Blog posts tagged in Parent Education
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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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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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Parent Education Night is coming up next Thursday, October 2nd from 6:30-8:00pm.  Toddler, Early Childhood and Elementary parents are invited.  Child care is provided, free of charge, but must be signed up for in advance in the office.
 
Scroll down for more information about each programs presentation details for the evening.
 
This is a great way to earn Parent Participation Hours AND stay in touch with your child's Montessori experience!
 
 TODDLER PARENT EDUCATION NIGHT
 
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EARLY CHILDHOOD PARENT EDUCATION NIGHT
 
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ELEMENTARY PARENT EDUCATION NIGHT
 
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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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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.  
 
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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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Many working parents are looking for a safe and healthy environment for their very young children. Options for child care are limitless and varied in what they have to offer a young child.  However, current research shows us that the most crucial part of a child's development happens in the unconcscious absorbent mind, from 0-3 years old.  That being said, why wouldn't any nurturing parent want the most prepared and beneficial environment for their child?  This article, Montessori Infant-Toddler Programs; The Best Beginning, from The Montessori Way will help you determine if a Montessori Toddler program is the best fit for your child. 
 
"This is a time of great sensitivity to language, spatial relationships, music, art, social graces and so much more. If, during this time, the mind is stimulated by the child's exposure to a rich environment, the brain will literally develop a much stronger and lasting ability to learn and accomplish."  Read more...
 
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In all my years as a Montessorian, I have never met a parent who did not want the absolute best for their child.  Just as adults want to go to work in a place where they feel satisfied doing something they love, many parents are searching for the same educational experience for their children. Most parents are searching for a system that actually works (as in, educates the child) while nurturing the genuine spirit of each child individually!  The great news is...it really does exist! 
 
The video below will show you how Montessori schools, including Montessori Community School - a private Montessori school in the Salt Lake Valley, gives children the motivation and interest to learn, allows for a productive and meaningful learning experience, and creates a peaceful learning environment.  
 
 
If you think the Montessori approach might be right for your child, please contact us for a tour.  We are currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.
 
Special Thanks to Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein, creator of "Superwoman Was Already Here."
 
Cheers! 
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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



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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. 

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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.

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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

Screen Time Article 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





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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.

This academic understanding takes deeper root through our literature and writing curriculum, class meetings, informal and formal class discussions, and day-to-day interactions. Concepts such as empathy begin to intertwine and connect with not just, “How may I help?” but, “How do I recognize when another person’s fundamental needs are not being met, and how may I be of service?”

Montessori Service-Learning Education fosters respect for others, inspires children to build positive relationships and make contributions to the local community, and to the world. Emphasis is placed on taking care of the environment, self, and others.

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Happy Monday, everyone!  


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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.

Now, because the teacher doesn’t spend all of her time driving the learning, she has time to study each child(read more about observation here): to study her needs, her skills, her aptitudes and personality. All the ratios in the world are meaningless – unless you know your student.

Ironically, there are many advantages of not having a low student–teacher ratio in the classroom.

  1. Children aren’t smothered by attention. They are given the opportunity to breathe and explore. The teacher does not feel compelled to guide and fill their every moment.
  2. Because the teacher does not dominate the society, the classroom becomes a community of interaction and learning. Cooperation is a virtue (instead of “Go back to your seat and mind your own business.”)
  3. With the adult not hovering and micromanaging, the child is free to develop initiative. This initiative creates the fantastic learning that comes out of a Montessori classroom (which a teacher would be hard pressed to produce in a traditional setting.)
  4. The child develops a personal sense of responsibility over the learning she has initiated.
  5. The child develops the ability to make meaningful choices – instead of just following directions.
  6. The power to choose wisely is a growing marker of maturity.
  7. Real choice making needs the opportunity to make mistakes, to correct them, to recover from them and to learn from them. (That is hard to do when someone is hurrying you along to get to the next lesson.)
  8. All of this allows the student to build confidence in herself. When the student assumes responsibility for the learning she begins to build confidence in her ability to navigate in the world as it is being opened to her through the classroom, the classroom community and the world of knowledge.

Montessori teachers have to train themselves in the art of not interfering with the internal learning process of the student. They have to train themselves to observe the child, to know how the child learns and how to allow the child to learn.

Ultimately, they have to learn how to help the child learn for herself – which is always one on one.

Article by Edward Fidellow

 www.crossmountainpress.com



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What has allowed Montessori to stand the test of time?  What has protected the method that first began in 1907?  Many methods of education have been tried and tested for years in the United States but Montessori is one program that has not only stayed around, but is growing and receiving more recognition than ever.  Montessori schools, including those in the public sector, are on the rise in the United States of America.  

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

by: Edward Fidellow 
www.crossmountainpress.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

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

Tagged in: Parent Education
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The elementary reading curriculum is designed to incorporate phonics, whole word and phonetic exceptions. Lower elementary students progress through a leveled reading program using the Pink, Blue and Green Montessori reading exercises while additional materials and experiences allow them to perfect their reading skills, develop their fluency and comprehension. The Grammar and Vocabulary materials allow the students to assimilate an understanding of the structural rules that govern the English language. Literary elements are explored during Group Literature. Lower and upper elementary students practice writing on a daily basis in classroom journals that cover a variety of writing forms. In lower elementary, Writer’s Workshops are held throughout the year to target specific writing skills. In upper elementary the different varieties of writing and writing skills are integrated into their cultural, science and literature studies. Our goal is to help the students become comfortable using writing as a communication skill. Students learn to think clearly, to research, and to express themselves with confidence and clarity in writing and speech.

  Lower Elementary Upper Elementary
Reading Reading readiness, phonic skills, guided reading, sight words, contextual clues, S.S.R. (Silent Sustained Reading), vocabulary Shared reading, dictionary skills, fluency, expression
Comprehension Responding to questions regarding Story-time book (sequencing events, recapping & summarizing, identification of character, plot & setting) context clues & main ideas Continued study of main ideas, sequencing & context clues, assumptions/inferences, following written directions & instructions
Penmanship Metal inset exercises, D’Nelian print & cursive, spacing, left justification, neatness Mastery of cursive
Spelling Unconventional to conventional, leveled spelling works Conventional spelling lists, spelling demons, vocabulary, spelling rules
Mechanics Ending punctuation, capitalization, commas Apostrophes, commas, quotation marks
Composition Complete sentences, journaling, picture prompted stories, modeled writing, editing Journaling, character & plot development, proofreading, revising, publishing
Study Skills Categorizing, table of contents, index, beginning reports Outlining, note taking, organizing information, skimming, advanced reports, paraphrasing
Grammar Parts of speech, parsing Sentence analysis, verb tenses
Speaking Poetry presentations, in-class reports, drama, story-telling Poetry presentations, in-class reports, drama,   story-telling
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