“I Didn’t Even Know What I Needed” | A Hurricane Story

Coming back to school this week for the first time after her house was flooded, our front desk admin could only be thankful!

She said that people came to her immediately after the Harvey flooding, looked at her and her neighbors standing outside in misery, and asked – what do you need?

The only thing that could come out of her mouth in answer to this was “I don’t even know what I need.”

Such was the situation experienced thousands of times over this past month.  It is ongoing.  It will be with us for years.

So what was she thankful about?  She was thankful that friends, co-workers and strangers came to her aid, did her thinking for her, decided what was number 1, 2 and 3 in importance, and got to work.  She was thankful for hugs, food, errands, a dry bed at night, laundry and even small talk.  She was thankful for the crew of BP men in their waders who showed up to do the heavy lifting and muck out, who for her looked better than ‘a casting call for Chippendale dancers’.

All these things kept her going, and made her happy and full of gratitude.

So what we learned about ourselves through this past month is that when hard times hit one or many, we don’t wait to be asked or even organized.  We jump in, think for the person who needs help, we work, stay with them, listen to them and care for their basic needs.

We become fully human.

How to Develop a “Math Person”

How many times have you heard adults or children say that they are just not a "math person"? Studies do show that men (and boys) tend to be slightly more math inclined; however, this statistic can be beaten and here's how to do it! (Note to folks who don’t know if they WANT to do something about it – mathematics is how everything works!!).

First, don’t accept it!  Turn a feeling of defeat into a triumph.  Math phobia comes from math class.  Math classes have a lot to cover and unfortunately, this requires rote memorization, drills, and tests which of course are graded right or wrong.  If you are wrong often, you start to hate math or fear it.  Dr. Eugenia Cheng, a musician and mathematician, has devoted her life work to fighting math phobia and doing a great job through her books, Infinity and Beyond and How to Make Pi.

Second, start connecting math to your everyday life.  Using resources from books, articles and you-tubes on fun math experiments, you can explore and expose your youngster to the jazzier side of mathematics.  You- tube Dr. Cheng’s zany TV appearances and Ted Talk.  Create delicious treats in the kitchen using math concepts.  Delve into architecture with Legos.  Use games and activities that train the brain – puzzles (200 or 300 pieces for elementary) and Sudoku for starters.  Stay away from math software – it’s more of the right/wrong drill exercise.  What you want to encourage is the thinking process and a showing of work, which if a wrong answer comes of it, can be checked for error.  Math is logical, so fix the logic and you fix the result.

Research shows babies as early as 4 months old have a number sense.  With a little effort and change of paradigm from the education and family sector,  more of these babies will be seen in future high school and college math classes.   They will be a math person and LOVE it.

Tips To Transition Your Child From Montessori To Mainstream Education

Here's a question I am frequently asked: "How easily will my child transition from Montessori to mainstream education?"

For current and future Montessori families alike, this is a relevant question.  To start things off, rest assured that the skills, independence, motivation and academic abilities acquired in Montessori are in most cases carried within the child to future schools wherever he or she may go. After all, the key Montessori classroom disciplines are to "respect yourself, respect your friends, and respect your environment."

The truth is, a smooth transition is inevitably the responsibility of the parent.  In the span of your child's education, chances are that you will need to provide opportunities for social, emotional, academic and critical thinking skills both at home while your child is attending Montessori and while attending a mainstream school, alike. Here are some tips to contribute various aspects of your child's independence...

Foster critical thinking skills:

  • Encourage participation in group activities and clubs that include projects, collaboration and problem-solving
  • Introduce classical literature that is appropriate for their age and be prepared to discuss the readings afterward.  Ask open-ended questions.
  • Join clubs (robotics, debate, science etc.) that encourage planning, group discussions and experimentation.
  • Support that lemon aid stand!  All parts of the process are important to a child's learning and living.

Foster curiosity, invention and initiative:

  • Explore everything indoors and out.  Even a blade of grass tells a story.
  • Let them ask questions.  This is restricted in most schools, so children must have a chance to ask questions at home.
  • Be outside, since the natural world is the fuel for the engine of curiosity and invention.
  • Let them make mistakes.  This is an essential part of the scientific process.  No one learns anything new from repeating what is already known.  This statement may seem obvious, but think about it.  All schooling is teaching what is already known.  Where will we get the new ideas?

Expose him to a global perspective:

  • Join clubs or play groups with children from all parts of the globe.
  • Invite families of other cultures into your home for meal sharing.  Trade recipes!
  • Dialogue about how to solve conflicts both in the family and with others.
  • Practice peace building and study famous peace makers in the world.

