Thursday, August 17, 2017

Eclipse Viewing in and Around Morris County

Although Westmont will not be open on August 21st when the Great American Solar Eclipse is taking place, there are many nearby locations that are hosting viewing parties.



Morris Museum is hosting a family friendly eclipse viewing party beginning at 1 p.m. It will include crafts and the viewing of the eclipse on streaming NASA TV. The museum will be selling solar viewing glasses in their gift shop.

The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium will have telescopes with solar filters out for the community to use.

Mendham Public Library is hosting a viewing party using a telescope. Pre-registration is required.

And if going out to a party is just too much, you can host your own viewing party at home! Just be sure you have viewing glasses (they can be purchased at Best Buy, Lowes, or WalMart).

You can also make an eclipse viewing box with your children that will allow them to safely view the eclipse. Directions can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oDqUCTlPA4&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Giving Chores to Children Supports Success in Life

At Westmont we strive to support and develop responsible independent individuals.  Dr. Maria Montessori said, “ Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Here is an interesting article from Goodhousekeeping.com (2017) Kids Whose Parents Make Them Do Chores Are More Successful, in support of giving chores to children:

There's a reason your children are prone to tantrums when you ask them to wash the dishes — chores are not fun. After all, who wants to spend 20 minutes scrubbing crusted-on tomato sauce instead of watching Frozen for the millionth time? But instead of avoiding the tears and just washing everything yourself, you should hold your ground. Why? It turns out kids who do chores are more successful adults.
"By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry — they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life," Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult told Tech Insider. Lythcott-Haims also spoke at a TED Talks Live event about her research, which she based on a Harvard Grant Study, which happens to be the longest-running longitudinal study ever conducted.
"If kids aren't doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them," Lythcott-Haims said during her TED Talk. "And so they're absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the betterment of the whole." She also believes that kids who grow up doing chores will be better employees who have the skills to collaborate with coworkers, will be more empathetic towards others and can take on tasks independently.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Activities Around Town

With the summer at its midpoint, it might be time to find some fresh ideas for family summer activities. Did you know that most local libraries have membership passes that can be checked out free of charge? They also offer story times and activities like puppet and magic shows. There are farms and festivals to explore as well as parks, including parks with splashpads!

We have compiled a list of upcoming area activities and links, but feel free to add to it in the comments.



Love Peaches? Come pick you own peaches from our orchards and fields. Fun family activities - pony rides, tractor train rides, hay wagons and more. Taste some peachy treats - peach pies, muffins, cakes, ice cream, and tarts. 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester NJ. 908-879-7189.
17th Annual Butterfly Festival held on the 950 acres on Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed preserve. Activities for the whole family. Obstacle course and dunk tank, hay rides, nature walks and the popular Butterfly and Bug Parade. Tour exhibits, the famed insect zoo, and the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House. Games, crafts, small animals and art work. $ Tickets. 31 Titus Mill Road Pennington, NJ. 609-737-3735.


Mendham Township Children's Activities

Chester Library Youth Programs

New Jersey Splashpad locations can be found at:

The top-rated NJ playgrounds can be found at:

And, of course, your child can always join us at Westmont for some summer fun. We have two weeks left of camp, Farm to Table and Cooking Up Fun. We also offer daily drop-in Extended Day from 12:00 - 4:00 PM M-F through August 18. See you there!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Benefits of quiet time
by Zsofia Kulcsar


Individual play
When it comes to individual play, parents are having a hard time these days. Although that is how we grew up - playing by ourselves - we feel that we have to provide our children constant entertainment. It should not be so! Playing individually can benefit children’s development in many ways, from improving imagination to self-discipline and perseverance.
Time to introduce quiet time
The difficulties usually come when children get into the age of “not having afternoon naps” anymore. Which is shockingly around 2-3 years old these days (in England): parents suddenly have to fill out the nap-time. The best thing to do in my opinion is to introduce quiet time when the child drops his or her nap-time. Quiet time is incredibly beneficial, children can learn things at their own pace. Studies showed that children are much more likely to try to solve things if they have no teacher or parent around - as instead of looking for help they are just trying to figure things out themselves. Quiet time cannot be introduced straight away, it has to happen gradually and also we have to keep in mind children’s age and personalities. For toddlers, 10-15 minutes might seem forever, while older children can play up to 1-2 hours by themselves. Let your child get used to spending time by themselves by increasing their quiet-time weekly.  (Of course, if they might need your help for going to the toilet and such.)
Quite-time activities
There are many ways children can spend their quiet time. Letting them read their books is one of the best ways, as children are able to remember the story or make up their own version on the basis of the illustration they see. Although children would certainly sit quietly, I would not suggest usingTV or iPad as a quiet time activity as it can make children over-stimulated, passive and limit their imagination. Instead, I would suggest using open-ended toys, that they have unlimited ways to play with, like setting up tents/forts, cardboard boxes, building blocks, figures, soft toys will help their imagination and creativity. Rotating different toys also helps, as children will get back their long forgotten toys as if they received a new toy. When it comes to rotating toys, I think we can say that less is more, i.e. having less number of toys out at the same time will engage children more than having a large number of toys out at the same time.  Drawing and colouring are also a good choice, not only keeping children busy but helping their fine motoric skills. Introducing sit-down activities will later help the child stay focused at school and also makes things easier when it comes to homework later. Last but not least, free play, i.e. let children use their own imagination to decide what to play!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Some Food for Thought When it Comes to "Sugar"



