Archive for Montessori Blog
Oct
13

The White Dot Incident

When he came to the community at three years old, he established himself right away as ‘individual’ and ‘decider’. The guide thought he was extraordinarily self-aware and self-defined, with a prodigious vocabulary and an adult-like presence. He had a head of blondish curls and a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of his nose. He intense brown eyes peered out from his glasses with dark rims – somewhat the little professor in appearance. She liked him right away. She had long since found this “liking” to be the key to working with each and every child, regardless of the challenge she might find herself facing.

Sep
15

Transition, Growth, and Charlotte’s Web

Reading Charlotte’s Web In a week or maybe two, my husband will finish reading Charlotte’s Web for the fourth time, the first time when he was a child, once for each of our three children. My husband has a low, mumbly voice, and he is often very tired when he sits down in his rocking […]

Aug
18

Personal, Lifelong Growth

A few years ago I taught a boy named Derek, a difficult yet bright and caring 12-year-old on the Asperger’s spectrum. Derek could be challenging, to say the least. For example, one day at school we couldn’t find him for over an hour; turns out he had hid himself in a closet because he believed “no one would even care if I were gone!” (Oh boy, that was a scary mess. I remember the experience like it was yesterday!) Despite all of Derek’s “issues”, he was a thinker, and a young man who felt deeply. While his unpredictability and outbursts in class brought out insecurities in us nascent teachers who were (wrongheadedly) craving control, his inquisitive nature and kind heart reminded us of why we chose to be in the field of education in the first place.

Jun
24

Embracing the Big Spills

I had a humbling experience last week in my community of 3-6-year-olds – one of those moments that reminded me to put my faith in the power of the child’s own inner guide to lead them to the experiences they need for their own satisfying development.

Jun
13

An Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Lived

The other day I took a call from a prospective parent. I had not given her tour, and she was calling to talk to the director and ask a few questions. She wanted to know if I knew the national average ACT or SAT scores for Montessori alumni. I had to admit that I don’t, and I am not aware of anyone who has narrowed down that population for that sort of study. I asked her what she was looking for in that question. She told me that what she really wanted was for her daughter to be happy.

Jun
2

I Am Here To Help

It begins with the increasingly noisy tap – tap – tapping of brush on bucket, that first signal of digging in and lying low and simultaneously signaling readiness for the potential struggle to come. This is soon accompanied by nonsense chatter and noises. “How quickly we can get into these cycles, “ the guide thinks to herself.

May
16

Instead of Punishment

They came in from the playground knotted together by tight feelings for their injured friend. “He’s hurt. He fell off the slide. Ned pushed him.” Ned was supporting Bart, who was hopping along, his face squeezing out tears and his jaw clenching in sobs. Breathing heavily, pushing and stumbling, with heads bobbing and backs bent as they jockeyed for close, clear gapes at the bloody knee, Ned and Bart’s buddies accompanied them to gain the safety and reassurance that presenting the disaster to me always bestows.

Apr
25

Learn, Live, Laugh and Love

Parents and teachers are some of the most inspiring people at work in the world today. We’ll break into song when the first robin appears, dance a jig when the sun breaks through the clouds, cry on the last day of school, and laugh when it snows in April.

We begin each day hoping to impart knowledge. At day’s end, we consider all we have learned. Cliché, Pollyannaish, but true: learning really is the best part of teaching. The best part of parenting really is seeing the world through the eyes of a child once again.

Apr
7

Making Space

I come from a HUGE extended family. Growing up, my Mom, Brother Kevin, and I lived with my grandparents. There were thirteen of us in a house with one bathroom. On Sundays, all of my aunts and uncles who didn’t live at the house would come over with their kids, too. The place was full to bursting. There was never an empty room. I loved it.

Mar
17

You Can Enjoy Hard Things

I began my research by asking my son, “What inspires you to keep working, even when the work is difficult?” His quick reply was, “I keep working by choosing the most challenging thing I’ve had a lesson on. Then it’s interesting to figure out.” I pressed, “But what if you encounter a problem you cannot solve or have trouble finding a solution even with a lot of effort?” He answered, “Then I find a friend and ask them for advice or see if they have a good idea.”

Mar
7

I Can Do Hard Things

The perseverance practiced early with concrete life tasks, later takes the form of tackling the complicated math equation, mastering that difficult list of spelling words, and getting the research project done by the due date. But hand-in-glove with the feeling that you can do hard things is the desire to do hard things.

Feb
3

Gateway Parenting

The theory goes something like this: if you use legal drugs such as tobacco or alcohol, or even what some consider “soft drugs” like marijuana, you are more likely to slip down the slope to using “hard drugs” like amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, than people who never get started using soft drugs in the first place. The starter drugs are often referred to as gateway drugs because use of them is seen as the first step through the gateway to even more dangerous behaviors.

Jan
6

A Resolution to Keep

Miss Green was a character. She achieved local fame the Halloween she arrived at school carrying a large, empty picture frame centered on her face. She was the perfect Mona Lisa. The same year it was her mission to promote observation. Miss Green cut a scarlet “O” out of felt, stitched a safety pin to the back of her letter, and gallivanted through classrooms, pinning teachers and administrators. Miss Green was loved for her spunk and for her mission.

Dec
18

A Parent’s Role: How it Differs from That of a Guide

Since leaving the classroom recently, after thirty-some years in the delightful company of children, I have spent a considerable portion of my time leading the development of the parent education programs for our school. It has given me a new and different joy, and a great appreciation for parents. It is an honor to work so closely with parents who are the primary educators of our children, who are the children’s models, their supporters, and their greatest source of love and admiration.

Dec
9

The Slender Thread of a Montessori Elementary Class

Two boys took turns reading with zest and dramatic expression the tale from Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” to a small group of children, alternating with one another as their voices gave out. How well they read this difficult language and how genuinely they enjoyed it!