The holiday season is a great time to make some memories with the children in your life! Do not let holiday stress take over you holiday! Here are three simple ways to make the most out of your Holidays…..
1. Allow the children in your life to be apart of the experience. Do not just think that children are supposed to open gifts this holiday season, let them take part in the tradition. I remember always looking forward to helping my mom decorate our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving! I absolutely loved knowing that I was responsible for helping our tree look so beautiful–it was a such a great feeling and something wonderful to look forward to every year! There are wonderful seasonal crafts all over the web to give you ideas and inspiration! Take a look at our Pinterest page to get you started!
2. It is never to early to teach children about the spirit of giving. Hold a family food drive or take part in a local event that benefits the less fortunate in our community. This is a great way to help your children develop grace and courtesy in their lives.
3. Enjoy the experience. This time of year is a perfect time to make memories and honor traditions, whatever they may be. As wonderful as this season is, it may be easy for us to become overwhelmed with shopping, to do lists, and all around perfection. Try to be mindful of the positive aspects of the holiday and do not let the other stresses consume you.
Until Next Time–Megan
I was lucky enough to have our Curriculum Director pass along this AWESOME article to me! It was really well written, informative, and easy to identify with! It will also be featured in the magazine, Montessori Life. Click on the link below to read this great article!
So as you all know, I took a little road trip to the town of big city of Dothan, Alabama to check out their new Montessori school, Dothan Montessori! I had a blast.
My trip started at 5:00am—I hit Interstate 10 and was smooth sailing! Despite the constant drizzle that stuck with me through out my trip I was still extremely excited the whole time! I pulled into Dothan right at 8:30 a.m. and saw my friend Brandi, the director and toddler teacher, waiting at the door. Dothan Montessori is located inside a beautiful Episcopal Church on the corner of Holly Avenue. I would also like to state that Dothan is a very lovely town. After, I arrived Brandi showed me to the Toddler room where I met the Toddler room assistant Ms. Laura and a room full of seven toddlers.
I took a seat in the back of the classroom in a blue Eddie Bauer-ish glider and began to watch the magic happen. The classroom ranged in age from 18 months to two and a half. I was lucky to have been there early enough to catch circle time. The teachers, Ms. Brandi (also the director) and her assistant Ms. Laura were phenomenal with the children. Despite the young ages, the children did really well throughout the ten minute circle time! It was awesome! After circle time the children went about their business and chose to do whichever work interested them at the time. I observed the classroom for about an hour and a half and then Ms. Brandi and I went on a tour of the rest of the school. It was really beautiful, everything was brand new and practically sparkled as we walked passed the shelves. Brandi informed me that this new school year was going great and by the looks of it, she was right!
I had such a great experience traveling to Dothan to see the new Dothan Montessori School! I was honored that they allowed me to come visit and get a sneak peek into this new adventure! If you are ever in the Dothan area I highly recommend you check out this awesome school!
Until next time!
P.S. Stick with taking I-10…..Don’t get me started on my trip home attempting to find I-65
Hello! I have big and exciting news to share with all of you! Over the summer I was fortunate enough to go through my Infant/Toddler training with a fantastic young woman about to open a new Montessori School in Dothan, Al! Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will be heading over to Dothan to complete an observation, I am so excited! I cannot wait to share my experience with all of you. I plan on taking lots of pictures so you all can get a glimpse into the wonderful, Dothan Montessori School! Until then–have a great rest of the week!
We would like to wish all of the men and women who have served our country a, Happy Veterans Day. Without any of you our freedom would not be possible!
At one point or another, I am sure you have heard the phrase, It takes a village to raise a child- I have never believed in that statement more than I do after last week. Last Tuesday I was doing some work at my desk, which is located in our Daphne school, and three men wearing bright pink tee shirts walked right through the door. Our office is located on a separate side of the school so it is rare that we ever have any visitors, especially men in pink shirts. My co-worker and I looked at each other wide-eyed and we all exchanged pleasant introductions. The three men informed us that they were with the Daphne Fire Department and they were here to teach the students, fire safety. How cool is that?! Lynne, my co-worker, stood from her desk and led the firemen to the right place.
Before I knew it I made my way to where all the action was happening (outside in front of the fire truck). The children were all wearing bright red plastic helmets and beaming with amazement. The firemen who came to talk to the students were so great–they were enthusiastic and interacted so well with the kids. The children were able to hold the hose, wear an actual helmet, and get to climb in the truck! I should also mention that about half way through the firefighter’s visit they had to respond to a call right down the road—they could have easily just went back to the station but instead came right back to finish the fire safety lesson. It was honestly one of the best lessons I have ever seen and I was an education major so that has to tell you something. It was really incredible. I think that the most powerful part of the whole experience was the mere fact that, these three fireman who put their lives on the line for others, took time out of their day to come help the kids in their community about the importance of fire safety and how to keep themselves safe in everyday situations. The children loved every second of the firefighter’s visit and will more than likely, remember this day for the rest of their lives.
Hope everyone is having a great week! Just uploaded a video about Weinacker’s! Please take a peek! –Megan
As you all know, I was so excited for last weekend because of all the fabulous events we had going on! And let me tell you, we had an absolute blast! The weekend started off with Tillman’s Corner’s Fall Festival and it was awesome! I was blown away at all the people who attended! Everyone at the Tillman’s Corner School definitely deserves a pat on the back because it truly was a great turn out and you could see all of the hard work that was put into it! I personally had a blast catching up with the TC parents and other parents from the other Weinacker’s locations! Great Fall Festival! Cannot wait for next year!
Another event I cannot wait for next year is the annual Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk! Talk about the most perfect day for the event! The weather was cool and the sun was shining high! The five mile walk flew by due to good conversation, good friends, and a perfect cause! I would personally like to thank everyone who came out with us to support breast cancer!
Until next time!
I can barely contain my excitement for this upcoming weekend! There is so much going on with WMS! Tonight our Tillman’s Corner location is holding their annual Fall Festival! Who does not love games, raffles, and food?! I am very excited about attending this event later! I absolutely love interacting with all the Weinacker’s students and parents! It is so fun! So if you do not plan on attending you should definitely come out and see us! (Further details below)
Another event that Weinacker’s is participating in this weekend is the annual Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk! Let’s face it, we have all been affected by this horrible disease so this is a great opportunity for all of us to come out as a group and show our support! This is really going to be a great event and opportunity for the WMS community to come together and do our part! If you want to come walk with us we will be meeting at the Mobile Civic Center at 8:00 a.m! Don’t forget to wear your pink!
