by Tammia Streuber
Maria Montessori wrote, “The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.”
If we adhere to these powerful words of Montessori then we are to believe that our young infants and toddlers are absorbing all that is around them, and are really creating a version of their future selves. If we want these future selves to be emotionally mature beings who have empathy for others and aren’t afraid to express themselves then it is our job to teach these children how to identify and respond to these emotions, and maybe most importantly of all that it is ok to express and have these feelings.
Talk About the Emotions
Labeling how your child is feeling in the moment may be one of the most helpful tools in learning about emotions. It allows the child to have a real example of what it means to be sad, frustrated, or even angry. When we put the words, “I see that you’re sad,” or “I know it’s frustrating” into context with their tears or angry outbursts we are helping them understand what is going on inside of their body. The words sad or frustrated begin to have a context and meaning apart from just being a word that adults use. It gives these children a way to eventually start discussing their feelings with others.
Not only is labeling a child’s emotions helpful, but we can also label our own feelings for children. When we lock our keys in the car and have a moment of frustration that could lead into a not so pleasant expression of words; we can think twice and say, “I’m so frustrated.” It’s OK for our children to see our vulnerable expressions of feelings. It again puts a context to the words and makes it more real for the child. Saying, “I’m sad right now. I can feel the tears on my face,” may be exactly what your child needs to see and hear to know what sadness means.
Go beyond just labeling emotions, and let your child know that it’s normal and OK to express their emotions. We want to create humans who are in touch with this side of themselves, and don’t hesitate to let others know how they are feeling. When your child is throwing themselves on the floor because they didn’t get that toy they wanted; feel free to say, “I see that you’re angry right now. It’s OK to feel that way. I get angry sometimes too.” The simple words of “it’s OK to feel that way” may be the magical words that stop the tantrum.
Most importantly they are the magical words that your child will remember when they are the adult who may be feeling angry, and instead of bottling up these emotions they will be able to express them in a healthy way.
At the infant and toddler level we need to remember to keep our responses simple and to the point. Once we’ve labeled and empathized with our child then we can give some words and directions that will hopefully help our child self-sooth and manage their emotions. Taking a deep breath and exhaling can often work wonders for the child who is very upset. This moment of taking a breath often relaxes their body in a way that very few things can, and lets them begin to focus on what comes next.
When taking a breath doesn’t work we can also offer the option of needing some time and space. It’s ok to tell your child that it looks like they need some space, and slowly step back to give them the time and space they need to work through their emotions. Not all emotions have an easy resolution, and sometimes the best thing is to allow the toddler to feel the emotions and let it pass. Other times asking them if they need something or asking them if they would like a hug is a sign of respecting them but offering a tangible connection they may need to work through their emotions.
Dealing with emotions is not always an easy thing to do. However, the work you put in now will only help to benefit your child’s future self!
Tammia Streuber is MCH's Lead Teacher in the Infant/Toddler Program. You can reach her at Tammia@MCHkids.com
by Angela Spayde
It turns out, hugs are more important than candy.
As the children walked down the hallways of Aegis, trick-or-treating at the doors of residents (one of whom was 101 years old!), we ran into Betty taking a stroll on her way to the dining hall. Betty didn’t have any candy to give out at the moment and asked the children if they would like hugs instead. As almost all of the children lined up to give Betty hug after hug, tears streamed out of Betty’s eyes as she joyfully embraced each child and chaperone. She explained how her children were all grown, and that she doesn’t get to see children much anymore.
This first verse from a William Blake poem feels like a nice way to describe what took place at Aegis that day:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
Over the last few years, MCH and the Aegis community have established a growing relationship. Aegis is a local assisted living community that serves memory care patients. This year we have partnered with Aegis Redmond, and we couldn’t be more excited. Once a month, residents come to our campus to participate in various activities in our Early Childhood classrooms. Our elementary students are also visiting their community once a month.
This intergenerational connection is invaluable. The young, the old, and the in between are making lasting connections, and it’s impacting both of our communities in beautiful ways.
Angela Spayde is the Student Support Director at MCH. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Joan Dietrich
The goal of raising an independent, capable child without encountering endless power struggles on the way is an age-old dilemma for parents.
One of the prime goals in a Montessori education is to foster independence and critical thinking skills in each child. Sometimes, though, successes teachers see at school don’t necessarily translate in the home.
One of the most frequently raised concerns in my own years as a Montessori guide have centered around the goal of fostering greater independence in the home. A recent talk led by our wonderful consultant, Jonathan Wolff, opened up a great dialogue on the topic. I’d like to share some practical ideas for helping your child to develop those great skills at home.
