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Montessori: Your Daily Dose of Resilience-Building by Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 05 February 2014
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Montessori:  Your Daily Dose of Resilience-Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

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

A Letter of Gratitude to the MCS Community

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on Wednesday, 11 December 2013
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Dear Montessori Community School,

As you all know we have been collecting items for Syria such as coats, warm clothes, diapers, baby formula, and shoes. Thanks to all your help and generosity we were able to ship a 40 foot container and have enough items to fill a second 40 foot container and ship it.

These items will be going to Syrian people who have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing war and live in refugee camps near the border of Turkey. These people have lost their homes, members of their families, income, basic requirements to support their families and most of all, their sense of security. They are living in tents, some with nothing between them and the ground but a piece of carton. They have no electricity, some have no access to clean water or even food.

My Syrian friend who is working with many Syrian humanitarian organizations found that NuDay Syria can pay, through donations, for shipping containers overseas if we can fill them. So she decided to help prepare those helpless people for winter which is quickly approaching. Her project was called Keep Syria Warm.

Thanks to all the help from the community we were able to collect thousands of coats and sweaters, winter boots, medical supplies for the injured , baby formula and basic needs.On behalf of all the Syrian refugees anxiously awaiting these supplies, and myself, thank you to all of you for helping us send that container. It wouldn't be feasible without your kindness. Also a special thanks to Robyn and Ramira who supported the project. 

MCS Holiday Giving Projects

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on Wednesday, 11 December 2013
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Dear Montessori Community School Families,

Please find below a list of the Giving Projects that our classes have chosen to support this Holiday Season. We sincerely thank all of you who have already donated. If you have not had the opportunity and would still like to help any of these adults or children who have great need of support please feel free to donate to any of the projects. You may well be drawn to one more than another and we want you to know that anything you can give to any of these projects will be so gratefully received and will make a real difference in the recipients lives.

Oquirrh: Thanks to all of our parents and families who donated to our November charity, the YWCA!

Wasatch: We will be collecting items for children and teens at the Christmas Box House through Friday, December 13th.  If you would like to help, we are looking for clothing, toys, books and athletic gear for youth and children.  Thanks to all of our families who have shown their support!

Willows and Aspens: We are happy to announce that by your generous support, we have been able to collect a full bin of books for PCMC Hospital’s “Traveling Library.”    A big Thank You goes out to parents and families who donated to this special charity.  We will continue to collect books for the library through Friday, December 20th.

Toddlers: Help a refugee family in need make a new start here in Salt Lake City.  This family is from Mynmar and has only been here only about a month.

We are still looking for items such as pajamas, underwear, sweaters and toys for the children (boy, age 3 and baby boy, age 1).  Mom and Dad are also in need of sweaters and warm clothes (Mom, size S and Dad, size M).  Please sign up outside the Suns Class to help this family in need.

Sequoias: We are collecting items of all sorts: clothing, hygiene items, educational toys, books and games for the Volunteers of America non-profit organization.  They would be so grateful for any donations. Please see the list of suggested items outside our classroom next to the donation bin.

Magnolias: The Ghalley-Sarki Family, from Bhutan (Mother is 23, with son 6 and daughter, 2)

A refugee family from Bhutan is in great need of a necessary living articles- new and gently used.

Please look through your wardrobes if you have extra warm clothing (socks, coats, sweaters) in childrens’ (6/7) and toddlers’ (2/3) sizes; and clothes for Mom (age 23)- size Small.  We are also hoping to provide children’s toys, ie: basketball or soccer ball, and other educational games/toys.  Household items: pots and pans, and hygiene items are also needed.

We thank the families who have donated, and we hope that we can collect many more items before Friday, December 20th.  Any item you are able to donate will make such a difference to this family.

To help, please sign up indicating which items you would like to donate on the list outside the Magnolias classroom!

Middle School: Our students are collecting coats, in particular adult size coats for the Road Home. These can be new or gently used. With the freezing temperatures that we are experiencing lately you can imagine how hard it would be if you did not have a coat to keep you warm.

Courage

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 03 December 2013
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Courage

by Edward Fidellow

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

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.

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.

Becoming a Montessori Parent by Edward Fidellow

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on Monday, 25 November 2013
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Becoming a Montessori Parent

by Edward Fidellow

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.

Silent Journey and Discovery 2013

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Friday, 22 November 2013
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A warm appreciation to all who planned and attended our Silent Journey and Discovery this November.  As always, it was a delight to share this experience with many of you.  As in past years, those who are able to experience the Silent Journey and Discovery have a renewed commitment to a Montessori education for their children.  Below we have shared some comments from some of this years attendees.

Parent practice using materials in an Early Childhood classroom.

 

This 6th Year student volunteer models use of a pouring exercise in an Early Childhood classroom.

 

This parent builds words with the Movable Alphabet.

 

These SJ&D attendees receive a lesson on Checkerboard Multiplication.

 

This parent practices sentence analysis.

 

"Our little girl started this October in one of the Toddler classes. We felt and understood how this would be a good environment for our daughter--we saw a difference in her after only a week! The only thing to say after experiencing Silent Journey is we THOUGHT we understood how good of an environment this is for our daughter. The progression through the classrooms and the works is absolutely brilliant. There is no way we would want anything different for our precious little girl. The system set in place is orderly, focusing on progression, growth, and learning pertaining to independence, reading, math, social skills, morals, ethics, and problem solving. We noticed how 'hands on' and multi faceted every work is designed to engage the children on their level with their own learning abilities and processes.