P.S Can’t wait to tell you all about these awesome events Monday!
More info on the Fall Festival: (6pm-8pm)
Weinacker’s Montessori School Tillman’s Corner
5739 Old Pascagoula Road
Mobile AL 36619
(251) 653 4707
This week I thought I would share some of the lovely images we have captured throughout some of our classrooms! The pictures below are from our Early Childhood classroom at our Midtown School! They are simply lovely! I hope you all enjoy these images as much as I did! Have a fantastic week!
Happy Monday to all of you, I hope you all had a weekend as good as mine! Last Wednesday a few of us from WMS hit the road to the big city of Atlanta! We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a conference for Early Childhood educators. This experience was so great and so refreshing! I literally enjoyed every aspect of our weekend. First of all, if you ever have the chance to visit Atlanta–I highly recommend it. Not too big and not too small—an almost perfect size city. The second part that really struck me was the people. We met all sorts of people from all over the world who are also huge advocates of Early Childhood education! It was fantastic. It is so refreshing to share similar beliefs with others….it is as if we all are so different yet we share this amazing bond. Lastly, the best aspect of this training was the by far the new and exciting ideas that blossomed! I am such a huge believer in the Montessori method I want to practically shout it to the world but unfortunately it does not work like that. I did however gain some wonderful insight and ideas to help educate our local community on the Montessori method! It is so great to feel refreshed and excited to embrace the life around me.
So, I would also like to take this time to thank everyone who attended the conference with me and everyone who made it possible!
Have a great week!
This morning when I arrived to work I went about my normal routine, switching gears after working in Lake Forest’s Infant room for my practicum. I finally got settled in and headed straight to my inbox, like I always do. I was not expecting to have an “ah ha” moment (I think that is what they call it these days) but much to my surprise, I did. Aside from the expected email updates I had an email from one of the school directors, not giving it too much thought, I opened it and viewed the attachment. I stared at the picture for a couple of minutes and only one word crossed my mind, Beautiful.
Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in the things going on around us, it is easy for us to slightly lose focus and oversee the beauty in our everyday lives. Some people may not think that two toddlers helping sweep their classroom is anything to get excited about but it is actually signifies so much more. Children are often believed to be incapable of doing much of anything until they reach five or six years old but that is absolutely not the case. Children thrive when they are given the opportunity and respect they deserve. When children are provided with the appropriate means to thrive in the world around them, consequently they develop that innate love of learning and the desire to seek out new experiences.
There is something so beautiful about the month of October, even in the deep South! We wish you all a refreshing and wonderful October!
Last Saturday on September 21, 2013 we held our first annual Give Back to Your School Day! You may be asking yourself what exactly this is….and I am going to fill you all in! At WMS we believe it is very important that we work very closely with the families that attend our school, we feel it creates community. Community is a very important concept within our schools and we also feel to successfully help the children of our schools reach their fullest potential, we all must work together in this process.
I remember a time when I was a school girl on the south side of Chicago attending a local parochial school….sweet memories. I remember being convinced at one point that there were hidden cameras throughout the school that my parents could watch from work because let me tell you, they knew everything that went on at school. By the time I was entering high school it dawned on me that my parents, my friends parents and the teachers at our elementary school were a team. Our goal at all of our WMS locations is to be a team with the families who attend all of our schools. We all want the best for the children in our schools and if we all worked together in this process our children will really reap the benefits!
Give Back to Your School was designed so that the families of WMS and the staff could come together and help make their schools a better place which also helps for parents and WMS staff members take a sense of responsibility in the school which essentially helps us all take pride in our school! It is a wonderful opportunity for WMS staff and families to get to know one another on a deeper level. We had many families attend this wonderful event and work so hard to make our schools more beautiful! We are so thankful for everyone’s hard work and cannot wait until our next Give Back to Your School Day!
Hello everyone! As you all know I began my Infant/Toddler AMS training last June and loved every second of it! What you may have not known is, in order to fully receive your AMS credential you have to complete 540 hours of hands on work, in the classroom. Well I am happy to report that September 3, 2013 I began my practicum portion of my AMS Infant/Toddler training.
First of all, I would like to note that it has been almost three years since I have worked in the classroom, consistently. I forgot how intense being in the classroom can be at times but I have also forgot how wonderful it is to interact with children everyday. I am so grateful for my supervising teacher, Ms. Jennifer from our Lake Forest school. She is awesome! She makes working with children look so easy and natural. I aspire to be like her by the end of my training. It is a really cool experience working with the same group of children on a consistent basis because you can really observe them, day in and day out.
I am really looking forward to this practicum portion of my AMS training. I am a firm believer that you do not really get the full experience until you are actually living the experience! I will definitely keep you all updated as I embark on the second part of this journey. Wish me luck!
Yesterday I decided to run an errand with a good friend of mine. Absentmindedly, we decided to conquer her to-do list during the end of a school day (holy traffic!). We were about to pull up to our first stop when we entered a “school zone”. Without even realizing it, I waved to the safety patrol/crossing guard. I noticed my friend did a double take. Minutes later and two checks off her to-do list, we rolled through another “school zone”. Once again, without realizing my actions, I waved to the safety patrol/crossing guard.
“Do you know her?” She asked.
“Nope” I responded
“So you just wave at crossing guards?” She asked me with a curious tone.
“I guess I do” I replied without really thinking about it.
“ Geez, Megan that is really kind of you.”
When I later thought about what my friend had said to me about being kind, I was a little taken back. I always wave to people—not just safety patrol guards. I wave to porch sitters as I walk my dog, I wave to people as they let me merge on the highway, I guess I am just a “waver.” Now my waving may seem a little silly as you read this blog post but let me clarify. When I wave, I acknowledge. There is no judging, biases, or assumptions; there is just a friendly gesture that acknowledges the people in which I live amongst. I feel it is important to acknowledge the people around me regardless if I know them personally or not.
I can easily say that my favorite aspect of Montessori education is the emphasis on, grace and courtesy. I love everything about grace and courtesy. In this day and age it seems that people become so involved with their immediate situation that even an acknowledgment to a peer is often conceived as exerting too much personal energy on someone other than themselves. The Montessori curriculum enforces grace and courtesy and I have a very deep respect for that. As adults, we need to try our best to help our children prosper in every way possible. We have a huge advantage when it comes to our adulthood; we can make a difference in the lives of children. I believe the saying goes, Kindness is Contagious. Pass it on.
