|Letter from the CMS President...
At this time of year, I seem to find myself in awe of the fast-approaching holidays, and I wonder how I might manage to get off of the roller-coaster ride before it begins. The parties, feasts and shopping seem to keep me in a tizzy, and by January, I'm feeling like I've been in a head-lock and am ready to cry "uncle" just to get loose! Complicating matters further for those of us who teach, is the way this holiday hysteria creeps into our classrooms.
Our classrooms can be a place of peace and composure during this hectic time, not only for us, but most importantly, for the children. Maria Montessori said, "The child is much more spiritually elevated than is usually supposed. He often suffers, not from too much work, but from work that is unworthy of him."
I would like to suggest an alternative to the holiday hysteria this year. Reconsider a conversation about Santa Claus, his reindeer, or his elves (not even the one on a shelf) before engaging with the children. Perhaps, keeping your classroom curriculum free of holiday decorations, holiday art works, commercial clutter and hullabaloo will provide the children with a place of refuge.
Instead, focus on the current wonders of Nature; changing weather, migrating birds, shorter days, and longer nights. Why do we no longer see Goldfinches in the winter? What constellations and stars do we see in the night sky in December? Bring out the" Parts of the Bird". Bring out a Lite Bright, and the Solar System materials. Our children don't need us to reinforce the holidays in their classrooms, they need us to create a space of peace, where they can work with focus and concentration, and engage in meaningful activity.
The holiday season is a time of plenty for some, and of notable lack for others. A food or toy drive, and a visit to your local food bank is an easy way to share with those in need, and it gives children the chance to let their empathy for others blossom.
If you are a teacher who enjoys the plethora of holiday clamor, keep it low-key. Bring out a table-top zen garden with a miniature holiday crèche. Those who don't know the story of baby Jesus will love it just as much as those who do. In art, try an activity using "complementary" colors: those that are opposites on the color wheel, including red & green. Enjoy the art of Degas and his beautiful ballerinas. Bring in the music of the Nutcracker to play quietly in the background.
Remember, our Montessori classrooms are often a refuge for children in this much-too-busy world. Let's keep it that way, especially during this hectic time of year.
May this holiday season be full of peace and blessings for you and yours.
Children's Meeting House in Loveland Hosts Great Outdoor Weekend 2011
By: Bonnie McNett
Children's Meeting House (CMH) is set on a 6.5-acre campus where students 3 to 12 years of age are able to explore pond and aquatic habitats, early successional grasslands, explore trails through wooded areas, an orchard, flower and vegetable gardens, creek life, a bird blind and bird feeding station. In 2006, CMH was designated by the State of Ohio as a "Wild School Site", one of only five schools in the tri county region.
This Fall, CMH had the opportunity to participate with other nature based organizations in the Great Outdoor Weekend (GOW). Attracting approximately 10,000 people who take part in one or more outdoor events, the GOW strives to provide free, accessible, engaging, and educational events to help the public explore the natural world around them.
There was never a question of whether CMH had the proper outdoor environment to participate. Instead, the question was how to maintain Montessori educational roots while embarking on their new adventure. CMH agreed on the following criteria: nature events needed to meet certain Montessori criteria, offerings on the CMH campus needed to be child friendly, hands-on, enjoyable and adaptable to multiple ages of children and adults. Also, GOW activities were to be facilitated or co-led by older CMH students, giving them the opportunity to take part in community service and leadership.
After much discussion and planning, CMH staff decided on the following five events that met most of the criteria agreed upon:
- An interactive mist-netting program. Wild birds were caught, identified, weighed, sexed, and fitted with a uniquely numbered leg band by a master bird bander. Bird anatomy, physiology, and adaptations were discussed. Birds were then safely released back into their natural habitat.
- Shirt painting using natural objects such as leaves, twigs, and flowers to create a unique and colorful t-shirts using non-toxic fabric paint.
- Pond exploration at the outdoor learning lab where adults and children, using microscopes and nets, collected and learned about insects and protozoa found in aquatic environments.
- A nature hike and scavenger hunt, where we found and identified reptiles, insects, plants, butterflies, and songbirds.
- A marshmallow roast, where families were invited to gather and socialize around a campfire.
Several older CMH students put their heads together and saw an opportunity to create a sixth GOW event. They realized that many of the aquatic vertebrates (frogs) and invertebrates (snails) were not being included in the Great Outdoor Weekend events, so they created a 'Touch Tank' Station. The older children were joined by many younger children, who saw adventure and fun in this opportunity to have a child run station. They worked together to gather buckets and nets, to catch frogs and snails, to count and organize the animals, and to make a special sign for their station out of paper plates. Students then ventured out among the other GOW families, engaged them in conversation, and invited them to see, pet, and even hold these creatures.