We were also so impressed with the educators- the individual time, care, and attention they put into their students. They truly know and understand each individual child they work with.

We discovered how the works build. The one that stuck out to us the most was the math. Starting early with dimensions, and stacking blocks moving toward cubes and counting- and onto multiplying enormous numbers by using a mat and beads- Absolutely incredible.

Math was a subject I struggled with and I can remember the exact time (2nd grade) when I got left behind. We had to pass off times tables with the teacher in front of the whole class. I was too shy and embarrassed to perform those simple times tables in front of the class for fear of getting them wrong or not being able to have them memorized the way all the other kids seemed to be able to do. I struggled the rest of my life with the ominous subject. During Silent Journey, when I reached Lower Elementary, I got it. I actually got a little emotional watching and doing the hands on mathematics. Both my husband and I just kept saying that we wished we would have had this type of learning environment available to us as kids.

We know the school is expensive; however, we walked away from Silent Journey thinking it is worth every penny and we would pay it twice over to have our children here. In our minds, there is no other way that can hone in on every aspect of learning for each individual child and still be able to provide loving, passionate, engaging teachers to foster a child's learning and progression. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity and for this incredible school. You  really do 'get it' here. "

Chad and Ashlee Haslam, Parents of a Toddler student

 

"I think it should be mandatory that every parent go through silent journey! Even though Aria has been here for 7 years, Azur 3 years, and I have taught art on and off during all of that time, I never really got it as I did Saturday. Suddenly, all that I had read about Montessori or observed in the classrooms made sense. It builds on itself in a beautiful way as the student moves from one phase to another. I loved seeing how things made sense in a concrete way and then transitioned towards abstraction. I'm so honored to provide my children with this opportunity."

Kindra Fehr, Parent of Early Childhood and Upper Elementary students

 

Silent Journey and Discovery

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 30 October 2013
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is coming up next Saturday, November 9th from 9:00am to 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.

 

Join us to experience our classrooms, from Toddlers through Middle School, to see for yourself 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 Cosmic Montessori Curriculum unfolds for the child.

Read about some parents experience of the Silent Journey and Discovery from previous years:

Having not grown up in a Montessori environment, it has been difficult for me to understand what exactly a day in the life of my Montessori students is like.  I try to take in as much as I can at pick-up and drop-off, with the occasional visit and guided lesson by my children, but there is no way to fully understand without an experience like the Silent Journey and Discovery.  It was an eye-opening voyage that I would recommend for every parent, and prospective parent.  I want to do it again.

Going through a classroom from each cycle really makes the whole Montessori experience come full circle from seeing how the Toddlers get their first understanding of space and shape, to Early Childhood and their practical life lessons, to Lower Elementary and their grammar materials which encourage socialization, to the Upper Elementary complex math problems, to a Middle School student-led Socratic discussion.  We only saw the tip of the iceberg, but the hands-on learning experience helped personify the school life of our children.  I was struck by the thoughtful organization of each room; how comfortable and serene a small space can feel.

I also enjoyed the roundtable discussion following our classroom journeys.  We were able to get some insight from teachers, staff, students and other parents.  Because Montessori isn’t the “traditional” schooling for kids in our country, there are obvious concerns and hesitations with going outside the “norm”.  Many of my concerns were put to ease and I feel my children are on the correct path for them at this time.  I appreciated the book recommendations and feel they will help in understanding the Montessori Method and perhaps assist me with decisions for my family down the road.

My kids have been at MCS for three/four years now and I feel like I have finally been able to look beyond the curtain of their daily journey, something that every parent should see and experience.  Now, when my kids and I have our chats at the end of the day, I can ask even more detailed questions and have a bit more understanding as to how their day went.  That is priceless.

Thanks again to all who helped facilitate the Silent Journey and Discovery.

-Carrie Christensen, mother to Lucas and Emily

 

The Silent Journey and Discovery was a very emotional and powerful experience for me.  I did not attend a Montessori school as a child so I am only familiar with the Montessori philosophy through what I have read and observed in the last two years.  It gave me a great appreciation and understanding of the different developmental levels of the works.  I loved seeing the progression and advancement of the works through Toddler, Early Childhood and up through Middle School.  The grammar and math works were thrilling to learn and experience.  The focus on the sensorial aspects of each work creates a love of learning.  In addition to receiving an amazing education the students are also learning how to be independent, respectful and loving human beings.  I think every MCS parent should participate in the Silent Journey and Discovery to really understand and appreciate the experience and education we are giving our children.  I know that it made me realize that I will do everything in my power to continue my daughter’s Montessori education.

-Tonia Hashimoto, mother to Savvy Williams

Children of Ethiopia Education Fund

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on Monday, 21 October 2013
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The Children of Ethiopia Education Fund, or COEEF, is a Utah-based organization that provides crucial access to materials, uniforms and an absolutely vital private education to many children in Ethiopia.  Fiercely dedicated to the protection  and instruction of young girls, COEEF provides a new kind of life in an otherwise perilous, sexist, underprivileged and poverty-driven region of the world.   We share the mission of this organization as we mark our 6th year of support to such a pivotal duty of the world’s edification.  COEEF takes its place in the school within our Service Learning Program, a program designed to give our students a channel to ignite character, build trust and connect with others through acts of true service.