Happy Grandparents Day!
This post is dedicated to all the Grandparents out there–filling our lives with love, wisdom, and guidance. Enjoy your day and know that you truly make a difference in all of our lives.
One hundred and forty-three years ago today, an educational pioneer was born into this world unbeknownst to all, the profound impact she would one day make. (and still makes today!) On behalf of the entire Weinacker’s Montessori School community and with our deepest appreciation and admiration, we would like to wish Dr. Maria Montessori a very, Happy Birthday!
Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 in a small town in Italy. She was born into a hard-working, intelligent family. From a very early age Maria loved to learn, often escaping in books and various museums; which essentially laid the foundation for her many accomplishments throughout the course of her life.
In 1896, Montessori graduated with her medical degree becoming one of the very first women physicians in Italy. While working in the medical field Montessori found herself becoming very interested in the field of, Education. Dr. Montessori began attending Education classes becoming more and more intrigued with the different educational theorists and learning processes. Montessori believed in the power of, observation. Observation was Montessori’s most valuable tool when it came to understanding children and their needs for optimal development. In 1907 decided to open the Casa del Bambini (the Children’s House), providing the less fortunate local children, an ideal learning environment. Dr. Montessori was amazed at how well the children were progressing and adapting to their new educational setting. Through observation and assessments, Dr. Montessori was able to provide the children at the Casa del Bambini with a meaningful education, real experiences, and the freedom to explore the world around them. By 1910, the Montessori Method was praised and recognized throughout the educational world!
Dr. Maria Montessori’s accomplishments and scientific research was so advanced for her time yet paved the way for the development of children, continuing to make an impact today! There are Montessori schools in over 100 countries throughout the world today.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Montessori!
“ To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which we will enable him to develop freely.”
Does the very thought of transforming your own home into a Montessori setting overwhelm you? Well it should not! Implementing the Montessori method at home not only benefits your child immensely but it will also benefit the entire family. Montessori Schools are great, if not the best, but we can also easily adapt this amazing approach into our home lives. After speaking with some of our very own teachers, here is the three step list we came up with! Enjoy.
1. The first step is to simply relax. This will be a process and will take time. Try not to focus on the trial and error, but rather focus on this beautiful process and the outcomes it will produce.
2. The term, “Prepared Environment” is a very important concept within the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori’s concept, the “Prepared Environment” states that the environment should be designed to facilitate independent thinking, exploration, and promote independence. In turn, we can create a “Prepared Environment” at home. When a child experiences a sense of order in their environment they are more likely to thrive. We can help create order in our homes by reducing clutter and having a certain place for things–whether it be toys, books, pet food, etc, and sticking to daily routines.
3. Provide the child with experiences. Don’t just let children sit on your sofa and watch television! Allow your children to help with things around the house. Not only will it help you, but it helps the child gain a sense of responsibility and respect for the world around them. Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying let your children power wash the driveway this weekend, but I am saying, hand them a towel and have them dust the coffee tables in your living room. They love to help! You may also want have your child cook a meal with you. They can be a big help in the kitchen and it also provides great teachable moments regarding healthy living!
And, voila! You have now begun the process of creating a Montessori environment in your home. Remember relax, keep an open mind, and enjoy. It’s definitely a process, but it’s one that is worth the time and effort!
Hey, Megan here! Well, we have come to the end of the first week of school. As I traveled from site to site, I was impressed and excited by all of the learning and laughter that filled the schools. The training that the teachers completed this summer was evident throughout each and every classroom.
The first week of school was not the only exciting thing that happened this week. I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Business Expo at the Mobile Convention Center. I enjoyed every minute of networking, meeting new people, and spreading the Montessori love. Not only was I able to connect with my community, but I was also able to spend some quality time with a couple of my colleagues, Trudy Rosenberg, the director from Midtown, and Melissa Ellison, the director from Tillman’s Corner. I am very thankful for the opportunities that I have been given through working at Weinacker’s, and I look forward to what the future holds.
It is truly hard to believe that almost six years ago to the day I began working at Weinacker’s Montessori School! Fresh out of college, I accepted the position as the Infant Room teacher at the Midtown location. It was an amazing two years; there were so many contributing factors that made my experience so wonderful, but the thing that made the whole experience so special was the parent/teacher communication.
When I first accepted the position I was super excited, however I was a little nervous because I had never worked with these infants before and I barely knew the parents, so acknowledging this, I made it my mission to establish meaningful relationships with every family that I worked with on a daily basis. I could not imagine working with these wonderful babies everyday and not having a close relationship with their parents. Within weeks, we were all one big happy family! I still to this day, have very close relationships with many of the parents from the Infant room at Midtown, even though their children are now almost five years old!
In just three short days Weinacker’s will be kicking off the start of their 2013-2014 school year! How exciting is that?! I think the most exciting part of a new school year is all the new relationships that will be formed or strengthened. The start of a new school is the perfect time to establish new, positive relationships between parents and teachers.
Have a great weekend!
If there is one thing that I learned this past week it is, summer is almost over! Where did the time go? As I made my way home on this Friday afternoon, I found myself in one of our local markets wandering down the busy narrow aisles, trying to remember why I had stopped in the first place. Aside from the typical “tgif” excitement that filled the air; I also felt a sense of “new beginnings” or a “clean slate” . It was not long that I observed two little girls contemplating which box of crayons would be better a fit for the upcoming school year.
There is something magical about the start of a new school year. I remember the simple beauty of going school supply shopping, trying on immaculate (mandatory) saddle shoes, and the anticipation of finding out who was going to be my new teacher for the next ten months. The start of a new school year can be a great opportunity for parents and teachers to help children develop a love and excitement for learning. There are various ways we can help children adapt well to the new school year and give them the necessary means to thrive.
