Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Celebrating Inclusion Awareness Month

This month the children of Westmont participated in a presentation all about inclusion and acceptance. Westmont parents and founders of Lily's Angels, Kristen Friscia-Benitez and Pepe Benitez, shared a little about what life is like for those with Down's Syndrome and other differences and then invited the children to try some activities.

Children visited sensory tables with motor activities, helping them to understand how difficult even the simplest of tasks can be when impaired. For example, at one table children were asked to color while wearing an oversized glove (representing a motor processing disorder). The children remarked how much more difficult it was to color when they couldn't feel their fingers.

The presentation wrapped up with the message that we are all different but we are all special!

Lily's Angels is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness about Down's Syndrome, as well as providing therapy sponsorship to families with financial need. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grace and Courtesy for Life

Colette B. Cross

Dr. Maria Montessori said, “ A child who becomes a master of his acts through repeated exercises of grace and courtesy and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.”

At the core of Montessori education is the emphasis on Grace and Courtesy.   Children are immersed in this Practical Life curriculum from the moment they enter the classroom.  All children are treated with dignity and respect.  Lessons in grace and courtesy are role modeled and presented daily.   Children who practice and live by these lessons develop critical life skills and healthy societal values that enable them to recognize social cues, respond to, and interact with others appropriately.  They  learn to understand that they have responsibilities to others and are setting themselves up to develop  a social conscience.  This graciousness and courteousness paves the way for community development, teamwork, and peaceful living.
Lessons are simple, life lasting, and include, but are not limited to:

  •  Greeting others by name
  •  Saying please and thank you
  •  Introducing a family member or friend
  •  Waiting one’s turn
  •  Cleaning up after oneself
  •  Setting a table
  •  Listening to the words of others
  •  Asking to join an activity
  •   How to decline an invitation graciously
  •  Showing a younger friend how to do something
  •  Helping without being asked
  •  Respecting personal space  Using words to problem solve
  •   Respecting belongings, self, and others
  •  Being responsible for the environment/taking care of pets and plants

These lessons are easy to role model and implement.  Home and school can work hand in hand to develop ethical individuals who will support a graceful and courteous world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Celebrate the Power of Reading 

Reading aloud with young children — whether in the classroom, at home, or in the community — builds literacy and language skills and provides positive reading experiences that instill a love of reading. 

Celebrate with Westmont next Thursday, October 19 with #ReadfortheRecord! #ReadConnectSucceed, as we read Liz Wong's QUACKERS, as part of the world’s largest shared reading experience.

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® (RFTR) is a national campaign that was launched over a decade ago to address the educational inequities that leave too many children unprepared for kindergarten. On Thursday, October 19, 2017, millions of children and adults will gather to learn, laugh, and read this year’s campaign book, Quackers by Liz Wong, as part of the world’s largest shared reading experience.

Read for the Record inspires adults to read with children, spurs policymakers and organizations to take action towards transformative change in early education, and puts books in the hands of more children across the country.

For more information please visit: 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nut-Free Snacks for Lunch or Birthday Celebrations

Sometimes coming up with nutritious and nut-free food choices for our children can seem like an impossible mission, but there are actually many great choices! Here are a few recipes for snacks that would be great to share for birthday celebrations or to put in your child's lunch box.

Fully-Loaded Snack Bars

And if you are looking for just some basic items to put into your child's lunch beyond fruit and sandwiches, here are some things that you may not have thought of to include:

Nut-Free Spreads/Dips
  • Plain hummus
  • Sunflower Seed Spread
  • Guacamole
  • Soy Nut Butter

  • Fresh vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli florets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes)
  • Fresh Fruits (apples, oranges, banana, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pear, kiwi, blueberries, etc.)
  • Applesauce cup or pouch
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Mandarin orange fruit cup
  • Raisins
  • Dried Fruit

  • Cheese (stick, cube, round, slice)
  • Yogurt (watch out for granola or cookies on top that may contain nuts)
  • Pudding cup

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers (Wheat Thins, Saltines, plain Triscuits)
  • Rice cakes
  • Goldfish/Cheddar bunnies
  • Sunchips
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pita chips
  • Pirate’s Booty

  • Teddy Grahams
  • Graham Crackers
  • Nilla wafers
  • Fruit leather
  • Fruit snacks 
  • Fig Newtons
  • Jello cup