1.) To strategize getting out the door, try selecting clothes the night before.
I know very well how difficult it can be, for example, to get out the door on time in the morning, and how tempting it can be to do things for your child in order to be on time. My daughter and I commuted together every day for seven years, and I remember, red-faced, grabbing all of her items to just get in the car and go, darn it! Her seven years of Montessori education, fortunately, were enough to overcome some of those tough moments and I am happy to report that she is an independent and capable person today.
Check the weather forecast together, and have some practical clothing suggestions at hand (ideally, a choice of two or three items) when the selected clothes are, say, a tutu and water shoes for a cold, rainy day! Lay out the clothes with the agreement that this is what will be worn tomorrow. If your child changes their mind in the morning, try having a set agreement that the second preferred outfit can be worn tomorrow instead.
Jackets hung on hooks at your child’s height will help them to remember to grab them before you leave. When you’re shopping for a winter coat, try, if you can, to test out the zipper. Not all zippers are made alike, and some can be challenging for small children to fasten. See whether your child can zip themselves, if you help them to place the pin in the channel first. Until they have learned to tie their own shoes, Velcro-strapped shoes are ideal for small hands to master.
2.) In the kitchen, try providing a cupboard or shelf space that is at your child’s height.
Stock it with cups and bowls that are just their size. In the refrigerator, a shelf or drawer that is stocked with snacks that they can access whenever “hangry” moments loom can allow them to tend to their own needs. Fruit, vegetables, and something protein-rich like hummus or cheese all stave off cravings well without taking an appetite for dinner away completely.
You could take the snack preparation a step further by having your child help to prepare snacks. Food preparation is a familiar activity in just about any classroom. Keep a small pitcher of water in your refrigerator from which your child can pour their own drinks. When it’s possible, have your child help to prepare meals by washing produce, tearing greens, or setting the table.
3.) Show them how to clear the dishes from the table, and have them assist in the process whenever possible.
Montessori children learn to care for their classroom, taking ownership in a place that is theirs. Introducing the language of caring for your home together, because it is theirs as much as yours, will help them to invest in chores like sorting laundry, tidying their toys, or putting away their clothes.
None of these suggestions are a magical fix, and mastery of any skill by your child is often accompanied by an apparent backsliding in some other skill that they once had. Parenting is never a linear process! However, the more ways you can involve your child in the day-to-day tasks of running your home, the more invested they become in caring for it themselves, and the more independence you will gradually foster in your child.
Joan Dietrich is MCH's Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator. You can reach her at email@example.com.
by Jamey Maclean
Practical life work is very important to a toddler and involves the activities of everyday life. This work can be the task of a child pouring his or her own water for snack or using a prepared transfer work such as a child spooning objects from one container to another that they choose from the shelf.
Through this work a child will gain independence, coordination, responsibility, and concentration. The child will learn how to follow a motor sequence to meet her own needs and desires, which will instill confidence and strengthen her independence. These activities can also be culturally specific and allow a child to learn about their culture and what is around them. Practical life work usually fall under four areas: care for the environment, care for self, control of movement, and grace and courtesy.
Caring for the environment involve tasks such as sweeping, washing a table, rolling a rug, taking care of plants, dusting, and cleaning a mirror or window. Self-care items consists of many of the everyday living skills including toileting, wiping their nose, washing hands, brushing hair, dressing, and undressing.
Eating and food tasks such as preparing food, setting a table, and dishwashing also fall within these categories. While doing these works, the children often learn how to collaborate and cooperate with each other as well as take turns. Practical life work also aids in a child’s control over their movements, eye-hand coordination, and small and large motor skills.
All of the practical life works available in a classroom are reality-based. For example, toddlers learn how to wash real dishes while using real soapy water and a dish scrubber. All of the materials used have an order to them as well as a designated place. It is important for the adult to model appropriate behavior and do small precise movements when teaching a child how to complete a task.
Children are often attracted to practical life work because it involves items and tasks that they have seen being used before. They are then able to become empowered and have a feeling of self-worth from this new skill that they have developed.
Many of these works are centered around the periods of time when a child’s interests are focused on developing a particular skill. With toddlers, it is all about movement, their strong sense to have order, and their desire to work along side an adult. Practical life works allow a child to fill a need while perfecting their movements, developing several skills, and growing as an individual. Toddlers can be great helpers when the opportunity is given to them.
