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Tag: Montessori Philosophy

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.)

Replacement Behaviors – Parenting Connection

As a general Montessori rule, we avoid use of the word “no” when disciplining children.  We save the word “no” for very serious situations, when children are in danger. Otherwise, language is based on the replacement behavior (that which we want to see in place of the one that is undesirable).  For example, “our mouths are used for eating food” if a child bites, “why don’t you tell your peers the rules of the game so everyone understands how to play” when there is a conflict on the playground, etc. We believe that knowledge is power and when we give clear examples and explanations, children are empowered to make recurring good choices.

Promoting Kindness – Parenting Connection

This amazing article in The Atlantic, written by Adam Grant, gives powerful insight to the value of prioritizing kindness and concern for others over achievement as a way of supporting children’s life-long success.

“Quite a bit of evidence suggests that children who help others end up achieving more than those who don’t. Boys who are rated as helpful by their kindergarten teacher earn more money 30 years later. Middle-school students who help, cooperate, and share with their peers also excel—compared with unhelpful classmates, they get better grades and standardized-test scores. The eighth graders with the greatest academic achievement, moreover, are not the ones who got the best marks five years earlier; they’re the ones who were rated most helpful by their third-grade classmates and teachers. And middle schoolers who believe their parents value being helpful, respectful, and kind over excelling academically, attending a good college, and having a successful career perform better in school and are less likely to break rules.”

MCS has proudly celebrated #KINDNESS week, where random acts of kindness have boosted our community throughout this week. We invite and encourage you to promote similar acts of kindness as a way of supporting your child’s efforts.

The Capstone Year…What Every Montessori Parent Deserves to Know

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 really that makes that year so special/important? 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.

Below is a list of 24 reasons we recommend keeping your child in Montessori for the Capstone Year:

  1. Does your child look forward to attending school? 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The third year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the child’s understanding. An excellent example is the early introduction to addition with large numbers through the Bank Game. When children leave Montessori at age five, many of the still forming concepts evaporate, just as a child living overseas will learn to speak two languages, but may quickly lose the second language if his family moves back home.
  4. As a leader in the class, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that he learned when he was their age. Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.
  5. 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.
  6. The Montessori curriculum is more sophisticated than that found in traditional programs.
  7. Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know her very, very well. They know her strengths and areas that are presenting challenges. She can begin the year strong, without having to build a relationship of trust with her teacher.
  8. Your child already knows most of her classmates. She has grown up in a safe, supportive classroom setting. She is learning appropriate social boundaries and interactions with a group of familiar peers.
  9.  If your child goes on to another school, he will spend the first half of the year just getting used to the new educational approach.
  10.  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.
  11.  Third Years have a real sense of running their classroom community, an important leadership skill that goes on with them.
  12.  In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at her own pace. In traditional education, she will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up or will be forced to move ahead before she is ready.
  13. Beginning as early as kindergarten and continuing through elementary, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning to grow into global citizens.
  14.  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.
  15.  Emphasis is given to the arts, movement, and outdoor education. Exploration and creativity in these areas are continuously accessible and are encouraged.
  16. In Montessori, your child has been treated with a deep respect as a unique individual. The school has been equally concerned for his intellectual, social, and emotional development.
  17. Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and parents. Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!
  18. Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.
  19. In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.
  20. 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.
  21. Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively.
  22. Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.
  23. Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
  24. 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.
Third Year Upper Elementary students sale handmade items at the Montessori Market, a business that supports their end of year outdoor adventure.
This year they will use funds for a class wide river rafting trip to culminate their studies of the watershed.

This Third Year Upper Elementary student creates the square of 19
using a Montessori Math material, the Peg Board.

Creativity at its finest!

If you still have any doubt, spend a morning observing in your child’s class and compare it with a class in the other school you are considering. Sit quietly and take mental notes. The differences may be subtle, but most likely they will be significant. Then project your child into the future and ask yourself how the positive differences you observed in the Montessori classroom might help shape your child to become the teenager, and later the adult, you envisioned for your child’s future.

