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!

Dec
2

Why We Choose Our Words with Children Carefully

When it comes to language, our school can seem a little eccentric, well maybe quite eccentric, annoyingly so or amusingly so. Why do we choose our words so carefully and care about their use so deeply? The language we use has its roots in our ways of thinking and being. The language we use in maintaining appropriate limits and boundaries with our children reflects our thoughts and attitudes as parents in relationship with our children. When we are mindful of our language and choose our words with intention, we can explore our thoughts and attitudes and improve our relationship with our children.

Nov
19

Cake or Air? Making Montessori Education Plentiful

Ever experience something so transformative, you wished for others you love to have that same experience? Perhaps an incredible trip to a faraway place? Or a delicious meal at a fine restaurant?

Nov
12

The Day Mary Wore her Pajamas to School

Mary’s face was splotchy and tear-stained when she arrived. After months of frustration with her before school dawdling, her father had decided to break their routine. Dad handed Mary a brown paper grocery bag containing her clothes, a hairbrush, toothpaste and a toothbrush. He carried Mary to their mini-van, listened to her wail through their five-minute commute to school, and dropped her off at carpool.

Oct
21

Don’t Should on your Parents

I love the start of the new school year. Everything is fresh and clean. It’s a fantastic opportunity to set goals for my classroom and for myself. These goals typically are phrased as comparatives and superlatives, learning from past experiences, wanting to get it “right.”

Oct
7

Reclaiming Work as Joyous and Fulfilling: A Montessori Mission

The child, unlike the adult, is not on his way to death. He is on his way to life. His work is to fashion a man in the fullness of his strength. By the time the adult exists, the child has vanished. So the whole life of the child is an advance toward perfection, toward a greater completeness. From this we may infer that the child will enjoy doing the work needed to complete himself. The child’s life is one in which work–the doing of one’s duty–begets joy and happiness. For adults, the daily round is more often depressing.

–Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind (page 30)

Sep
26

The Five Characteristics of Play—And of Montessori Work

If you observe children in a Montessori preschool program, you’ll notice that children’s “work” has all the key characteristics of play. A very thoughtful article by Peter Grey in Psychology Today identifies five such key characteristics.

Aug
23

An Open Letter To New Elementary Parents

Soon enough our early elementary classrooms will be filling once again with children excited to begin the new school year. Among the happy faces will be those of the youngest children, those who are making the leap into the second plane of development and experiencing for the first time the elementary environment that we will have so carefully prepared for them. In all the excitement of welcoming the new children, let us not forget their parents – for their parents, too, may be new to the elementary and just as much in transition as their children.

Aug
5

Sportsmanship

The little boy would not have stood out in a grocery store, or sitting at his desk in second grade. On the little league baseball field, everybody noticed him. He was lanky and awkward, uncoordinated in ways that were painfully obvious every time he picked up a ball or a bat. When Sean stood up to bat, he wore the serious, determined expression of a boy who begged his parents to let him play, but he never made it to first base.

Jul
26

Play vs. Work: A Wrong Alternative

Recently, I’ve read several articles in which articulate, well-informed commentators caution parents against emphasizing academics for preschool children, and which advocate “developmentally appropriate play-based preschools” as a better alternative.