Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spotlight On: West Side Montessori (Part I)

We're kicking off a new series at Lullaby U with West Side Montessori each Saturday in March at 10am.  The classes are specifically geared toward parents of children ages 3-6 years old.  Cost is $15 per family and no advance registration is required.  Check out the weekly class descriptions below, and keep scrolling down for a quick Q&A about the Montessori Method!

March 1 - I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF! Empowering independence while maintaining your sanity - children ages three to six years of age begin down the road of independence.  We leave the stage of helping our child do everything to hearing him cry out, “I can do it all by myself!”  While this transition is fantastic for our children, it sends a message to us that our little ones are growing up.  Instead of allowing this independence to grow, we jump in and want to help because that’s what parent’s do, right?  Not so fast.  Come learn about the independence your child is experiencing and how you can foster it.

March 8 - Who’s in Control Here? - I am the parent, you are the child.  I am in control.  Wait, am I?  While fostering our child’s independence, we also have to  have boundaries and an environment that will allow him to be successful.  In this session, you will learn about ways you can set up your home to meet the needs of your child while having consistent and meaningful boundaries.  By doing so, you are in the driver’s seat but your child’s confidence and self-esteem are helping steer the car!  Follow your child within limits – and with LOVE.  (Concentration and sensitive periods will be discussed.)

March 15 - Rewards and Punishment - Effective discipline helps children learn to control their behavior so that they act according to their ideas of what is right and wrong, not because they fear punishment or to receive a reward.  For example, a child is honest because he thinks it is wrong to be dishonest, not because he is afraid of getting caught.  In this session, you will learn to discipline your child effectively, without using rewards and punishment.

March 22 - Preparing Your Child for the Real World – It is hard to think about your preschooler entering the real world when he is only 3-6 years of age…but why not start the prep work? In this session we will learn to cultivate readiness for the “real world” by raising children who have a sense of intrinsic motivation, internalization of rules, social responsibility, and much more!

And if you're curious about the Montessori Method, here's Part I of our Q & A with Lynn Fisher, Head of School at West Side Montessori.

Who was Maria Montessori and why is she important?

Maria Montessori was the first female physician in Italy. She overcame numerous obstacles to become a medical doctor and was allowed to practice in a facility where so called "defective" children were warehoused as was customary at the turn of the 20th century.  Some of the children had physical differences and others had learning challenges. Today we would say they had special needs.  Her observations of their development and curiosity led her into the field of education where her research and teaching experiments with these poor neglected children led to astonishing results and public recognition.

In 1907 a group of enterprising businessmen offered Dr. Montessori the opportunity to open a school for poor children who roamed the streets of Rome to see what she could do with so called "normal" children. By then she was championing women's and children's rights and building a widespread reputation.  Within 2 years of starting a "Children's House" in Rome, dignitaries from around the world were visiting to see her remarkable little pre-school.

What makes a Montessori school different from all others?

Dr. Montessori believed that all children are born with an insatiable desire to learn. From birth they reach out to discover their world. If they are encouraged to explore and engage, their curiosity also grows. Dr. Montessori created a learning environment that evolved with the child's interests and skills. She did not have a fixed idea about what a child could or could not do at a certain age. Consequently, she observed the children's interests and devised materials the children could choose to develop reading and mathematics skills in addition to many self-help skills that allowed them to become increasingly independent.  This concept was radical for her time.

Montessori schools are distinguished by self-motivated, independent children who increasingly take responsibility for their own learning. Specially trained teachers present the open-ended curriculum developed by Dr. Montessori. The children are focused on "their work" in a peaceful democratic community. The peace curriculum developed by Dr. Montessori for elementary children contributed to her nomination for a Nobel Peace prize.

Many schools use the word "Montessori" loosely to describe their alignment with some of Dr. Montessori's philosophy. However, a true Montessori school is distinguished by Montessori certified teachers who implement the Montessori philosophy, methodology and curriculum with Montessori learning materials. A Montessori school such as West Side Montessori that is accredited by The American Montessori Society meets those standards.

What distinguishes Montessori graduates?
Montessori graduates are creative, eager to try new things, have highly developed organization skills, are collaborative, confident speaking in front of groups, seek leadership roles and have a strong sense of self. They are value centered. West Side Montessori graduates exhibit strong academic skills and challenge themselves to excel. Most enroll in honors and advanced placement courses in public, parochial, and private high schools. Many report that their college experience is the closest thing that mirrors their Montessori education.

These parent classes are not to be missed!  Be sure to check back later in the week for Part II of our Q&A with West Side Montessori!

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