Children need routine. Routine will help establish stability in everyday life, even when times are hectic. Establish routines for time of the day that can become overwhelming; morning time routines and nighttime routines will help children gain a sense of order and security while also ensuring they are receiving proper nutrition,an adequate amount of sleep (which is crucial for cognitive and physical development) and seeing that basic personal hygiene needs are being met. Communicate with children. Establishing communication with children is also very important. When relationships, of any type, possess a positive, dynamic, and respectful means of communication a basic trust is met. When children develop a basic trust in the world around them, they are more likely to gain skills that will help them through life such– as confidence, determination, and independence. Provide children with experiences. Many people are under the assumption that children are not capable of very much because they have only been on this earth for small amount of time. Studies have actually determined that from birth to three years old children are constantly absorbing and learning new information hence, that is exactly why we should be exposing children to multiple languages. Language acquisition is a natural process to young children, almost effortless. However, after a certain period of time, becoming fluent in other languages will become more complex for any human being, due to the way in which our brain develops. Allow children to experience natural consequences. If we are constantly stepping in and interfering with what is happening around children, they will not acquire a sense of independence or consequence and let’s face it, that will not help our children reach their fullest potential.
With all of that being said, as we approach the start of the 2013-2014 school year, i hope we all can try our hardest to provide the children in our lives with the necessary means to have a positive educational experience. Make it a point to stay connected with the children in your life–get involved with extracurricular activities, form partnerships with their teachers and above all, power off your cell phone, turn off the television and give your children your undivided attention; it speaks to great volumes.
This past week Weinacker’s held their 2nd annual company picnic. The picnic took place at our hillcrest location and started shortly after our schools closed up for the day, giving everyone ample amount of time to attend. The party planners did a fantastic job transforming the school’s playground into a perfect picnic setting. The picnic tables were covered with blue and white tablecloths, topped with fresh sunflowers in simple glass vases. It was lovely. Aside from the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere and delightful cuisine, there was something even more significant taking place among all of us that warm summer evening; unity.
“I believe in the essential unity of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains, and that if one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.” —- Gandhi
Unity is fundamental in order to achieve success, in any situation. There is nothing more beautiful than people working together, determined to accomplish the same goal, no matter what it takes. It was so wonderful to see everyone that I work with at the picnic genuinely enjoying one another. In the first time in almost five years, we are all part of the same team, we all share the same vision, and most importantly we are all doing it together.
It has been another great week at Weinacker’s! For starters, on Sunday July 14, 2013 the AMS Administration training came to an end after eighteen days straight of intensive training. Words cannot describe how proud we are of everyone who took part in this experience; the endless amounts of hard work, the dedication, and determination that was put forth is truly an inspiration. We are extremely lucky to have leaders that undoubtedly, go above and beyond to make our schools a better place.
Our administrators are not the only members of Weinacker’s that are setting forth on their AMS journey—-we are pleased to announce that on Monday July 15, 2013 we had a lovely group of Weinacker’s teachers began their AMS Early Childhood 3-6 training! The training started with Sensorial and was taught by Ms. Helen DeVere. We could not be more excited for all of them as they embark on this Montessori journey. We are certain that this experience will not only benefit them as educators but will make an impact on their student’s educational foundation encouraging a love for learning and an excitement for life.
This training serves as professional development in many ways. It reminds teachers that education is always an ongoing process, and ideally this reflects onto their curriculum in the classroom. Our goal at Weinacker’s is to work as a productive team on all levels, set clear goals, and continually analyze what is working and what is ineffective. We can expect high standards for students when we set high standards for our teachers as well. At the center of success is having a staff that shares the same vision.
Our administrators training started last Thursday the 27th. We are in the middle of our lessons on Montessori philosophy and everyone seems to be very interested in what we are doing. Today we will give presentations based on what we have learned from our readings of “Montessori The Science behind the Genius”. Our instructor, Connie Guiberson, is a wonderful lady from Iowa. It has been uplifting and inspirational to hear of her Montessori journey. We were also extra lucky to have had the company of Ann Gavey for our first two days. It just so happened that she finished up her teaching the Infant/Toddler course and stayed on in Mobile a couple extra days and asked if we would mind her joining us. Of course we were thrilled to have her. What a wonderful a bonus! July 1st we will be joined by Nahla Nasser who will be providing instruction and insight in leadership. We will be sad to see Connie leave, she has made quite an impression on all of us in training.
I will keep you up to date as we continue our journey to becoming better administrators.
Cheryl Marrison, Operations Manager
What a fantastic start to summer we have had at Weinacker’s! If you keep up with us on FaceBook or Twitter you may have noticed some of our recent posts about all the training our teachers have been experiencing. Speaking from personal experience, it has been incredible. I started the AMS Infant / Toddler training June 3 of this month and it has been everything I thought it would be and so much more.
Not only are we learning about the fundamentals of the Montessori approach, we will take a closer look into the prominent research that still influences our methods today. For instance, Jean Piaget who introduced the four stages of cognitive development, which helps us better understand the order and pace of which children develop cognitive abilities. Lev Vygotsky, who studied the zone of proximal development, and Albert Bandura who focused his studies on figuring out how children discovered through social interactions. These theorists have helped educators grasp a better understanding of the developmental process.
Studying the theorists is very important, but equally beneficial is the simple tool of observation. Watching children in their natural environment helps us understand how the child behaves individually, behaves socially, struggles with learning, and exceeds with learning. As educators, we constantly need to adjust our practice to better cater to the children’s needs and observation helps us be flexible with our intervention. Last week we had the opportunity to observe different Montessori environments. This gave us a chance to take what we have been learning in our training and apply it to everyday experience. We continue to see and understand that we are learning to educate the whole child!
The AMS Infant/Toddler training is the first step of the journey to becoming a Montessori teacher and is such a helpful part of my professional development. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me in this process.
Last week’s AMS training went great. It was said that the teacher, Ms Tabitha Anberg did a spectacular job. All of the students were very pleased with her performance.
Ms Anberg introduced the work portion last week. She taught the importance of putting out work for the children in the correct sequence. She taught why the sequence of work introduced is crucial to the development of children. The students reported that they learned great techniques for teaching Practical Life, Sensorial, Math and Language.
I have included some pictures of the teachers practicing with their newly acquired teaching skills.
More updates to come……………………………………….
After several months of strategic planning and preparation, our summer teacher training schedule has officially begun. Maryann Byrne has been busily readying the training facility and has really made the space look beautiful. With a garden and an outdoor relaxation space the student-teachers should have a wonderful experience.
Our first trainer, Melanie Morrison, arrived yesterday from Birmingham. She will be our instructor for the first week of Infant/Toddler certification training. This seminar-style adult training will continue in our training classroom with various teachers until June 26th. The practicum or teaching portion of the training will then continue through May, 2014.
