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 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!

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:

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.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Commitment to Professional Development

The Westmont Montessori School has a strong commitment to education, not just for the children who attend, but also for the adults who care for them. We host monthly parent events in our Parent Education Series and our teachers and administrators take part in Professional Development throughout the year.

Last year alone, our staff members took a total of 528 hours of Professional Development! Every year our teachers attend the New Jersey Montessori conference and several teachers are selected to also attend the national American Montessori Society conference. Although our classroom teaching staff of 11 have a combined 16 degrees (including six Master's Degrees), continuing to learn about new research, share ideas for the classroom, and hear about the great things happening in schools all over the world, ensures that we have the tools to provide the best for the children we serve.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ten Resolutions for Becoming a More Grateful Parent

It is also never too late to make, revisit or renew resolutions when it comes to parenting. I read this article in Independent School magazine and thought I would paraphrase and share some of it with you.
It was written by Madeline Levine a practicing psychologist, author, and co-founder of Challenge Success a project of the Stanford graduate School of Education.  I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Levine at a Common Ground Speaks presentation some years back.
Dr. Levine offers Ten Resolutions for Becoming a More Grateful Parent.  I was struck by the similarities in her words and what is near and dear to our own philosophy of developing self-reliant young people:-
1.       I will not do for my child what he can do for himself.
·         This inhibits motivation and the ability to innovate
2.       I will not do for my child what she can almost do for herself.
·         At one time your child could almost walk, now she can walk.
3.       I will love the child in front of me
·         Appreciate and be thankful for your child’s unique gifts.
4.       I will not push my child to be perfect
·         Life is full of mistakes, imperfect days, and human failings. Children need to be able to feel happiness and gratitude in the face of imperfection. This builds resilience.
5.       I will make sure my child gets a full night’s sleep
·         Children need between 9 and 11 hours a night, sleep deprivations impairs concentration and compromises the ability to learn
6.       I will not confuse my needs with my child’s needs.
·         Over parenting is not healthy for parent or child
7.       I will remember that I am a parent, not a CEO.
·         Don’t’ catastrophize about grades/results, you will reap the benefits
8.       I will value my own (adult) life
·         Being a happy fulfilled parent is one of the best gifts you can give your child
9.       I will honor the importance of Playtime, Downtime, and Family Time
·         Don’t overschedule, children need down time, or “hang time” as we like to say.
1.   I will remember the success trajectory is a squiggle ≈ not a straight line
·         We know our own paths took twists and turns, life does not always go as planned.

Submitted by Colette B. Cross

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Selecting a Preschool

A big part of the news cycle these days is the importance of preschool and the “strong correlation between high quality child care and higher levels of academic and cognitive achievement.”   This places great importance on selecting a preschool for your child.  Without a doubt, a warm, safe and nurturing environment that inspires learning while supporting social and emotional development is key.   As you research, plan and visit the preschools, be sure to consider these additional factors:

Educational Philosophy:   Many of the preschools follow a prescribed learning philosophy and it is important to choose one that best suits your family values.   Ask questions about the philosophy, why did the school choose this philosophy, and how is it applied in the classroom?  What are the benefits to the philosophy verses another philosophy?  Is the school licensed? Accredited?  

Teachers:  The fond school memories we hold as adults are often a direct correlation of the teacher and classroom experience. Be sure to gather information on the faculty and staff, meet with prospective teachers, ask about their educational background, observe a class and see the interaction between the teacher and children. 

School - Family Partnership:  “It takes a village to raise a child,” says an old adage. Entering into a partnership with a school, where the child’s success is first and foremost, is a vital ingredient in selecting a preschool.  The mutual and trusting relationship that forms in these formative years will provide families with a strong support system for years to come.  Do clarify how the school and family will communicate with respect to a child’s progress and development, how often will this communication occur, what will be communicated and who will be communicating. 

Safety First:  Ask how the children are kept safe and properly supervised.  Are there emergency drills; is there a security system, if the faculty and staff trained on first aid, what is the allergy protocol, what is the sick policy, etc.?  Most, if not all schools, will have all these systems in place to keep children safe.

Location, Cost and Family logistics:  Be sure to consider where the school is located, the cost and the effect on your family day to day logistics.

It is a wonderful time in your life and in your child’s life; enjoy the journey as you plan and research the preschool of your choice.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spatial Reasoning as Preparation for Math and Reading

By: Melanie Thiesse

What do stacking blocks and doing puzzles have to do with algebra and reading? There is a growing amount of research linking early exposure and understanding of spatial reasoning with future success in those subjects. Children who can manipulate objects, match patterns and sort objects develop the spatial and reasoning skills necessary to later tackle more academic tasks.

