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/



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reading the Same Book Over, and Over, and Over...

Reading out loud to children is a great way to share a love of books and learning. Children improve vocabulary, use their imagination, make connections to real life, and make memories of special time spent with a parent. But did you know that there are great benefits to reading a favorite story over and over again?

Children feel comforted by the familiar. They like familiar foods, routines, toys, and even books.This familiarity in a special book though builds a child's skills needed for reading. A parent models reading fluency, speed, and expression while reading and the more this is modeled, especially with the same book, the more a child tries to emulate this. Reading comprehension also grows with a familiar story, as a child practices anticipating what will come next and has discussions with a parent about what happened in the story. And finally, vocabulary is grown, as a child needs to hear a new word repeated a number of times before committing the word to memory. 

So, as difficult as it can be to read "Green Eggs and Ham" for the 300th time, just remember that your child benefits from each reading...and re-reading...and re-reading!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Value of Parent Teacher Communication

At Westmont we strive to keep ongoing and open dialogue between parents and teachers so parents can have up to date knowledge of their children’s school experiences.  We believe that communication between parent and school is vital to a positive home/school relationship.  After all, school is a home away from home for our students. 

 We also know that quite often the standard responses to “what did you do at school today?” include, “Nothing”, “I ate snack”, or “I played on the playground”.  The former we know is not true and the latter very important to every child.  We do see some parents every day and the teacher often has the opportunity to give a brief update on a child’s day or week.  Other parents do not make it to the school on a regular basis and our weekly Montessori Compass comments and photos online provide a welcome glimpse into a child’s day or week.  A simple login allows parents to see what activities their child engages in, and supporting photos help facilitate leading questions for them regarding what really occurs on a day-to-day basis.

Westmont offers formal parent teacher conferences three times a year and this week all teachers and parents are meeting to review each child’s year and subsequent development.  Although we do not test, or give homework, we do assess children and measure their development on an ongoing basis. Because our Montessori philosophy is developmentally responsive to each individual student and provides resources and time for each student to learn at his or her own pace, teachers must know their students. Montessori teachers therefore are trained in, and adept at, observing students.  Based on their observations, they plan for future activities to support each child’s individual skills and can address strengths and challenging areas.

The goal of this week’s meetings is to present the outcome of the year’s plans, observations, and assessments.  Teachers and parents can then reflect on all areas of development relating to each child, including growth observed in independence, confidence, social, motor and cognitive skills.
Research has shown that parent involvement in a child’s education is an important factor for a child’s future school success.  Shared feedback between teachers and parents will strengthen trust between home and school and enlighten parents as to what their children are really doing in school, which we know is a lot more than words here can express.

Colette B. Cross


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Children all Need Great Teachers Like You 
by Felicity Luckey
 

 







      








Our Children all Need Great Teachers Like You 
by Felicity Luckey
You once had a choice
And you chose to teach
And every day
It's our children you reach

You make the difference
In the life of each child
Those that are quiet
And those that are wild

It's the way that you teach
You do it so well
They look up to you
And think you are swell

You teach from your heart
That's plain to see
They think you're divine
And we all agree

Please never forget
And remember it's true
Our children all need
Great teachers like you

We appreciate you
And we value your time
And if you should forget
Please re-read this rhyme

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Public Speaking in Kindergarten

When you're five years old, the prospect of speaking to one adult, let alone a whole room of them, can be quite daunting. Providing children with the confidence to do so, however, is a skill that will provide the child with social skills that will serve him or her well for years.

At Westmont, we incorporate public speaking early and often, to build up to a kindergarten play in their final year with us. Children first learn to speak in front of their class during show-and-tell in their Early Childhood class. Then in kindergarten, they are given the opportunities to share projects they have created and read books to their class. We even have a small stage in the room so they can gain confidence as the center of attention. They also put together and perform a play, first for the children of the school, and then for the families of the school. To get the Early Childhood children ready for this big step we invite the EC children to sing along at the play as chorus members, sitting in chairs in front of the stage to ease them into this type of production and make them more comfortable with the concept when their performance day as a kindergartener arrives.

Instilling children with the confidence to stand on a stage and speak publicly is a skill that we hope children take with them when they leave Westmont. We want each child to believe they have something to contribute to the world and that their voice matters.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reading and Writing the Montessori Way

Colette B. Cross

If you attended our Language Workshop today, you left with an impressive view of a Montessori Language Curriculum in an Early Childhood Classroom.