Immediately following the Infant/Toddler coursework we will begin the AMS Administrators course. Our directors are very excited at the opportunity to receive this certification training. They will further their knowledge in the administration of their schools. And most importantly they will learn more about how to administer their schools following the Montessori tradition and methods.
Last, we will conduct our third training leading to certification of the summer. This will be in teaching the early childhood classroom for children 2 ½ to 6 years old. We are all looking forward to hosting this training for the second year and seeing all of the wonderful instructors again. The initial classroom training will begin July 15th and conclude on August 9th. After successfully completing Practicum and additional classroom sessions, this group of trainees will also receive their certification in May 2014.
We will be posting highlights of our training on our Facebook page. Please visit us at
On May 3, 2013 the Weinacker’s Montessori School on Hillcrest Road held their annual International Festival. Our school has hosted the International Festival for more than thirty years. This event is very popular among the teachers, families, and even community! One thing that makes this event stand out from other local events is the immense amount of learning that is taking place by everyone involved! The children and teachers prepare for weeks learning about new cultures. They learn the similarities and differences in the featured country’s everyday way of life, food, language, attire, and so much more.
Not only is this event an amazing learning opportunity and exciting local attraction but to put it simply, it is incredibly Montessori. Maria Montessori believed it was important for children to be exposed to various cultures and gain an understanding of the world around them—and Hillcrest did just that! They did more than just read their students a story about new cultures, they let the students actually experience the culture that they were learning about and that is Montessori education at its finest! Please take a minute to view some of the video from the International Festival in the link below—The first video is of Mrs. Tulia’s Spanish immersion 3-6 students representing Honduras and the song they performed was “El Suenito Baile Tipico Honduras!” The second clip shows the children from Ms. Caroline’s elementary class representing South Africa and they sang “Pata Pata!”
For more information about the International Festival or Weinacker’s Montessori School please feel free to contact us anytime!
We have many exciting things planned for this summer. Our Infant / Toddler AMS training begins on June 3rd, followed by our AMS Administrator’s training beginning June 27th. We will wrap up our summer training with AMS Early Childhood training which will start July 15th. As you can see, we have a busy training schedule which will greatly benefit everyone who attends and all of their students. Check the website for details.
Next month our 2012-2013 AMS Early Childhood trainees will receive their credentials. A celebration is scheduled at Ms Maryann’s bay house. We give our sincerest congratulations to all of the graduates.
Meanwhile, our schools have been busily planning fun, interesting and educational Summer Camp schedules for the school age children. Trips have been planned to visit the local parks, splash pads, theaters, and many other fun and interesting places. The children will be involved in art, cooking, and craft projects on days when they are not on field trips. Let’s not forget that they will have learning experiences while they are attending. Give them a call to find the right fit for your children.
Back in February we were thrilled to announce our selection as a winner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Ribbon Small Business Award. As one of the 100 award recipients across the United States we were invited to send our representative to an award ceremony in Washington D.C. this past week.
John Weinacker was proud to represent Weinacker’s Montessori School and attend the ceremony. He was accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth. They arrived in Washington the weekend before the conference so they would have an opportunity to visit some of the historical sites and monuments in our country’s capital. They had a wonderful time during an exciting occasion!
Please see the picture of Mr. Weinacker receiving our award from Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The award ceremony was held this past Tuesday morning, April 30, 2013.
Administrators Course Scheduled
AMS Administrator’s Credential Course
Hello again everyone! I have another VERY EXCITING announcement to make. Houston Montessori Center has agreed to partner with us in offering the Administrator’s Credential Course at our training center in Mobile Alabama. Take a look at our website to see the great line up of instructors who will be presenting this wonderful training. The first classroom portion of this course will begin June 27th and conclude Jul 14th this summer. We will have the second classroom period June 26, 2014 through July 13, 2014. Practicum will be done from November 2013 through November 2014 with some exciting seminars in between. Take a look at all of the fantastic training schedules that are on our website for details. If you have any questions about the administrator course, please contact Cheryl Marrison . Cheryl’s e-mail is :email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to call her at 251-259-5342. We look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in any of the courses that are being offered.
Summer Training Scheduled
Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood (3-6) Teacher Credential Courses
Hello everyone! As you may know, we sponsored the Early Childhood Teacher Credential Course last year and the students are now nearing the end of their practicums. The participants will receive their certificates next month and will be honored at a luncheon in June. So, needless to say, we are very excited to announce that we are sponsoring another round of AMS certification training for both Infant / Toddler and the Early Childhood (3-6) classrooms this summer. The Infant/Toddler training will begin on June 3rd and run through June 26th with the practicum period of September 2013 through May 2014. The Early Childhood Teacher Credential Course will be taught July 15, 2013 through May 18, 2014. The practicum for this course will also run from September 2013 through May 2014. Please take a moment to look at the training schedules that are on our website for details. If you have any questions about either of these opportunities, please contact Maryann Byrne. Maryann’s e-mail is :email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to call her at 251-209-3659. We look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in these courses.
Weinacker’s Montessori School is excited to be named a Blue Ribbon Small Business Award® winner for the year 2012 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To be recognized as one of 100 Blue Ribbon winners by the United States Chamber of Commerce, from the record number of nationwide applicants, is extremely satisfying.
This year’s 100 Blue Ribbon winners will be honored at America’s Small Business Summit 2013, which will be held from April 29 – May 1 in Washington, D.C. On February 15, seven of the Blue Ribbon recipients will be announced as award finalists, and one will be named the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year during the summit. The winner will be presented with a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the U.S. Chamber.
To cast your vote for Weinacker’s Montessori School to win “The Community Excellence Award” Please click on the link below and cast your vote. They will be collecting votes until the 22nd of February, 2013.
Weinacker’s Montessori School was recently chosen by the readers of Lagniappe as the Best Nursery School in the Mobile Bay area. Lagniappe is a regional newspaper that specializes in current events and editorials covering topics of interest. It has a listed readership of over 70,000 people. That the majority of readers who responded to the survey voted Weinacker’s as best is a special honor. We are pleased to be recognized as Best Nursery School by the people of Greater Mobile!
Spanish Immersion Class: We will begin a Spanish immersion classroom at the 3 to 6 year-old level this fall at our school site on Hillcrest Road. Please read below for a list of questions that have been presented and the answers, which should provide further insight into its purpose. If you are interested in enrolling in this unique program please contact our school director at Hillcrest by email at :email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at 251-344-8755.