 

 


COEEF was created by a local SLC couple: Norm and Ruthann Perdue, when they traveled to the country with a humanitarian mission.  During their service, they learned of the great educational disparity in the upbringing of an Ethiopian child: with classrooms crowded, unfinished and ill-prepared.  At the time, less than half of all Ethiopian citizens were able to read, and only half of all Ethiopian children had the opportunity to attend school.  The two saw an immediate need for assistance, and they began working on a plan to improve these conditions.

While in Ethiopia, they learned of a child, 12 year old Kidest, whose father had died and whose mother had abandoned her shortly after, unable to manage under the strain of raising her alone.  Kidest had been adopted by her grandmother, who managed to send her to a private school, the “Ethiopian Adventist College” with the mere wage that was paid to a hard-labor employee of the school.  When Ruthann and Norm became  aware of this situation, they connected with Kidest's grandmother and found her bereft in her struggle to finance her granddaughter's education.  In her old age, she suffered physical fatigue, and she expressed that she did not know how much longer she could go on working to support Kidest in her pursuit of higher education.

This sadness would soon turn to joy, as after hearing her story, Norm and Ruthann decided that they would share some of the burden.  They made a request to the school and discovered that for a donation of two-hundred dollars, they would be able to finance the girl’s yearly tuition, supplies and school uniform.  This act of generosity would make them the first sponsors of the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund.  When they returned to their home in Salt Lake City, they shared their story with everyone who would listen; and by 2001, they had convinced enough of their associates to become involved that they would return to Ethiopia to enroll 30 children in private education institutions.  Shortly following this exceptional milestone, COEEF appointed a board of directors and was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization.

 

 

Participation and arranged donations in support of the COEEF service program are available to all MCS parents, students and volunteers.  Our school is responsible for the education of 7 young girls and we seek to make the greatest contribution we are able to this established purpose.  By raising money during our Annual Spring FunRun, our students help us finance this commitment, and everyone is able to share in the excitement of giving an immeasurable gift.

It is said, “Educate a woman and you will educate a nation.”   We are proud to be continued sponsors of COEEF and we intend to remain loyal in our stewardship.

* At this time, COEEF is collecting school supplies materials for the children they support in Ethiopia.  If you or your child are interested in donating to this season’s care package, please drop off your donation at our front office and their delivery will be arranged to COEEF headquarters before humanitarian representatives travel to Ethiopia in early October.   If you are interested in making a personal donation to COEEF, or becoming a child’s sponsor, we recognize you and invite you to visit the COEEF website to arrange for your own stewardship.

Written by: Kellie Gibson, September 20, 2013

Maria Montessori - Her Life & Legacy

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on Thursday, 17 October 2013
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As we are so deeply indebted to the great work and legacy of Maria Montessori, and in light of her birthday on August 31st, we would like to honor Dr. Montessori by telling her story.  Born in a small town of Italy to parents, Renilde Stoppani and Allessandro, Maria forged her own educational path, even in childhood.  Throughout her youth, she acquired a very ambitious taste for science and mathematics, which was extraordinary for a girl during the time.   After attending a tech school, Maria Montessori decided to study medicine.  Throughout an intricate and complicated series of events (including a letter of recommendation for college acceptance by the Catholic Pope himself), Maria went on to Medical School to become the very first female Doctor in Italy.

During Maria’s residency, she spent time working with children in a psychiatric hospital.  She had not been working there long, when a nurse who was watching the children in the ward said to her: ‘Look, I can’t believe that they are picking crumbs up off the floor to eat!  How horrible.’  Maria said to the nurse: ‘They aren’t eating the crumbs, they are studying them.’ In a bare, sterile psychiatric hospital, where the walls were white and there was not a single toy or object for a child to engage with, Maria Montessori discovered her first realized observation: the necessity of environment.

Dr. Montessori was stirred by this, and a miraculous turn of events then followed.  After some time, she redirected her research to completely service children.  In time, Maria’s method became world-famous.  She traveled to teach it, winning many hearts with her curriculum.  In 1913, Maria published her first book on children "The Advanced Montessori Method", selling 17,410 copies.  She even attended the 1915 World Fair in San Francisco to share her research and teaching method.  Maria continued to share her knowledge for many years in her own country, until her teachings were banned from Italy due to world conflicts with Fascism.   She was forced to leave her home, but she continued her work in Amsterdam, and later in India, where Maria would stay for over 10 years.  Even after World War II broke out, Maria stayed to complete her work of the early childhood years in her study of the “Absorbent Mind, “ and her extensive study of infancy and the development of the “Cosmic Curriculum.”

By 1946, over 1,000 people had been educated by Dr. Montessori.  Maria continued to travel through Europe, Africa and Asia, lecturing until the age of 81.  Maria Montessori has been nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes for her contribution to education, but also for her overall effort to improve conditions for women and children around the world.

We owe so much to this extremely brave woman, who endured conflicts of career progression, family separation, gender bias and war to bring her teaching methods to light. Maria Montessori was a leader in every step she took, and her work produced amazing outcomes.  Maria sought to educate children, but she also saw a magic in them.  Within each child, she saw: the need, the power, the magic… to learn.

