Welcome to the 2010-2011 School Year! |
Teachers are busy in the classrooms, parents are prepping the children, and all are enjoying the final days of summer as the new school year quickly approaches. CMS has been very busy as well. We're working hard to plan our Spring conference, put together the Montessori school directories, and keep the new website up to date. Keeping all this in mind, we've put together a "Back to school issue" with articles gearing towards getting parents, teachers, and children back in the swing of things.
The transition to the E-Newsletter has gone well with a few glitches here and there. It certainly feels good to be doing our share in saving trees. Thanks for you patience and feedback.
We hope you enjoy our second issue of the online newsletter. Please send us your feedback,we'd love to hear it!
Go Back to the Basics for Healthy Children
When Dr. Montessori first began to practice as a physician, she was assigned to a home for "defective children." What a statement those words make about the culture in Italy at the turn of the last century. Her first work with those children was to tend to their health: good food, proper rest, clean surroundings. Only then could she move on to the brilliance that followed.
Today it seems our society is also impoverished but our deficit is one of time. We have created spectacular ways of drinking our coffee because we literally need it to stay awake and alert in our perpetual state of sleep deprivation. We have delectable frozen foods or hot and ready-to-go meals that we can buy because we often do not have time to prepare our own food. Sleep and food - the first things to go.
But what do we have in abundance? Diagnosed learning disabilities. There is a debate about that, you know, a chicken and the egg debate. Are we diagnosing more because we just didn't call these things learning disabilities in the past? Or, are we diagnosing more because there is more to diagnose? This page is too small to engage deeply in that dialogue but I will point out one tiny piece of evidence towards the latter. A study published in 2007 in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, found that artificial colors and/or sodium benzoate (a food preservative) increase hyperactivity in children. Look at the ingredient labels on a few processed foods (like cereal or cookies) and you will most likely find those two ingredients. They are ubiquitous - and so is hyperactivity. Maybe mother nature is telling us something. Maybe we need to go back to basics and take a look at the first things to go - sleep and food.
How is the child sleeping?
"...the symptoms of sleep deprivation can mimic those of ADHD."
Children from ages 3 to 6 generally need a total 10-12 hours of quality sleep per day (including nap if they take one). Quality sleep means deep, uninterrupted sleep. If there is something that is getting in the way of a restful night, addressing that problem can produce impressive changes in the child's behavior. For example, 60 percent of children with a certain type of eczema lose sleep or have poor quality sleep because of itchiness and soreness. If the itchiness and soreness are addressed, the sleep can improve. So, when you observe your struggling children, check for bags under their eyes. If they fall asleep on top of the buttoning frame, it's time to speak with the family. If the family confirms that the child is not sleeping long enough or has disturbed sleep and a specific cause is unknown, there are a few simple, evidence-based strategies you can recommend to parents:
- Play actively with the child during the day/evening (to satisfy the child's need to be with the parent so the child can let the parent leave when it's time for the lights to go out)
- Reduce evening stress
- Turn off the TV long before bedtime since it can affect a child's sense of safety/need to be vigilant (or better yet, never turn it on)
- Start getting ready for bed 30 minutes before lights out time
- Have a calm/predictable bedtime routine; for example, a bath, applying lotion/giving a back or foot rub, and then cuddling/singing/reading together
- Have a calm, quiet, dark bedroom
- Give the child melatonin
Whether the situation at home shifts or not, in the Children's House we can be flexible and allow the child to rest. You may not have structures in a garden, but hopefully you can make a quiet space in your environment where any child is free to take a nap or just lie down, watch the world unfold, or process what has already unfolded. As it turns out, brain studies show that we all need time to process/reflect in order to actually internalize and learn whatever we just did. So a space for down time will benefit the learning of all the children, not just the sleep deprived ones.
How is he eating?
In her early works, Dr. Montessori wrote in detail about the soups and other foods offered to the children in their daily regimen. It seems we may have lost this aspect of the pedagogy over the years ... the research indicates that it is time to reclaim it. (If you are interested in addressing the issue of nutrition in public school meals, visit the website www.twoangrymoms.org
Traditionally, we associate malnutrition with weight. If we see a thin child who doesn't eat much, we worry. But did you know that even children who are not underweight and who have diets that appear healthy can have underlying nutritional deficiencies? These deficiencies may express themselves in unexpected ways, including maladaptive behaviors. So if a child's behavior is troubling, consider what his body might be missing.
"Nutrient supplementation has been shown to decrease antisocial and violent behavior and improve mental performance, brain function, visual acuity, and mood."