I never cease to be amazed, not only at the wealth and depth of language skills available to every student in a Montessori classroom, but to the fact that students do not have to wait until a certain age or time to work on a specific skill.  I observed one of our Early Childhood classes recently and in the space of an hour I saw three, four, and five year olds engaged in a multitude of activities that had to be seen to be believed. The children were actively and productively engaged.  They chose and carried the work out with pride and purpose: no pressure, no worries, simply realistic expectations and a desire to learn.
Learning in a Montessori classroom is as natural as learning to walk and talk.  Children learn to do these things when they are developmentally ready to do so.  So it should be for all learning.   The prepared environment, the teacher who understands and supports each student’s developmental level, the engaged student and supportive parents are key to successful learning.   I watched a four year old read an amazing list of sight words because she could, a three-year-old build three letter “a” words with a moveable alphabet, and a five year old independently completing a comprehension exercise.  The list goes on; matching sounds to objects and to visuals, booklet making, medial vowel activities, story writing.   But you get the picture, endless possibilities!

It is well researched that learning to read and write is critical to a child’s success in school, as well as later in life, and the early years are the most important years for literacy development.  This is the developmental stage when children can absorb information from people, ideas and tools within their environment.  The preparation and precursor skills are offered from day one in the form of the practical life activities, vocabulary development, and lessons using concrete materials.

If you missed our presentation, come visit a class and see for yourself.  A visit to a Montessori class will make you wish you could go back to school and learn to read and write the Montessori way!



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Soft Skills
Peter Davidson


I had an interesting conversation with a prospective parent recently who teaches at a local college. She shared that she and her colleagues are constantly discussing “how underprepared kids are for college in terms of ‘soft skills.’” By soft skills she meant skills other than the purely academic — the personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make someone a successful college student and, by extension, a good boss or employee later in life. She had just come from an observation in toddlers and primary and was surprised to have seen that in Montessori, “starting in toddlers students develop the self-motivation, independence, and follow-through that many college students lack!” In other words, beginning at these very young ages, Montessori children are already developing the soft skills that will benefit them so greatly later in life.

It was a pretty astute observation for a prospective parent seeing Montessori for the first time, and it got me thinking. When I talk to parents, I often describe a Montessori learning material, like the binomial cube, detective adjective game, or golden beads, that leads to the acquisition of academic or “hard skills.” Obviously, hard skills are important, but soft skills are equally so.

One of the most important is self-motivation. In my experience children are born self-motivated. Any parent reflecting upon their own child’s acquisition of the skill of walking is bound to agree. At no point did you need to motivate your child to learn how to walk, did you? Instead, he did it all on his own, through arduous repetition and gradual improvement. And what did he do after he taught himself this difficult skill? He added the next movement challenges — running, climbing stairs and carrying objects – entirely on his own initiative! So perhaps our job is often just to get out of his way, to remove obstacles from his path, and give him the time he needs to do his work. In other words, our job is not to motivate him but rather to be sure that we don’t inadvertently blunt his own internal motivation.

One way we can avoid that is by not doing things for her that she can learn to do them for herself. We can also allow her the time she needs by slowing ourselves down to match her pace, rather than forcing her to conform to ours. Of equal importance is allowing her to choose her own activities. When are you more likely to be self-motivated – when doing something someone else has chosen for you? Or, when doing an activity you have chosen for yourself?

Doesn’t this perfectly describe the atmosphere of a Montessori classroom? From their earliest days in Montessori, children are shown how to do a thousand and one activities for themselves, and then given time and choice. They are shown how to care for their own needs, as well as to care for their friends and their environment. We train ourselves as Montessori adults to get out of the way, let them do for themselves, and never to give more help than they need.

And what will you acquire if you are choosing things to do without undue help and without external motivation? Independence, the second of the soft skills to which our college professor referred. And if you have chosen it for yourself, you will have the self-motivation to follow-through and persevere through whatever challenges or difficulties may arise.

Obviously, the hard skills are important, but they don’t do you much good without the personal qualities, skills and attitudes that allow you to use the hard skills effectively. That’s why in Montessori we are working with children to develop the whole range of skills, hard and soft, that he or she will need as they take their place as an adult in society many years from now.


