Skip to main content

Tag: Parenting

An Overview of Montessori

Private School Review posted a fantastic review of Montessori, highlighting philosophy, principles, age-range, approach, and benefits. So much of what makes learning through Montessori beneficial can be seen in those who attended Montessori schools. Thinking outside the box, the founders of Google graduated from Montessori schools. Other important aspects of a Montessori classroom can be found here in Salt Lake City, near the University of Utah. Respect for the child, Self-directed learning, Individualized instruction, are just a few core principals which set Montessori apart from other academic driven schools. Ironically, numerous studies show that Montessori students do better on standardized tests than public school students and often more academically focused private schools. Engaged-children prove over and over that kids love to learn and if the classroom and tools are setup for them to do that, in a self-paced, hands-on way, they become successful, global-citizens.

See the full article

If you are interested in providing an effective way of learning for your child, please contact our admissions team or Request a Tour today.

What is the Capstone Year and why does my child deserve to have one?

We often refer to the 3rd year a child is in a Montessori program as the Capstone Year. But what is it that really makes the year so special and important? We invite parents of our current 2nd year students in Early Childhood and Lower Elementary and 4th year students in Upper Elementary to consider the following reasons we recommend providing your child with their Capstone Year.

Reasons to Stay:

  • Is your child learning, happy, and engaged? If so, consider yourself lucky. Why tinker with a winning situation when so many other families are frustrated or disappointed with their child’s school experience.
  • Your child has waited for two years to be a leader in their class. The third year students are looked up to as role models for the younger students, and most children eagerly await their opportunity to play this role.
  • The third year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the child’s understanding. Leaving early means many of the still forming concepts evaporate.
  • As a leader in the class, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that they learned when they were their age. Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.
  • Third Year Montessori children normally go on to still more fascinating lessons and more advanced Montessori materials. The natural process of abstraction or critical thinking around familiar concepts materializes naturally and gears the child up for more advanced skills.
  • The Montessori curriculum is more sophisticated than that found in traditional programs.

  • Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know the students very, very well. They know their strengths and areas that are presenting challenges. 3rd years can begin the year strong, without having to build a relationship of trust with the teacher.
  • Your child already knows most of their classmates. They have grown up in a safe, supportive classroom setting. They are learning appropriate social boundaries and interactions with a group of familiar peers.
  • Montessori math is based on the European tradition of unified mathematics. Montessori introduces young children to basic geometry and other sophisticated concepts as early as kindergarten. Our spiraling curriculum means students will revisit these skills and build on them throughout their elementary experience.
  • Third Years have a real sense of running their classroom community, an important leadership skill that goes on with them.
  • In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at their own pace. In traditional education, they may have to wait while the other children begin to catch up or will be forced to move ahead before they are ready.

  • Beginning as early as kindergarten and continuing through elementary, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning to grow into global citizens.
  • In Montessori, students work with intriguing learning materials instead of preprinted work books, allowing a student to work on a skill for the right amount of time for their own understanding and not by a predetermined timeline.
  • Your child has been treated with deep respect as a unique individual. The 3rd year student is ready and able to recognize and reciprocate this respect and contribute to the culture of the school and their community.
  • Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and parents. Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!
  • Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.

The Capstone Year in Upper Elementary- 6th year students carry the peace dove in our annual walk on International Day of Peace.
  • In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.
  • Montessori students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research. They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon-fed.
  • Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively.
  • Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.
  • Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.

Three, six, nine and twelve years old are natural transitional ages for children. They are the best time for children to move to new classrooms or schools.

While the reasons to leave can be compelling and are worth every consideration, we believe the reasons to stay are worth your careful and thoughtful consideration.

(Adapted from Tim Seldin’s 25 Reasons to Keep Your Child in Montessori Through the Kindergarten Year, Tomorrow’s Child.)

Gearing Up For Winter Sports

Thanks so much for all of your support in helping your student to be prepared for this wonderful opportunity to experience the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

Remember to clearly label each piece!

