Archive for the ‘Montessori Moments’ Category

Do Parents Matter

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Interesting review in the WSJ today of a new book: Do Parents Matter?

The LeVines are not arguing for abandoning Western parenting mores but making an eloquent case that wisdom requires a little humility about what is “right.” American children speak more and earlier than children in some other societies, but “we don’t know whether American preschool children actually have better conversational abilities than, say, French children or just lack the social skill to restrain their speech in adult contexts, as French children do.” All the talking we do with our babies may stretch their brains, but it also creates children who believe everything they say is worth listening to at all times. In any case, “once American parents free themselves from the expert warnings that any deviations from current American practices will constitute trauma, abuse, or adversity for their children’s development”—warnings that the LeVines show in this book are largely groundless—“then it will be possible to learn from other cultures and reduce parental burdens to a more sensible level.” Parenting is hard enough as it is. There’s no reason to lose sleep over things that aren’t worth worrying about.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Yesterday, February 8th, our Montessori House parents joined children in all our classes for  the best Lunar New Year celebrations.  With stories, costumes, food, and more, our children had a chance to learn about and experience different aspects of this traditional holiday celebrated throughout East Asia.

Thanks to all the parents who were able to join us!

Here are just a few of our children outfitted for the holiday …


Celebrating Lunar New Year 2016 at The Montessori House

Here’s what we did on a snowy day!

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Peace Curriculum Impact

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

We often think of children at school only in the happiest sense, playing and exploring together, finding joy in their discoveries, and enjoying time with their friends. But a classroom, like the world outside it, is a mix of personalities, with varying maturity levels, backgrounds, expectations, and abilities. Sometimes those personalities clash, that happy setting is disrupted by conflict, and the children involved in the conflicts need to navigate their way back to a peaceful setting. Fortunately, teachers of young children are in a special position to teach children the peacemaking skills they need to resolve their conflicts and manage their anger, both now and in the future.

Action Research conducted by our Director,  Maria Morningstar, explored the various types and sources of classroom and playground conflicts, and the effects of a peace curriculum in reducing and resolving those conflicts.  The purpose of  her study was to determine whether teaching children about peace would help them to reduce or resolve conflicts in the classroom.

The study took place in a suburban Montessori classroom of 26 children, ages three to six years.  The data collected included observations of children’s conflicts and resolutions, conferences with the children and teachers, and children’s journal writings.

The results:  as the peace curriculum was implemented, there was a clear reduction in the number of daily conflicts among the children, and children involved in conflicts shifted from requiring a lot of teacher involvement to resolve their conflicts to needing little or no teacher involvement in the resolution.

You may access the research abstract, presentation slides, or the entire study here: SOPHIA: The Effects of a Peace Curriculum on Reducing and Resolving Conflicts among Children Ages 3-6 Years

Slovak Paska

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Ms. Phyllis baked a special Easter bread for her students: a Slovak Paska.
A few families asked for the recipe, which may be found here.

Recipe photo

Ms. Maria’s Best Advice for Parents …

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

On Sunday, I was in a restaurant when I saw one of our parents from 4 years ago.  Her daughter was with us for 2 years, then the family moved to NYC.  The child is now at one of NYC’s public schools for “gifted and talented” children.  The child is doing very well in all academic areas, and she is always happy.  The mother told me that the other parents in her child’s class keep asking her, “What did you do that she’s doing so well?  And why is she happy?”  The parents then go on to say that they have their children enrolled in after-school academic programs, have private tutors, etc., but the children aren’t “#1” in the class, they don’t like school, and they’re unhappy.  The mother told me that her response to the parents is always the same:  “I started by sending her to a Montessori school, and then I followed their advice:  I do NOTHING with her except read and play, and I don’t make her take anything but fun classes after school; she likes gymnastics.”  The mother told me that all of the parents seem VERY skeptical of her, as though she doesn’t want to “divulge” some secret formula to success.  Just as the mother was telling me this, the father, who’d been listening to the story, said, “The funny part is that it’s much easier to be a parent when you just read and play with the children, because the parents love it and the children love it, and then the children love learning the other stuff at school.”

Montessori House Children’s Art at Cresskill Library

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

A selection of art created by The Montessori House children is now on display at the Cresskill Public Library.  The children created the art using traditional Montessori “metal insets.”  These beautiful pictures exemplify the children’s wonderful creativity and skills, and we are thrilled to have them displayed for all – especially you and your children — to enjoy!  We hope you’ll visit soon (a great snowy-day activity).  

Cresskill Public Library
53 Union Ave, Cresskill, NJ 07626

Mon., Wed,., and Thurs.:  10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Tues., Fri., and Sat.: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   

Tragedy …

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

We can hardly comprehend the tragedy that occurred Friday at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT.  Our deepest sympathies to the families of the children and teachers who were murdered there.   We offer our prayers for the families, teachers, staff and neighbors of  Sandy Hook School. 

— Ms. Maria

Does Your Child Visit iWorld?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a recent article in the WSJ — What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out With an iPad 

More than half of the young children in the U.S. now have access to an iPad, iPhone or similar touch-screen device.

In many ways, the average toddler using an iPad is a guinea pig. While the iPad went on sale two years ago, rigorous, scientific studies of how such a device affects the development of young children typically take three to five years.

There is “little research on the impact of technology like this on kids,” says Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital

In the list of parental worries about tablet use: that it will make kids more sedentary and less sociable. There’s also the mystery of just what is happening in a child’s brain while using the device.

“Unfortunately a lot of the real-life experimentation is going to be done by parents who now have young kids,” says Glenda Revelle, associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Arkansas.

At The Montessori House we generally discourage screen time for young children.  A significant aspect of The Montessori Method is having children interact with the real world — in three dimensions, with all five senses.  When we “follow the child” we follow them through the real world, and Montessori “works” lead them through the real world.  Children engage through senses, and learn through all their senses — the Sand Paper Letters are a great example of helping children to learn by seeing the letter, moving their hands, and feeling the texture. 

The more television children watch during these formative years, Dr. Christakis says, the more likely they are to develop attention problems later on.  … While he hasn’t studied tablets and young children, he suspects the effect could be similar—or perhaps more significant. “One of the strengths of the iPad”—it is interactive—”may be the weakness,” Dr. Christakis says.

Remember in The Montessori classroom children make the choices and control their pace.  It’s different with interactive “apps”:

The child decides when a building is finished; an app determines when the task is completed correctly.

“It gives him a dopamine squirt,” says Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, referring to the brain chemical often associated with pleasure.

Many apps for kids are designed to stimulate dopamine releases—hence encouraging a child to keep playing—by offering rewards or exciting visuals at unpredictable times.

Whatever approach you take with your child, keep in mind the proverb: “Moderation in all things”.

Tienes Hambre? Guacamole!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

On Monday, 3/26/12, parent volunteers from the Nutrition Committee made guacamole with the children at the Montessori House. 

With their Montessori training and expertise in ”practical life”, the children did the measuring, assembly and mixing themselves.   Of course the parents and teachers helped them with the eating!  Guacamole was a great hit! 

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try this at home:

  • 5 Hass avocados (ripe)

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Sea salt (to taste)

  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

  • One tomato diced

Mix together, add some chips or other dipping food, and enjoy!  Ole!