3rd graders who were heavy viewers of violent television content were three times more likely to be convicted of a violent crime by the time they were in their twenties. Admittedly, violent media is not the only culprit for future behavioral problems, but it does represent a substantial risk factor. Even mass media preys upon our survival instincts by stressing elements that trigger rapid, irrational fear responses through fast paced content, sales pitches that demand immediate response, and by presenting rare violent events as far more commonplace. While younger children may be more frightened by fantasy material, older children are often more disturbed by such realistic content, including the news.

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Violent content aside, even heavily sanitized media access can have unforeseen consequences. Research has argued that having non-stop access to media content through handheld devices and personal computers produces a high number of irrelevant distractions and demands to attempt to multitask. This creates too much to pay attention to and in turn, can degrade our memory for important information. For example, reading is an activity that offers few distractions. It requires intense focus for sustained periods of time, imagination and memory. In contrast, TV and other media content, often demand little imagination, and require fragmented attention and frequent, rapid task switching. Distraction is the norm, thus inhibiting memory and development of sustained attention. Children who watch more “pure entertainment” media (i.e., no educational value) demonstrate lower academic performance, even after controlling for other factors. Television viewing at young ages (under 2 years) can prohibit language development because young children, including preschoolers, need responsive, engaging, stimulating interaction with their surroundings including exposure to language and sounds. They learn through interactions with adults who respond to their actions in real-time, and free and creative play. They need to explore the world and manipulate objects around them, accompanied by guidance, structure, support, praise, attention and positive feedback from adults and peers. Children younger than 5 years old who watch TV spend less time in creative play and less time interacting with parents and siblings, which extends beyond the time they are in front of the screen. TV viewing among children younger than 3 years has been correlated with irregular sleep schedules.

Pre-teens who use social media have been found to value fame more than kindness and community involvement. Video game play late at night reduces the quality of sleep. Periods of downtime (i.e., without the constant demands of Tweets, texts, and Facebook status updates) are necessary for consolidation of learning, which is virtually impossible for youth who have 24-hour access to their smart phones. Other risks of technology use may include reduced empathy and increased stress. Studies have even shown abnormalities in portions of white matter responsible for decision making in brains of adolescents who were “preoccupied” by internet usage (defined as those adolescents who had repeatedly attempted to control their use without success, resulting in restlessness, moodiness, irritability and depression). Overall, studies have shown that youth who spend more than 2 hours per day watching TV or using computers are at increased risk of psychological difficulties.

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Make an Informed Decision

Technology is so pervasive in our day-to-day lives that it may be difficult, or even unnecessary to go totally “screen-free” for the summer. Many sources argue about the immense benefits of raising tech-savvy children in that they can keep up as adults in the modern world. Thus, I frequently encourage parents to consider technology like a dessert, “okay in moderation.” While some media access is acceptable, if not beneficial, the most powerful protective factor against all the potentially negative effects is parental monitoring. Let’s pay attention to what our children access, how much time is spent with media and encourage them to have a balanced diet of activities for the summer (and beyond).

Helpful Resources to Monitor Your Children’s Access to Media Content

www.imdb.com (database that contains a detailed parent guide for content of movies, television series and video games. Each instance of sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, and frightening/intense scenes is identified).

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/internet-safety-tips-for-elementary-school-kids

http://www.safekids.com/kids-rules-for-online-safety/ http://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/

Consider adopting a media diet:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-sue-swanson-md-mbe-faap/tv-for-preschoolers_b_2704097.html

References:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/media-and-violence-an-analysis-of-current-research

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/23/opinion/gazzaley-mobile-brain/ http://www.i-a-e.org/articles/46-feature-articles/48-the-effects-of-electronic-media-on-a-developing-brain.html http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1074

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/18/social-media-kids_n_3111259.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/technology/25brain.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brainside.html

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/children-teens-and-entertainment-media-the-view-from-the-classroom http://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/2/214.abstract

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/10/11/peds.2010-1154.abstract

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/zero-to-eight-childrens-media-use-in-america

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-1753.full.pdf+html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201212/how-technology-is-changing-the-way-children-think-and-focus



What Are Your Summer Plans? Becoming Media Savvy Families

What Are Your Summer Plans?  

Becoming Media Savvy Families

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D.

With the end of the school year fast approaching we are all likely finalizing plans for how our children will spend their summer days, whether it be a day camp, travel or time at home with a parent or other caregiver. Whatever your family’s summer plans may be, it seems that the majority of us loosen up a bit during these summer months. The rush of the typical school morning is long forgotten, bed times creep later into the evening and a sense of relaxation sets in. With our children having more free time, it can be easy to reduce the amount of time spent in organized activity in lieu of more free-choice. Oftentimes, however, free choice can result in increased access to technology. Youth may spend more time watching TV, YouTube and movies, playing on game apps, browsing the Internet and social networking. While these activities can be fun for children, it’s important as parents to maintain an awareness of our children’s media and the impact of that access.

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How much media content does the average child in America view? 


