As many of you are re-entering your classrooms preparing for the start of a new school year, I hope that
you feel the passion and energy that comes with a Community being reunited (or prepping your children
for the new school year). A Community of children in classrooms, teachers, parents and other school
staff that will welcome everyone back to the school year with excitement and enthusiasm for what the
new school year will bring.
Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of the ongoing spiritual development of the teacher, but
as Aline D. Wolf says in Nurturing the Spirit in Non-sectarian Classrooms, "The journey to wholeness
cannot be made alone." It is the hope of CMS that your school community provides this for you and that
you remember CMS is here to support you and your community as well.
In this newsletter, you will find the details of the 2014 Spring Conference, some "back to school" tips,
Montessori Month at the Nature Center, and much more. As always, we want to provide a newsletter
that is helpful to you - please let us know if you are interested in submitting a story for next time.
May this next month be one of joy, excitement, and Community building for you.
A Visit to Auchlone Nature Preschool, Crieff, Scotland
By: Crystal Dahlmeier
I recently had an opportunity to visit a Forest School, part of the Nature Kindergarten movement in Europe. The program, articulated by Claire Warden in her book Nature Kindergartens, serves children from the age of 2 years. The children spend about 80% of their day outdoors, in all weather. The day of our visit to the Auchlone Nature Preschool was cold and rainy. The children were outside, dressed in coveralls with hoods, boots and gloves and were engaged in a variety of activities in the naturalistic garden. At one point in the morning, one of the teachers invited the children to the outdoor shelter (open on 3 sides) where they gathered around a large table to decide what their exploration would be that morning. They decided to go to the "deep, dark woods". We would have joined them, but our guide, Center Director Steven White, noted that we would have to crawl into the space. Since the ground was saturated and we were not dressed for the weather, we decided to explore other spaces.
The program incorporates some aspects of other educational theories (Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio) and identifies some specific aims, which include: "providing children with a very naturalistic environment indoors, in the garden and in the wild woods where they are encouraged and supported to take risks and become the risk assessors" and "encouraging children to explore, appreciate and respect their environment".
While outdoors, children "build dens and shelters, using tools such as saws, make fires to cook their own snacks, climb trees and generally explore the wonders that the woodlands have to offer". We saw the results of children's whittling, using potato peelers and very soft wood.
HM Inspectorate of Education inspected Auchlone Nature Kindergarten and awarded an "Excellent" grading in all 5
categories inspected! Mr. White noted that this has been a journey, with the need for many meetings with the officials and clear articulation of how the school meets all the state standards.
For more information about the Nature Kindergartens, go to www.mindstretchers.co.uk/nature-kindergarten.cfm
Change Is In the Air for NKMC
Northern Kentucky Montessori Center (NKMC) is growing and changing, and to better reflect those changes, NKMC has become Northern Kentucky Montessori Academy.
In 2004, founders Kitty and Dan Salter retired and the school was relocated from their home to its first
freestanding facility in Crescent Springs. Since then, the program has tripled in size and now offers a
comprehensive Montessori education to children ages three through sixth grade.
While the program will continue to provide childcare for working parents, NKMC has always focused primarily on education. "We pride ourselves on being the only private school in Kenton County that focuses on multi-cultural and multi-ethnic educational experiences and academics. Until we started our elementary program, a family living in Northern Kentucky, wanting a private school education for their child had no choice but to select a religiously-affiliated school" states Executive Director, Julia Preziosi. "For us, it was an opportunity to bring the Montessori experience to a diverse population, and it has been a perfect fit."
Maria Montessori believed that through knowledge and understanding, peace could be accomplished throughout the world. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice in her lifetime, Montessori witnessed first-hand the devastation of two world wars, and their impact on the most vulnerable among us - our children. As a result, she became their life-long advocate.
According to Preziosi, "we believe that the word 'academy' more aptly defines what our program is for children. An academy is a place for scholarly endeavors. And while we will continue to provide full-day care for children, we want the community to understand that we are first and foremost an academy. We hold fast to the high standards of Montessori education, and we work diligently with children to instill the values of respect, compassion, and joyful learning."
The date for the name change was May 7, 2013, at which time Preziosi delivered the annual "State of
the School" message to NKMC families.
