Important Days in Your Life

Hello Friends,
The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
Every time we start a new school year, I am reminded of Twain’s quote above.  One reason for this is that as a member of the TNSM staff, we get to collaboratively celebrate the second-most-important day of our lives – why we are here.  We have decided to help others, to teach and learn from children, and to joyfully participate in their lives.

The other reason I am reminded of the quote is because your children, the students of TNSM, are experiencing the fundamental building blocks of their lives as they slowly uncover their own second-most-important day.  It is truly exhilarating to be a part of that.

I can’t wait to see everyone.  I will be sending out level-specific emails to (3-6), (6-9) and (9-12) families this week with some friendly reminders to help you prepare for next week.  I thought, however, that we could all use some sage advice from Dr. Maria Montessori as we enter this new school year together.

1. Build confidence by helping children help themselves. 
“…beyond a certain point every help given to a child is an obstacle to their development.” -Maria Montessori

Encourage independence in your children by allowing them to do for themselves.  Look for learning opportunities in everyday tasks: children are far more capable than we realize at times. Yes, this requires some patience on our part, but teaching children how to accomplish a task, rather than just hurrying through it (something I am often guilty of myself) will pay off in a number of different ways.

Most importantly, children gain a sense of empowerment in knowing what they can achieve themselves; and self confidence leads to a happier, more independent young person.  The best opportunities are those which your child shows interest in.  The next time your child asks, “Can I try?”  jump at this timely chance to foster his/her self development.  My children love to help in the kitchen.  Reading instructions or measuring/ mixing ingredients are some of their favorites!

2.  Allow children the freedom to make mistakes.

Do you remember the last time you were being shown something new?  Did your instructor hover over your shoulder, offering a continual stream of instruction?  Were you allowed the time to come to your own conclusions, or were you rushed through the process? We need to learn at our own pace before we can really absorb  new information.

Likewise, children must be allowed uninterrupted time to experiment, make mistakes and repeat tasks to thoroughly learn the “lesson.”  Of course, it is important to keep kids safe during this process, but do so from a little distance.   Give the child a chance to grow, without being under your shadow.

3.  Allow time for concentration and cut out distractions.

Part of giving children the time to absorb information involves turning off the tv/computer and other distractions.  Flashy programs with exciting music and visuals will usually win the contest for your child’s attention.

Additionally, it is important to minimize the number of times we adults interrupt our children. Allowing time to focus helps to develop a longer attention span and teaches courtesy and respect.  When you must stop a child mid-activity, leave the project out and untouched; then allow the child to return to it at the next possible occasion.

4.  Provide a sense of order.
Children actually thrive in an orderly environment (…yes, really!) Starting from a

young age, let children know that everything has its place, and encourage them to return things properly before moving on to another activity.  This will require that shelves and drawers be accessible and sized appropriately for little people.

Schedules can also be orderly.  Children are more comfortable when they know what to expect. Obviously, life does not always fit neatly into an agenda, but having some daily routines can give children a sense harmony.   For starters, try establishing consistent morning, evening and/or mealtime customs.

5.  Learn from nature.
This goes for you and your children.  Slow down a bit, even if it is for only a half-hour a day.  Go outside with your children.  Take walks, go to the park, sit and watch birds, or draw pictures.  Let your children take photos or collect leaves and flowers, or whatever might strike their fancy. Talk to them about what they find and research the names of plants or animals you have seen together.

For your moment of Zen, the picture above  is a beautiful mosaic our Spanish/Ex-Day teacher, Ximena Flores,  completed this summer at Father Hanses’ Park in Covington, KY.  A powerful symbol in the wake of some summer news.  Peace be with you.

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