Your student must have the following items each week:

  • Skis (& poles if appropriate) or board
  • Ski bag containing the following items:
    • Ski/board boots
    • Helmet
    • Goggles; if you can’t see, you can’t ski or ride!
    • Waterproof & wind resistant, breathable insulated pants and parka
    • Waterproof gloves or mittens
    • Neck gaiter
  • SOCKS are critical. Be sure to provide one pair of socks that fit well, and are NOT cotton (this will make for cold feet!). Imagine wrinkled socks and uncomfortable feet; and be sure your child doesn’t have them.
  • Long underwear
  • Fleece top/sweater
  • 2 face masks

Practise makes Perfect

Letting your student practice packing and wearing their gear will set them up for success and make Winter Sports days fun for everyone! Time spent practising putting gear on and off and carrying it around by themselves will allow your child to be confident, comfortable, and independent.

Registration is Due Now.

Forms can be accessed using this link. ​

The Montessori Transition

A common concern for Montessori parents is how their child will transition out of Montessori into a traditional setting. The question is valid but the concern may be overblown. Yes, there will be transition challenges. Those are an integral part of life – preschool to elementary, elementary to Jr. and Sr. High, to college, to a job, to marriage, to parenthood and on and on.

It is certainly nice if life can remain stable and unchanging (well, maybe not the 2:00 A.M. feedings.) But change is inevitable. The first transition for the Montessori child might tend to be more dramatic than for a child that didn’t have the privilege of attending a Montessori school. However, the ability to handle the change is better developed in the Montessori child.

 The Montessori child has developed coping skills

A traditional setting may not be as stimulating for the Montessori child. It may not offer the same opportunities for independent thought, learning and action. It might be more group oriented. It might be more teacher directed. Yes, it will require transition skills from your child. The good news is – your child has been developing adult coping skills all along in his or her Montessori experience. Even if your child can’t use all of the skills he or she has learned, they will not have gone to waste; they will not be lost. They will surface again and again as they are applied creatively to every day situations.

While non-Montessori students may be waiting for direction and instruction, the Montessori student will take the initiative and begin formatting plans for achievement. Though Montessori students have been raised in a non-competitive environment their training in initiative will give them a head start in competitive environments. Success also comes to the Montessori child because he or she already knows how to work with people; how to cooperate; how to collaborate.

The ultimate success that works in transition is that the Montessori student knows how to finish what she starts and that is not affected by whatever kind of environment she finds herself in. You don’t win unless you finish. Montessori children are great at finishing – and winning.

 The Montessori child takes initiative

There are going to be challenges but the advantage that your Montessori child takes with him or her are worth the minor inconveniences of transition.

by Edward Fidellow,

Parent Teacher Partnerships

The parent teacher partnership is different from any other professional relationship you enter. You call the electrician to your house. You tell him what you think the problem is. He then uses his expertise and experience to diagnose and fix the problem. He doesn’t need your help (nor does he want you to get shocked in the process). When he is finished you get the bill and he leaves. And everything was as it was before. It is the same for computers or cars or dishwashers.

However, it is not the same for parent teacher partnerships. Your child is not a “problem” to be fixed. You don’t drop off your child then pick him or her up and the “problem” is solved. Your child is a work of art that takes time to bring to creation. Each child is a unique masterpiece. Are you creating a song, a statue, a painting, a novel, or a monument?

The challenge is that few of us know at the beginning what masterpiece will come forth. If the art project is literature does the finished product look like a poem or a novel; a short story or lyrics; a biography or a history or anything in between? A great education gives the student the ability to communicate in that medium. Does an artist paint in oil or watercolor; pastels or charcoal? Do they paint portraits or landscapes, classical or modern?

Your child is that enigma of who they will become. You and the teachers share the journey of discovery. You are not creating the person but revealing what is already there in embryonic form. And with the right soil, water and light, with sun and seasons will blossom into who they are to become.

Montessori teachers understand this process and then take their training and their experience and apply it to the mystery at hand. Like every good detective, they seek relevant clues to the unfolding mystery. And that is where the partnership begins. You are a great repository of insight and information about your child. You, too, are going through a discovery process everyday with your child as they reveal their character, their temperament, their likes and passions. The more of who your child is that you share with the teacher, the better the teacher is able to individualize and focus their teaching on the emerging personality.

Montessori education is not primarily about facts and figures even though Montessori children acquire this knowledge in great depth and understanding. Montessori education is about nurturing and educating your child through the prism of their personality. One size does not fit all and Montessori education is tailored to your child’s strengths and gifts.

Embrace the partnership

The more the teacher knows about your family (they spend so much time with your child that they become like aunts and uncles) the better they become at helping your child become the success that they are capable of. To gain the most from your Montessori experience there need to be an ongoing relationship with your child’s teacher. In Montessori you don’t hire teachers – you adopt them. The partnership is one of love and concern that you both share for your child. Embrace the partnership for your child’s sake.

by Edward Fidellow,

Encouragment & Obstacles

The achievement belongs to the child.