ABOUT PETER DAVIDSON
Peter Davidson was the founding Head at the Montessori School of Beaverton, an AMI school in Portland and currently serves as consultant for Montessori in Redlands, an AMI school in Southern California.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why We Sew

Learning skills for Practical Life is a major part of every Montessori class. By learning to dress one's self, set the table, clean up messes, and use kitchen tools, children gain confidence and pride.

The Kindergarteners at Westmont have been busy learning the Practical Life skill of sewing. Although this may seem like an extra, unimportant skill for six-year-olds to have, there are many amazing learning opportunities for children who engage in this task.


  • Handwriting ability is directly correlated to hand dexterity and hand-eye coordination which can be strengthened with hand stitching and threading needles
  • Sewing is not an immediate-gratification activity, patience is learned as fabric slowly transforms
  • Mathematical concepts such as measurement and geometry are honed as children visualize how a pattern can be used and even created for their project
  • A greater appreciation for the work involved in making the things around them (houses, food, furniture, etc.) inspires more question and wonderment
  • Pride and accomplishment from doing "real" work with a real purpose


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Empathy in Action

Today there is much talk of the “me “age and of the “selfie” generation, and I thought I would share this observation of empathy in action to demonstrate how we can alter outcomes and put others first.    A while back while I was visiting one of our toddler classes, I saw one of our students get bumped on his head.  I could tell that it hurt.  He immediately started to cry, the cry that tells of real pain.  One of his peers was the first to reach him and he asked what happened.  Through his tears the little boy held his head and pointed to the object of his hurt.  His young friend clearly understood and proceeded to rub his friend’s head.  He continued to rub and in the most caring tone told his friend he would feel better soon and it would be all right.   He stayed by his friend’s side until the little boy eventually stopped crying; adult intervention although offered was not needed, he did not even want ice.  His friend’s kindness toward him healed his hurt. I saw it all unfold and it restored my confidence in the fact that we can help our youngest students care.

What a moment to behold, empathy in action in such a young child.  No prods, no direction, no words needed by any adult.  This is a child who understands hurt and feelings and was able to respond naturally to his friend. The definition of empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Children who can empathize are in touch with their own feelings and are able to connect theirs with what another is experiencing.


One can ask, is a child born with an innate ability to empathize or is it learned.  Research says it can be either.  Have you ever seen a baby or young child offer up his blanket, bottle, toy, or something treasured to someone who is feeling sad, or upset?  It happens, and is empathy in the making. We do know that not every child or adult can empathize. The great news is that we also know that empathy can be taught and the earlier the better. 

So in a nutshell how can we teach empathy?  It is easy to do the following:
Ø  Role model, a child does what a child sees
Ø  Validate a child’s feelings
Ø  Discuss feelings with children and give them “feeling” words to express them.
Ø  Praise kind and empathic behavior and responses


Submitted by Colette B. Cross

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I loved reading this recently published article by June George, A Montessori advocate, teacher and owner, and the overuse of “good job!” when praising children.  ACV


Montessori advocate, teacher and owner.
What's More Powerful than "Good Job?"
Pretend you’re sitting in the corner of a classroom of 30 children, ages 3-6. Everyone is working contentedly at their own tables. There is a buzz in the air, but not one of chaos.
Instead, it’s the quiet energy of independent children, picking their own tasks and following their interests. You’re so entranced, you might be inspired to pronounce “Good job!” to every child who passes by!
But that’s one phrase you’ll never hear in this classroom.
Why? What’s so bad about saying “Good Job?”
The reason adults in the Montessori classroom don’t say “Good Job” is because it casts judgement upon a child’s work. But those children aren’t going about their day in search of an adult’s praise. They are choosing activities ranging from washing dishes to multiplication work because it interests them. They want to do it!
When we place a label like “good” or “bad” upon a task that a child is doing in order to satisfy their own developmental needs, we take the ownership away from them. All of a sudden their work is about us and what WE think.
Here’s Ms. Wood:
“When a new milestone is reached, the first reaction is often, ‘Good Job! That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you.’ These are really positive things to say, but what do they do to your child’s development?”
How can we respond to a child’s work in a way that acknowledges them, but doesn’t get in the way of their ownership over a task? What’s more powerful than “Good Job?”
How about, “You did it.”
This simple phrase says so much. When spoken warmly and with a smile, a simple “You did it” allows the child to reflect upon their own accomplishments: “I did do it, didn’t I!”
And that sense of accomplishment and pride allows the child to move on to bigger things with a confidence in themselves that no “good job” could ever impart.

March 13, 2017 Primary