A 2010 study noted that children aged 8 to 18 years watch an average of 4 hours of television and spend 1.5 hours playing video or computer games per day. Children will see an average of 2 gun-related violent acts for every hour of television they watch. As of a decade ago, 40% of the top grossing non-animated G- and PG-rated movies featured at least one character with a firearm and an average of 4.5 armed characters per film. Even current animated films and television often contain some intense scenes with aggressive, if not violent, acts among characters. Often pitched as slapstick humor and “jokes for adults that simply go over a child’s head,” children are exposed to violence, aggression and adult innuendos in animated features as well. Approximately two-thirds of E-rated video games contain intentional physical aggression.

In younger age groups it appears that 66% of children aged 6 months to 6 years watch television every day, averaging 2 hours per day. In children under the age of 2 years, an astounding 83% use some form of screen media on a typical day. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_photo-1.JPG

What do we know about the cognitive and behavioral impact of media on child development?

It is difficult for research to keep pace with the advancements in technology; however, years of research on children’s television viewing have produced impactful findings. According the existing research, consumption of violent media predicts increased aggressive behavior among youth because children imitate the scripts they see modeled by others. They can also become desensitized and condoning of violence, believe that the world is hostile, and lose empathy for victims. Longitudinal studies have revealed that 1st and 3rd graders who were heavy viewers of violent television content were three times more likely to be convicted of a violent crime by the time they were in their twenties. Admittedly, violent media is not the only culprit for future behavioral problems, but it does represent a substantial risk factor. Even mass media preys upon our survival instincts by stressing elements that trigger rapid, irrational fear responses through fast paced content, sales pitches that demand immediate response, and by presenting rare violent events as far more commonplace. While younger children may be more frightened by fantasy material, older children are often more disturbed by such realistic content, including the news.


Violent content aside, even heavily sanitized media access can have unforeseen consequences. Research has argued that having non-stop access to media content through handheld devices and personal computers produces a high number of irrelevant distractions and demands to attempt to multitask. This creates too much to pay attention to and in turn, can degrade our memory for important information. For example, reading is an activity that offers few distractions. It requires intense focus for sustained periods of time, imagination and memory. In contrast, TV and other media content, often demand little imagination, and require fragmented attention and frequent, rapid task switching.  Distraction is the norm, thus inhibiting memory and development of sustained attention. Children who watch more “pure entertainment” media (i.e., no educational value) demonstrate lower academic performance, even after controlling for other factors. Television viewing at young ages (under 2 years) can prohibit language development because young children, including preschoolers, need responsive, engaging, stimulating interaction with their surroundings including exposure to language and sounds. They learn through interactions with adults who respond to their actions in real-time, and free and creative play. They need to explore the world and manipulate objects around them, accompanied by guidance, structure, support, praise, attention and positive feedback from adults and peers. Children younger than 5 years old who watch TV spend less time in creative play and less time interacting with parents and siblings, which extends beyond the time they are in front of the screen. TV viewing among children younger than 3 years has been correlated with irregular sleep schedules.

Pre-teens who use social media have been found to value fame more than kindness and community involvement. Video game play late at night reduces the quality of sleep. Periods of downtime (i.e., without the constant demands of Tweets, texts, and Facebook status updates) are necessary for consolidation of learning, which is virtually impossible for youth who have 24-hour access to their smart phones. Other risks of technology use may include reduced empathy and increased stress. Studies have even shown abnormalities in portions of white matter responsible for decision making in brains of adolescents who were “preoccupied” by internet usage (defined as those adolescents who had repeatedly attempted to control their use without success, resulting in restlessness, moodiness, irritability and depression). Overall, studies have shown that youth who spend more than 2 hours per day watching TV or using computers are at increased risk of psychological difficulties.

b2ap3_thumbnail_scaled.P1060433.JPG

Make an Informed Decision


Technology is so pervasive in our day-to-day lives that it may be difficult, or even unnecessary to go totally “screen-free” for the summer. Many sources argue about the immense benefits of raising tech-savvy children in that they can keep up as adults in the modern world. Thus, I frequently encourage parents to consider technology like a dessert, “okay in moderation.” While some media access is acceptable, if not beneficial, the most powerful protective factor against all the potentially negative effects is parental monitoring. Let’s pay attention to what our children access, how much time is spent with media and encourage them to have a balanced diet of activities for the summer (and beyond).

...
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Service-Learning

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An Early Child student is read to by a Lower Elementary student.

“If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of man and so of society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more enlightened future.”

– Maria Montessori

Service-Learning is built into a Montessori Education’s curriculum starting at the toddler age through adolescence. As per the National Service-Learning Partnership, Service-Learning is defined as a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity.

Montessori Community School starts this education with a simple question, “How may I help?” This simple question plants a seed within children early on in the toddler years. There, it is nurtured, and cultivated. As the years go by, this seed continues to grow. Soon a sensitivity of self-awareness and self-reflection emerge.  Not only do students begin to recognize and develop their personal talents, abilities, and interests but they are also able use them to meet the needs of others.