By Kellie Gibson, September 5, 2013

Summer Time and Screen Time!

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 05 June 2013
in Parent Education

Summer time and the livin's easy....UNLESS your child is set to spend the majority of their summer in front of a screen of some kind. The statistics regarding children and screen time are absolutely FRIGHTENING these days.  Click here or here to read more about the ill effects of too much screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics have strongly suggested that children are over-exposed but we live in a society that thrives on ipods, ipads, iphones, video gaming, and more....

Our kids are growing up in a generation that doesn't quite know how to function without a screen right at their fingertips.  My boys and I just moved to a new house and have been without television or internet for a month.  I kept delaying the process of getting us "connected" until the other night while I sat on my porch watching my boys (ages 10, 8 and 5) play a game of "pick up" ball.  They used a plastic pipe as a bat, a tennis ball, and several other random objects as bases.  There were no gloves.  But, they laughed, chatted, and created rules for their new game in ways that my three competitive sons rarely do with one another.  It was a beautifully decisive moment for me when I considered that if we had television and/or the internet as an option one of them would most likely be inside glued to a device.  We will be officially "disconnected" this summer.

As parents, we can see the changes happening in our children physically on an almost daily basis.  My middle son literally grows out of shoes in about 3 weeks time.  (His toes are as long as my fingers.)  What we might not be as connected to is the emotional, spiritual, and philisophical growth that they are experiencing.  These aren't always as easy to spot as the physical changes but they definitely exist.  Montessori spoke very clearly about the connection between the child's hand and brain.  If our children are to develop at their fullest potential, they need to MOVE.

I urge you, with everything inside me, to get your little ones MOVING this summer.  Engage them from every angle.  Sure, a family movie night won't do harm.  And there are some excellent computer programs out there that might keep them up to par with their math and reading skills but DO NOT let yourself believe that hours upon hours of screen time is beneficial in any way. Our kids have plenty of time in their future to commit to sitting still in front of a screen. (In the coming weeks I will be sure to post even BETTER alternatives to keeping your children's math and reading up to par.)

 

 

In her article "Screen Time and Childhood" Jennifer Rogers says the following; "Children spend an average of five to seven hours every day in front of a screen. The only activity that occupies more time for children is sleeping. These same young kids are experiencing speech and language delays, and chronic attention problems. Literacy is becoming increasingly hard to achieve, creativity rare. Though there is little research to establish connections between so many young children’s failure to thrive and their over-exposure to technologies, the conclusion that screen time is corroding young minds seems ridiculously obvious to most teachers." (Link above.)

What are your plans to keep your children from spending too much of their summer in front of a screen?  Montessori was firm in her belief that children needed physical activity in order to develop fully and to their greatest potential. Below are a list of ideas that might help you engage your child.  I have learned that when summer (or, winter) sets in its important to sit down with the kids and talk about ideas.  When my kids say "I'm bored" I either refer them to the list of activities we created together. If nothing on the list looks inviting there is always the list posted on the other side of the fridge labeled "CHORES."  We often have a list of activities that can be done together, at home or away from home, as well as a list of individual activities for when mom or the siblings aren't available.  Our list might include some of the following ideas:

 

  • Dark Dancing - my kids and I love to turn out all the lights in our basement and crank the music.  Dancing in the dark encourages my boys to move in ways they might not feel totally comfortable with the lights on.  Plus, they aren't so embarrassed by how completely uncoordinated their mother is.
  • Jump Rope - this is especially fun with older children.  There are a lot of fun songs and rhythms that can accompany jump roping.  It is a wonderful team building exercise.
  • Obstacle Course - Build an obstacle course in your living room or in the back yard. As your children get used to the idea they are likely to come up with some very creative ideas.  Get the timer involved and invite children to beat their own time.  (Think: hula hoops, high jumps, assembling and disassembling a lego toy, long jumps, etc.)
  • Making and Flying Kites -  see here.
  • Build a Fort - Backyard and Living Room forts are the best.  Be prepared to let it stay in the middle of your space for as long as it keeps the kids happy.  These make a wonderful space for reading and playing board games.
  • Pen-Pals - Get your littles in touch with someone via "Snail-Mail."  There is NOTHING more exciting than checking the mailbox to find a personal letter from a far-away friend. Grandparents, cousins, old classmates....the list of possibilities are endless.
  • Make Home-Made Popsicles - combine your favorite fruits with some delicious yogurt (we prefer greek) and water or juice and freeze it in popsicle molds.  If you dont have popsicle molds, ice trays or your small cups and popsicle sticks work like a charm.
If all else fails, head to the Dollar Theater together.  Don't forget visiting your local library, family reads, books on tape, building a volcano (plus a million more at-home science projects,) cooking, gardening and puzzles.  If your children are part of coming up with the list of ideas and then gathering the materials, they are likely to find enthusiasm in carrying them out.
In teaching our children the dis-importance of extensive amounts of screen time, my very best advice is this: BE AN EXAMPLE.  Limit your own screen time and get in on that messy paper mache' project the kids are so enthusiastic about!
Happy Summer!
Please share your own summer adventures on our Facebook Page.