What languages are taught as part of the school’s curriculum?
Of course, English is our primary language. Currently we also teach Spanish and, from time to time, languages such as French and German, depending on parent interests and volunteers.
Why is it so important for small children to begin learning other languages and information about other countries/cultures?
During the ages of birth to six years, Maria Montessori observed that children have what she termed “absorbent minds” where they are most naturally able to acquire new language skills with very little effort. This is why we see adults who try to learn a different language struggle while their young children seem to learn the new language perfectly and without effort.
As far as learning about other countries and cultures, we feel it is important for young children to learn about the differences and similarities in which people do things. This covers transportation, food, celebrations, family activities and other traditions and customs. The more children learn early in life the greater understanding they will have later.
What prompted the school to offer this class/ where did the idea come from?
We have traditionally offered some form of second language instruction, usually in Spanish. After graduating from college, our owner spent a year in Taiwan at Feng Chia University in Taiwan teaching English. He also studied Mandarin at the same university with many other foreign students. While there he observed, as he later learned from Montessori, that children acquire language most naturally the younger they are. This understanding occurred to him as he asked people from the same country, both native and immigrants, how each other spoke their country’s language. From the responses he determined most of the children who were younger when they moved to their adopted countries spoke with a more native accent.
So, the best time to learn a new language is at an early age and the best way is to be immersed in the language so that the child can learn through the context in which the language is used rather than by translation and memorization. Unfortunately, the latter is the way most adults learn another language.
Is there a limit to the class size?
Initially, the classroom size should be approximately 30 students ages 3-6 years old with three teachers.
How is this more beneficial than a tradition language class?
The children will learn the language effortlessly while experiencing a setting in which Spanish is naturally and continuously spoken.
Why offer Spanish vs. other languages?
First, Spanish is one of the 2-3 most spoken languages in the world today. The other two are English and Chinese. Spanish is also the most prevalent second language in the Mobile Bay area so it is both easier to find available teachers and potentially more useful for the children learning Spanish. We would love to offer a Chinese immersion class but we will first have to find the teachers and then train them in Montessori.
Please retell the anecdote of the child from Chile whose classmates spoke to him in Spanish.
We offered a similar Spanish immersion class in the 1990s, also with children ages 3-6 years old. One day a family from Chile came by the school with their five-year-old son. They wanted an educational setting for their child where he could also learn English. One of the native English-speaking students in the Spanish immersion classroom came up and introduced himself to the child and asked him what his name was. His only response was “Que?” At this, the child at Weinacker’s asked him the same question again, but this time in Spanish! The family from Chile enrolled and the boys became good friends.
Please provide the names of the three Spanish teachers, identifying which two are native speakers and their homelands.
Stephanie Edwards will be our lead teacher. She has her bachelor’s degree and is trained in Montessori. Her mother is from Cuba and she speaks Spanish as a second language. Tulia Perez and Annya Garcia will also be teaching in the Spanish immersion Montessori classroom for three to six year-olds. They are both originally from Columbia and both native Spanish speakers.
Teaching Training: Beginning July 9, 2012 Weinacker’s Montessori School will be hosting American Montessori Society (AMS) training for teachers of children at the 3-6 year-old level. We have listed some questions and answers below to provide insight into the scope and purpose of the training. If you or someone you know is interested in a demanding, thought-provoking, intensive study of the Montessori Method and philosophy of learning please contact our Montessori training coordinator, Maryann Byrne. She can be reached by email at :email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 251-344-8755.
Who is in charge of the training?
Weinacker’s Montessori School is sponsoring the training and Maryann Byrne is the site coordinator for the AMS training. The training will be held for two levels. One will be for teachers of children ages three to six years old. The other will be for teachers of infants and toddlers ages birth to three years. For more information on the schedule and cost of the training please go to our home page and click on the “About Us” button. Then scroll down to “Career Opportunities” and click. There you will find a flyer with more detailed information about the training.
Is this restricted to teachers who are current Montessori employees?
No. It is open to the public. We will have a number of our own teachers attending as well.
How long has Weinacker’s hosted the training?
We hosted AMS 3-6 training in 2003. But, other than this, we have mostly sent our teachers to other cities to do their Montessori training. So, we are very excited to be able to offer our teachers the opportunity to stay in Mobile to do their training. And, of course, anyone is welcome to join us. The first week of the AMS 3-6 year-old teacher training will occur July 9-13. Seven other weeks will be scheduled throughout the rest of summer and the school year.
We will also be offering AMS Montessori teacher training for teachers of children ages birth to three years old. This will consist of six weeks of training and is scheduled to begin in September and run through the school year.
What is the purpose/benefit of the training?
This is a great opportunity for Mobile as, with one or two exceptions, people interested in teaching using the Montessori Method have had to travel away, usually outside the state, to do their training and gain their certification. We currently have two teachers who have been going to Chicago for their 3-6 year-old training. So, to be able to offer this training in Mobile speaks volumes about the growth of Montessori in our area and to the commitment of those who want to learn more about this hands-on, child-centered approach to learning.
How often have we been offended, as adults, by the well meaning and kind-hearted person who, as we were leaving their shop, offered the words for all to hear “Thanks, Sweetie.” As most of us shrink and try to regain our composure, the common reaction may be to think to oneself, “Well, first of all, that’s not my name. And, secondly, I am not your Sweetie!”
The fact is, even though the shopkeeper’s words weren’t meant to be disrespectful, they are. And this is not just because they’re overly familiar, but because they sound like the speaker is addressing someone inferior. You can now imagine the same emotions that a child might go through when the well-intentioned adult unwittingly commits the same offense.
For instance, how would a five year-old, who is the youngest of three, respond to being proclaimed proudly by the mother as her “baby?” In all probability all the child really wants is to be as big as his older siblings. Similarly, the middle child, perceived as being neither as bright as his older sister nor as athletic as his younger brother would most likely prefer not to be compared to his siblings either, and certainly not those specific merits. And of course, the oldest would just as soon prefer not being the “benchmark” for anyone. She would naturally prefer to go about her life without feeling the pressure of having to keep one step ahead of her younger brothers.
All of which brings us to the importance of dealing with children as we ourselves might wish to be treated — with respect, which is not to say, however, that we should treat a five year-old as our equal. Indeed, he is not an equal mentally, physically, nor emotionally. He does, however, need objective, non-partial rules and interaction from which he can grow and develop his decision-making skills as well as his sense of self and his place in society.