It was a magical sight for event organizers and Montessori parents to watch these students collaborate and create the sixth station. The Montessori investment made in these children manifested before their eyes in true collateral. The adults witnessed a spontaneous generation of curiosity, cooperation, and the desire to share something they felt passionate about with other children and adults. They saw self-confident, knowledgeable children educating others about frog and snail biology, the proper way to hold or pet a frog, and about how you cannot get warts from toads. These children are truly thriving at CMH.
Many CMH families participated in the Great Outdoor Weekend events, as well as families from the local community. Participants learned about goldfinch molting, hydra locomotion, that an eastern towhee sings 'Drink your tea', and how to toast (or burn) the perfect marshmallow. Adults and children of all ages collected leaves and twigs for their uniquely decorated hand-painted shirts. The day truly celebrated the "Great Outdoors" and helped build a sense of community, both within Children's Meeting House and to the Greater Loveland/Cincinnati community.
Children's Meeting House hopes to participate in the next Great Outdoor Weekend in September of 2012. Information is available at: www.greatoutdoorweekend.org.
"What do I do when my child_________?"
By: Jill Wilson
Jill Wilson became a Montessorian when she first set foot in a Montessori pre-primary classroom to observe in 1989. She has her B.S. in Early Childhood Education, M.Ed in Elementary Ed and AMS Montessori Certification 3-6 and 6-9. Jill is currently receiving her training in becoming a Montessori parent by her 2 children ages 4 and 2.
Whenever I have questions regarding child-rearing practices, I turn to the writings of Dr. Montessori. I am always amazed that when I search her writings with a specific question, the answer appears as if I've never read that passage before and then I see how it all so beautifully fits.
This month, my search was about discipline in the home. A topic amongst a group of parents was "What do I do when my child..." It seemed many parents were looking for that magical consequence/punishment/ action that they could take that would change that child's actions and attain immediate obedience. In my research, I came across a short passage that Dr. Montessori wrote titled "Rewards and Punishments." (The Secret of Childhood, p. 122-23) And, as usual, the simplicity and brilliancy of it blew me away. The passage, only 3 paragraphs long, ends with, "Eventually we gave up either punishing or rewarding the children." That one sentence holds such a profound meaning in today's culture where thousands of books are published on how to use punishments and rewards to discipline children. And for those of you who attended the CMS Spring Conference last March, you heard Alfie Kohn's keynote and/or breakout sessions regarding the current research about punishments and rewards. Yet another example of how Dr. Montessori had it all figured out over 100 years ago and we are just now catching up!
How do we answer the question, "What do I do when my child...?" There isn't a steadfast rule that can apply to all children in all situations all of the time. The question, I believe, that first must be asked is: "what is the relationship like between the adult and the child?" A deep respect for the child, his needs and processes, must be present for an adult to begin to work together with the child to solve the conflict at hand. A child's needs and processes in that moment must always be taken into consideration. Many adults tend to get off track through their verbal communications with the child.
Respectful communication starts at birth. Promptly attend to the child that has something to say - even a "goo-goo-gaa" from a newborn deserves to be answered. Acknowledge what the child has said, "Oh, you'd like me to put on your shoes?" Or sometimes there is an emotion that needs to be acknowledged, too, "You sound very frustrated that you can't get your shoe on." Then respond in an appropriate manner, "Would you like some help tying your shoes?" Or "Yes, I am happy to help you with that." These are all parts of a conversation with a child where the child can trust that he is being heard, understood and feel safe about it - a key to a strong relationship.
For example, when a child falls down, bumps a knee and starts to cry, many adults tend to pick them up and soothe them by saying "Oh, you're okay. You're okay." But that quite contradicts the child's experience. From his perspective, he fell down, he is hurt, and he is not okay. Instead, the adult can promptly attend to the child, kneel down next to him with a hand on his back, and establish a connection so the child knows the adult is there. The adult could then acknowledge what has happened, "Oh, you fell down. It sounds like you are hurt!" And then respond appropriately, "How can I help you? Would you like me to pick you up? Can I rub your knee?"
Praise is another form of communication that can actually inhibit a relationship between an adult and child. It may be surprising to know that Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for NonViolent Communication, considers "praise and compliments violent forms of communication. Because they are part of the language of domination, it is one passing judgment on another." (www.cnvc.org) Even something as simple as "good job," is praise and is detrimental to the adult/child relationship - and the development of the child himself (see Alfie Kohn's article Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job).
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A Loss to the Field of Education &
a Threat to the "Fire in Our Children's Eyes":
Holistic Education Program on Verge of Disappearing
- By: Laureen Golden
I met Anna Soter, PhD and Lucilla Rudge, PhD, the two Ohio State University professors who developed OSU's Holistic Education Focus Area, when Trevor Eissler came to speak in Columbus, OH. Sharing the values that learning is experiential, education should involve nurturing the whole child, and that knowledge-building through inquiry is integral to all forms of education and life itself, Drs. Soter and Rudge joined the Montessori community in a demonstration of support and kinship.