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MCS’s Collaborative Murals

“The human hand, so delicate and so complicated, not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enable the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment…man ‘takes possession of his environment with his hands.’ His hands, under the guidance of his intellect transform this environment and this enable him to fulfill his mission in the world.”
-       Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Thank you to MCS’s Art Instructor, Kindra Fehr for organizing and implementing the painting of two murals on our school grounds.
 
Mural 1
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A garden theme designed and executed by our Middle School class. Oquirrh, a Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd grade) class and two Early Childhood classes, Sequoias and Willows (ages 3 – 5), contributed to the design by adding various bugs, butterflies, and flowers.
 
Mural 2
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Mural 2 is being painted on MCS’s new traversing wall. Designed by our Upper Elementary (4th – 6th grade) class, the wall features a desert theme. Wasatch, a Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd grade) class and two Early Childhood classes, Aspens and Magnolias (ages 3 – 5), will contribute to the design by adding various desert creatures and plants.
 
Art is one of the many ways children express themselves. Art is a way for children to communicate their feeling. It is through art that children develop their fine motor skills. In the Montessori environment, we provide open-ended art activities that help children explore and use their creativity.
 
When it comes to art, it is the process not the product that is important to the child. As adults, our goal is to produce a product. The child interacts with the world differently. The child works to develop self. The focus is on the process, not the product. Once a child creates something, he does not feel the need to keep the product. It is the process that gives satisfaction and inner joy. (Personette, 2011).
 
It has been a pleasure to witness the processes our students have gone through to prepare, plan, and employ as a school community to make these murals happen. It indeed, has been beautiful to see the cohesiveness and tight-knit relationships between our students, no matter the age or grade.  
 
 
 
 
Cited
Personette, Pamela. (April 2014). Art in the Montessori Environment. Montessori Services: A Resource for Preparing a Child’s Environment. Retrieved from http://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/art-in-the-montessori-environment
 
 
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Montessori Community School is in Full Bloom

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Montessori Community School is in full bloom as we move into our last month this 2013 - 2014 school year. The end of a school year can be stressful time. The weather is warmer, summer break is in sight, and both students and teachers are reflecting on the work accomplished, materials learned, and planning for the summer and the next school year.
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We are so proud of our students, teachers, and families for the dedication, involvement, and passion thus far demonstrated within our school community. We are so grateful to have such a great environment in which to educate, grow, and explore with each other. 
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This year, we have watched our students blossom. As we make this last push through the remainder of the school year, we hope there will be time for reflection and appreciation toward our incredible student body. 


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Montessori and the Myth of Low Student Teacher Ratios

 
As parents we have to judge what makes a good educational program for our children. We ask our friends, we look at the school – is it clean and orderly and bright? We look at the children – do they seem happy? We observe the teacher - is she engaged and interested in the children? These are things that we can judge. And then we remember that we’ve heard that a low student–teacher ratio is important for a good educational approach and outcome. (It must be true because all of the governmental agencies are always trying to lower the ratios.)

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But it is a myth as far as Montessori education is concerned. Traditionally, a low student–teacher ratio is desired if you are trying to make everyone do the same thing at the same time. (It is a lot like herding cats – the less you have, the easier it might be to perform.) Ratios aren’t critical in Montessori for three reasons.

  1. In Montessori education you do not teach classes (numbers) you teach children (individuals.)
  2. The goal in the classroom is not just to teach the material but to facilitate the child’s ability to learn on her own – which in effect makes the learning one on one.
  3. And because of the nature of the classroom where children are encouraged to help each other – the five year olds teach the four year olds and the fours teach the threes – you literally have more teachers than students.

Parents wonder still – “If there were fewer students wouldn’t my child get more attention from the teacher?” Interestingly, it is not just the amount of time your child needs but the amount of focused time (time spent directly on your child’s priorities and needs) that effectively contributes to her learning.

A Montessori teacher can be compared to a juggler who spins plates on a stick. She will begin spinning the first plate, then the second, third and fourth. She might go back and give the first plate a spin before she spins the fifth and sixth. She might then spin the second plate – and that first plate might need another spin before she gets the seventh plate rotating. Likewise, the teacher notes each of her students and what it takes to power up the learning gyroscope in each child – so the child can keep the learning plates spinning on her own. A low ratio is good if you are driving the learning – not as consequential if you are leading it.

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8 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids

Elementary age children are in a socially sensitive period and are developing their moral judgement. Their world is opening and building relationships with peers holds more value than ever before.  In this article entitled "8 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids" Patty Shade talks about what parents can do to validate their children without making them feel like victims of cruelty.  Managing those emotions and sifting through others children's behavior can be a difficult task for our children as they begin to explore new and different relationships and try to maintain and manage ongoing relationships. 

8 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids by Patty Shade

“Ben is being mean to me!!”

“I don’t like Allie. She’s SO mean!”

Surprisingly, complaints like this are common in my Lower Elementary Montessori classroom. And, I’m guessing that, at one time or another, you have heard something similar from your own child. [Read More]



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Courage

by Edward Fidellow

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

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

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