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

The Value of the Three Year Cycle – A Parent’s Perspective

The Capstone Year

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the third year of the Early Childhood three year cycle. We made the decision to keep our oldest daughter in the Magnolias Class to complete the cycle (known as the Capstone Year).

Last year, an article in The Atlantic called “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids” (read here) helped support our decision. In the mainstream setting, Kindergarten has become the new first grade, and Common Core standards have laid out academic guidelines for what should be completed in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. Research corroborates that kindergarteners spend more time doing seat work and less time doing art and music.  The net result is 2nd graders who perform worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills. The cause, it is thought, is direct instruction that is repetitive and uninspired which leads to children losing their enthusiasm for learning.

How do we maintain that joy for learning and school that can inspire ongoing discovery? The Montessori curriculum inspires life-long inquiry with a heavy emphasis on social interaction, outdoor experiences, art and music. Communication and dynamic interactions with peers and teachers allow children to be self-reflective critical thinkers.

The groundwork for reading and literacy is language, and the Montessori classroom capitalizes on our children’s sensitive period for language.  Imagine my surprise when my four year old came home recently asking to read a book to me. I indulged her request knowing that she has not quite mastered all the letter sounds, and yet she comfortably read the book.  “Where did you learn to read?” I asked.  “I just know.” she said.  The Montessori curriculum has laid the groundwork so that our children can put it all together in their own time. We only need to give them the freedom and opportunity to do so.

This is exactly why the capstone year is so important. Our children become leaders in the classroom during the third year. They consolidate all the learning that has taken place in the first two years of the cycle. They grow confidence, they enjoy themselves, and they learn new things in a low pressure environment in which they feel very comfortable.

I loved seeing my oldest daughter thrive in her third year. You could see an extra bounce in her step and she loved going to school each day. Her reading and math skills blossomed and her social skills became more nuanced. In short, she thrived.

I was also a little nervous that she would enter her new school behind the other kids who had been in the academic “seat-work” environment for two years already… and I’ll admit that in the first quarter, her reading wasn’t as fluent as some of the other children’s and her performance on timed math assessments was lacking a bit of luster. (Then again, if you know her, you know that anything timed is not of interest to her!)  Interestingly, as the year has progressed, she’s blossomed. It’s as if you can see the cumulative effect of the critical thinking skills and self-directed learning all come together. She’s asking questions about the relationships between different concepts and she’s reading books that really interest her.  I’m not sure she’ll love the timed math tests, but as she says, “that’s just my way”.  The credit for her progress goes to the Montessori Capstone Year.

I’m so glad that we’ve been able to give her the gift of an extra year of play, joy, and mastery. The data and our family’s personal experience support what Maria Montessori knew long ago… The third year of the cycle is a crucial element of the Montessori Early Childhood education.

You are welcome to contact me if you want to discuss the third year in further detail!

Vicki Wilkins – Past MCS Toddler and Early Childhood parent

Specialty Classes at Montessori Community School

Early Childhood Specialties

Dance

In Dance Class, Early Childhood students are introduced to the main elements of dance: time, space, and energy, so that they can decipher and make choices in their movement. The students learn how to alter speeds, change levels, utilize space, play with quality, move with their whole bodies/being, mirror positive/negative space, as well as shaping and weaving.

Music

In Music Specialty classes, Early Childhood students are introduced to music and rhythm theory as well as vocal skills. They learn to sing and play instruments and to create, respond to, and understand music. In this class students are exposed to many different music styles as well as music from many cultures.

Outdoor Classroom

Early Childhood students participate each week in the Outdoor Classroom with our specialty teacher where they seasonally explore the plants, soil, invertebrates, birds, and weather through hands on activities. The students have many opportunities to practice and master essential developmental skills such as balance, control, independence, focus, and coordination through digging, building with logs, sticks and rocks, and interacting with nature in this class. The purpose of the Early Childhood Outdoor Program is to help students gain an understanding and love for the natural world around them.