Ask the family about the child's nutrition. If he is a picky eater or even if his diet seems healthy, encourage the parents to give him a multi-vitamin and omega-3 (fish) oils every day. Nutrient supplementation has been shown to decrease antisocial and violent behavior and improve mental performance, brain function, visual acuity and mood. For example, children with autism are more likely to have certain nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems. Treatment of these underlying issues can have positive effects on behavior. Another example is of prisoners whose violent behavior dramatically decreased after receiving a few weeks of vitamin, mineral and fatty acid supplements.
Of course you can't give the children vitamins without parental consent but you certainly can encourage it. You can print out more information on specific vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, their dosing range, and allergies from www.mbhe.org
. Share the data with them and let them make their own choice. If the challenges continue, keep encouraging them. Patience and perseverance are incredibly powerful tools.
We're coming full circle. Maria Montessori began her work as a physician, tending to the physical needs of children before approaching their educational needs. Today's brain research shows that the physical needs necessarily overlap with the cognitive ones. First, care for the body. Then, the mind and the heart can open to all the possibilities that may unfold.
-Julia Volkman (reprinted with permission)
Julia is the mother of a teenager and 4-year-old, a Montessori Mentor at a public Montessori school in Springfield, MA, the founder of Maitri Learning (www.maitrilearning.com), and the lead investigator on a clinical study of lamination methods in the Children's House.
Montessori Retirees - Where are they now?
Soft-spoken and red headed, Martha McDermott, left the classroom in 1982 but didn't actually retire until 1992. She spent those 10 years consulting, visiting schools, and supporting and coaching teachers. She explored the idea of moving back to Scotland but ran into some difficulties. Those difficulties, however, turned out to be a good thing for Montessorians here in the United States. After retirement, Martha visited Jim Ruffing, the man responsible for her coming to the US. A parent later said of Jim hiring Martha, "We took her sight unseen and sound unheard."
Martha feels that retirement is an ongoing creation with the freedom to have fun. She keeps very busy - enjoying concerts and theater. She is also part of a traveling team working in Montessori classrooms around the US. This team includes three teachers that spend time between four sites - Columbus OH, San Antonio TX, Orlando FL and New Jersey. At each location, they share Practical Life hints with Montessorians in the area. Martha's focus is the hand and how it shapes the brain in the 3-6 year old.
She has also spent time traveling for a local organization, Landmark Education, and worked with the COMETT program (Columbus Ohio Montessori Education Teacher Training) as a traveling consultant. Her COMETT work took her to Jackson, Tennessee, where she supported the teachers in creating Montessori environments in the public schools.
Martha is most proud of her work as part of the team that raised a quarter of a million dollars - part money and part donated Montessori material - to help reintroduce Montessori education in Rumania through a group called Cherish the Children.
When asked if she would have done things differently, she thoughtfully said she would have delayed retirement a year or two. As far as mapping out retirement or 'just letting it happen,' Martha shares that it was a bit of both. As for her passion, Martha will never leave Montessori; she might have changed her hair but not her purpose.
Martha says, "Maria started a new conversation on the planet for the possibility of children and it will never be completed." Thus, the Montessorian's job continues.
Eating Healthy Food Aids Learning
Is good nutrition important for good learning? In a word, yes. Research has shown that children who regularly ate breakfast had better standardized test scores, better behavior, and were less hyperactive than children who skipped breakfast. When comparing low glycemic index (GI) breakfasts to high GI breakfasts eaten by 9- to 12-year-old children, research also shows that children who eat high GI breakfasts (sugary breakfasts) tend to eat more at lunch.
Breakfast Is Important
What makes a good breakfast for children? One good example would be an egg, a slice of whole grain toast with nut butter, a piece of fruit and a glass of low-fat milk. Tofu, lean meat and whole grain cereals are also good choices at breakfast. The protein and fiber from the whole grains will keep your child satisfied until lunch time. Try to avoid giving your child sugary breakfast cereals, white-flour pancakes and syrup -- all of which will leave your child hungry and tired half way through the morning. If your child tends to get hungry in the middle of the morning no matter what, send an apple, whole grain crackers, nuts and cheese snacks rather than sugary cookies or white-flour crackers.
Most schools try to provide nutritious lunches for children, but a tour through your local school's cafeteria might show a lot of junk. Many schools offer fast food, greasy pizzas, French fries and other poor-quality foods alongside the usual lunch selections.
One high school in Appleton, Wisconsin replaced their regular poor-quality school lunches with healthy fresh foods at lunch with water as the main beverage. The changes resulted in improved behavior from the students and zero truancies.
