Blog posts tagged in Parenting

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

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

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

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

So here are some strategies you might consider:

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

Here are a few more considerations:

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Donohue Shortridge

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

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"Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors."
—American Medical Association, 2005

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Spring has arrived! I can't help but be excited by the thought of sunshine, hikes, water and fresh air! This article written by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., a Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services spoke to me in considering how outdoor time is such a powerful tool for our children. In the article, Jane offers a variety of ideas for making the best of your outside time with your little one. 

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Enjoy!

Were you told to "go out and play" when you were a child? Now, as a parent, do you give your children the same instructions? Perhaps not, but even for the urban, over-scheduled family, there are ways to give our children more opportunities to explore the outdoors.

For centuries it was common wisdom that children needed several hours of outdoor activity daily. As Dr. Benjamin Spock said, "It's good for a baby (like anyone else) to get outdoors for two or three hours a day." Some say we now suffer from "nature deficit disorder." Children spend more and more time indoors with bright toys, beeping computer games, and flashing screens. A more contemporary pediatrician, Harvey Karp, similarly tells us that "there are exhaustive studies showing that time outdoors, particularly in nature, benefit us in myriad ways... while staying inside is over-stimulating and at the same time boring for children." 

Click here to read entire article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montessori truly gives your child the gift of sight!      

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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

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

So, what are some strategies that you might employ?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


The MCS Silent Journey and Discovery is an event dedicated to parents to provide the meaningful experience of visiting each of our programs, from Toddlers through Middle School, to experience for yourself the magic of the Montessori materials and discover how the lessons learned in our early programs set the tone and lay important foundations for later learning. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain a sense of how the Montessori Curriculum unfolds through the eyes of a child to guide and nurture the natural unfolding of the whole child to inspire a lifetime love of learning and peace.

Click on the following link to read about last year’s Silent Journey and Discovery and enjoy testimonials from parents who have participated in years past.

http://mcsslc.com/parent-center/blog/entry/silent-journey-discovery

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

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

Learning to feed oneself is a second (and very messy) independence. Graduating from hands to utensils is a major success of coordination and development. Again, if we want to finish dinner before breakfast we wind up feeding our child.

The third independence is the ability to communicate – to be able to share desires and wants. Ironically, after Ma Ma and Da Da often comes the independent word No.

The fourth independence is often the ability to dress oneself. It is often a laborious, time consuming frustrating adventure trying not to get your head in your sleeve or putting your pants on backwards. (“What do you mean I have my shoes on the wrong feet?” “These are the only feet I have.”) Stripes and polka dots are just fine together – blinding maybe – but fine. This is about independence not aesthetics or style.

The fifth independence is usually potty training. Children have their own timetable and level of comfort with the process. We often think they are trained when we constantly ask them if they have to go potty. This independence is achieved for their convenience not for ours, even though it is our convenience that pushes the training. My wife always shared with anxious parents that she had never been to a wedding where the bride or groom walked down the isle in pampers. Relax!

Their independence is bought at the cost of our time. Their fight for independence is against our schedules, against our limited flexibility in our day. They don’t mean to slow us down, they just want to do it themselves. They don’t mean to make messes (which takes time to clean up) they just want to do it themselves. How are they ever going to pour milk from the gallon jug unless they try (and try and try and try?)

The challenge of childhood independence is that it is never perfect. They can’t sweep a floor as well or as quickly or as thoroughly as the adult. But how will they ever learn unless they try? “I will just wait until they are older” is a proven recipe for unmotivated, incompetent, uninvolved teenagers who then resent the end of a ten or fifteen year ride of being served with no responsibility attached.

“Help me do it myself” is the foundation of adult responsibility birthed into our children long before they can do it by themselves. “Help me do it myself” is the great gift parents give their children. It is not only the accomplishment of the task that affects the children – giving rise to feelings of competence but it is the feeling of confidence that comes because they know that we believe in them. When we tell our children that they can achieve anything they set their hearts and minds to – they believe us because we have been their cheerleaders for independence and success.

 

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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When asked "In what ways has your child thrived in the MCS environment?" this was one Montessori Community School parent's response:


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

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


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

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

-Marie Bosteels 2013, current MCS Parent

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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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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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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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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.

We tend to identify courage with physical courage – running into a burning building, pulling people out of rivers etc. However, real life every day common courage demonstrates itself in intellectual, emotional and spiritual settings. The courage to do what is right, to do what is good for others, to use our gifts, talents and opportunities well and wisely is the kind of courage practiced and displayed in a Montessori environment.

We well understand that the opposite of courage is fear. But for a child fear doesn’t yet have a definition. It is represented by an indistinct but palpable feeling of unease. For a child fear is “defined” by the unknown, the unfamiliar. (That is why Montessori children love and are so at home in their environments because of its constant sameness and familiarity.)

For the child conscious fear starts from the unknown – the dog, the dark, strangers and then becomes attached to the inability (and frustration) of not being able to handle and control the environment – bringing it back to sameness. (Perfectionist children come to this earlier than others.) Then this fear attaches itself to the perceived rejection that comes from disapproval. The child, unconsciously thinks, that if I only do what is absolutely safe or what receives guaranteed adult approval I don’t have any reason to fear or face disapproval.

One of the hardest concepts for a new Montessori teacher to understand (and embrace) is that of not correcting children in the middle of their work. (This is particularly difficult for perfectionists and controllers.) Unless the child is damaging the material or endangering others or himself or being rude you let them continue. There are two outcomes to not correcting the child in the midst of the work. One, the child discovers his own mistake and corrects it which produces a sense of accomplishment and control. The second outcome is far more subtle. Because you are not corrected at every turn, you do not freeze up; you do not constantly look over your shoulder; you are not waiting for the next shoe to drop. You gain breathing room to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. In this way mistakes do not become the end of the universe or the world as we know it. The child is willing to try something new (which is an act of courage) without being weighed down with the fear of failure or reproof.