"Academia has never been friendly to Montessori education, oscillating between hostility and neglect", wrote Michael Strong. In his essay, Renewing the Promise of Montessori Education, Strong identified academic departments of education as one of the two major culprits that have "fatally undermined the widespread flourishing of Montessori education". In general, college-level education courses will allude to alternative theories of education in a perfunctory manner, if at all, which confines future educators to the conventional methods of education.
It was an incredible achievement for Drs. Soter and Rudge to have created a Holistic Education focus area, which explores a variety of educational approaches and theories (including Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf) at a major university. Soter, fueled by a conviction that "we learn best by experiencing, by emotionally and physically engaging in a concept" made a goal of the holistic education program "to get teachers to reinvent feeling as part of learning instead of treating it as an intellectual experience."
Teachers who took courses (which included "The Power of Poetry - Connecting and Reconnecting to Self, Other, and the World Around Us", "Ecopsychology", "Compassionate Teaching", and "Transformative Practices") in the Holistic Education focus area, expressed feeling "renewed" and having the experience of "rediscovering themselves as teachers". Tami Augustine, a PhD student, in enthusiastic support of the program, expressed, "Holistic education takes into account the whole child. We cannot simply fill a student's brain without also tending to their bodies and spirits and expect school to be a wonderful experience for a group of diverse learners. To me, Holistic Education pushes the boundaries of what education has traditionally been to help students function in our current global world."
I meant to write a letter of support when I heard that the budget might be cut from the Holistic Education focus area. I wanted the OSU administration to know that people share Tami Augustine's sentiment, that the program "makes OSU a better place to learn and study and shows that, as a University, they are willing to think 'outside the box' and take risks." I longed for them to be aware that although policy makers are pushing for more testing and tighter standards, there are parents -- thousands of us -- who want more for our children than to be passive receptacles of arbitrary facts. There are those of us who desire our "whole child" to be recognized and nurtured in school each day; for children to be emotionally and physically engaged in the process of learning.
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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. If you are interested in serving on the board or have talents to share, please email your name and contact info to our nominations committee
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.
Newly Restructured Infant/Toddler Teacher Training Program
The Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education announces the beginning of a newly restructured Infant/Toddler Teacher training program. The program is designed to be completed in one year (June 2012 - June 2013). Classes will begin this summer and students will meet three times (on weekends) throughout the school year while fulfilling the practicum phase of the program.
GCCME offers high quality Montessori teacher education programs. Through in-depth exploration of philosophy and methods, students graduate from the program with a deep understanding of Montessori education and current trends in child development. Students will be well-prepared to meet the challenges of being a classroom teacher.
For more information regarding the Infant/Toddler Training Program, or the Early Childhood Program, contact Crystal Dahlmeier or Heather Gerker at 859.431.2075 or visit www.gccme.org.
The New School Montessori Special Guest
The New School Montessori is pleased to sponsor a presentation by Dr. Jeff Stanzler from the University of Michigan's School of Education in our historic Mitchell Mansion on Burton Woods Lane.
Please join us on Saturday, December 3 from 2-4PM for a riveting lecture and dialog about Education and Technology: Broadening Cultural and Community Perspectives.
The event is free of charge, and space is limited. To reserve your seat and to receive a copy of an article Dr. Stanzler co-authored about this topic, email us at email@example.com.
Dr Stanzler's work challenges the outworn assumptions about the nature of play in the lives of children and schools. See how technology can intentionally and pro-actively put students in the position of investigating culture, diversity, and history.
Refreshments will be prepared by The New School Montessori's chef Audrey Cobb.
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| Calendar of Events
Xavier University Montessori Lab School
Open House will take place between 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For more information or to register, click here.
Parent Workshop: Parenting the Montessori Way
GCCME is offering a 3 hour workshop where participants will discuss what makes a home Montessori and ways to create a home environment that will help their child develop independence and a strong sense of self.
Saturday, Feb. 18th,
9am - 12pm
Cincinnati Montessori Society presents:
CMS Annual Spring Conference
featuring Stephen Hughes, Ph.D
Saturday, March 24th, 2012
For details, click here.
Save the date!
CMS Annual Spring Conference
Saturday, March 24th, 2012
Steven J. Hughes, Ph.d
Steven J. Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN is an assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and maintains a private practice where he specializes in assessment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other learning and behavioral problems in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Hughes completed his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota and his post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he joined the faculty of the Division of Pediatric Clinical Neurosciences in 2001.
In his clinical work, he has specialized in neuropsychological assessment of children and adolescents with a wide range of learning, developmental, and medical disorders, and assisted in the supervision and training of future neuropsychologists. Himself a Montessori parent, Dr. Hughes has helped many families from the Twin Cities Montessori community understand their child's special educational or developmental needs. He is a frequent guest lecturer at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota and a Montessori schools around Minnesota and Wisconsin.
His research interests include measurement of attention and executive functioning in children and adults, the effects of living in poverty on child development, and the neurodevelopmental benefits of classical Montessori education.
For more information about the CMS 2012 Conference, visit our website.