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

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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.

The Kindergarten Year in Montessori by Edward Fidellow

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on Wednesday, 08 January 2014
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An MCS Kindergarten student works on the Addition Strip board discovering "Ways to Make 10"


Kindergarten is the harvest year for all the planting and intellectual tending that has gone on for the preceding years in preschool. The kindergarten child’s learning explodes into an avalanche of reading and writing and math. All of the earlier preparation (practical life, sensorial) now finds academic outlets. The kindergarten child not only gains a wider breadth of knowledge but a deeper understanding of what she has learned and now is able to use this knowledge to enhance her own intellectual pursuits.

A Montessori education is not just cumulative in its learning; it is exponential in its understanding. The learning that happens in kindergarten is not just adding another year’s knowledge but multiplying what is learned and applying it to what is to come.

It is common for Montessori kindergarten graduates to be able to read well (and write) and to understand math far beyond addition and subtraction all the way to multiplication, division and geometry.

To miss this formative year that sets successful life patterns is to miss the ultimate advantage of this unique preschool experience.Maybe even more significantly, the lifetime patterns of responsibility, goal setting, having a work ethic, working through mistakes, inquiry and curiosity are being firmly set.


The kindergarten year in a Montessori classroom is also the year of mentoring. It is the year when the five year old is able to really help her classmates. This mentoring year is significant for two reasons. First, when you teach others, you really master the subject for yourself. Second, when you are asked to teach you demonstrate your mastery of the material. It is this mastery that produces the profound feelings of self-confidence and assurance that is the hallmark of Montessori students. Real achievement and real achievement demonstrated builds real self-esteem.

Leaving the Montessori program before kindergarten often places a child into an educational setting that is not as advanced; nor one that allows for the initiative that has been carefully cultivated during the earlier preschool years. The child is often introduced to a different curriculum one that lacks the individual intellectual satisfaction that comes from exploring and discovering the wonderful world of learning found in Montessori.

The essence of successful life is to be able to make wise choices. The Montessori kindergarten student is at a major threshold of exercising that wise decision making power. To lose that opportunity is to lose a significant part of the hard won success of the preceding years.

The great gift of an education is not the accumulation of facts and statistics but the lighting of the fire of learning, discovery and joy. It is a gift that Montessori children have the privilege and pleasure of opening and using for a lifetime.

by Edward Fidellow

Check back soon for more information about our Kindergarten program here at MCS!

Parent Education Night:Positive Discipline with Toddlers

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on Wednesday, 11 December 2013
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The Toddler Parent Education night on Positive Discipline was a great success. Thanks to Ms Meghan for co-ordinating the information and setting up the program and also to Ms Nanette, Ms Sophie and Ms Kenzee for their informative and often entertaining presentation. At various points during the evening parents asked follow up questions. The teachers always had great suggestions but reminded the parents that sometimes certain approaches will work and other times not and it is important to keep trying new tactics.  It was stressed that it is vital to always be respectful of each child and to try not to get into a power struggle as this always ends up with one winner and one loser. It was also suggested that if a child was pushing them to their limits that they try to have the child take a break to calm themselves and if possible take a break themselves.

It is always heartening to hear other parents speaking of their struggles and frustrations so that it is clear that most people are experiencing the same issues and that this is normal stage of development for each child and that there are many ways to help make the process more manageable and hopefully enjoyable. There is no doubt that Toddlers are sometimes challenging but they are also so delightful, capable, inquisitive, lovable and growing and learning at such a rapid pace. We are most fortunate to have these children in our school community and our Toddler teachers are amazing. We are constantly impressed with their knowledge, patience and loving attitudes.

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

 

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

Silent Journey & Discovery

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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

Social Skills in the Montessori Environment

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 05 December 2012
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Through the years I have commonly been asked about Montessori students and their development of social skills. Some parents, when considering a Montessori education, become concerned that because of the size of the facility, the mixed age groupings, or the limited number of classrooms that their child will somehow be "missing out" on some aspects of social development. The short answer is that although there might not be as many children on our campus, the opportunities to develop socially are unlimited in the organization of the classrooms and curriculum.