Eating healthy at lunch will help keep your child's mind sharp and ready to learn all afternoon. Convincing schools to change their lunches might take a lot of effort, but there are other things you can do, such as teach your kids the importance of eating nutritious foods. Hopefully with your help they will choose healthier salads and vegetables instead of French fries, and water instead of soda. Another option is to send lunch with your kids. Hearty soups, salads, fruits, and sandwiches with whole grains can all be packed in insulated containers to stay hot or cold.
After School Snacks
Even with a great breakfast and healthy lunch, a light after-school snack is nice to refuel a kid's body before play or study time. A handful of nuts and an apple is perfect, or maybe a snack tray of vegetables and dips. Even a healthy version of a PB & J will satisfy picky kids. Keep chips, sugary sodas, pastries and candy out of the house. As the Oxford study shows, sugary and high glycemic index foods just make kids hungrier.
Life-Long Health Means Good Nutrition
Children who eat healthy foods will be more likely to make better food and nutrition choices as adults. Unfortunately, studies show that the opposite is also true -- overweight children tend to become overweight adults.
Teach your children about healthy foods. Here are some tips to help:
-Shereen Jetgvig (reprinted with permission)
- Read over the different food pyramids and ask your kids to pick out some favorite foods from each food group.
- Have them help you plan a meal that includes a healthy serving of protein, a vegetable or two, and a healthy fruit for dessert.
- For young kids, make a chart to keep track of all the fruits and vegetables they eat (we need at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day).
- Snack time can be more fun if you try different recipes and snack ideas together with your kids.
- Teaching your children to how to have a healthy diet will have a bigger impact if you set the example. Eat right, get some exercise, and make a healthy lifestyle a family affair.
JM, Wehler CA, Pagano ME, Little M, Kleinman RE, Jellinek MS.
"Relationship Between Hunger and Psychosocial Functioning in Low-Income
American Children." Journal of the American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, February, 1998.
JM, Henry CJ, Simonite V. "Low Glycemic Index Breakfasts and Reduced Food
Intake in Preadolescent Children." Pediatrics, November 2003.
J, Moran A, Hong CP, Jacobs DR,
Sinaiko AR. "Adiposity in childhood predicts obesity and insulin
resistance in young adulthood." Journal of Pediatrics, April 2001.
A Perspective on Siblings Together in the Classroom
Sometimes parents ask me advice about whether to put siblings together in a classroom. As a multi-age teacher, I look forward to having siblings in the schoolroom. When siblings come to the classroom together, they enter an environment that focuses not only on academic achievement, but on accepting each other's uniqueness in a public setting away from family. The schoolroom can provide a different perspective of a student's brother or sister and help them practice friendship skills that can become additional lifelong patterns to the practices they are learning in their family life.
In the beginning of the year, siblings can learn to be self-sufficient while having the confidence inspired by a brother or sister in close proximity. For some children, little things like hanging up their own backpack or opening the bathroom door can be easier with their sibling near. I have often observed that an older child who leads his or her counterpart around the room will realize that it no longer becomes necessary once the younger child is more capable and confident. Another rewarding moment is to see siblings learn to respect each other in group circle during sharing time. For example, siblings learn to allow each other to talk about family outings and accept each others' individual remembrances, thus learning that being respectful of others is a part of growing up. Interacting with a group of students involves some peer pressure to conform to school rules, so being able to let this happen comfortably can help foster harmony and a sense of community spirit.
Being in the classroom together helps siblings learn how to respect the accomplishments of each other. Older children may merely enjoy the fact that their siblings have learned something as simple as how to swing on the monkeybars - by watching them demonstrate this technique - and the younger counterparts are now successfully swinging independently and receiving the admiration of their school friends. In this situation, the school setting helps them become peers in an impersonal environment. Because the classroom by and large evokes a broader dynamic than in their familial interplay, children absorb this group peer imperative and formulate patterns of behavior in congruence with school expectations.
One goal in all Montessori classrooms is a peaceful environment. Many teachers read the book, "Our Peaceful Classroom" and discuss how to handle disagreements. Some may employ peace stones or talking sticks that we pass back and forth while talking calmly as we discuss what should happen during a disagreement. This is a way for everyone to acknowledge justice and consider kindness, as each party comprehends the components of equitability. This training creates a group commitment, as children learn to perform simple acts of kindness. We teach that the solution may not always seem fair, but sometimes must be accepted anyway. All children participate in peaceful resolution practice.