Tips for Parents for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 19 February 2013
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Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Friday, March 15. There will be no school that day. Sign-up sheets for the conferences are on a table in the lobby, arranged by class, from Toddlers to Middle School (please check the top of each page for the name of the class).  As we do every year, we ask that you observe the following requests:

  • · Please sign up for one meeting time per child.
  • · Please be on time for your conference.
  • · Please help the teachers to stay on time.
  • · Please arrange for childcare during Parent/Teacher conferences.

We have included some additional tips that might be useful in having a successful Parent Teacher Conference:

  • Write down questions or things you would like to discuss and email the teacher(s) with your questions/comments before the conference.
  • Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with the teacher(s).
  • Keep the conference focused on the child and the purpose of the conference-use your time carefully.
  • Be open to suggestions from the teacher.
  • Be prepared to share suggestions of your own. No one knows your child like you know him/her.
  • If you are unclear about what the teacher is telling you about your child, ask for specific examples.
  • Remember that you and the teacher(s) are a team and your main focus is meeting the needs of your child.
  • Take notes so you can share information with your child after the meeting.
  • Make sure the teachers have the best contact information for you and that you have a clear understanding of the communication protocol.
  • Keep the teacher informed.  Things happening at home often affect children’s behavior at school.
  • At the end of your conference make sure that everyone understands what was talked about and what they can/have agreed to do to follow up.
  • Follow up.  If you have concerns that need to be followed up on, set up that time in advance.

Silent Journey & Discovery

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Thursday, 14 February 2013
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We had a wonderful Silent Journey and Discovery experience this month. Fifteen parents were in attendence.  We started in the lobby where we shared the routine and schedule and then headed into the classrooms.  Upon entering each new environment, attendees spent the first few minutes of their visit to access the environment in relation to the students at that level. With some prompting they looked at the nature of the materials in the space.  Then, when the bell rang, they were invited to sit down and engage with the classroom materials.  After visiting each classroom and working with the materials, attendees participated in a student-led Socratic Dialogue.  Following a wonderful lunch, we had an open discussion about the experience as a whole and staff members answered specific questions about the materials, the curriculum, and the Montessori philosophy.  Thank you to those who attended.  We are looking forward to hosting this event again in the Fall and we hope more of our parents will have the opportunity to experience this wonderful event.

 

SJ&D participants engage with materials from the Practical Life, Math, Language and Sensorial materials in an Early Childhood environment.

 

Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, gives these parents a lesson on the Division Board during their visit to the Lower Elementary environment.

 

Parents work independently on Checkerboard Division in the Upper Elementary environment.

 

Participants explore the Middle School environment where they read about Middle School students experiences of different learning cycles.

 

Middle School student, Maddi Schmunk, and Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, prepare for the Socratic Dialogue.  Maddi chose the topic quote and led the discussion beautifully. The topic of discussion was quote, "It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life" by Sister Kenny.

 

Socratic Dialogue

Two parents who attended the Silent Journey and Discovery share their experiences below:

"The Silent Journey and Discovery was a very emotional and powerful experience for me.  I did not attend a Montessori school as a child so I am only familiar with the Montessori philosophy through what I have read and observed in the last two years.  It gave me a great appreciation and understanding of the different developmental levels of the works.  I loved seeing the progression and advancement of the works through Toddler, Early Childhood and up through Middle School.  The grammar and math works were thrilling to learn and experience.  The focus on the sensorial aspects of each work creates a love of learning.  In addition to receiving an amazing education the students are also learning how to be independent, respectful and loving human beings.  I think every MCS parent should participate in the Silent Journey and Discovery to really understand and appreciate the experience and education we are giving our children.  I know that it made me realize that I will do everything in my power to continue my daughter’s Montessori education."

Tonia Hashimoto

Mother of Savvy Williams, Blue Class

 

"Having not grown up in a Montessori environment, it has been difficult for me to understand what exactly a day in the life of my Montessori students is like.  I try to take in as much as I can at pick-up and drop-off, with the occasional visit and guided lesson by my children, but there is no way to fully understand without an experience like the Silent Journey and Discovery.  It was an eye-opening voyage that I would recommend for every parent, and prospective parent.  I want to do it again.

 

Going through a classroom from each cycle really makes the whole Montessori experience come full circle from seeing how the Toddlers get their first understanding of space and shape, to Early Childhood and their practical life lessons, to Lower Elementary and their grammar materials which encourage socialization, to the Upper Elementary complex math problems, to a Middle School student-led Socratic discussion.  We only saw the tip of the iceberg, but the hands-on learning experience helped personify the school life of our children.  I was struck by the thoughtful organization of each room; how comfortable and serene a small space can feel.

 

I also enjoyed the roundtable discussion following our classroom journeys.  We were able to get some insight from teachers, staff, students and other parents.  Because Montessori isn’t the “traditional” schooling for kids in our country, there are obvious concerns and hesitations with going outside the “norm”.  Many of my concerns were put to ease and I feel my children are on the correct path for them at this time.  I appreciated the book recommendations and feel they will help in understanding the Montessori Method and perhaps assist me with decisions for my family down the road.

 

My kids have been at MCS for three/four years now and I feel like I have finally been able to look beyond the curtain of their daily journey, something that every parent should see and experience.  Now, when my kids and I have our chats at the end of the day, I can ask even more detailed questions and have a bit more understanding as to how their day went.  That is priceless.