The Encouragement of Eliminating Obstacles

by Edward Fidellow

The best encouragement you give is often the kind that is not seen – eliminating obstacles. This action is a hallmark of a Montessori education. Eliminating obstacles is not obvious – because you have removed them but it is essential for the amazing accomplishments that children achieve in a Montessori environment. To be clear, removing obstacles is not the same as doing the activity for the child. The achievement belongs to the child. Clearing the obstacles belongs to the adult.

The first obstacle is an environment that is not conducive to the child or their learning. A Montessori environment has everything in order for easy recognition for the child. The environment is child-sized, tables, chairs, shelves, bathrooms all accessible to the child without adult help or physical barriers. Obstacles can also be removed from home by placing everything the child needs at a level he/she can access. Plates, glasses, silverware can be located on a lower cabinet shelf. A small step stool can make the sink accessible. The same removal of obstacles can be achieved in bedrooms by installing low clothes racks and bottom drawers of dressers holding often worn clothing articles.

A second obstacle removed in a Montessori environment is the constant need of permission or direction. Once a child is introduced to an activity they are free to access it and work with it. This is also the beginning for the child to learn to make choices and make decisions instead of waiting to be told
what to do.

A third obstacle removed is the constant interruptions that plague a typical preschool. The ideal three hour work period fostered in a Montessori environment gives rise to the ability to concentrate. It gives rise to the ability to finish what you start. These are things that an adult cannot do for the child. These are skills that the child needs as an adult.

The fourth obstacle removed is not prohibiting social interaction and cooperation. Both are life-long assets and when learned young and practiced give great advantage to the child. However, you can’t remove the prohibition on socialization and cooperation without providing the necessary training for there to be benefits instead of deficits. Grace and courtesy is more than “please and thank you.” It is thoughtful consideration for those around you. Just as you provide an environment of concentration you also provide an environment of socialization where they work in tandem with one not intruding on the

The fifth obstacle that a Montessori environment is good at removing is the negative – negative actions, negative words, negative attitudes, which unfortunately mostly belong to the adults. The training of the guide includes being careful with your words and your attitudes. Learning to be an effective Montessori guide requires you to dispense with the negative and enter into the world of “Yes.” It is not that you never use the word “no” but you frame it in a hopeful manner. “Can I do this?” asks a child. “Yes, but first we need to do this” (so you can succeed at what you are asking.) “Can I do this?” “Yes, maybe tomorrow.”

Clearing the obstacles belongs to the adult.

Removing the obstacles is an unseen work but vital to the success and well being of the child. Will there be failures for the child? Depends on how you define failure. “Do I get to do it again? “Yes! (until you succeed.)

Offering Encouragement not Empty Praise

Create an environment where your child feels encouraged to become aware of his own actions

Parents sometimes use far too much praise in a well-intentioned attempt to build their child’s self-esteem: ‘You’re an awesome climber, you’re a great artist, you’re great at sitting quietly.’ However, often these remarks are not really sincere and they teach children to depend on praise for motivation to do something. When we praise children for doing something like eating their vegetables or putting on their shoes what we are really saying is that they did what we wanted them to do. Even young children can recognise when our remarks are not sincere and they are being manipulated.

Research shows that the present culture of over-praising children leads them to feel that they have a right to things in life irrespective of the amount of effort they have put in. Overpraising our children confuses them about their own self-worth since they are not able to judge for themselves how good they are at something if we always tell them they are doing well. This is not to say that you should not encourage your child. Your child will thrive on positive statements just as we do when our effort is appreciated by work colleagues or family members.

If we are to think about the way we encourage children we need to do some work on training ourselves in a new approach so we don’t fall back on the kind of praise that we hear all around us these days.