Jamey Maclean is one of the Lead Teachers in MCH's Infant/Toddler Program. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Mary Moore
Children in the elementary program are in the second plane of development, according to Dr. Montessori. They have left behind the absorbent mind, which helped them soak up learning through individual experiences in the environment, and now learn more deeply through social interaction. This change requires a new approach to their education. For example, the children in Morado work together frequently. We’ll explore different ways the social impulse changes our approach to education in several posts. Today, we explore how it makes stories an ideal inspiration and framework for the curriculum. We’ll particularly focus on the Great Lessons, which are five stories we tell at the beginning of every year.
The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination…so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.
Maria Montessori To Educate the Human Potential (p. 11)
When your children were younger, they were content to know what things were, so we spent lots of time naming things. Now, they want to know that, plus how and why they are that way. They want details, but only after they get the big picture. What bigger picture could we give than how the universe came to be? This first story starts children wondering about things. It introduces the disciplines of chemistry, physics, astronomy, cosmology, and geology. It also introduces the idea that everything serves itself, but also serves the universe. The children begin to think about what their own role might be. This story has a secular spiritual component that can be compatible with both religious and non-religious families at home.
The second story tells about The Coming of Life, opening all the areas of biology for study. Again we suggest that everything has a ‘cosmic task’—it serves its own needs and the needs of the universe. Each of us has a place in the universe. We celebrate The Coming of Humans with its own story, and all the areas of study related to culture come up as we explore how different peoples filled their needs. This story describes “a special kind of love” that appears unique to humans: we can care about people we’ve never seen, people who lived before us and those who will come after us. The fourth story is about writing. Through this, we explore different ways people communicate on paper, and how this spreads their culture and opens them to greater influence by other groups. The final story is about numbers, and it makes math so much more than different ways of calculating; math is a way of understanding the world.
I became an elementary Montessori teacher because I loved how the approach revealed the inter-connectedness of the universe. Children could discover their own role within that web and develop their own powers to learn. I hope you will enjoy your glimpses into what your children are thinking about as we tell the Great Lessons. Bedtime and travelling time are probably the two most likely times for you to hear what your child is wondering about most. Try to remain alert to those moments, and give your particular attention then.
The Great Lessons will take us into October, but we will not leave them behind at that point. Future lessons will refer back to these Great Lessons from different angles. In grammar, we see how nouns are matter and verbs are energy, for example. In biology, we learn how plants and animals are adapted to their surroundings.
Here are some resources:
Watch this nine minute video with your child. It captures the wonder of things both very large and very small.
If you prefer a visual presentation of cosmic education and the Great Lessons, watch this short PowerPoint presentation, followed by the one specifically on the Great Lessons.
This is a great introduction to the Great Lessons on an adult level (not a Montessori version, but notice how mainstream Montessori ideas have become! You can even get a degree in this now.)
Read Montessori Today, by Paula Polk Lillard. This may be a full book, but it is an easy, quick read.
Mary Moore is one of the Lead Teachers in the Morado Classroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.
You may recall a conversation with me in your Family Interview about the Montessori Continuum of Education and the importance of the three-year cycle. But was does this truly mean for your child and their Montessori experience?
The Montessori curriculum was developed to be implemented in a continuous process as the child grows and develops throughout his life and up through the grade levels. The methodology can be applied as early as birth and continuously through each six-year plane of a child’s development; 0-6 years, 6 – 12 years, 12-18 years. Each plane can be further broken down into a three-year cycle, specifically meeting the developmental needs of a child in that specific three-year span; 0-3 years, 3-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years, 12-15 years and so on.
With a Montessori education, a child benefits the most from a continuous three-year experience within each cycle of development. Authentic Montessori Outcomes can truly only be guaranteed when the child experiences the three-year curriculum to its fullest extent within each level of development.
MCH is an American Montessori Society-accredited school. We have meet the strictest of requirements to ensure the education your child is getting is aligned with the time-tested education that is worthy of the title, “Montessori,” and guarantees authentic Montessori Outcomes.
At MCH we truly believe in this continuum of education and currently offer an authentic Montessori experience and opportunity for children birth through twelve years of age. Perhaps you have asked yourself what are those Outcomes? What is my child is gaining from this experience? Does it align with my own goals and values for my child?
As we embark on our AMS re-accreditation journey, we have also been reflecting as Montessori educators, and what our goals are for the MCH graduate. What essentially should a MCH graduate at any level take away from their authentic Montessori education? The answer is ...so many things! But what it really boils down to is this- the developmentally appropriate life skills and character values that will shape the human being they are becoming and influence the impact that they will have on society in the future. We would like to present to our families:
The Portrait of an MCH Graduate
Education is a shaping of the human character, a building of life skills necessary to become an adult capable of contributing to the greater world and finding self-fulfillment. Making the decision on where your child goes to school is always personal. That’s why we always provide a variety of opportunities to gather more information to guide your decision-making process.