Encourage the love of learning:

  • Allow opportunities for self-guided research (don't need a computer, we still have books and libraries).
  • Safeguard some 'down time' for your child every day.  That's when creativity comes out.
  • Drill down on subjects that spark your child's interests and strengths.  Deep learning is not available in a conventional classroom that has regimented curriculum and a bell that tells everyone when to stop working.
  • Supplement core subjects taught at a school with any of the arts - music, performing, visual etc.  Einstein said, "The greatest scientists are artists as well".

Lastly, hang tight! These efforts to supplement conventional schooling subjects with activities are sure to help provide your child with the life skills needed to flourish.  Remember, a Montessori heart truly lasts forever.

Montessori Peace Education

It's a given that students in our current education system will be introduced to the sciences, math, history, geography and so forth. However, what about other pertinent subjects of education such as independence, responsibility, orderliness, acceptance, and compassion? Or what about peace? You may agree that these subjects have taken a backseat in our system to core subjects and test scores, but in the midst of extreme polarities, it's more important than ever that we instill our future generations with hearts of peace.  Over here, we call the subject Montessori Peace Education.

"...On Earth, Peace, Goodwill Toward Men......" is a common message being sung from malls to halls of worship.

This hope for mankind seems more elusive every day of every year.  And yet, though it seems that peace in the world is as impossible as trying to empty the Gulf of Mexico one bucket at a time, consider instead that each bucket represents one life and one life can change the world.  With this as a possibility we commit to peace education gladly.

Currently, in our school, we have children from 30 countries, speaking over 20 different languages. In this "melting pot" environment, words such as right and wrong are replaced with love and respect. Our children are encouraged to enjoy stories from other parts of the world, feel comfortable seeing different styles of dress, and discover various food choices from other countries. Montessori peace education allows understanding over isolation, compassion over indifference.  It allows a space for peace to exist.

Montessori Schools all over the world practice peace education as a part of their curriculum. Want to learn more? Contact us for a tour and experience the peace for yourself!

The Montessori Difference: What To Know When Choosing A School for Your Child

Are you looking for a school for your child? You may be toggling between preschool or daycare, private or public, or possible you don't know where to start! There is one thing that is for sure among the slew of school choices, and that is what we call " the Montessori difference." Let me explain...

Our present system of public compulsory education was instituted 150 years ago to train farm workers for industry.  For that time in our country (or in any country whose people are moving from an agrarian life for the city), it accomplished exactly what it set out to do - train workers for jobs in factories.

Flash forward to the 21st century.  Where are the factory jobs now and what careers will be available for our children 15 years out?  It is very likely that occupations 15 years from now have not been invented yet.  How do we prepare today's students for tomorrow's world?

Dr. Maria Montessori observed in the early 20th century, that learning needs to be from the "inside out".  The child is the creator of himself.  The purpose of education should be to draw out what is already within.  Allowing this uniqueness of each person to unfold requires embracing a belief and faith in the child's ability to learn because they are inquisitive beings driven by a zest for discovery.  It is how we all began!

Continuing this path of self-construction beyond pre-school, into elementary, adolescent and high school, takes a bold and courageous decision on the part of those who are supporting young learners.  It may even take sacrifice.  It is providing a gift, a pre-inheritance of sorts, in the form of education that will last a lifetime.

This learning gives evidence without test scores.  It is accomplished without hours of homework and it is driven by curiosity not prodding.  It is a method that continues fulfilling them in the ways they learned to fulfill themselves in their very first years of life.  In the first three years, humans learn more than at any other time in their life!

The possibilities of what can result if more and more people experience learning at their own pace, doing the things they love and discovering their particular area of brilliance are delightful to imagine and completely possible.

I encourage you to visit an authentic Montessori school soon- There is nothing like it!

Do you live in the Richmond/ Houston/ Katy, TX area? Schedule a school tour today!

Why Children Need Classical Literature to Thrive

'Why classical literature?' , you might ask.  Your child may already be an avid reader. His or her favorites could include the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games series, etc.  So, what are the advantages to classics and why do children need classical literature to thrive?

In "10 Reasons You Should Be Reading The Classics", Jamie Leigh cites reading classical literature will among other things, increase vocabulary, improve social skills, instill human values, broaden general knowledge (history, biology, math etc.) increase general intelligence, challenge the brain and celebrate our humanity.

Think about it. Look at the books that are currently on your child's bookshelf... do they have ties to history? Do they consist of more than menial dialog? The brain has subconscious capabilities to make historical connections, to problem-solve, and learn dozens of new words in just a matter of seconds- wow!

As your reader becomes older and more proficient, make the change to unabridged editions of the classics.  Sure, a thesaurus may be required, but these readings are an organic pathway to learning new vocabulary, which sure beats cramming a list of words out of context the night before an exam.

Think your young one is too young? Think again! Your child can bask in classic enrichment and enjoyment starting from infancy. Here are some suggested readings by age group.

Cheers to the classics!