Thursday, June 21, 2018

Words of Wisdom

For some additional insight:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Benefits of a Multi-age Classroom

Next week we will host a presentation for parents of our toddlers who will be moving up to our Early Childhood program in the fall.  One of the biggest differences their children will experience will be that of a multi-aged environment.
We see the tremendous benefits of this environment every day, and I thought sharing the highlights of these would be advantageous for all readers.
A multi-aged environment provides:

Natural Life Setting/Real World Preparation

Families are made up of different age groupings; it is natural for a classroom environment too.
Our classes function like a family unit.
Children learn to collaborate and solve problems together.
The real-world setting encompasses different ages, abilities and social expectations.
Children are prepared to function in the real world.

Experiential/Individualized Learning

By the nature of different ages and developmental skill sets, children are provided the opportunity to learn at their own pace.
Expectations are tailored to each child’s readiness and capabilities.
Comparisons are eliminated, and children develop pride in their own accomplishments.

Character Building Opportunities

Patience and tolerance are developed.  Older children learn to understand the needs of a younger child.
Older students developing leadership skills through role modeling.
Younger children look up to and admire their older classmates and aspire to be able to do as they do, which increases confidence.

Peer Teaching

Older students are given opportunities to teach younger children and solidify their own learning by so doing.
Younger students see that not only teachers can teach.

“The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages, because it has great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves. You cannot imagine how well a young child learns from an older child: how patient the older child is with the difficulties of the younger.”

Dr. Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teachers, we celebrate you and thank you!

"much of the work you do (also) is about the intangible - it's about fostering that almost indescribable, and yet unmistakable, spark between you and your students."

John B. King Jr., Secretary of Education, US Department of Education

Thank you, Teachers
Teachers are keys
That unlock the student’s mind
You are guides who mold our mind.
You are one of a kind.

You are like a shepherd
Who guides the sheep
To the right path.

You, teachers, turn the pages
Of the great books.
You train us well
To reach great heights.

Thank you, teachers,
For all you have done.
In the group of many
You are one.

© Meghana Vincent
Published May 2017

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Montessori Outdoors

Now that the warm weather has arrived, children will be spending more time outdoors enjoying and learning in nature. There is so much to do outside! This week, we thought we'd share some activity ideas that went beyond playing on the playground.

  • collecting, playing, and making patterns with rocks
  • take a listening walk
  • write letters in the sand or dirt with sticks
  • arrange sticks to form letters
  • graph nature items found on a walk
  • use chalk to trace shadows at different times of the day
  • make a sun dial
  • make a musical instrument from objects found in nature
  • balance rocks or sticks to make a sculpture
  • planting and caring for a garden or flowers
  • outdoor yoga
  • nature scavenger hunt

There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. 
                                                - Maria Montessori


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lunch to Go

 As our Toddler teacher pointed out this week, more of our younger students are staying at school and eating lunch with their friends.  Many of our older children are with us all day and eat lunch every day.   Our focus during lunch is promoting independence and allowing children to take care of their own lunch needs, from unpacking their lunch box, to opening all their containers, to feeding themselves.  Often when packing lunches, we do not think about those things and may be more concerned with quantities and choices.  

At Westmont, we encourage the use of proper utensils and cloth napkins daily. For our younger “lunchers” they need more time, patience and practice to achieve self- sufficiency.  Practicing using utensils at home, as well as opening and closing containers will support greater independence in school. Using utensils and drinking from real glasses encourages proper oral motor development, and proper formation of sounds that are yet to emerge.  Did you know that there are some sounds that do not fully emerge until the age of 7?   As I sit with children for lunch, observe a lunch period, or visit our Kindergartners for lunch weekly, I see the level of independence increase with age, practice and expectation.

I am impressed by the great choices children have for lunch because, let’s face it, we know children can be picky eaters.  Many parents worry that their children are eating enough nutritious and tasty foods.  Quite often children like foods that are easy on the palate and they look for the same food repeatedly.  At lunch I sometimes hear children say, “I don’t like this,” and refuse to eat it.  It takes patience and strategy to get children to eat a wider range of nutritious food.  One of our nutrition speakers, who presented at the school, informed us that it can take over 20 tries/attempts of a new food for a child to add a new food to his list.  This takes a lot of patience on a parent’s part.