Kindergarten Art Studio

The Third Year Early Childhood (Kindergarten) students attend Art Studio at scheduled times throughout the week. First and Second Year Early Childhood students follow an art curriculum in their classrooms. Early Childhood students focus on the technical fundamentals of color, shape, perspective, and shading. All of the students work with many different media, such as paint, pastels, pencil, collage, textiles, etc.

Kindergarten Winter Sports

Third Year Early Childhood (Kindergarten) students are invited to participate in skiing lessons at a local resort during school hours. This event provides students with an opportunity to develop their skiing or snowboarding skills and have outdoor fun in the “greatest snow on earth”. The Winter Sports Program takes place once a week and runs for 5 weeks during the second semester of the academic year.

Lower Elementary Specialties

Movement – Dance & Physical Education/Fitness

The Lower Elementary Movement curriculum includes both dance and physical education units. Students work on dance elements, such as shape, level, direction, size, focus, attack, weight, strength, pathway, locomotor skills, and flow with a specialty teacher in the dance studio. They also learn how to express themselves through dance, incorporate their own style, and how to integrate timing and choreography. The physical education units include learning about and playing a variety of team-oriented physical games, with an emphasis on endurance, coordination, flexibility, strength, agility, and sportsmanship as they work on general fitness.

Outdoor Classroom

Lower Elementary students participate weekly in the Outdoor Classroom with our outdoor specialty teacher where they explore and interact with the garden area throughout the changing seasons and learn about plant identification, functions, and uses, as well as earth history, animal adaptations, and paleo cultures. The purpose of the Lower Elementary Outdoor Program is to help students gain an understanding and love for the natural world around them while engaging in problem solving and creative application.

Art

In the Art Studio, Lower Elementary students practice the technical elements of art, such as line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space, as well as principles of design, including balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity.

Winter Sports

Lower Elementary students participate in a Winter Sports program each winter. The Winter Sports Program runs for five weeks during the second semester of the academic year. This event provides students with an opportunity to develop their skiing skills and have outdoor fun in the “greatest snow on earth”. This annual event also provides opportunities for the students to stretch and develop their social and emotional skills. Elementary students attend ski or snowboard lessons once a week at a local resort during school hours for the five-week span.

Music

Lower Elementary students attend Music Specialty classes with a specialty teacher, where they learn music and rhythm theory as well as vocal skills. The students are exposed to many different music styles as well as music from many other cultures. The students learn to sing and play instruments with a varied repertoire of music. They improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments. They also learn to analyze, describe, compose, arrange, read and notate music, and to understand music in relation to history and culture.

Spanish

An instructor for the Spanish language spends approximately eight (8) hours a week in each Lower Elementary classroom. The instructor incorporates Spanish into the students’ daily routine by providing lessons in vocabulary, grammar and many practical life experiences.

 

Upper Elementary Specialties

                                                                                                
Movement – Dance & Physical Education/Fitness

The Upper Elementary movement curriculum includes both dance and physical education units with a specialty teacher. Advanced dance elements such as shape, level, direction, size, focus, attack, weight, strength, pathway, locomotor skills, and flow are introduced and taught to the students. They also learn how to express themselves through dance, incorporate their own style, and how to integrate timing and choreography. The physical education curriculum includes learning about and playing a variety of team-oriented physical games, with an emphasis on endurance, coordination, flexibility, strength, agility, and sportsmanship as they work on general fitness.

Music

Upper Elementary students receive formal instruction in music from a specialty teacher. Their curriculum includes music and rhythm theory as well as vocal skills. Using a variety of instruments, the students learn to keep a steady beat, play rhythm rounds with non-pitched instruments, and read music on the staff. They improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments. They also learn to analyze, describe, compose, arrange, read and notate music, and to understand music in relation to history and culture.

Great Outdoors (GO)

The Great Outdoors (GO) program with our specialty teachers facilitates meaningful interaction with the environment through a three-year rotating cycle involving watershed, Utah native plants, as well as ecosystems and relationships in nature. Students explore habitats through hiking, lessons, activities, projects, observation, note taking, sketching, and researching. The purpose of these expeditions is to give the students a direct, personal connection with their natural world and, through that connection, a better understanding of the world around them as well as of themselves.