 

Thanks again to all who helped facilitate the Silent Journey and Discovery."

Carrie Christensen

Mother of Lucas, Oquirrh Class and Emily, Blue Class

A Welcome Back Letter from PSA President, Aimee Brewer

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on Monday, 07 January 2013
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Happy New Year from the PSA!

I hope you all had a fun, relaxing break and are ready for a great 2013!

Since there are many new families who have joined the school this past fall, I thought it might be a good time to send along a few reminders and updates.

Feeling connected to your child’s school and teachers is something that is very important to many parents.  Below are a couple of great ways you can be involved in your child’s classroom:

 

  • From 8:30-9am each morning in the Toddler and Early Childhood classes and 8:00-8:30am in the Elementary and Middle School classes, parents are welcome to be part of your child’s class – if your schedule permits, you are invited to stay during this time and do some work with your child.  It’s a great way to feel a part of their learning experience as well as getting more familiar with the Montessori methods and “works”, and most importantly, your child will LOVE showing you a work and will be so proud when their parents stay to observe and participate.

 

  • Each class has office hours where you can check-in with the teachers. Please know this doesn’t just need to be used if you are having an issue or concern about your child, it is also  a great time to just say hi to the teachers and see what your child is working on.  If the office hours that your class has doesn’t work for your schedule, you can always call or email the teachers to set up a different time to meet.

 

  • Each class has a email address and if you have a question, concern, or idea and want to communicate with the teachers via email, please do so.  If it is an urgent issue, please call the school and ask to speak with the teacher as they usually do not have time to check email during the day.  The teacher email addresses are easy to remember and can be found below.

 

  • The teachers welcome parents who would like to come read a book to the class, do a cooking activity, share a talent or special tradition etc….if you want to do something with the whole class, just let the teachers know!

 

  • The school is always looking for new field trip ideas (or new presenters to come to the school), if you have any ideas, please let me or Ramira know!

 

Save the date:

 

  • As you may know, our school has a partnership with the Adopt-a-Native Elder program. The students communicate with our Navajo Grandmothers and the Grandmothers come to visit each year. Our youngest grandmother, Elvira, participates in the Deer Valley Rug Show each year and the children who attend have the opportunity to spend some time with her.   On March 22nd our school will be hosting a Navajo Children’s Rug Show at the school – if you didn’t attend last year you should plan to this year – not only are the rugs made by children gorgeous, but there are many activities for our children to participate in and learn so much about the Navajo culture. You can learn more about the program at www.anelder.org.

 

  • The annual Fun Run is set for April 1st – this is a really great day for the students, but also our main fundraiser for our Navajo Grandmothers and Ethiopian children. Community Service is an important part of the Montessori Education  as students learn to care and contribute to others , the value of volunteerism, and begin to recognize their connection to people all around the globe.

If you would like to be involved in the Fun Run or any other PSA events or committees, please let me know!

 

Finally, we are always looking for ideas for community building events – classroom specific events as well as school-wide events.  If you have an idea, please let me know (even better, if you want to plan a community building event and get hours towards your parent participation, that would be fabulous!).

 

Thank you for all you do to support the PSA and school at large.  There is such a great group of families that are part of the school and I look forward to the coming year!

 

Aimee Brewer

PSA President

 

Classroom Email Addresses:

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MCS Emergency Preparedness

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on Monday, 17 December 2012
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We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the Sandy Hook Elementary community and also take this opportunity to communicate our own emergency protocols to MCS parents.  In light of recent events, we are moving forward more urgently with the plans we have been developing in conjunction with a few dedicated parents who have formed our Emergency Preparedness Committee, particularly Sara Hart, who spearheads the committee. The lockdown procedure has been a priority for us since the EPC formed last spring.

  • As part of our Emergency Preparedness, various members of the EPC have taken FEMA courses online that provide advice about preparing for various emergency situations. At our November meeting, one of our parents brought back what she had learned from the Lockdown course specifically. She is preparing a presentation to faculty about the contents of the course and we will incorporate many of its recommendations.
  • Throughout the fall our facilities staff has been laying the hardware necessary for installing phone lines in all the classrooms. This would ensure that in the case of a lockdown situation we could communicate to all the classrooms at once. Phones will be used strictly for emergency purposes. We will finalize the installment of the phone lines over the winter break.
  • Every classroom now has an updated evacuation plan, thanks to parent Jodi Geroux, who was instrumental in bringing building safety to our attention last year. In her capacity as an architect she re-created emergency evacuation route maps.  We have regularly practiced fire and earthquake drills this year so students and teachers are aware of the evacuation routes. We have spoken specifically with specialty and extended day teachers about practicing these routes. We will continue these monthly drills and plan to implement a lockdown drill once phone lines have been installed. We will notify parents before our first lockdown drill. Teachers will prepare the children for the drill and we ask that parents also discuss it with their child(ren).
  • The other priority for us has been identifying potential emergency notification systems to communicate with parents in the event of a school-wide emergency. We have been researching voicemail and texting services. We will continue to use Facebook and our website as a form of communication with our parents.
  • Outside doors are only unlocked during arrival and dismissal times and are locked at all other times.
  • We ask all staff to be vigilant and watch for people we don’t recognize and to ask anyone we don’t recognize how we can help them.
  • We ask and expect every visitor to check in at office.
  • Parents are required to sign children in and out each day so we have an accurate idea of who is and isn’t in the building at any given time.