What should be illustrated, though, is that treating children, and all people, with respect can range from how we address them (“Honey, can you get the glue for me?”) to the way in which we compare them to others (“Freddy ran the fastest of everyone.”)
As another example, we might ask ourselves if it is respectful to tell a child his artwork is beautiful when we can’t even determine ourselves what it is the child drew. And that may have been the intent. The child could have simply been painting in order to experience the process of making the brush strokes on the paper and seeing what happens or, possibly, to see how the colors mix when he paints over the same piece of paper time after time. The objective may not have been to make something “beautiful” or, even, to make anything at all. The goal may have just simply been to see what happens “…when I do this.”
We realize that most often it is the process that the child is going through that is important, and not necessarily the product. If, in a similar example, we focus on the product we may end up making the mistake of calling what the child has painted a dog rather than the horse that was intended. Then, not only have we offended the child but we have most likely lost his trust as well. Few things can be so devastating, infuriating even, to a child than someone else not being able to see what is to him so obvious, not to mention so time consuming to have made. This experience can be quite disheartening for a child.
A final thought to consider is that the child has already drawn his own opinion of whether or not his work is “good.” By praising a child’s acts or works an adult is actually passing judgement on the child. Perhaps, another way to handle a similar situation would be to simply ask the child how he feels about what he has done. If the child is either unable or chooses not to explain his thoughts you may want to objectively point out some of the attributes of his work, “I see that you used a lot of red in you painting”, thereby acknowledging his efforts without passing judgement on what he has done.
In the end, the child will gain greater self-satisfaction by performing to his abilities and, hopefully, will have enjoyed the process while he was at it. And this sure beats trying to perform to someone else’s expectations.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Dana Goudie, who for many years was our Administrative Director. She was an exceptional leader and forward thinker. She helped train and mentor many of our current teachers and directors and was a valuable resource even after her time with us. We will miss you, Dana!
Weinacker’s Montessori School was named Small Business of the Month by the Mobile, Alabama Chamber of Commerce for the month of May, 2012. Please follow the link below to view the article.
Our teachers and staff have worked very hard! And we are pleased that the Mobile Chamber has recognized their commitment to providing a safe, clean, and appropriate learning environment for the children of the Greater Mobile Bay Area.
Why should we expose children to different cultures at the pre-school level? After all, one might say, by the time children reach adolescence they will have forgotten everything they learned when they were three to six years old. Quite on the contrary, during the pre-school years children are forming the concepts (laying the foundation, so to speak) for the way they look at things, and the way they learn, the rest of their lives.
If we make learning enjoyable at the pre-school level children will develop a love of learning that will last throughout their lives. By the same measure, if we expose children to different cultures by introducing them to other languages, dances, foods, art, etc. then we prepare them for a life of curiosity and acceptance of other people and their backgrounds. By developing this understanding of other cultures early they will be able to more effectively relate to other people, of all backgrounds, later. This will be increasingly important in the future when our communication channels broaden and the people that use to be half-way around the world begin to seem like our next door neighbors.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, this will be our world of tomorrow. Multi-cultural education, then, is one way to prepare children for the continuing change of society as we know it. By increasing children’s awareness of others and the different ways in which people are simply people we prepare them for this change.
On the other hand, of course, there is the prominent view that we should teach a child his own culture first, then we can worry about other cultures and peoples. It is true that a society’s primary means of communicating and advancing itself is through a similar language and culture. However, in today’s environment of ever-increasing technology and easier means of communicating people have to adapt quickly. In order to tie different cultures and societies together people need to be aware early of others’ differences before these differences are able to distort their views. Otherwise, prejudices and lack of awareness to “other ways” will begin to cloud the judgement of those who are not culturally enlightened. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to begin by working from a broader base of knowledge at an early level.
So why multi-culturalism in pre-school? Perhaps we should ask why not? If we would like ours to be a more open and understanding society we will want to begin by opening the eyes of those who are most receptive to other cultures. Those who are just learning what culture is all about. Those, indeed, who are just learning what life is about. Eventually these children will also be the ones who take our places in society. And we would hope that we have them well prepared for the task.
This was written by our owner, John Weinacker. Mr. Weinacker has a Masters degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education as well as a Masters in Business Administration. He has operated Weinacker’s Montessori School since 1990 and was one or the original students when it opened in 1969. In addition to his formal education, Mr. Weinacker also holds American Montessori Society (AMS) certifications at the Early Childhood, Lower and Upper Elementary, and Administrative levels.
As adults, when we think of discipline in early childhood we may think back to a time when our parent’s bare hand (or, even worse, a switch) was the means in which to achieve it. However, this does not have to be. And, indeed, in the classroom this has become unacceptable. So, the question then becomes “How can discipline be achieved in school?”
In order to answer this we must first look past the more common view of discipline as something that is achieved by force. This is the historic view where, in the classroom, children were often made to sit in desks for long hours and listen to the teacher while she gave her lesson. Rather than viewing discipline in this manner, let’s look at it as something that is achieved from within. In order to accomplish something from within a person (or child) must want to do it. And in order for a child to want to do something it must be interesting to him.
Having interesting activities geared towards the child’s own developmental level, then, is the first key to the question of how discipline can be achieved in school. As an example, bright, attractive blocks of different size may be great fun for a three year-old to sort and grade from largest to smallest. A five year-old, on the other hand, will find this activity simply not challenging enough and will quickly tire of it.
By having activities that attract the child’s attention, the child focuses on the materials rather than on occupying his mind through idle or disruptive activity. He also develops his concentration because he is doing something he wants to and will spend great lengths of time and tremendous energy doing so.
Since the child is now focusing on different materials, is he going to develop self-discipline simply by concentrating on these activities? Frankly, it helps. But alone it is not the answer, which brings us to the other key to acquiring self-discipline. This equally important factor is that the child needs to have choices.
By choices it is meant that a child chooses within a structured setting, i.e., he makes decisions from only two or three options. Meanwhile, these options should be defined by the teacher (or parent) through a set of ground rules. Ground rules are the rules which all members of the group are expected to observe. In the classroom they should help foster health, safety and manners. At home they can be designed to accomplish whatever goals are important to the family. The children can, through guidance, help make these rules in both settings. The important thing is that these rules be objective and that they be enforced consistently.