Art

In the Art Studio, an art specialist provides the students with instruction and knowledge to refine basic art techniques such as pattern, design, texture, shape and line, and learn more advanced techniques such as perspective, medium, shading, dimension, transparency, overlapping, and printmaking. Art supplies are available in the classroom for students to select as part of their week’s work. In addition, each month, the students study the life and work of a famous artist.

Winter Sports

Upper Elementary students participate in a Winter Sports program each winter. The Winter Sports Program runs for five weeks during the second semester of the academic year. This event provides students with an opportunity to develop their skiing or snowboarding skills and have outdoor fun in the “greatest snow on earth”. This annual event also provides opportunities for the students to stretch and develop their social and emotional skills. Elementary students attend ski or snowboard lessons once a week at a local resort during school hours for the five-week span.

Community Theater

Our Upper Elementary students participate in theater workshops each fall, culminating in a Community Theater production. The purpose is not to produce a Broadway-worthy production, but to give students the opportunity to take part in all aspects of a play. Younger students learn how to memorize lines, follow acting cues, design props, and face the audience. Older students work on projecting their voices, expressing themselves through vocal tone, facial expression, and movement. They contribute to the script, direct the scenes, learn to give and receive constructive criticism, and cooperate with each other to produce a successful play. They also work on costume and set design and the creation of sound effects.

Spanish

The Upper Elementary Spanish Program provides instruction under two main standards: Spanish language lessons and Rosetta Stone, an interactive computer program. Each week students have the opportunity to receive lessons from an instructor that furthers their understanding of the grammar of the language and supports their advancement through Rosetta Stone to practice vocabulary, writing and speaking.

 


Introduction to GO

(Great Outdoors Expeditions Program)

In the Great Outdoors Expeditions Program, commonly known as G.O., the Upper Elementary students fulfill the goals of exploring our environment, learning from our environment, celebrating our environment, and protecting our environment through many ways. The students are responsible for participating in all lessons and activities within our outings as we visit the desert, riparian, urban, wetland, and montane ecosystems of our magnificent Salt Lake region. We also form mentorships with education centers and organizations such as the Red Butte Gardens, Swaner Eco-center, and others. In addition to participation, students are expected to be responsible for their preparedness, hiking skills development, safety, and trail etiquette. To bring mentorship opportunities back to our Montessori community, the Upper Elementary students will be working with the Third Year Lower Elementary students once in the Fall and once in the Spring.

Students can be properly prepared for class if they know where we are going! Checking the monthly calendar will let you know each week’s destination and then they can dress appropriately. When chilly weather hits, even if we are visiting the desert, elevations can vary as well as temperatures, even if it is not snowing. We will be posting clothing suggestions monthly, such as wool socks, thermal underwear, snow pants, water resistant gloves and boots. It is also suggested that the students learn to dress in layers. They can always “peel and pack”, but it is much more difficult to warm up once you get too cold!

Regardless of the destination, students will always need to come to class on time with the following supplies:

  1. Appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and expedition (sturdy hiking shoes are recommended)
  2. GO backpack with a sack lunch and water bottle (backpacks should be lightweight, durable, waterproof, and large enough to carry all necessary items)
  3. Students must also always have their GO journals (please provide your child with a blank paged notebook, approximately 8 ¾ x 11 ¼ for this purpose)

Students rely upon their GO journals (which we keep at school) for relevant notes, sketches, assignments, and projects; therefore, the GO journal is an essential part of class. Parents, if you ever see a GO journal at home or in a backpack, please encourage your student to promptly return it to school!

In the fall we focus on getting to as many different ecosystems and higher elevations as we can before the snow hits. In the winter we focus on our theme studies including research, writing, and art, which lead into the preparation of our annual Nature Card sale. Our card sale is in the Spring and becomes our contribution towards our over-night adventure at the end of the school year. We will also continue to visit the ecosystems throughout each season.