Ms. Nicole is ready to schedule a private conversation with you to share more on the benefits of continuingyour Montessori education through Sixth Grade. Learn more about our current elementary program and how students flourish and grow into passionate learners and independent thinkers.
Because MCH is so committed to the continuum of Montessori, MCH has recently expanded our program to include a Middle School encompassing seventh and eighth grade.
With lower ratios, individualized education plans and our amazing outdoor spaces for children to connect with nature, run, learn and grow, we hope that you will continue to turn to MCH for a one-of-a-kind education.
Around this time of year, people are often encouraged to give to those less fortunate than they are. And while this is an important and wonderful part of holiday time, at MCH we believe giving isn’t tied to a holiday, it’s tied to a feeling. At MCH, this feeling never ends.
We first began our Community Engagement Program three years ago. The difference in our program is built right into the name – it’s about getting engaged and active within the community we call home. It’s in the “engagement” that we make a difference in today’s world and the world our children will live in when they move into adulthood – and also where the children start learning what it means to care.
This year, we’ve chosen a non-profit partner close to home. HOPELINK, located right in downtown Redmond, is a vital resource for families who fall on hard times either through job loss, injury/sickness or domestic violence.
We kicked off our Engagement Campaign in November, where our kindergarten and elementary community came together for a talent show, a potluck dinner and the opportunity to gather hats and gloves for HOPELINK as the season grew colder.
Continuing into this month, we’re focused on a Basic Needs Drive. Basic needs are those items we all use on a daily basis. To add variety to our Drive, we’re asking the Infant/Toddler Program families to consider bringing in baby items such as diapers and baby wipes. The Early Childcare Program is encouraged to bring personal care items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, deodorant and other hygiene items. In the Elementary Program, we’re already bringing in paper items (toilet paper, napkins) and household cleaning products. But of course, a donation of any kind is welcome and makes a huge impact to those who need a little extra joy this time of year.
To bring the message of the Basic Needs Drive to real life for our students, the students themselves will be loading a truck with all donated items, delivering them to HOPELINK, and unloading the items. It’s in this activity that we see the children make the connection to what’s happening – not everyone is as lucky as they are, and making a difference can happen in your own town.
I encourage you to consider the families that depend on HOPELINK the next time you’re holiday shopping or at the grocery store. This weekend, students stood outside a local grocery store, spreading the word about our Basic Needs Drive – and they are getting about watching the donations come in.
Thank you for making MCH the supportive, giving community that it is. With your help, we are teaching our children a valuable lesson about community engagement and the impact it has on our neighbors.
Last year, MCH was lucky enough to be named 425 Magazine’s Best Preschool. Receiving the BEST OF trophy at the award ceremony last year was one of the highlights of our year, and one of the proudest moments of my professional career.
The 425 honor was all because of one thing: You. Readers voted and wrote in their favorite preschool, and thanks to the MCH community, our little school was recognized as an outstanding school among other schools who, quite frankly, are a lot bigger than us.
This year 425 Magazine is opening their voting period early due to the overwhelming popularity of their BEST OF awards. We would love to hold on to our title, and boldly strive to add a new one: Best Private Elementary School.
Once again, 425’s BEST of is completely reader-determined; you can’t buy the award title you have to win it. It’s an authentic vote-driven title and 100% legitimate.
If you’re a part of our Early Childhood Program or our Elementary Program, we’d love your vote and support. Online voting takes minutes and it would mean the world to us – and the MCH community.
Winning a title is a lot more than great PR for MCH; it’s a vote of confidence in our teachers and staff. There’s a tremendous amount of pride in working for a school that has been recognized for its excellence. Winning the title of Best Preschool and Best Private Elementary School would send a message to our teachers that thanks them for their hard work each and every day.
Voting opens November 8th. Thank you for voting for our teachers, thank you for voting for our school, and thank you for being a part of MCH.
Jennifer McConnell, Head of School
October can bring the first signs of Fall …and also the beginning of everyone feeling back into the swing of things when it comes to school. With goal-setting conferences in the elementary program and routines in place for our infant/toddler and Early Childhood Program, your child may be feeling a little more comfortable transitioning from a relaxed summer schedule to the structure of a school regime.