This concept was one that Dr. Maria Montessori saw to be true decades ago. She noticed that not only were preschool aged children interested in exploring shapes and discriminating objects by their size, color, similarities, and differences but that the earlier they were exposed to these hands-on activities, the easier it became for them to extrapolate the rules of mathematics and language.

She also designed many materials as geometric representations of mathematical concepts, providing visual and tactile reinforcements of some of the most abstract concepts. (Math Works, Michael Duffy)

Some of the activities developed by Maria Montessori to improve spatial reasoning in children include:

 The Pink Tower and Brown Stair
The Pink Tower and Brown Stair are each sets of 10 blocks that change in size and weight incrementally. As children stack or sort them they must use their discrimination skills to correctly order them.

The Knobless Cylinders
These cylinders (each in sets of 10 again) change in height, width, or a combination of height and width, requiring a detailed eye to arrange or match them.

Binomial Cube
The Binomial Cube is a puzzle that requires attention to detail of height, width, length, and color to put together. The cube itself also represents the algebraic representation of (a+b)3 =  a3+3a2b+3ab2+b3, a concept not introduced until the elementary years.

Geometric Solids
The Geometric Solids provide an opportunity for children to explore different three-dimensional objects to discover the differences and similarities between such shapes as a triangle-based prism and a rectangular-based prism.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bringing Montessori Home

Colette B. Cross

Parents often ask how they can support Montessori principles at home.  One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Montessori is “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." 

Keeping this in mind, here are some tips from The American Montessori Society for developing independent, capable, responsible, young people in collaboration with your child’s Montessori school experience.

Create an Ordered Environment

Having a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, encourages both independence and self-discipline.  Children know where to find what they need and where to put it when they’re done.  An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand.
To make things accessible to your young child:
·         Provide shelves or drawers for clothing; lower the rod in the bedroom closet.
·         Keep a step stool in the bathroom and kitchen so your child can reach the sink
·         Arrange toys and games on low open shelves with a particular place for each.  Sort smaller items into trays or baskets by category, such as puzzles, art supplies, and blocks
·         Put healthy snacks and foods on a low pantry shelf so your child can help himself.
·         Pour drinks into small, manageable pitchers placed on a low refrigerator shelf. Keep cups within your child’s reach – along with a sponge to clean up spills.

Teach Real-Life Skills

Montessori students are taught to take care of themselves and their classroom and to be helpful to others.
Having your child help at home can bring similar rewards.
 Take time to teach each skill separately and to repeat the lesson as needed.
·         Each task your child masters adds to his confidence and self-esteem. 
·         Young children, for example, can peel vegetables, fold their socks, and care for pets.

Promote Concentration

The ability to focus and concentrate is an important skill for learning. You can help develop your child’s concentration by observing what sparks her interest.  Set her up with the means and materials to explore it. And let her work without interruption.

While your child’s work environment should be free of distraction, it doesn’t have to be away from family activity. Some children prefer working at the kitchen table or reading in a cozy corner of the living room to holing up in a bedroom or study.  Observe your child’s response to various environments, ask questions, and make adjustment as needed.

To read the entire article click on the link

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sowing the Seeds of Community Giving


When we step back and think of community, our first thought is of a geographic location, or a myriad of homes, or our very own street.  As we delve a bit more, we realize that community is so much more – it is a feeling of fellowship with others, sharing some common threads and goals, and giving of ourselves to maintain the bonds.

The Westmont Montessori School, has been part of the greater community for 52+ years.  It was through generous gifts by local families, a set of dedicated parents, a Board of Trustees, and a strong vision, that Westmont came to open its doors for families who desired a quality preschool education.   
Westmont has never forgotten and is grateful for the ongoing support of the community it serves and is proud to be in a position to give back.  Every year, whether it is through Westmont’s need-based scholarship in memory of Jason K. Jacobs, an active Alumni Committee supporting our young adults in scholarship and service, partnering with Preschool Advantage of Morristown, which funds quality preschools for families in need, provisions to the Chester Food Pantry, or our ongoing visits by the Kindergarteners to the Seniors of Holly Manor, it reaffirms, “It is definitely nice to receive but infinitely more rewarding to give!
Our collaboration continues through the support and participation of local sports teams, the annual Mendham Harvest Hustle, support of local business and tourism associations, and the Westmont Parent Education Speaker Series.
The seeds born from the generosity of gifts from more than 50 years ago continue to bloom.  Today, we impart this community spirit of kindness, caring, and collaboration through our Montessori philosophy and our day-to-day role modeling in the classroom.