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Not being corrected (all of the time) is the strange and unique Montessori training ground for courage. In trying something new the child gets to practice courage every day. Eventually, the child becomes use to trying new things without the overpowering fear of failure. The child learns to work his way through mistakes which becomes a normal part of life and the learning process – which is a significant part of adult life.

Life requires courage to live fully. The Montessori classroom provides daily opportunities to develop and practice courage.

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Becoming a Montessori Parent

by Edward Fidellow

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This Montessori parent, and school administrator, joins her three Montessori children on a field trip this fall.

There are seven simple steps to becoming a Montessori parent. When we say simple we don’t mean that they are not challenging. It is a lot like the definition of bull riding. “The object is to keep the bull between you and the ground.” Simple – but challenging.

The first step to becoming a Montessori parent took place when you enrolled your child in a Montessori program. That in itself is a challenge. Most of us weren’t raised in a Montessori school. The whole concept is foreign and takes a bit of courage to step out of the norm and our comfort zone. We may have chosen the program because it wasn’t like our school experience (which is why we chose it.) Or we chose it because we saw something unique in a Montessori child we knew. Or we were just plain lucky and stumbled on to a Montessori school and were fascinated by what we saw. Even then we had to deal with the question, “If this is so great, how come the whole world isn’t lined up outside the door to enroll?” (Which is the same question Montessorians keep wondering about too!) But you made a complex and challenging decision to become a Montessori parent. And here you are. So how do you get the best out of your decision? You go to step two.

You begin to understand the core philosophy of what Montessori is all about. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a Montessori teacher to be a good Montessori parent. (You don’t have to know how to manipulate all of those materials and you don’t have to keep fifteen children from climbing the walls.) The most significant Montessori concept is to respect the child. I can almost hear the wheels turning “Of course I respect my child, I love them very much that’s why I have them in Montessori, I want the best for them.” Of course you love them – but respect is different. Respecting the child is first, to respect the nature of children. Children are not mini adults waiting to be molded. They are like tadpoles and caterpillars that have their own form and function of life waiting to become what they are intended to be. We are often impatient for them to become because we don’t realize that childhood – with its curiosity, playfulness, messiness and all – is part of the process of them transforming themselves into the adults they will become. We have to respect that process – which doesn’t mean they always get to do what they want. One of the operative words in Dr. Montessori’s writing is the word “train”. We do need to train our children but we need to train ourselves “not to destroy that which is good” in the nature of our children. The second part of respect is to respect the personality of your child. Your child is not a blank slate. They are already imbued with the unique characteristics of who they are. The artistic bent is already there. The math bent is already formed. The leader, the follower, the giver, the taker, the extrovert, the introvert are already dna’d into your child. Right or left handed, right or left brained are already formed.

So how do you cooperate with nature? You become an observer. That is the next step in becoming a Montessori parent – you train yourself to observe. What does your child gravitate to? What gives them great joy? What occupies them endlessly? These are all clues to who your child is becoming. You are fortunate that you have a trained helper in your child’s Montessori teacher. Your next parent conference should ask more than what has she done but who do you see her becoming. It is hard to cooperate with nature if you are not aware of the nature of your child.

Our third step is to become their champion. I know. I hear you say, “Of course, I’m their champion. I love them.” And so you do. But are their goals your goals? Translation: Do you have goals for them that do not take into account who they are. (There are many jock fathers who do not have jock sons.) Yes, you have many wonderful goals for them to be caring and loving, honest and faithful, upright, truthful, etc – and these are worthy, significant and meaningful goals which they should attain to. But the expression of their lives – career, vocation, work – is best met and fulfilled according to their gifts. When your five year old says, “I want to be a fireman.” He may be reflecting the latest book or television program he’s seen. However, if you continue to ask the why questions, “Why do you think that would be a good job? Why do you think that you would enjoy that?” you may discover that your child is not drawn just to the excitement but to the fact of wanting to help people or he likes the aspect of being part of a team. All are important clues to his personality. Your child needs you to champion and encourage his personality (especially, if it is different than yours.)

The fourth step is to practice what they learn at school – grace and courtesy. Please and thank you, may I, excuse me, please forgive me and a host of other considerations practiced (and modeled) at home will go a long way to giving your child every advantage in life. People respond favorably to a child with great manners.

Fifth, practice independence. Independence is the ability to be self-governing and that comes from making choices, living with the consequences and having responsibilities. As often as possible give your children choices. “What do you want for breakfast, cereal or eggs?” “Do you want two spoonfuls of carrots or one?” (Don’t offer choices where there are no choices. “Do you want carrots? They say no and you serve them anyway.) Give your children chores they can accomplish – making their beds, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, dishes in the dishwasher, etc. Chores build responsibility; responsibility builds independence; independence builds confidence.

Sixth, give them the gift of time. Give them time to accomplish their chores. Give them time to be children. Give them time to breath. Give them your time.

Seventh, practice humility. They have a lot to learn from you. What is easy for you as an adult is mystifying and beyond challenge for them. Let your words be seasoned with grace. Look for the good in what they do. Their motives are often pure; their actions imperfect. Yet, we have a lot to learn from them also. And when you are wrong (when, not if) practice the humility of saying, “Please forgive me.” It will not destroy your authority or their respect for you. It will teach them one of the great lessons of life – when you fail, whether it’s in a relationship, school, career or life – own the failure and start over again – to succeed another day.

Becoming a Montessori parent is to become the best parent you can be.

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