What can you do to support healthy eating habits?

  • Be a healthy eater role model; children learn what they see
  • Offer only choices that you trust and are comfortable serving
  • Watch for sugar content, it sneaks into many foods
  • Include children in food preparation and lunch packing; they will be empowered and more inclined to eat what they have prepared
  • Allow children to make choices from a healthy repertoire of food and snacks
  • Be wise about choices, broccoli or carrots as opposed to broccoli or cookies
  • Be patient

Personal recommendations from our toddler teacher:
I love this list to pick something from each category!

An idea you can look forward to, and possibly start incorporating relatively soon!

I find this pretty inspiring… this blog has a bunch of seasonal ideas!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Our Earth, Our Home

Making our planet greener and cleaner one child at a time!

The past few weeks have felt more like January, yet April is here, and we are filled with the hopes of warm sunshine, blooming flowers, chirping birds, and a knowledge that summer is right around the corner. What better way to springboard into Spring (finally!) than commemorating Earth Day this Sunday April 22 with your children.

Earth Day is observed world wide each year on April 22 to support a healthier and more sustainable treatment of our environment.  Its origin begins in the early ‘60s and specifically after the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Here at The Westmont Montessori School we are highlighting Earth Day, by planting flowers, hatching chick, planting vegetable seeds, and of course playing outdoors.  At home try some of the following activities to help the children understand first hand how to keep the planet cleaner and greener.
  • Plant, Plant, and Plant some more:  Bring your children to a local nursery and pick a small tree or flowers that you can plant at home.  Explain to your children that trees and plants reduce the greenhouse gases and give us cleaner air.
  • Use both sides of paper when coloring. When children are working on art projects, like coloring, instruct them to use both sides of the paper. Explain to them that using the paper more than once will help save trees.
  • Conserve H20:   Running the water while we brush our teeth wastes a great deal of water.  Explain to your children that turning off the faucet when brushing helps conserve water.
  • Turn off the lights.  Lights, computers, and televisions use a lot of energy, and that energy is in short supply.  Ask your children to turn off the lights or TV when they are not in the room.
  • Reuse and Recycle. Involve the whole family when it comes to recycling and explain why it is important. Show them the different types of items that can be recycled and have them help separate trash from recyclables.
Some additional activities and a history on Earth Day may be found on the following website:

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Montessori Language Curriculum

Maria Montessori noticed the natural desire for children to learn and their ability to absorb languages, many times more than one, in the first six years of life. She found that when given a language-rich environment, children quickly developed the skills not just to speak languages, but also to read and write them. She also observed that children of this age were genuinely curious about language and loved to listen to the spoken work, which led to a rapidly increasing vocabulary and understanding of grammatical rules within the language. When given the materials to explore letters and the sounds that they made, children were eager to participate.

She discovered many skills that children must acquire before reading can take place, and developed materials to support that learning, found today throughout our Montessori classrooms. She also created three specialized materials with which children can discover reading and writing at this early age.

The first, the metal insets, are straight lined, and curved lined templates of shapes that children trace. This process strengthens the hand and pincer grasp, increases concentration, and teaches the hand the muscle movements necessary to create these different shapes.

Second, the sandpaper letters, provides the child an introduction to the sounds of letters but includes tactile sensation that not only teaches the correct way to form the letter when writing, but the additional sensory information helps form neuropathways in the brain that strengthen memory of the letter sound.

And the third essential material is the movable alphabet. The movable alphabet allows children to write, even before their hands may not be capable. Children can experiment with spelling words and can learn the spelling rules for rhyming objects by building the words with these movable letters.

We would love to share more about this exciting topic and invite you all to attend our Language Workshop on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 2:00 to discover more about the progression of lessons that lead to fluent reading and writing in the Montessori classroom, as well as ways you can support language growth in your child at home.