Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to School Tips

Back to School Tips
Auris Vanderbilt

Is it really that time of the year again? The signs are all here…. Summer camp has come to a close, trucks are moving about spreading mulch, floors are polished, trees are trimmed and checked for safety, windows, siding, playground equipment, etc. have been power washed, the air is a just bit cooler, reminding us September is close, classrooms are shaping up, staff is finalizing paperwork, welcome cards to new and returning families are compiled, etc.  Yes, summer is quickly waning and preparations for the new school year are well underway to ensure a smooth transition.

No different than a school, families are planning and preparing for their own back to school, be it organizing calendars, shopping for new shoes and backpacks, haircuts, doctors’ appointments,  etc.  Here are some back to school tips that can help your child start school feeling happy and prepared:
  • Speak often and with excitement about school:  remind them how much (hopefully) you enjoyed school, drive-by the school a few times and reiterate, “This is your school!”
  • “Play Preschool” as a means to discuss the first day of school – meeting the teacher, making new friends, seeing the classroom and the jungle gym in the playground, etc.
  • Begin to re-introduce routines for bedtime hours, meals, bedtime stories, and naps.  
  • Prepare and practice a “goodbye” routine - a special hug, singing of a favorite song, a double kiss etc. Express how you will pick them up a short while later and give them that special hug, sing their favorite song, etc. once more.
  • Visit the school and meet the teacher –  introducing them to their environment and teachers will help alleviate some of the worries they may be feeling
  • Reassure children that feelings of excitement, sadness, and worry are normal.  Share a time you may have felt scared and excited.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to help your child adjust to a new sibling

How to Help Your Child Adjust To A New Sibling
Colette B. Cross

Parents are often surprised by the reactions of their children to a newborn when, before the arrival, everyone was equally as excited to welcome a new sibling.  Quite often, a child may react negatively when the new baby arrives. He might regress in his own behavior such as having frequent temper tantrums, regression in toilet training, using “baby talk”, and demanding more attention in various ways.  A child might tell his parents to send the baby back, or even try to hurt the baby. 

In all the excitement parents sometimes forget that everyone’s life changes with the arrival of a new baby, especially a young child.  A child often thinks he has been replaced somehow, and this can cause atypical behavior, emotions and outbursts.

Here are some tips to help parents help their child adjust.

  • ·         Allow your child to help with the care of the baby, but only if your child is interested.  For example, “would you like to help wash the baby?”  and show your child how he can gently use the wash cloth.
  • ·         Ask your child to help you make decisions for the baby, “Do you think the baby would like this blue bib or that green bib?”
  • ·         Watch the baby’s movements together and discuss what you see, “Oh look the baby is following you with his eyes, or he smiled when you clapped your hands.”  Your child will feel more involved this way.
  • ·         Read stories that have different scenarios of new baby arrivals, and ones that you think your child can relate to and understand.
  • ·         Validate your child’s feeling, be supportive and understanding, and try not to tell him to be impatient with his reactions or outbursts.
  • ·         Try to spend time alone with your child each day.  Remember your child might be thinking the new baby has replaced your attention and affection for him.
  • ·         Engage other family members to spend some special time with your child, grandparents, a favorite friend or relative.
  • ·         Most importantly, do not force your child to interact with his new sibling; children adjust and will come around on their own.

For further reading, google Baby Center Expert Advice

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Helping Your Toddler Acquire Language

Helping Your Toddler Acquire Language
Melanie Thiesse

First language acquisition and development varies widely from person to person. It is not uncommon for an 18 month old to only speak a few words while another speaks in full sentences. While development within this range is not necessarily a determining factor of overall intelligence or future potential, early language acquisition can make a huge difference to a child who may otherwise become frustrated by his inability to communicate his thoughts and feelings.

I recently came across a blog in the Montessori Bloggers Network titled, Five Montessori Language Tips for Toddlers that I thought I would share. It does a nice job of giving highlighting the key steps to filling an infant or toddler's life with rich vocabulary to enhance language learning.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Reading

Summer Reading
Colette B. Cross

We are currently in the midst of a two-week reading academy.  It is so exciting to see the children immersed in the world of words.  They are making their own books as well as exploring various types of literature.  They are discovering the who, the why, the where, and the how.  They are examining plot, character and sequence.  We observed older children reading to the younger campers, and watched their faces as they listened to adventures unfold.  I watched one of our students stretched out on the couch with a pile of books beside her; she simply read each one to herself oblivious to any surrounding activities. Oh the joy of reading, what a gift to give to any child!

With all sorts of summer activities for children we should not forget the importance of providing continued exposure to the written word.
Here are some ‘summer’ tips to continue interest, keep developed skills sharp, and fuel the passion for an important lifetime skill.