​Connect your child to the possibility of starting to become aware of the impact of his own actions
  • Focus on the action or the effort, not the person- Instead of saying ‘you’re such a good helper’ say ‘thank you for setting the table’. Instead of saying ‘you’re such a good chopper’ say ‘thank you for cutting the carrots for dinner’.
  • Nurture Empathy- Instead of saying, ‘I like the way you comforted Anna’, call her attention to the effect of her action on the other person: ‘Look Anna stopped crying when you brought her a tissue and hugged her. She must feel better now’. This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel.
  • Quietly observe- Your child does not expect praise. You may be surprised to see that your child works and plays with more persistence when you say nothing.
  • Express gratitude- When you are in a rush, instead of saying, ‘You are going to make us late with your dawdling. Hurry and put on your coat’, say, ‘You are helping us get to the dentist on time because you are putting on your own coat’.
  • Observe rather than evaluate- When your toddler is building with blocks, instead of saying, ‘Your blocks are all over the floor’, say, ‘You are using all the blocks.’ An observation may build interest and reflection, but a judgement can be discouraging.
  • Allow room for self-evaluation- Instead of saying, ‘I love your painting.’ say ‘You filled the left side of the paper.’ This focuses your child’s attention on the painting and not your opinion of it. Instead of ‘What a great horse.’ [which may not be very sincere] say ‘You painted a red horse.’ This focuses your child’s attention on evaluating the painting for himself rather than on your evaluation of the painting.
  • Accept that rewards are not necessary- An activity that your young child is engaged in is rewarding in itself. When your child is learning how to peel a banana the joy is in the skin coming off in clean strips and revealing the banana and the joy of eating the banana. When she fills the dog’s bowl and sees him come running with his tail wagging, that is her reward. Research has shown that rather than motivate children rewards can have the opposite effect. Rewards erode your child’s inner motivation. Even small children can work out that if they have to be rewarded for doing something that something might not be something nice to do!
  • Accept that punishment doesn’t work- Punishment tells the child what not to do, not what to do, and it often makes a small problem bigger. Your young child may remember the punishment but may not connect the punishment to the behaviour that triggered it. A child who has been punished can feel powerless, humiliated, defiant, and resentful. Research demonstrates that punishment has the short-term effect of stopping the offending activity but has no long-term effect on behaviour. When children are punished, the adult solves the problem in the short term and the child doesn’t learn how to solve problems in the long term. ‘Time out’ is commonly used to control children’s behaviour these days. In ‘time out’ children are typically confined to a chair, room or space for a set period of time to gain control of themselves and think about their behaviour. The problem with this approach is that if the child was capable of thinking about his behaviour he probably would not have done it in the first place. But more importantly, ‘time out’ does not provide any help for the child to start controlling his behaviour from within.
Make time for your child’s awareness to emerge

It takes time for your child to start to become conscious of how her actions affect others. Your child is at the beginning of a journey of self-realisation that will last for life. But when you are patient and keep using an approach that helps her to become aware of her behaviour rather than overpraising, judging or criticising her she will gradually become aware of the reality of her own behaviour and start to take control for herself.

Social Distancing v Social Isolation

Although social distancing is being highly encouraged to help contain the spread and impact of COVID-19 within our community, we remind everyone to consider the effect that this may be having on those most affected by social isolation. It’s in times like these that we need to step up and help one another. Here are a few items to consider:

  • Many of you may have seen the impromptu balcony concerts from Italy or the national round of applause for health care workers in Spain; could we not do something similar in our own neighborhoods to help bring cheer and distraction from worry?
  • Create WhatsApp groups with neighbours, family or friends. Share how you’re getting on and ask other people how they are.
  • You may have neighbours, such as the elderly, that rely heavily on community services to meet their daily needs. Reach out to see how you can help.
  • We encourage people to call neighbors, colleagues and friends that may not have the same immediate access to information due to technology and language barriers; they may need help getting factual information or understanding the implications for their families.
  • Food banks could face additional pressures due to an influx of workers struggling to get by on fewer hours than usual. Consider starting with your wallet instead of your pantry; donating money gives food banks flexibility to obtain whichever items they need the most.

Welcome to 2017-2018 from MCS Admin

Dear Montessori Community  School Families,

Each year as we welcome back our returning students and families and welcome our new students and their families to our school community we feel such a sense of anticipation for all the experiences we will enjoy together during the academic year.
By the time that the children  arrive the teachers have worked tirelessly for 7 days to prepare their  beautiful environments for the arrival of their students. There is such a buzz of anticipation that is infectious. Everyone is so excited about all the possibilities of the new school year. And finally the children are here and the year begins. It is always such a special time for all of us.
As we move forward this year we want you all to know that we are grateful to all families who have entrusted their beautiful children into our care. We are dedicated to “following each child” to  best support their optimum growth emotionally, socially and academically. We look forward to building partnerships with each of you so as to afford your child/ren the best possible experience.
Please know that we will always make ourselves available to answer questions or respond to comments. Our doors are usually open and we invite you to stop in. We appreciate the opportunities to further develop our relationships.
Thanks to those of you who were able to join us for the New Student Orientation on Tuesday morning and the Back To School Night for Toddlers and Early Childhood families that evening.  We look forward to getting to know you better at such events as our Welcome Picnics and ongoing community events.
We are grateful for our dedicated and caring teachers and all of our families and look forward to an incredible year.
Best wishes,
Robyn, Ramira and Britney

