Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From the Mind of Maria Montessori

As we celebrate Montessori Education Week, we thought it would be interesting to share some of Maria Montessori’s most famous quotes from her books and speeches.

“One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child”

 “If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?”

 “Here is an essential principle of education: to teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge.”

“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, not all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.”

“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”

“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.”

“The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!”

“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, the children are now working as if I did not exist.” 

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Wonder of Girls

Another gem from The Gurian Institute:
Gender and Education News
Feb 11, 2015

The Wonder of Girls 
Girls tend to be "the connectors" in many classrooms.  As always, when we look through a "gender lens" we are not stereotyping but instead looking at broad generalizations that hold true across cultures.  

It may seem like there is heightened focus on boys and their challenges both academically and behaviorally in school and at home but also we don't ever forget girls and their unique social and academic needs! 

The Old Girl Code:
The old Girl Code message was, "It is your responsibility to make others happy."
Many girls, because they are relationship-oriented, are 'pleasers,' which impacts their confidence and self-esteem.
Too often girls think that being nice means being quiet, never showing anger, and not expressing their true feelings.

The NEW Girl Code
--It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.  If you are interrupted, wait a beat, then continue.  Be passionate, concise, and clear.
--Find the job with the options you need – rewrite the workplace.  Fortune 500 CEO and “top dog” are not necessarily right for or the gold success standard for most women with families.
--Stop taking things personally!  The world is competitive, and people are just not nice, especially when they want power.  Deal with it
--Because girls often avoid conflict and failure, we forget to teach these skills—so, nurture your own strength as much as you do your desire to be loved and mirrored.
--Don’t blame men for a woman’s situation—it distracts from success building with these excuses.
Females may have trouble understanding male emotions because:
Males tend to delay complex emotional reactions.
Males tend to choose physical expression of emotions over verbal expression.
Males tend to mask vulnerability.
Males prefer a quicker release of feelings.
Males view emotions as a design problem that needs solving.
Females view emotions as life processes.
For more information go to


Friday, February 6, 2015

Parent-leadership: 3 Insights

By Jim and Michele Aspinall
Based on Work with Author and Psychologist, John Rosemond

Most believe that for any problem there is a right method or technique to solve it. Are your children misbehaving? Just get a good parenting book. Need advice on how to discipline your children? A quick Google search is sure to yield numerous blog posts and videos on parenting. Sift through all the parenting techniques available, and choose a method that is appropriate for your child’s age, the duration of problem, etc. Problem solved? Not exactly.

Having a method is good. But no method will work for long if you don’t adopt a leadership attitude. Here are just a few insights from the most recent Parenting class led by Jim and Michele Aspinall on 1) the relationship2) the talk, and 3) the nourishment involved in parent leadership.

1) The Relationship

The Parent-Leader and the Child-Disciple

Again, no discipline will work for very long if you don’t establish yourself as a leader.“Leadership Parenting” means how you present yourself to your children: You must act self-assured, calm, confident, cool under fire, compelling, interesting. You radiate authority. Most importantly, you act like you know what you are doing. With this, your children will also feel that you have their best interests at heart.

Your actions should exude 4 attributes:
  • You act like you know what you’re doing (You are decisive).
  • You act like you know where you’re going (You have a vision that guides your decisions).
  • You act like you know what you want your child to do (You are assertively direct: you don’t beat around the bush when it comes to giving instructions).
  • You act like you know your child is going to obey and/or live up to your expectations (You are positive, optimistic, self-assured, and inspiring: you bring out the best in people).

And with you as the leader, your child becomes… your disciple. A disciple is someone who subscribes willingly to the authority of his or her teacher, who believes that the teacher speaks the truth, and that by following the teacher, his or her life will be greatly improved.

child-disciple then, is defined by four qualities:
  • He knows he can rely on his parents (trust).
  • He looks up to his parents (respect).
  • He follows their lead (obedience).
  • He subscribes to their values (loyalty)

2. The Talk

Communicating effectively as a Leader

Effective leaders are characterized by their communication skills. Confident, decisive and concise communication inspires the child-disciple to trust in your leadership.
The Communication is Confident.
  • Parent-leaders are masters of inspiring, authoritative speech (what Rosemond calls Alpha Speech). When they talk, no one doubts that they know what they’re talking about. They say what they mean and mean what they say.
The Communication is Decisive.
  • Parent-leaders know what they are doing (or at least act like it): their decisions arise from conviction, not reaction, and can be relied upon.
  • They tend not to give explanations for the decisions they make, and when they do express their rationale, they do so concisely (When someone in a position of authority explains the reason behind an executive decision, he runs the risk of conveying that he’s not quite sure of himself).
The Communication is Short and Sweet.
  • The fewer words a parent gives when giving instructions or conveying expectations, the more likely it is that the child will obey.
  • This highlights the 4 most powerful words in parenting: “Because I said so”. This is a statement of leadership. You are simply saying to your child that, as an adult here, I do not need to justify my answer to you.

3. The Nourishment

Is Your Child Getting Enough Vitamin N?

Finally, be certain that you are giving your child regular, daily doses of VITAMIN “N.” This nutrient consists simply of the most character-building two-letter word: NO! If you haven’t already started, you can begin by administering vitamin N to your child’s in the following ways:
  • Turn their world right side up by giving them all of what they truly need, but no more than 25% of what they simply want.
  • Don’t do for your children what they are capable of doing themselves. Say, “You can do that on your own.” This encourages the growth of perseverance and self-sufficiency. When the child says, “I can’t,” don’t argue. Just say “Well, I won’t.” You’ll be amazed at how creative and resourceful children can be under the right circumstances.
  • Don’t always rescue them from failure or disappointment. Remember that falling on one’s face can be an invaluable learning experience.
  • Remember that just because a child doesn’t like something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen or exist. For children to grow up requires that parents resist the temptation to constantly protect them from the discomfort of having to divest dependency.
  • Don’t worry about treating children “fairly.” Remember that, to a child, “fair” means “me first” with the biggest and best of everything.
  • Don’t overdose your children emotionally by giving them too much attention or too much praise. If you pay too much attention to your children, they have no reason to pay attention to you.
To recap, a parenting method is like a tool: having no leadership mindset is like holding the tool with a loose, greasy grip that renders it ineffective. Whichever parenting method you choose should be undergirded with an attitude of leadership aimed at helping your children become the best people they can be. It starts with love and leadership, and it culminates with your children leaving home and showing you what a good job you did.

Jim and Michele Aspinall are parents of two children, 11 and 8 years of age.Michele is an AMI trained teacher at the primary level and pioneered Countryside Montessori School's All Year Montessori program. She has been working in the classroom for nearly 25 years. Her husband Jim is the Director of Operations at Countryside Montessori School.
Published with permission by Countryside Montessori school in Northbrook, Illinois