Surviving the "Back to School Blues"
By: Whitney Gleason
Whether your child is going back to school or just beginning preschool, the beginning of the school year can be stressful and sometimes difficult. Some children will leave the first day with barely a wave and then cling to you after three weeks. Others will be anxious from the first day, and still others may have no problems transitioning at all. The important thing to remember is that what is normal for one child may not be what is normal for your child. As we have learned through the Montessori Method, it is so crucial to always "follow the child". Therefore, you should take cues from your child as to how they are feeling about beginning school. There are many steps you can take to ensure that you are making them feel as comfortable as possible.
When beginning a new routine, it is important to remember that eating, sleeping, and play schedules will be interrupted and some children do not handle this well. Your child may come home sleepy, hungry, and overwhelmed. For many children, this may only last a few short weeks as they build up endurance and learn their new weekly schedule. However, many (especially younger) children will need a longer adjustment period. Parents who are in tune to their child's needs and sensitive to their anxieties can help with this transition. Here are a few common issues that children often experience at the beginning of the school year:
- Overly tired
- Hungry at non-meal times
- Nauseous (either from interrupted eating patterns or from anxiety)
Children who are experiencing some or all of these issues can have a much harder time getting used to their school environment and it may take them longer to feel comfortable and become well-adjusted. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following tactics for better sleeps to ensure children are fully ready for a busy school day:
- Have a consistent bedtime (even on weekends until the child has adjusted well to their new schedule and longer days)
- Wake at the same time each morning
- Establish a consistent routine of "winding down" (this might include taking a bath, reading a few stories, or talking about their day)
- Establish a relaxing environment in the bedroom (this should be dark and cool without televisions, computers, or gaming stations)
Getting children to bed on time and ensuring a good night of sleep will help them to be more prepared to face a school day. Summer is often filled with relaxing days and lax schedules (as it should be) and therefore children may not need as much sleep to keep up with the demands of the day. During the school year, children will become accustomed to their daily routine, but will continue to need a sufficient amount of sleep to keep them energized throughout the day.
For those children who are getting plenty of sleep at night but are experiencing other anxieties about the beginning of the school year, these suggestions may be helpful:
- Be enthusiastic about school. When parents are excited, children will often follow their lead and become excited too. Likewise, they can easily pick up on anxieties their parents may have and will become worried themselves.
- Visit the school before the first day. Many children, whether new or returning are afraid of not being able to find their way around. Some are just anxious about a new environment. Either way, getting to know the building and surrounding area before they are dropped off without a parent can help the child feel more comfortable and familiarized.
- Talk about the value of education. If parents take school seriously, the children usually will as well.
- Be organized. The less stress parents have during those first few weeks of school, the more comfortable the children will feel.
- Have "play dates" before school begins. This will give your child something to look forward to when they come back to school. They will already know who to look for in the building and will have those relationships established.
- Refresh concepts for returning students. Many teachers will go over concepts from the previous year during the first few weeks and a child who feels comfortable with these will already feel successful in school.
Again, it is important to remember that each child reacts differently at the beginning of the school year and that is to be expected. Your child may act differently from one year to the other or may be very predictable. Either way, doing some prep work and following cues from your child should allow you to stay ahead of their anxieties and calm their fears and worries, making for an easier and smoother transition from the beloved summer break to the exciting start of a new year.
September is Montessori Month at Cincinnati Nature Center!