How can failure be a gift?

When I started teaching 20 years ago, childhood was altogether a different experience.  Raising children looked different than it does now and, since I’m now in the midst of raising my own three children, I believe this more than ever before.  The single most important thing I think we may be missing with this generation of parenting is the realization that growth comes from failure!  Scary concept, right?  But honestly, when everything goes according to plan, there are no hiccups in the way, or any process is simple, precise and easy we learn very different lessons than when we have to struggle and stretch.  I think it would be fair to say that your own failures (or struggles, at the very least) provided clear opportunities for learning and growth. I recently watched a really wonderful TedTalk called “The power of believing that you can improve” by Carol Dweck in which she uses the word “yet” with great meaning and power.  (Watch here.)

Believe it or not, when our kids become afraid of failure, they become disinterested in learning.  Life gets scary. Autonomy and the ability to bounce back helps kids feel confident and connected.

What happens if we tell our kids they are the best (at anything!) and they discover that they are not (at some things)? The feeling of failure, of letting us down, of believing they are less than they really are is just the kind of feeling that keeps them from trying again and from experiencing new things.  The realization that they still have space to grow, on the other hand, and the belief that they are surrounded by loving people who will give them space for that to happen? POWERFUL! Our generation of children are learning that there is a lot of immediate gratification in the world.  But let’s be real, parents – life includes a lot of waiting, trying again, picking ourselves up off the ground, and re-thinking how things “should” be.

How do we really step back and let our kiddos stretch?  It’s hard, right?  And honestly…it can be totally inconvenient.  Not only is childhood different but so is adulthood.  If I count the number of hours I really get to spend with my own children in a week, it seems far less than ideal.  We are a busy family.  Life is beautiful and lots of fun, but it is REALLY BUSY! So how can I adapt my “helicopter parenting” approach (which is in some ways for my own convenience) to one that gives my kids the best chance at being resilient?

  • Praise wisely: Point out the effort, the process and the strategies that your child used whether they succeed or fail at something.  Outcomes are typically less than we imagined and so the process is an important one to celebrate, think about and understand!
  • Plan ahead: Ask questions to get your kiddo thinking about outcomes without giving up the best answers.  The more we tell them the answers, the more children lack the opportunity to think of them themselves.  And believe it or not, some day they WILL have to make decisions without you. The small ones they are making now, under our care, are the safe ones to practice on.
  • Step back: As much as you want to step in and tell them “I already tried that, it didn’t work” or “But what if..” DON’T DO IT. Little failures are great opportunities to learn.  And, when we are there rooting for them despite their failures not only do they learn to try differently, but they learn that we are there no matter what. (How comforting.) The other beautiful thing about stepping back is that when they do step in at the face of real danger (I’m talking serious circumstances here) and we step in, they’ll know they face real danger.
  • Listen: Guess what?  Our job as parents is not to be problem solvers.  I know, weird right? I have a hard time with this one too. But really, sometimes children just need someone to listen.  They are people and, like us, can oftentimes talk themselves into the best answers.

What I’m presenting here is not an easy feat.  There is no expectation for any of us to get it right every time.  As a matter of fact, the same concepts apply to parenting…we will make mistakes.  And we will learn from them.  And when we are better next time, our kids will learn that being better is the most important part.  I have never apologized more to anyone on this earth than I have to my oldest son. And I believe that my humility and admittance of my failures goes a long way in teaching him that humaning is a process….er, at least I hope it does! If nothing else, he has seen me mess up and get back on that horse!  I will not give up and he knows that.

In her book The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey talks about autonomy supportive parenting. Clear expectations and clear consequences make people feel safe.  From traffic laws to moral obligation, this is true on every front. I can’t tell you enough how lovely a concept this is!