We recognize that children will have questions. Teachers will address questions simply, and invite children to discuss the events at home. We welcome any questions or concerns you have. Our Emergency Preparedness Committee includes Bob Buchanan, Jan Bosen, Ramira Alamilla, and parents Sara Hart, Jodi Geroux, Rachel Koontz, Vicki Wilkins, Christopher LeCluyse, and Deidre Becker.

We are grateful for each member of this community and it is our highest priority to ensure the safety of all of the children you entrust to our care.

Warm regards,

 

Robyn, Ramira, and MCS Administration

Gift Ideas for your Montessori Child

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
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One question that regularly comes my way this time of year is "what should I get my child for Christmas?"  Finding developmentally appropriate gifts that will keep our children happy and entertained, but still support their growth, can be challenging.  If you are anything like me, you don't want to spend a bunch of money on toys that will end up broken, lost, or forgotten by days end.  Below we've listed some of our favorite resources for finding the perfect gift for your Montessori child....

Small Hands is a wonderful resource for choosing gifts that support the Practical Life skills your child is working on regularly in the classroom.

Daily Montessori shares information about choosing the right gift for children at the right age.

Jessica Mueller shares some wonderful gift ideas for Infants, Toddlers, and Pre-Schoolers on her blog "Our Montessori Home."

Montessori by Hand shares a great list of children's books.

Support your Upper Elementary or Middle Schoolers love of science with some of these aweseome items from Science Discovery and Fun.

 

Best of luck on your search for the perfect gift!

Middle School Community Service Immersion Week

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 14 November 2012
in Classroom Updates

The Middle School students are at the completion of another cycle.  They have spent the past five weeks talking about how to be involved in the community and how service is a way to be involved and be supportive.

During their Immersion this week the Middle School students are focusing on Community Service. They have visited Wasatch Community Garden, The Stable Place, and The Living Planet Aquarium where they have rendered different services.  They have prepared and organized independent volunteer opportunities which they will participate in tomorrow and have also planned trips to the Bicycle Collective and Camp Kostopulos.  They are expecting a visit from Tree Utah on Friday.

Check back soon for a more comprehensive report of what they've been up to, what they learned along the way, and how this process suppports adolescents in their development.

The Sensitive Periods of the Child

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on Tuesday, 13 November 2012
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The Montessori philosophy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori through careful and thorough observation of the child.  Having studied to become a medical doctor, much of her theory was developed based on the biological growth of the child.  In developing her theory, Montessori discovered that children go through sensitive periods in their development.  What is a sensitive period?  It could be defined as a special sensitivity related to certain elements in the environment towards which the organism is directed with an irresistible impulse and a well-defined activity.  In other words, and in relation to our children, sensitive periods are periods of time in which children are directed by an inner pull towards a certain activity, impulse, or characteristic.

Montessori herself described sensitive periods stating, "Children pass through definite periods in which they reveal psychic aptitudes and possibilities which afterwards disappear. That is why, at particular epochs of their life, they reveal an intense and extraordinary interest in certain objects and exercises, which one might look for in vain at a later age. During such a period the child is endowed with a special sensibility which urges him to focus his attention on certain aspects of his environment to the exclusion of others.  Such attention is not the result of mere curiosity; it is more like a burning passion.  A keen emotion first rises from the depths of the unconscious, and sets in motion a marvelous creative activity in contact with the outside world, thus building up consciousness."  Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work, pp. 120.

This means that we have a great responsibility to provide our children with an environment in which their inner urges can be satisfied in the development of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Montessori described missed sensitive periods as dropped stitches.  Once a sensitive period has passed, it will never return with the same intensity and completeness that it once existed.  In each period, the child is endowed with special powers to direct and guide the learning process to its greatest potential.  Montessori describes the child's development of language as "one of the most wonderful."  Between the ages of 0 and 6, a child is in a sensitive period to develop language.  A child learns to speak and communicate simply by being in an environment rich with language.  One of the main goals of our Toddler and Early Childhood programs here at MCS is the development of appropriate language communication.  Our Dual-Language programs are based on research indicating the importance of exposure to a second language before the age of 6 is most effective.

Of course, language is not the only sensitive period through which our children pass.  Order, small objects, refinement of senses, learning good manners are just a few others. Some sensitive periods manifest one way in one child and quite differently in another.  We might see a child developing their sense of order by building blocks or laying objects in neat rows.  Another child in the same sensitive period might insist on a specific bedtime or morning routine.  Yet, another child developing order might choose the same puzzle over and over again.

It is important to note that sensitive periods often pass as quickly as they come.  Therefore, the importance of a well prepared environment speaks volumes for the child's devel0pment.  Along with a prepared environment, we must consciously observe our children and place in their paths the appropriate opportunities for growth.  Each of our programs is built on the stages of growth that our students will experience and our specific activities placed on the shelves are a result of careful observation of the needs of our developing students.  The Montessori curriculum supports sensitive periods at each level.  For example, children aged 6-9 years old are in a sensitive period for development of social skills and appropriate communication.  Therefore, if you walk into one of our Lower Elementary classrooms you will find many students working in pairs or small groups as they collaborate on projects within their learning environment.  Of course, this is just one example of how our Montessori environment supports the sensitive periods of the students.