By: Melissa Sabo
Educators know that children learn best through direct experience with real objects, where their natural affinity for investigation and inquiry can be kindled. Research indicates children are more inventive and creative when
exposed to a large number of environmental variables (Ramey, 1973). As a part of Cincinnati Nature Center's efforts to reach out to schools and teachers who hold similar values and educational philosophies, CNC has recently worked with area Montessori teachers and professors to develop a new pilot program for the Fall 2013. In working and brainstorming together, it became evident that Outdoor Education and Montessori Education share some common ground, such as:
* Providing students with hands-on Learning
* Using authentic materials
* Offering experiences that are student driven
* Encouraging holistic experiences
* Creating inquiry-based learning opportunities
In an attempt to build on these commonalities, lessons designed specifically for Montessori schools will be
piloted this September! To have your name added to the waiting list for the programs listed below, or to
express interest in participating in future pilots, contact CNC's School Program Manager Melissa Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (513) 831-1711x138.Inquiry in the Forest
10 AM - 2 PM
Max group size 42; $5 per student
Students will work in small groups to explore forest habitat. We will assist them in developing comparative
questions based on their observations, inferences, and natural curiosity. They'll be given field study tool kits
and will be guided through the design of experiments to answer their own questions. Later, we'll review the
scientific process and emphasize the significance of keen observations, curiosity, experimentation,
understanding variables, and communicating results. There is a four-year rotation of themes: Forest, Pond,
Field, and StreamLife Under a Log
10 AM - Noon
Max group size 32; $4 per student
In this integrated lesson, we will "dig deep" into a special theme. Using direct observation as the focus, we'll
read books and poems, write or draw in our journals, focus on our senses, ask deep questions, practice our
math skills through counting and measuring, and look closely at everything we find under a log. There is a
three year rotation of themes: Life Under a Log, Aquatic Safari, and Tremendous Trees
**We encourage you to follow this 2-hour program with an optional parent and teacher led self-guided
scavenger hunt in the afternoon ... all training and materials provided over lunch.
Executive Board Members
Heather Gerker, M.Ed.
Kristen Patterson, M.Ed.
Susan Flaspohler, M.Ed.
Valerie Dyas, M.Ed.
Cincinnati Montessori Society on Facebook
Montessori Community Calendar
Professional Development Workshop Opportunities, Conferences, and more!
Back to School the Montessori Way
Looking for fresh ideas as you prepare for the upcoming school year? Take a look at the blog
A recent review of useful
websites found this one rich
with thoughtful articles
ranging from philosophical
comparisons of educational
theory to the debate over
whether or not to use non-
Montessori materials in the
toddler classroom. An article
entitled, Develop Oral
Language and Logic with
Sequencing Activities, was
not only informative, it
included a downloadable
material and lesson summary.
Reflections of a Montessori Mom
By: Alison, a Kennedy Heights Montessori parent
As summer wraps up and we get ready for another school year at Kennedy Heights Montessori our two 4 year-old boys are excited to get back in the classroom. They are excited to catch up with everyone and get back in the special routines of Montessori. This of course includes the academic piece of their education, but when I reflect on their progress so far in a Montessori classroom I am equally grateful for the life skills that their experience has fostered. Joe can concentrate on a "work" longer than I would ever expect for his age and Mark is learning what it means to be peaceful. Both are learning to be self-reliant young boys who know what it means to exist in a loving community. I am often impressed and also surprised with the language they use to describe their feelings. It is not just "I am sad" or "I am angry" but words like frustrated, curious, disappointed, and excited are among some of the many words they use to share what they feel inside. This helps them to use language instead of their hands or body to express their emotions. These are all life skills that will create a foundation for the rest of their life.
I remember my own mom often noticing the things that she says I learned in my Montessori preschool about being a loving, kind, and curious child. Now I see it in my own boys and I am tremendously grateful to their Montessori education for giving them the skills they will need to be strong and confident adults.
Here's to another great year!
Are you a Montessori parent who would like to share your experience with the Montessori Philosophy with CMS? Do you know a parent that would like to share?
Let us know!
Former Muppet Maker Leads New School Montessori in Puppetry and More!
TNSM Art teacher, Robin Hartmann, and her students designed and crafted "humanette" puppets to be used in a performance for their classmates during the school's annual Arty Gras Festival. Robin Hartmann came to The New School Montessori from New York City where she worked with Jim Henson making Muppets. She also was a costume designer for Saturday Night Live and Broadway productions including The Whiz.
In addition to puppetry, Robin's elementary students in 1st through 6th grade were inspired by "Caine's Arcade" - a popular internet story involving a 9-year-old boy who spent his summer creating cardboard arcade games out of extra boxes from his Dad's auto parts store. The students created cardboard Skee Ball, Pinball and used their creativity to invent new arcade games like Land the Plane, Traffic Jam, and an I Spy Game that required the guesser to crawl into a darkened refrigerator box with a flashlight and 40 seconds to find key items glued to the inside of the box. Everyone enjoyed celebrating the arts during this year's Arty Gras Festival.
Have Something to Share?
Are you a CMS member school? Does your school have an event coming up or other news to share? Tell us the exciting things happening at your school - we'd love to include it here!
Space is limited so contact us
soon if you are interested.
|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 contact us
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?