Considering that GO only takes place every other Friday (alternating between the two student groups) and many of our outings and agendas cannot be replicated or repeated, it is essential that students have a strong attendance record. Your support is welcomed and appreciated in advance!

Bedtime Routines – Parenting Connection

It feels like adequate sleep is increasingly becoming more difficult to achieve. Two working parents in most homes, after school activities, more screen options, and a number of other factors can make it difficult to ensure our kids are getting enough sleep.

At school, we know that students learn better, experience more positive peer relationships, and enjoy school more when they are getting enough sleep. The APA recommendations for sleep can be found here and we also recommend listening to your child’s needs and adjusting schedules accordingly. Experts say that the specific time a child goes to bed isn’t as much a contributor to good sleep as a consistent bedtime routine. Be sure to follow those consistent and comforting bedtime routines to help your child achieve the best night’s sleep possible.

Happy Resting!

 

Is Montessori Community School the right fit for my child and family?

Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education while supporting a charming and safe community for our students and their families. Choosing the right school can be a difficult task as increasing numbers in research show the impact of early education on the growing brain. So, beyond why a parent might choose a Montessori education for their child, I would like to answer some common questions about what sets Montessori Community School apart and how you will know if it is the right fit for your family.

  • Tour, Admissions Meetings and Observation: Inquiring parents are required to visit our facility prior to acceptance of their child. This allows parents to “get a feel” for our campus and to learn specifics about each program from a knowledgeable member of our staff. Following attendance at a tour or an admissions meeting, parents are invited to observe in one of our classrooms. While an observation is not required, our goal is to help parents have a clear understanding of and comfort in the design of our programs before their child attends classes.
  • Focus on the whole child and their developmental needs: Montessori Community School offers an authentic Montessori education where equal attention is given to a child’s academic, social, and emotional needs. Along with learning at their own academic pace, children are given opportunities to learn self regulation and time management, develop and exercise independence and are given many opportunities to practice and refine social graces. Be it math or conflict resolution, lessons are given as needed, allowing children to progress at their own rate and ensuring success of one skill before moving on to the next.
  • Mistakes are the best way to learn: We live in a time where safety concerns have made it difficult to give our children space to make mistakes. Montessori Community School is a safe place for children to explore, practice, and learn from their mistakes. Our staff is committed to helping students work through challenges in a safe and controlled environment, preparing them for the world outside of school. Self correcting materials allow children to identify mistakes within their academics and encourage children to try something until they feel confident enough to move on.
  • Multi age classrooms: Angeline Stoll Lillard, in her authoritative research review Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, describes the Montessori multi-age setting this way: “Montessori encourages learning from peers in part by using three-year age groupings. This ensures that as children move through the classroom they will be exposed to older and younger peers, facilitating both imitative learning and peer tutoring… Dr. Montessori was quite clear about the need for this mix of ages.” These multi age groupings also allow teachers, students and parents to develop close relationships, making a team approach to education manageable and effective.
  • Children get to choose and children get to move: Children like to make choices; they like to be the masters of themselves. In a safe and carefully prepared environment, MCS students are given the option to choose which area of the classroom to work in at any given time. The carefully prepared environment ensures that there are materials and activities to meet a variety of interest and skill level. They decide how much time or energy should be put into a particular task and children are encouraged to revisit materials or lessons as needed, are invited to move forward when they feel they are ready, and have the opportunity to actively research topics that interest them while giving adequate time and attention to the foundational skills needed in each academic area of the curriculum. Children in every program at MCS are able to move throughout the classroom, and sometimes beyond, to meet the very important need for movement in their growing bodies. Movement from work to lesson to snack and so forth ensures that children can stay engaged in their work process throughout the entire uninterrupted work cycles. Growing and changing bodies have many options for work spaces and styles.
  • Community: MCS prides itself on having a close knit and caring community. You will find community in individual classrooms as students stay in one class for an entire cycle and because of the longevity of our teaching staff. MCS staff have been with us anywhere from 2 to 25 years. MCS parents are committed to supporting our students, our staff and our programs and a variety of organizations exist to allow parent involvement and support. A number of events encourage the community to come together on a regular basis.
  • Variety in schedules: As part of our commitment to community and family, MCS offers a variety of scheduling options. Parents can be assured that their children are well cared for, well loved, and respected for their individuality and uniqueness without having to transfer to a different program part way through the parents work day.