"There is no bad weather,only bad clothing."

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on Wednesday, 24 October 2012
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Montessori Community School has always made it a priority to integrate nature into our program. Students are offered a wide variety of opportunities to extend their learning beyond the physical classroom and, in keeping with the Montessori philosophy, students are invited to experience nature as a hands on experience.  We love the phrase "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."  The Portland Montessori Collaborative posted the following on their website and we are proud to say, "We couldn't agree more!"

We believe in integrating the outdoor classroom into every child’s experience at school. The outdoor environment is a place for big body play, where we value natural opportunities for children to challenge themselves physically. Children will find compelling reasons to hone large motor skills through joyful interaction with a landscape similar to that found in nature. In the outdoor classroom, open ended and collaborative play are valued, documented, and encouraged. Opportunities to practice practical life skills like woodworking and caring for plants and animals are available. A relationship with the plants and animals that live in our creek side ecosystem is developed through a process of ongoing, child-led/adult fostered investigation. There is dedicated time outside every day, rain or shine.  We believe that ‘ there is no bad weather, only bad clothing’, and children come to school well equipped to enjoy their time outside regardless of weather.

Read more from The Portland Montessori Collaborative at pdxmc.org.

Practical Life in the Montessori Classroom

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on Monday, 22 October 2012
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Practical Life is an essential part of the Montessori curriculum.  Students begin as early as 18 months old working on daily living skills.  The areas of a Practical Life environment include; care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy, and control of movement.  Activities are carefully designed to not only prepare the child to LITERALLY become independent in all areas but also to develop the mathematical and language areas of the brain. This is accomplished when a teacher in the environment sets up each activity and presents it methodically, paying careful attention to every detail.  For example, a lesson on table washing would be presented to a child starting to scrub the table at the top-moving from left to right and top to bottom.  The child moves cross-body as their washing hand literally crosses from the left side of the body, past the center, and to the far right, preparing the brain for reading. This also increases cross lateral movement which not only works as a pre-reading skill but also increasing coordination.

This student chops fruit for a smoothie she will share with her classmates.

This student practices yoga as part of the Practical Life curriculum. His focus centers on building concentration and coordination, two important elements of Practical Life.

 

This boy works on transferring objects from bowl to bowl; building concentration, coordination, and order while also developing small muscle control, an essential part of writing preparation.

All of the activities in a carefully prepared Practical Life environment allow the child to build multiple skills.  For example a child working on sorting objects, stringing beads or tweezing objects is repeatedly practicing and preparing their prehensile grip. Anybody who has ever spent time with children inside the home can relate to the young child's desire to participate in household chores...dishwashing, food preparation, sweeping, mopping...the list goes on and on.  In a Montessori classroom, children have the opportunity to practice these skills along with many others in an effort to gain independence.  They might repeat activities over and over, building their ability to concentrate, as they become more efficient at each skill.

As children move on to elementary and beyond, practical life becomes more about participating in real life situations.  They work together as community members to maintain the learning environment, oftentimes extending the learning environment to areas outside the classroom.  They take the practical life skills that they so carefully and repeatedly practiced in their younger years to become contributing members of their classroom and school community.  As parents understand the skills that their children have worked so hard to acquire, they too can invite children to work as contributing members of their household.

 

Lower Elementary students work in the kitchen.

 

This Upper Elementary student cares for Murphy, the corn snake, in her classroom.

Beyond the elementary experience, children at MCS take their practical life skills to the next level as Middle Schoolers in planning, preparing, and carrying out classroom and community events. Join us in the lobby every last Thursday of the month for Montessori Market, an event organized by the Middle School students.  Students learn the steps in building and maintaining a business as they work together as a team, increasing their opportunities for appropriate and essential social interaction.

"The exercises of practical life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment. Such adaptation to the environment an efficient functioning therein is the very essence of a useful education."  Maria Montessori

Check back for more information coming later in how you can organize your own home to support the Practical Life curriculum in your child's Montessori classroom.

Middle School Team Building

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on Tuesday, 16 October 2012
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Recently the Middle School students participated in their Team Building Immersion Week, after 5 weeks of study. The week started off with a trip to CLAS Ropes Course in Provo where they practiced many team building techniques.  The Upper Elementary students were excited to be able to join them for the Ropes Course Field Trip.  Other activities throughout the week included completing class projects, painting the “Nookery” (their mini workspace under the stairs), hiking up Mill Creek's Alexander Basin train with more team building games, and planning, shopping for, and preparing  meals for a campout on school campus.  Food from the class garden was used for their meals.  The week concluded with setting up a tent in preparation for their campout Thursday night.  At the campout they enjoyed a fire-pit and a presentation by Native American flutist and storyteller, Nino.  On Friday, following the campout, the students participated in a Guided Reflection on the completed week and who they are as a team.  They focused on challenges, celebrations, and goals.

Now, Middle School students have begun Cycle Two, where they will focus on “Changes,” change in literature, change in the world around us physically (fungi, protists, and matter) and social change (being catalysts for positive change). Cycle two’s immersion is geared around Service Learning, being the change we want to see in the world.