·         Read to your child daily
·         Have books readily available for your child.
·         Ask questions of your child about the books you read or she reads
·         Take regular trips to your local library with your child
·         Encourage your child to keep a summer journal, if your child is too young ask her to tell you the words, you write them and let your child illustrate.
·         Allow your child to choose the books she likes; your tastes might vary but children know what they like.
·         Visit your favorite bookstore; buy a book for a birthday gift.
·         If taking a car trip:
Ø  Buy a new book.
Ø  Bring puzzle books and books-on-tape,
Ø  Play word games, or the ever-favorite license plate game
Ø  Point out traffic signs along the way and ask your child to find others.
·         Be a role model, if you look forward to that summer or daily read, your child will too.

You can always find new titles on the New York Times best-seller lists. 
Here is a link to Reading Rockets (a national multi-media literacy initiative offering resources to encourage young readers) summer reading broken down by age.

Happy reading, enjoy and feel free to share your favorites with us! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Parallel Visions
Auris M. Vanderbilt

Can you name America’s largest youth development organization – empowering nearly six million young people ages 5 – 18?  Here are some clues:   a) a belief in the power of young people, b) “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential”, and c) the four leaf clover emblem.  If you guessed the 4-H Club, you are correct!

This past week The Westmont Montessori School was proud to participate and sponsor the Morris County 4-H Fair – an annual tradition during the 3rd week in July at Chubb Park, Chester, NJ.  What struck me once more this year, as I engaged with the volunteer staff, the visitors, and the other non-profit organizations present at the event, was the similarities between Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision and 4-H’s vision.  Both founded over 100 years ago, both equally committed to supporting children learn real-life skills that prepare them for the next stage of their life, both believing in the individual’s potential, and both supporting innovative thinking as a means to shape the young and how they will improve the world in the future.  With this parallel vision, to encourage children to think for themselves, to discover, to question, to create, to lead and to collaborate, the world is in good hands.   
To find out more about 4-H please visit .

Friday, July 22, 2016

Some "Magic Words" to Stop Tantrums before they Start

The job of the child is to explore the world and discover how he fits into it. To do this, he will test the limits of his environment and see what happens. Just as a scientist reproduces an experiment over and over again to ensure they have come to the correct conclusion, so too does the toddler.

As parents and educators, it is our role then to provide an environment that has consistent boundaries and expectations, as there is nothing quite so frustrating to these "young scientists" as experiments that provide different results with each trial.

With consistency in place, there are some key phrases that can help to ease the initial push-back that is sure to ensue when your toddler is met with a task they are less than eager to attend to. It's important to never ask a question that offers an unacceptable answer.
  • Instead of, "Do you want peas?"
  • Try, "Do you want one spoon of peas or two?"
  • Instead of, "It's time to leave, okay?"
  • Try, "We will be leaving in 5 minutes, so you have time to go on the slide three more times!"
Giving a direct "no" answer to a child or giving a direct order can have the effect of igniting a tantrum, so a quick change of subject with a question is a good way to avoid this.  
  • Instead of, "No, you can't have candy".
  • Try, "We are not buying candy today, but should we have strawberries or popsicles for dessert tonight?
  • Instead of, "It's time for bed. Let's go brush your teeth"
  • Try, "It's time for bed. Should we brush teeth or put pajamas on first?"
And when tantrums do begin, they can often be calmed with reassurance that you understand their frustration. 
  • Instead of, "Stop crying. You have to clean up before playing."
  • Try, "I understand you don't want to clean up. You can go play as soon as you put your toys away."
The true key is to respect that when a toddler is having a tantrum it is because she is feeling true frustration. By giving her clear boundaries, providing options, and keeping your cool you can help her to manage life's frustrations and learn from them. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Family That Eats Together........

The expression most commonly used is ……stays together, yet it means much more than that.  Today, family life is busier than ever.  Even with summertime schedules parents are still getting children to and from activities: swim team, ball games, babysitters, camp, etc. The down days of summer are not always as carefree as we want.

It is well documented that families that spend time together tend to have stronger connections and meal times can be a good time to do this. Below is an excerpt from an article from a family education website, offering some tips and support for the importance of doing what you can, when you can, to keep the conversation going.

Why Eat Together?
Family meals are much more than a time for children to sit at the same table with siblings and parents. Children crave ritual and family meals are a part of a routine they can count on and take comfort in. Mealtimes may be one of the only parts of the day when children get to talk with their parents without a lot of other distractions, including the television, cell phones, texts, games and homework.  In fact, research shows dinner conversation boosts a child's vocabulary, which could translate into improved academic performance down the line. Lingering at the table to talk allows you to catch up on what's happening with your children. Go around the table and encourage each child to tell the rest of the family about his/her day.
Breaking bread with your children allows them to model your behavior, which is necessary for instilling good manners. Eating together offers children the chance to see their parents eat a variety of foods, too.
It's not always possible for all family members to be together at every meal. Don't worry about not being there all the time. Experts say that while eating family meals together fosters closeness and development, time spent together is what really matters.