Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Parenting Apps

Warning: I feel many puns coming on.
Disclaimer: this is not a review of parenting apps out there in the digital world.
Parents of my age virtually know nothing about this sort of thing. But, being in the position of longtime director of our school and advocate for children and families that are getting "younger and younger", I am compelled to jump into the real world here. You can always rely on the infinite wisdom of Dr. Dave and Erin at Mind Positive Parenting. If you want the straight dope go there to get it.
I recently purchased the Primary app from Montessorium. I did this primarily :) because I would like to write for it and, as always, stay true to keeping Montessori vibrant and applicable to today's families. The people at Montessorium and Baan Dek Montessori school in Sioux Falls certainly do just that. If you check it out please let me know what you think.
I consequently dug in a bit to the app scene for parents in China and found that it is a growing phenomenon. As I've written about before on this blog, Montessori is fast becoming the early childhood education method of choice in China. I think it is time for these two worlds to meet!
The world is indeed more connected now and the possibility of connecting on behalf of children everywhere is inspiriting. I'm sure Maria would agree.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Meet the Staff!

Mr. Tickles says, "when will this school year start?"
The glorious promise of fall is wafting through the air here at Montessori Children's House. We are joyfully preparing the environment and very much looking forward to welcoming all the children and their families for the beginning of our TENTH year!

For the 2016-2017 school year here are our Magnificent Seven:

Head of School

Primary Teacher
Classroom 1

Primary Teacher
Classroom 2

Assistant Teacher
Classroom 1

Assistant Teacher
Classroom 2, Administration

ASC Teacher 1

ASC Teacher 2


Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Walk With Animals--there's a hedgehog where?

Montessorians love animals, right? Classroom pets are a part of every authentic environment and not just because they provide one more practical life activity. These creatures are there to harbor in the child an empathy and appreciation for other inhabitants of the earth. Experiences in respect and care for pets give a child dividends that are immeasurable. This tenet holds true even more so in the home environment. Some of my writing projects focus on the glorious experiences (maybe an overstatement) of children and their animal friends. Have you noticed how the animal world has quite a lively presence of late in the world of children's literature and film? While I've been working on a collaboration with my artist father about the joys of a household full of pets I have come across so many examples. Perhaps I'm more attuned to what's popular right now or perhaps others are becoming more aware of the special bond between children and pets. There are even several new books about the animal human connection for adults. Secret lives...? I think we all want in on a bit of that.

On the nightstand:

A Walk in the Animal Kingdom
by Jerry Dennis, drawings by Glenn Wolf, Big Maple Press

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
by Frans de Waal, WW Norton

On the school bookshelf:

How to Raise a Wild Child
by Scott Sampson

What Pet Should I Get?
by Dr. Seuss

There's a Hedgehog in the Hallway
by Megan Ray Durkin, illustrations by Ken Ray

Sir David Attenborough, the great naturalist and BBC wildlife presenter, has often been asked, "How did you become interested in animals?" His response was always the same: "How on Earth did you lose your interest in them?"--Scott Sampson from How to Raise a Wild Child.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Graduation Time

As the end of the school year drew near we reflected on the future of our young graduates. Where will they go to continue their learning? Will their independence be respected? Will their inner motivation be fostered?
Montessori children tend to be very flexible and adaptive with strong social skills. Yet we caution parents to look out for certain things that a traditional kindergarten experience may bring.
Comparing children (gold stars, etc.)

Fostering competition instead of giving opportunities to socialize

Sitting in front of a computer

Less and less recess/outdoor time

Some research into what methods most traditional educators employ yielded unimpressive results. The Common Core exacerbates the developmentally inappropriate practices on the rise since NCLB. Teachers report having to post the standards in the room before every scripted lesson, as if 5-year-olds can read or care what they say. They time children adding and subtracting, and train them to ask formulaic questions about an “author’s message.” All children are trained in the exact same skill at the same time. One teacher lamented that “there is no more time for play.” Another wrote “these so-called educational leaders have no idea how children learn.”

Yet current educational policy banishes play in favor of damaging practices such as direct instruction of inappropriate academic content and testing; practices that are ineffective for young children. We are ever hopeful that educators in our small town will meet MCH graduates where they are in their journey and respect them as the independent and motivated learners we know them to be. Our wish is extended to every child in this country and the world.
“This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.”
--Maria Montessori, (The Absorbent Mind)