We equate summer with beach, pool parties, BBQ’s, day trips, vacations, eating out, ice cream, treats and more. So how can we avoid over doing it on the sugary treats when the US dietary guidelines recommend children consume less than 10% of daily of daily calories from added sugars.
Despite the consequences, health professionals agree that parents shouldn't deprive their child of sweets. In an article :http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/02/health/sugar-limits-for-children/index.html experts advise, "Sugar is not a 'toxin' that must be excluded from a child's diet,". Often, children who have sweets restricted and feel deprived will not learn how to regulate sweets. Instead, they often overindulge whenever the possibility is presented.The key is to help children find a balance with food, helping them learn how to enjoy healthy foods and enjoy (and self-regulate) treats."

Below are some Sweet Suggestions by Lisa Drayer nutritionist, author and health journalist on, How to stop sugar from sneaking into your child's diet. 

Allow children one sweet treat or dessert per day.
Good choices include animal crackers, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. However, if kids are set on having chocolate chip cookies, this should not create a "food fight," Isoldi said. And -- deep breath -- don't restrict portions, even if it makes you anxious to watch.
"Parents should let their little one decide on the amount to eat, because only allowing one or two cookies will create a restrictive environment that is counterproductive." That doesn't mean that you have to offer the whole box, however. You can start by giving your child two cookies, but instead of saying, "You may have ONLY two cookies, do you hear me?" you can instead say, "Here are two cookies. Oh, you want three? Sure." The idea is that your child should be able to learn his or her own internal satiety cues, which can ultimately help prevent eating issues later in life.
Keep fruit drinks, soda and sugary beverages out of the house.
"There's no nutritional benefit to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages," Isoldi said. And although liquid calories can still add up, you don't feel as full as you would from solid foods. The result? People who drink sugary beverages don't necessarily cut back on their calorie intake to compensate.
For an alternative to soda, dilute 4 ounces unsweetened juice with 4 ounces seltzer water and flavor with lemon, lime or other fresh fruit.
Watch out for sugars in foods that you don't think of as sweet.
Keep an eye on breads, sauces and condiments by searching ingredient lists for names such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, sucrose or other words ending in "ose," evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, malt syrup and molasses. Food packages will soon list "added sugars" as a separate line on nutrition labels, so the amount of these sugars will no longer be "hidden."
Remember, even natural sugar is sugar.
Many people think that "natural" sugars like honey and agave are healthier than ones that are more highly processed, like sucrose or table sugar. But when you look closely, you see that all of these sugars contain fructose and glucose. And while honey may offer some antioxidants, you would probably have to consume a lot of honey calories in order to experience any health benefits. Honey and agave are actually sweeter than table sugar and contain more calories: One teaspoon of sucrose has 16 calories, while 1 teaspoon of agave or honey has 21 calories.
Allow children one sweet treat or dessert per day.
Good choices include animal crackers, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. However, if kids are set on having chocolate chip cookies, this should not create a "food fight," Isoldi said. And -- deep breath -- don't restrict portions, even if it makes you anxious to watch.
"Parents should let their little one decide on the amount to eat, because only allowing one or two cookies will create a restrictive environment that is counterproductive." That doesn't mean that you have to offer the whole box, however. You can start by giving your child two cookies, but instead of saying, "You may have ONLY two cookies, do you hear me?" you can instead say, "Here are two cookies. Oh, you want three? Sure." The idea is that your child should be able to learn his or her own internal satiety cues, which can ultimately help prevent eating issues later in life.
Keep fruit drinks, soda and sugary beverages out of the house.
"There's no nutritional benefit to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages," Isoldi said. And although liquid calories can still add up, you don't feel as full as you would from solid foods. The result? People who drink sugary beverages don't necessarily cut back on their calorie intake to compensate.
For an alternative to soda, dilute 4 ounces unsweetened juice with 4 ounces seltzer water and flavor with lemon, lime or other fresh fruit.
Watch out for sugars in foods that you don't think of as sweet.
Keep an eye on breads, sauces and condiments by searching ingredient lists for names such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, sucrose or other words ending in "ose," evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, malt syrup and molasses. Food packages will soon list "added sugars" as a separate line on nutrition labels, so the amount of these sugars will no longer be "hidden."
Remember, even natural sugar is sugar.
Many people think that "natural" sugars like honey and agave are healthier than ones that are more highly processed, like sucrose or table sugar. But when you look closely, you see that all of these sugars contain fructose and glucose. And while honey may offer some antioxidants, you would probably have to consume a lot of honey calories in order to experience any health benefits. Honey and agave are actually sweeter than table sugar and contain more calories: One teaspoon of sucrose has 16 calories, while 1 teaspoon of agave or honey has 21 calories.
Submitted by Colette B. Cross