Of course, it’s totally understandable for children to have some days when they’re reminiscing about the relaxed days of summer – even grown-ups feel like that! To make school mornings easier and help your MCH student move more easily into the structured school year schedule, consider one or more of these “Get Into The Groove” tips:
Set a regular bedtime and regular wake up time
Although it seems easier to sleep in now that the mornings are darker than in the summer months, having an established wake time can help “reprogram” your child’s inner clock. I find building in at least 15 minutes in the morning for those unexpected things to come up (i.e.: “I can’t find my shoes!”) can help make mornings just that much smoother and maintain everyone’s peace of mind.
Supply your child with an alarm clock (they can even pick it out the clock!) and together decide a realistic wake up time. This way, you can empower your child to be an active part in the School Groove. Making your child responsible for waking up on their own is one way to create a sense of accountability, establish personal authority in your child – and can really be a big help to parents who are trying to get themselves ready for the day.
Create a visual schedule for the bedtime routine and weekday morning expectations; and ask your child to help you make it. That way, your child can physically see the routine and be prepared for what’s expected of them. Your young child may love seeing the visual representation of them getting up, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast and going to school. For an older student, having a checklist in a common area (bathroom, kitchen, maybe even posted on their closet door) lays out their responsibilities and gives them a feeling of satisfaction once they’re able to check off the item when it has been completed.
By having a detailed list – with visuals – of your morning schedule can help your MCH student make the connection to what’s expected of them and what each school morning physically looks like. The more you prepare your MCH student the better.
Talk it out
When you put your child to bed at night, share with them plans for the next day. Ask them their opinion on the best way to get things done, what you should do first, and what their goals are for the following day.
Check the weather app
Involve your child in the “getting ready for school” process by asking them to pick out their outfit the night before school. Not only can this prevent the morning scramble (i.e. “Where’s my red shirt??!”) but solidifies the connection that, yes, there is school tomorrow and yes, we need to prepare for it.
Have the weather app on your phone and together, look at tomorrow’s forecast. Then your child can decide what outfit would be best for them – if it’s cold, something warmer, and if it’s hot, lighter layers.
Placing the MCH backpack by your front door and having lunchboxes ready to go in the refrigerator can signal to your child that school is happening and it’s their responsibility to bring these things with them the next day.
There’s much to look forward to for October at MCH. In addition to being fully engrained in the school groove, we have HarvestFest, a free, family event. This October event will have our traditional MCH Pumpkin Patch (sponsored by the MCH Parent Association [MCHPA],) carnival-style games and prizes (including a Fishing Pond, ring toss and face painting) and my personal favorite, a Cake Walk!
Thank you for being a part of the MCH community! I can’t wait to see what fun and personal growth is in store for your MCH student.
There’s always a whirlwind of excitement in those upcoming weeks to September 5th. All of us here at MCH have been busy wrapping up our most successful season of Summer Camp ever and busily preparing for the 2017-18 school year.
With a nearly full Early Childhood Program and Infant/Toddler Program and a steady roster of elementary students, MCH is heading into its 31st year with renewed excitement and energy at an all-time high.
Soon we will be kicking off our second year of the Discover Me Program, the only Parent and Child Program with a Montessori focus on the Eastside. This amazing program led by our Infant/Toddler Program Director, Kim Berude, is a gentle start into a Montessori education and gives parents the tools and knowledge to create a Montessori-friendly environment at home.
Our Infant/Toddler Program continues to be going strong, with a few new assistants and the familiar faces our young MCH students love to see each and every day.
We would like to welcome and introduce our community to our new Early Childhood Curriculum/Program Coordinator, Jennifer Kim, who brings vast knowledge and exciting new ideas to create the customized education plan you love at MCH. I invite you to stop by the office and meet Jennifer at any time; she’d love to meet you and will working closely with your child’s teacher to ensure their personal path to success is challenging and rewarding.
In the elementary program, we have a new, reconfigured space in our Morado classroom. Together with all the teachers, the Elementary Program Director, Nicole Champoux and myself, we’ve created a quieter space for those students who want to dive into more focused work, and a larger space with exciting nooks and areas where students can read, be lead through science lessons and get one-on-one attention with our dedicated Learning Specialists, Ms. Angela and Lead Teacher, Mr. Robin.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on at MCH and I am so glad you are a part of it.
The fun is just beginning – coming up next Friday, September 15th we will be having our second annual school-wide Back to School BBQ from 6:00-8:00pm featuring a private concert by the Not-Its! We will be providing Hot Dogs (veggie and regular), drinks and chips so all you have to do is show up, eat and dance!
Thanks again for choosing MCH for your child’s education. We’re glad you’re here!