Interested parents are invited to learn more about MCS at an upcoming Admissions Information Meeting on January 17, 2019 from 6:00-7:30pm. Adults only, sorry no child care provided for this event.

The Benefits of Risky Play – Parenting Connection

Phrases like “helicopter parent” and “lawnmower parent” have earned their reputation with great legitimacy. While the world is changing and childhood may provide more opportunity for danger “in this day and age”, the adult’s approach to protecting children from danger may be more harmful than helpful in some cases. Not only does risky play provide greater strength to the child’s body, but it also teaches skills of assessment, resiliency, and strategic thinking. Small steps with mistake making, practicing the proper use of judgement, and assessing risk are essential skills which prepare a child for success as adults. Practice makes perfect!

This article on Montessori in Nature is a great resource for determining which kinds of risk are appropriate for your child.

 

Combating Tardiness and Creating Effective Morning Routines – Parenting Connection

The honeymoon period for the new year may be wearing off and you may be finding that mornings are getting more and more tough.  If you find that your children are significantly less enthusiastic about bouncing out of bed and preparing for school, you are not alone.  That said, tardiness to school can have a wide range of negative outcomes for students.  Below are some ideas for young children to help bypass the drama.  Keep in mind that Montessori children are used to independence, to having a say, and to consistency.

  • Have 5 bins of the same color available for your child to plan their outfits for the week.  On Sunday nights, create time for your child to put outfits together for the entire week.  This allows your child the option to choose their clothes for the week, while also limiting the overwhelm of an entire closet or dresser full of clothes when morning time is limited.  When my kids were young, each of them had their own colored bins and they were stacked in their rooms for the week. They chose the outfit from which ever bin they wanted each day.  BONUS: this is a great way to give your child more involvement and interest in helping with the laundry.
  • Create a visual chart which shows all the tasks a child must complete in the mornings.  Pictures of a toothbrush, breakfast, lunch box, backpack, etc. can help a child feel more independent. BONUS: laminate your chart and let your child use a wipe-off marker to cross off items as they are completed. 
  • When you are about 5 minutes from having to walk out the door, play a song and remind your child that when the song ends, it’s time to leave the house.  BONUS: next favorite song?  In the car!
  • Montessori children are used to routine and predictability. Make sure everything has a place and that time for each task is figured in to your child’s routine. BONUS: backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, etc. are placed in this space upon returning from school each day. 
  • Consider having a visual list of items your child needs to have to walk out the door placed right at the door. Ie; backpack, lunch box, blankets, etc. BONUS: create your own list so everyone’s walking out the door prepared. And, are there any things on the list that you and your child can do together? Think brushing teeth, packing lunches, or putting on shoes. 
  • Prep as many things as possible the night before.  Pack lunches, give baths, etc. BONUS: visual charts with appropriate food items help children pack their lunches independently, a great task for kids while you prep or clean up from dinner. 
  • Give your child some uninterrupted one-on-one time before leaving the house.  Take some deep breaths together, snuggle, listen to you favorite songs or do some other activity together. BONUS: if this time is set aside for after they’ve accomplished all other tasks, it can be a motivator.  However, don’t use it as a consequence for not moving quickly enough. Make this time sacred and consider that some times or some kids might need this sacred time in order to feel motivated to get going.  Do what works best for your child. 
  • In the car, talk about what happens when we get to school. Ms. So- and -so will be there to take your temperature and then we will have a hug, kiss and high five, and then I will leave.) BONUS: Keep this routine consistent but, if your child has ideas for adjusting it that are manageable, allow them to weigh in. Most people are more motivated by a plan or routine they’ve helped develop. 
  • Show your child that timeliness is important to you and it will become more important to them. BONUS: peaceful mornings with a moment to breathe before you move onto the next part of your day!