Independence comes through struggle – Know it as an educator…learning it as a parent

This winter break provided an opportunity of growth for our family.  I have been a Montessori educator and leader for over 15 years and yet what I am discovering as a relatively new parent (Jakob 5, Lena 3) is that theory and advice are easy; experience is hard. The primary goal of Montessori education is independence.  Just Google “Montessori Independence” and the Maria Montessori quotes will come flying.   “The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind.”   “Montessori is an education for independence, preparing not just for school, but for life.”   …

Gratitude, Setting Expectations, and a Nice Box of Paperclips

Hello Friends,   2018 is coming to a close and it is impossible to fully express the gratitude I have for you and our community.  Our students have grown so much!  They have pushed themselves in their academics, navigated new social-emotional landscapes, grown more resilient, and discovered again and again that the world is wide, wild, and wonderful.   The TNSM staff wish you a nourishing winter break.  Thank you for the gifts you have brought into the world; your children.  Each one of them carries a bright mysterious hope within them.  We are honored to be a part of …

Supporting others by simply listening and asking questions

Hello Friends, I was fortunate enough to experience a rather profound professional development workshop last week. Parker Palmer is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues related to education, community, and leadership. He is also the founder of The Center for Courage and Renewal whose mission is to create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. I spent three days with educational leaders from across the country reflecting on our personal and professional missions and how they intersect. I am so proud of who we …

Gratitude

Hello Friends, How do we deepen our gratitude?  How do we foster it in our students? In ourselves?  What is it exactly?  Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation  and to return kindness.  In a Psychology Today article it was describes as, “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to, for instance, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants or thinks they need.”   A few years ago, TNSM staff  went through training on how to unlock and leverage student (and our own) potentials through acknowledging and working with our character strengths.  The program is …

Lessons learned by observing

Hello Friends, I had the pleasure of spending a 45-minute recess with our (6-12) students recently.  It was a perfect autumn day: bright, crisp, and the trees were all dressed up in gold and burgundy.  As I looked around, I was reminded of the essential role Play has in our development.  I watched two girls swoosh down the slide again and again, giggling the whole time – delighted by good company, fresh air and the playful tug of gravity.  A child hung upside down from her knees, like a bat, and watched the world from a different perspective. One boy, …

Cuh – Ah – Tuh. CAT

Something happened two days ago.  I’ve read about how it happens.  I have told concerned parents that it happens, and not to worry.  I have seen it happen in other children.  I know the steps to make it happen.  Nevertheless, it was still a moment of magic and emotion when it happened to me. My daughter, Lena (3), and I were watching a late night soccer practice for my son Jakob(5).  It was past 7:00 pm and due to a kitchen remodel at our house that makes cooking feel more like competing in an obstacle course, we decided to eat …

Shhhh. Listen.

“The Child has other powers than ours, and the creation he achieves is no small one; it is everything.” – Maria Montessori I have been thinking about communication this week.  From the moment we are born, we begin calling out to each other.  This deep need to be heard, to be understood, to express ourselves seems to be ingrained in us from day one. We find it so important that we record our children’s first words, celebrate when they connect two words together, and are in awe of their first full sentence. By the age of 3, children have absorbed …

Understanding the importance of play

Hello Friends, “Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein In a recent Psychology Today article, play was described to have five categories: Play is self-chosen and self directed, Play is an activity in which means are more valued than ends, Play is guided by mental rules, Play is non-literal, imaginative, marked off in some way from reality, and Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind. Reading through these characteristics, I couldn’t help but to see the comparisons between play and a Montessori classroom. Our Montessori environments are set up to encourage “self-directed learners.” We place value …

The 5 Great Lessons

Hello Friends, Some of you may or may not have heard of what Montessorians refer to as the 5 Great Lessons.  These lessons are a unique part of any Montessori curriculum.  They are typically presented in a (6-9) environment although you will see them at the (3-6) and (9-12) levels from time to time. The idea behind the 5 Great Lessons is to awaken the child’s imagination about the universe and the remarkable roles humans have played in it.  The lessons are titled, The Coming of the Universe and Earth, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Human  Beings, The Coming …

Teachers prepare their classrooms and then follow the children as they explore their interests

What an amazing start to the 18/19 school year! The environments are beautiful, the children are exploring, learning, and deepening their understanding of the world. As I walk through our classroom environments, I am impressed with the careful preparation each teacher has taken to create a rich microcosm of our world. In these spaces, our students can explore with confidence, take risks, and make mistakes while feeling loved and supported by their peers and teachers. Montessori teachers are expert observers. We have been trained to not constantly thrust our own egos and ideas into the pathway of a child’s learning, …