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Volunteerism -How it Benefits the Giver


This week we look forward to celebrating our parents for all they have given to our school this year. There are so many ways our community supports our school and it’s amazing how much parents do on a day-to-day basis. Whether parents work or stay at home, they all want to help giving time and resources in the best way they can to a school they love.  These acts of kindness and give back speak volumes for the type of community we have. Children who see their parents supporting their school in different ways will see how much their parents value their school, their teachers and their education.  We all know that children model behavior that they see and what a great lesson to teach.

The school and students are not the only ones who reap the benefits of parent involvement.  You might be interested to read about benefits for the giver in a Forbes.com article, “Surprising Benefits of Volunteering”.

1. Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her research found those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar to other research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier. Said Mogliner: “The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”

2. Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills. In Mogliner’s experience, skills-based volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop talents to help you get ahead in your career. In fact, an article in Stanford Social Innovation Review called skills-based volunteering overseas “the next executive training ground.”
3. Volunteering your body helps you have a healthier body. A Corporation for National & Community Service report noted: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

5. Volunteering your love makes you feel happier. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Volunteering builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes you smile. 

Thank you all for your support and for being such great role models!
Colette


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Silicon Valley’s Innovation Secret: The Montessori Method



The Montessori Method: An Education For Creating Innovators
Kyle PearceJanuary 24, 2016
The Montessori Method may just be Silicon Valley’s best kept secret. The connections between the innovators who built Silicon Valley and Montessori education run deep.
I frequently hear people joking around about the “PayPal Mafia” and their remarkable influence in Silicon Valley (three former members of PayPal have become billionaires: Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, early Facebook venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn) but there may be a “Montessori Mafia” also, which Peter Sims argues in his excellent book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.
It turns out that a lot of Silicon Valley’s brightest minds and most successful innovators have a Montessori education in common.  Here are just a few of the innovators that went through an early Montessori education:
Larry Page and Sergei Brin, the founders of Google were asked in a 2004 television interview with Barbara Walters if having parents who were college professors was a major factor behind their success. Instead, they credited their early Montessori education.  “We both went to Montessori school,” Mr. Page said, “and 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 little bit differently.”
What’s most remarkable about their success is that Google didn’t begin as a brilliant vision to make the world’s information accessible for everyone to search, but as a project to improve library searches at Stanford University. As Peter Sims points out referencing Montessori: “most highly creative achievers don’t begin with brilliant ideas, they discover them.” Page and Brin discovered that their initial idea of improved library search had broader application and eventually unlocked a revolutionary business model and an indispensable tool you probably use many times each day.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon went through Montessori as child and he has made experimentation and discovery an integral part of Amazon’s workplace culture. Bezos thanks his Montessori education for his enthusiasm for experimentation. Talking about the risks of the experimental innovation process he acknowledged that most of their projects fail, “But every once in a while, you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue.”
Will Wright, the inventor of best-selling video games series “The Sims”, heaps similar praise on his Montessori education:  “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery, it’s all about learning on your own terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you.  SimCity comes right out of Montessori…”
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia went to a Montessori-influenced school and like many of today’s tech elite he sends his children to a Montessori school. As you can imagine, Montessori schools and similarly structured Waldorf schools are very popular in Silicon Valley.
Even Thomas Edison, the American inventor and in some ways the Godfather of modern America’s innovation culture (I recommend watching this biography The Wizard of Menlo Park)  founded his own Montessori School. He said, “I like the Montessori method. It teaches through play. It makes learning a pleasure. It follows the natural instincts of the human being . . . The present system casts the brain into a mold. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning.”
Other prominent people who went through Montessori education include singers Taylor Swift and Beyonce Knowles, renowned celloist Yo-Yo Ma, legendary management guru Peter Drucker, actor George Clooney, illusionist David Blaine, author Helen Keller, techno-philosopher Jason Silva and English royals Prince William and Prince Harry.
While Montessori education may not be ideal for everyone, it provides a great philosophical blueprint for anyone to follow to become more curious innovators. It teaches a process that is fundamental to innovation: that we must take action and start building things by taking small, achievable steps toward making our ideas happen. When we are following a deep sense of self-directed experimentation and inquisitiveness this leads us to create new things that may have value to society.   
A link to the balance of the article follows: https://www.diygenius.com/the-montessori-method-creating-innovators/