Monday, November 30, 2015

What Makes a Montessori Learning Activity "Montessori"?

Self-confidence and a lifelong love of learning characterize the Westmont graduate. But what characterizes a Montessori learning activity? 

Check out our new infographic and tell us what you have observed your child likes to do at home, too.

What are some of the hands-on activities they enjoy?…/9399797-what-makes-it-montes…

Monday, November 23, 2015

Made by Small Hands

Thanksgiving is a time for being grateful.

Another theme of the holiday season is generosity. Of course, the excitement of getting gifts often becomes the primary focus for children. However, we can help them learn the pleasure of giving to others. The gifts we give are another way to show our gratitude to someone.

Talk with your children about the many ways to be generous, whether gifting time, favors, presents, or words of appreciation. Your gift list may include family, friends, neighbors, and service workers. Children are amazingly insightful and will come up with original ideas, as together you discover the perfect "thank you" for that special someone.

Include the Children

Although sometimes it is easier just to purchase a gift for your child to give another, it is rewarding to involve children in the process of gift-making and giving. This allows your child to be a part of the surprise whether or not they are able to keep the secret. If possible, include your child in the process of wrapping and delivering the gift, too.

Montessori observed that children become acquainted with the world through movement and experience. The process of making something instills an inner satisfaction in the child which he wants to share. By "doing it myself," the gift becomes a gift of the child's self.

(taken from:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work
Reading this recent NY Times article, I am inspired by the value our school ascribes in fostering a young child’s social skills and the ongoing modeling of respect of self, others and the environment by teachers.  Read on and enjoy.   A. Vanderbilt

Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work
For all the jobs that machines can now do — whether performing surgery, driving cars or serving food — they still lack one distinctly human trait. They have no social skills.
Yet skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern-day work. Occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than others since 1980, according to new research. And the only occupations that have shown consistent wage growth since 2000 require both cognitive and social skills.
The findings help explain a mystery that has been puzzling economists: the slowdown in the growth even of high-skill jobs. The jobs hit hardest seem to be those that don’t require social skills, throughout the wage spectrum.
“As I’m speaking with you, I need to think about what’s going on in your head — ‘Is she bored? Am I giving her too much information?’ — and I have to adjust my behavior all the time,” said David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University and author of a new study. “That’s a really hard thing to program, so it’s growing as a share of jobs.”
Some economists and technologists see this trend as cause for optimism: Even as technology eliminates some jobs, it generally creates others. Yet to prepare students for the change in the way we work, the skills that schools teach may need to change. Social skills are rarely emphasized in traditional education.
“Machines are automating a whole bunch of these things, so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical, and our education system is not set up for that,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, where he studies education.
Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.
Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.
Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay, Mr. Deming found. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor. 
by Claire Cain Miller (NY Times Oct. 2015) 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nurturing a love of reading

What makes for a great children's book and what are some of your favorite reads with your child? Let's start an ever-evolving, Montessori-inspired book list and let's talk about why Dr. Maria Montessori herself would have approved. Here is one that was written back when she would have had the opportunity to read it herself!

Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow (1930): Pelle has a lamb whose coat grows longer and longer, while Pelle's wool suit grows shorter! Pelle shears the lamb, and the wool is carded, spun, dyed and woven with the help of family and neighbors. Finally, the tailor makes a new suit for Pelle.

Children (2.5- 6yrs) relish this story of a resourceful young Swedish boy as he trades real work to achieve a desired goal. It is fun to see some Montessori Practical Life activities on Pelle's journey!

Some other wonderful selections include anything by Ezra Jack Keats, Elisa Kleven, and Eric Carle. Tell us some of your children's favorites and let's read together!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Welcome to November!

In the early 1960’s, a group of Mendham parents got together and formed what is now our beautiful, thriving school. Hand-in-hand, over the decades, Westmont has built an impressive history in Montessori education and in this community.  This month brings with it an exciting time of renewal for Westmont—it’s our re-accreditation month.
Next week, Westmont is hosting the visiting team for our American Montessori Society and Middles States Association dual re-accreditation. Becoming accredited by the American Montessori Society is a massive undertaking for any school, as it requires hundreds of hours of reflection, preparation, and planning.  The culminating part of our re-accreditation process with both AMS and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is when this visiting team of teaching and administrative professionals comes to the school to meet with teachers, administrators, board members, and parents. They also observe in all classrooms and ensure that educational, safety, organizational, and financial requirements are met.   
The Westmont Montessori School values progress and sees the benefit of self-reflection and goal making to continue to adapt to the changing world and meet the needs of all of our children.  Parents can know with confidence that we offer a quality, authentic Montessori program, in a safe and nurturing school where the teachers are all certified.
If you have an observation you would like to share about our school, share it right here on our blog. Here is one to get you started:

"Westmont has the ability to cultivate a nurturing environment that allows for a student's intellectual growth, while also maintaining a high level of professionalism. While Westmont's focus is on the child (as it should be!), the school is also able to create a family experience and strong community” –Westmont alumni parent