 

Montessori herself said that "Social life does not consist of a group of individuals remaining close together, side by side, nor in their advancing en masse under the command of a captain like a regiment on the march, nor like an ordinary class of school children. The social life of man is founded upon work, harmoniously organised and upon social virtues - and these are the attitudes which develop to an exceptional degree amongst our children. Constancy in their work, patience when having to wait, the power of adapting themselves to the innumerable circumstances which present themselves in their daily contact with each other, reciprocal helpfulness and so on, are all exercises which represent a real and practical social life and which we see, for the first time, being organised amongst the children in a school. In fact, whereas schools used to be equipped only so as to accommodate children, seated passively side by side, who were expected to receive from the teacher (we might almost say in a parasitic manner), our schools, on the contrary, have an equipment which is adapted to all those forms of work which are necessary in an active and independent little community. The individual work in which the child is able to isolate himself and to concentrate, serves to perfect his individuality and the nearer man gets to perfection, the better is he able to associate harmoniously with others. A strong social movement cannot exist without prepared individuals, just as the members of an orchestra cannot play together harmoniously unless each individual has been thoroughly trained by repeated exercise when alone."

As her philosophy developed, many standards were set into place which help a student develop socially. Some of those include:

 

  • Grace & Courtesy: An essential part of the Montessori curriculum is the opportunity for children to develop skills of grace and courtesy. Children learn to interact appropriately with one another through dialogue with adults, they learn to greet and host guests into their classroom, and they learn to dialogue with their peers in classroom meetings. As early as three years old students use the "peace table" as a place to they learn to recognize personal feelings and express themselves. They often share a "peace object" of some kind (ie; rock, flower...) that can be passed back and forth as they work to solve problems with their peers. As part of the Grace and Courtesy curriculum, children prepare and share snacks within the classroom. They are given lessons on appropriate meal behavior and sometimes teachers will join students at the lunch table to model appropriate meal behavior.
  • Small Group Lessons: Though many lessons are presented to students individually, at all levels students participate in small group lessons. These lessons allow students to express their thoughts and ideas in a safe environment. As they dialogue with one another regarding their thoughts about a particular subject, teachers can assess conversational skills as well as how much or little a child may be grasping an important concept. When a child is uncertain or misunderstands a concept, teachers will represent material in a different way or within a different setting rather than reprimanding or shaming a child for misunderstanding. In these group lessons, students learn to listen to and respect other children's perspective.
  • Care of Environment: At entry into a Montessori environment children are given lessons on care of the environment around them. They are taught that the space in which they learn is their space, it belongs to them. They are taught the value of community and learn their role in a community. They are also taught to respect and value the roles of their peers within the same community.
  • Freedom to solve problems: Along with lessons on how to solve problems, children are given the freedom to actually practice the skill in a safe environment with caring and observant adults nearby. Montessori believed that children like to work out their own social problems and she said, "When adults interfere in this first stage of preparation for social life, they nearly always make mistakes....Problems abound at every step and it gives the children great pleasure to face them. They feel irritated if we intervene, and find a way if left to themselves." In order to accommodate this freedom, teachers use lunch, recess, and transition times to continually model appropriate social interactions. The time for lessons does not stop once the bell to step outside the classroom rings.
  • Lack of Competition: Mixed age classrooms, individual progression, and self-correcting materials are all contributors to the ability to avoid competition among children in a Montessori environment. Students have a natural tendency to assist one another and collaborate. Oftentimes only one material of its kind will exist within a classroom, teaching children patience as well as allowing them to plan ahead, and accommodate change. Montessori said, regarding classroom materials, "The chid comes to see that he must respect the work of others, not because someone said he must, but because this is a reality he meets in his daily experience."
  • Self-Correcting Materials: Work in the environment is set up to allow the child to use the materials to check their work. As students discover mistakes for themselves, the ability to correct becomes innate and they do not lack confidence for fear of being told they are wrong. It also allows the children to have purposeful movement.
  • Celebration of Individuality: As students are allowed the opportunity to choose what to work on and how long to spend on an activity and the ability to not be rushed to understand concepts, they are able to celebrate their individuality. Some children will grasp a concept more easily than another, some students will embrace one subject at a different time than their peers and as they work with those sensitive periods they grow as individuals. Then, within their roles as an important part of the classroom community, they are able to share concepts with others.