Siblings benefit in many ways from our classroom goals and they often carry over into relationships at home. It can begin with an action as simple as an older sister picking up a sweatshirt belonging to her younger sister, after she left it on the floor. In one family, the parents remarked at how nicely their girls were treating one another since they were both in school together. Other parents have also related that family interaction had become even more pleasant at home, while having siblings together in the classroom. Naturally, students who do not have siblings also assimilate and carry these ideas and techniques with them, as they grow. At the core of the Montessori philosophy is the idea of world peace beginning with children. What better way to begin than through sibling experiences in the classroom?
-Brooke Byam, The Summit Country Day School
Resource: Wolf, Aline; Our Peaceful Classroom. Parent Child Press, 1991.
As you know, the Cincinnati Montessori Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together parents, teachers and schools in order to promote and support the Montessori philosophy. It is governed by a volunteer board of trustees of Montessori parents, teachers, students, administrators and others interested in supporting Montessori education.
Each year, as we vote in new board members, we examine how we are serving our customers and what else we can do to support and promote Montessori Education in Cincinnati.
Your feedback is very important to us - comments, compliments and critiques!
- What do you like and/or dislike about our service?
- What ideas do you have to make our organization better?
- What areas do you think are important for CMS get involved in?
Executive Board Members
The Cincinnati Montessori Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together parents, teachers, and schools in order to promote and support the Montessori philosophy. It is governed by a volunteer board of trustees, comprised of Montessori parents, teachers, students, administrators and others interested in supporting this method of education.
Save the Date
March 12th, 2011-
CMS Spring Conference!
The Cincinnati Montessori Society will be holding their annual conference on March 12, 2011 at Xavier University Cintas Center, featuring Alfie Kohn as the keynote speaker. Kohn speaks throughout the country on human behavior, education, and parenting and is the author of eleven books. Time magazine describes him as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores." To learn more about Alfie Kohn, visit his website.
For up to date information regarding the CMS spring conference, check the CMS website often.
articles for the
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Email submissions by
November 12th to CMS.
|Calendar of Events|
Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time, is speaking at Xavier's Cintas Center at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29. For more info,
go to www.xavier.edu
United Montessori Schools of Indiana, Fall Conference
Saturday, October 2, 2010
For more information, go to www.umsindiana.org
The Essential Montessori Science-
Whole School Implementation, presented by NAMTA
AMS Fall Conference
San Diego, CA
For more info, go to
The Essential Montessori Science-
Whole School Implementation, presented by NAMTA
October 7-10, Baltimore, MD
For more info, go to www.montessori-namta.org/
Richard Lavoie, speaker, Student Motivation and Learning Disabilities-
Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child
Cintas Center, Xavier University
October 27, 2010, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m
For more info,
go to www.xavier.edu
The 2010 OKI Children's Literature Conference features Chris Raschka and Gail Carson Levine
Creative Expression through Language, Literature, and Literacy
Thomas More College
Crestview Hills, Kentucky
November 6, 2010
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
For more info,
go to http://oki.nku.edu
Universality of the
Three Period Lesson
Accenting the Importance
of the Learner
presented by NAMTA -
For more info, go to www.montessori-namta.org/
The New School, Open House
3 Burton Woods Lane
Cincinnati, Ohio 45229
November 14, 2pm-4pm
*Submit your event here.
The New School's Japanese Experience
The New School Montessori has enjoyed a cultural exchange with a Montessori school in Japan for the last seven years. This year teacher Nancy Buchman and TNSM director Eric Dustman chaperoned nine students on a trip to Yokkaichi City, Japan. They stayed in various locations including a traditional Japanese home with rice paper walls, gardens, and tatami mat floors. The students' days were spent hiking the Suzuka mountain range, enjoying the waters of the gorge and touring the city of Nara with its Buddhist temple. Besides visiting the Japanese Montessori elementary school, they also toured an American school in Kyoto and experienced traditional tea ceremonies, demonstrations of Japanese instruments and learned about flower arranging and calligraphy. To see a blog of their trip, visit www.thenewschool.cc.
Kinder Garden School - Blue Ash
Kinder Garden School in Blue Ash in search of a full-time Teacher with
Montessori training or experience for children ages 3years-6years of
age. This is a LEAD teaching position.
Implementing with curriculum
Montessori experience, preferably with children ages 3-6 years
Communication with parents
Meeting with assistant teacher for weekly updates
Start IMMEDIATELY!! Please send resumes to Tami or call 513-791-4300.
For National Job listings - check the American Montessori Society website.
Editor - Heather Gerker
School Happenings - Dee Butler
Parent's Section - Valerie Dyas
Teacher's Section - Sarah Fullen
Current Events - Julie Kugler-Ackley
Contributors- Ann Baumgardner, Brooke Byam, Tricia Grawe, and Kristin Patterson