 

In these ways and others, children in a Montessori environment are given the very best opportunities for appropriate social development.

How is Montessori designed to prepare children for the "real world?"

Posted by Britney Peterson
Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 04 December 2012
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Thank you to those parents who recently attended our Elementary Admissions Information Meeting.  Remember, if you have a child who is moving into 1st or 4th grade next year, this meeting is MANDATORY for both parents.  Also, if you are currently still in process of deciding whether your Kindergartner or 3rd grader will continue with us next year, we recommend you come to the next meeting where Margaret, our Elementary and Middle School Program Head, will answer your questions regarding curriculum as well as social develpment of Elementary age students.  Many of the attendees of our meeting last Friday were especially excited by the brief overview of the Montessori Math materials.

During the meeting some questions were raised about Montessori students transitioning to schools with a more traditional approach to education.  Tim Seldin wrote an article entitled "What are the real benefits of sending a child to Montessori?" which sufficiently explains the ways in which Montessori children are prepared to transition to other environments.  I recommend this article for any parent who has a child enrolled in a Montessori program or who is considering a Montessori education for their child.  Read Tim Seldins article here...

We invite any parents with questions regarding enrollment for your child next year to make an appointment with either your students teachers or a member of our Administration where we will be happy to address any questions or concerns you might have.  Also, dont forget that our next Elementary Admissions Information meeting is coming up this Friday, December 7th @ 8:30am.

 

This Upper Elementary student works on the Peg Board during work time.

 

Why Should I Consider Montessori for My Child's Kindergarten Year?

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
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Why Montessori for the kindergarten year?

Written by Tim Seldin with Dr. Elizabeth Coe

 

Every year at reenrollment time, and in thousands of Montessori schools all over North America, parents of four-almost-five-year-olds are trying to decide whether or not they should keep their sons and daughters in Montessori for kindergarten or send them off to the local schools.

So here are a few answers to some of the questions parents often ask about Montessori for the kindergarten age child.

Naturally, to some degree the answer is also often connected to the question of family income as well, although we are often amazed at how often families with very modest means who place a high enough priority on their children's education will scrape together the tuition needed to keep them in Montessori.


It is a fair question and it deserves a careful answer. Obviously there is no one right answer for every child. Often the decision depends on where each family places its priorities and how strongly parents sense that one school or another more closely fits in with their hopes dreams for their children.

Read More...

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

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 13 November 2012
in Parent Education

 

 

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.

Preparing Your Home Environment

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 17 October 2012
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A huge thank you to our Toddler Teachers for presenting a wonderful Parent Education Night to the parents of our Toddler students last night.  We were pleased that so many of our parents came out to learn more about the Montessori Toddler Environment and ways they can support the curriculum in their homes.

 

 

Read the article below for more information about preparing the home environment for your little ones....

Birth To Three...Preparing the Environment

Learning comes from a natural interaction with the environment much more than from listening or watching another. For this reason the preparation of the environment is extremely important.

Read the full article

montessori.edu

Do Montessori Schools Have An Edge?

Posted by Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan
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on Thursday, 20 September 2012
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New research suggests that children who attend Montessori schools may have an edge over other children in terms of both academic and social development.

The 5-year-old Montessori students were found to have better reading and math skills than their peers who attended traditional schools and they scored higher on tests measuring social development, researchers reported.

The 12-year-old Montessori and non-Montessori students had similar reading and math scores, but the Montessori children tended to score higher on tests measuring social and behavioral development, researcher Angeline Lillard, Ph.D., tells WebMD.

Read the full article

CBSnews.com

Google's co-founders credited Montessori for their success

Posted by Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan
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Google on Friday honored Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori with a homepage doodle celebrating her 142nd birth anniversary.
Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both went through the Montessori education system and have credited it for their success.
"I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated, questioning what's going on in the world, doing things a bit different," Page said in an interview with ABC (below).

PCMag.com Article