A common example of a breach of a ground rule in the classroom is when a pre-school child is running inside. The rule is that we only walk inside. Running is for outside time. The teacher may then ask the child to go to where he began running and walk back again, this time carefully and quietly. If he refuses the teacher gives him a choice of walking back by himself or while holding the teacher’s hand. And just about every time the child will choose to go without assistance. As with most any person, children crave independence.
By providing a child with choices the child is able to develop the sense that he has control over his own actions. And, when the consequences of his decisions are consistent, he learns that with this increased control comes more responsibility for the outcome of his own actions. He then gains greater independence while developing his decision-making abilities.
How can discipline be achieved in early childhood? It all comes down to the environment, that is, the surroundings in which a child grows. A properly prepared environment, at home or school, is one which has an abundance of exciting and developmentally appropriate activities. It also is a setting in which rules are clearly defined and consistently enforced. This offers the intriguing and stable environment in which learning of both concepts and discipline can take place. And when refined in early childhood self-discipline as well as the ability to make effective decisions can last a lifetime.
If you are like most parents you probably looked at a half-dozen pre-schools and talked to a dozen friends before you found a school that you felt comfortable with. One, you might have thought, that finally suited your needs. That’s great. It is very important to be aware of what is available in the community. This is the way we make educated decisions. In this way, informed people select everything from schools to cars to doctors. But, let me ask, when you were looking at different pre-schools did you consider whether the school suits the needs of your child?
Often in our haste to find care for our child we look not much further than the facilities and the schedule of hours that are available. We sometimes fail to look more in depth into
the learning program that the pre-school or day care has to offer. This can be unfortunate where the needs of the child are concerned. You may have seen a program that at the same time has all the three or four year olds doing the same paperwork at the same table. The children may well be discouraged from touching, and thus exploring, the surroundings in the classroom. But is this what is best for your child’s development?
Most recent research suggests that a pre-school program that meets the developmental
needs of your child will include some of the following: First, the activities should be developmentally, or age, appropriate. Children learn through developing concepts. Therefore, the younger the child the simpler the concept should be that an activity teaches.
Next, the activities that make up the classroom environment should be composed mainly
of manipulatives. These are activities children can work with their hands. Children, as adults, learn through experience and through the use of their senses. By allowing them the opportunity to use and refine their senses a greater understanding of the concept is gained.
A sense of order and organization in the classroom is another recommendation. This provides a consistent environment, one in which your child will learn to trust that his surroundings will be stable from one day to the next. It is not suggested by the word order that all the children should be sitting at a table at once waiting on the teacher to tell them what to do. However, it does mean that the classroom environment is consistent from one day to the next. That is, the rules are regularly reinforced and the expectations are the same. There is nothing so comforting for a child (or adult) as a stable environment.
Finally, there should be activities that foster physical and social development as well
as mental development. In short, the program should focus on developing the “whole child.” Anything less would be unfair to the needs of your child.
A last suggestion, if you have questions about whether a program is right for your child try taking him or her along with you when you visit. I bet you will be able to tell a lot about
the quality and desirability of the program by the way your child reacts to the classroom.
How often have you been in the situation of trying to solve a conflict between your child and another child (who may also be yours) and wondered what to do? You may ask yourself the question of whether you should intervene and stop the argument or whether you should simply let the children work it out on their own, hoping that this will enable them to develop the skills to solve their problems by themselves. When the dispute does not work out the way you had hoped, almost invariably, you end up wishing you had handled the situation another way.
A possible answer to how these situations should be handled may lie in taking a dual or combination approach. When the threat of physical violence is pending then, obviously, it is time to step in. What can be done at this point, though, is a different matter. Rather than stopping the dispute and siding with one child or the other, let me recommend listening to both sides. Better yet, let the children listen to each other. With some time to calm their emotions and with some appropriate guidance the children can learn to resolve their own conflicts.
With this in mind, let’s look at steps that can be taken to help young children learn to solve their own problems through communication. The first thing to do is to approach the situation swiftly, yet calmly, addressing the children at eye level. Often times a good way to begin dealing with the conflict is by having each child hold one of your hands. In this way, the children can focus on the conversation. At the same time, this also limits the potential for further physical violence. And, it can also provide the concept that everyone is associated, in some way, with each other and there does not have to always be a winner and a loser.
Next, recognize each child’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. This can be done verbally by a simple phrase such as “I see you are very upset.” Then have the children explain to each other in their own words what happened. You may question, “What happened when you were…[playing with Tommy]?” Then, as the guide, you may want to restate the problem in clear, direct words. For example, “So, Joey, you feel that you should have the bucket since you had it first. And, Tommy, you feel you should get the bucket because Joey wasn’t using it when you picked it up.”
After restating the problem and allowing the children time to express their feelings, ask if the children have a solution. This can be done by simply asking, “Do you have a solution?” For younger children you may want to offer solutions and let them tell you if this is acceptable or not. It is amazing how quickly, once the problem is clearly stated and emotions have had a chance to settle, that a solution will come.
When the children have come up with a solution, ask them if they are still friends. You might even want to ask if they would like a hug, but don’t feel you have to force it if it is not forthcoming. It may not be wanted then.
Finally, it may be prudent to keep an eye on the situation to make sure that everything does, indeed, work out the way it was discussed and planned. Awareness and anticipation can go a long way in preventing future conflicts.
And last, remember that this process will take time. Peer problem solving, as with any system, takes time to get used to, to develop, and to implement. Eventually, though, you should find it will result in children who are better negotiators and, therefore, able to develop more socially desirable skills. And guess what else? You’ll probably find they fight less and get along better. In the end, you may even find that you have more time for other tasks or to simply enjoy your children.
How many times as adults have we wished we could speak another language? Maybe it was the week you went to Mexico and found that all of a sudden not everyone understood what you were saying. Or, maybe it was the time you went to France and found the “lovely” Parisian waiter did not bring you exactly what you wanted.
As adults we find learning another language to be laborious and tedious. Although we have wonderfully rational minds capable of great analytical thought we do not possess the skills necessary to allow us to acquire a language naturally. Young children from three to six years, on the other hand, have not made that step into the world of the fully conscious and rational and, thus, are much more capable of learning another language fluently and naturally. Children at three to six years of age are at a point when they are just acquiring and mastering their own language. Therefore, at this stage of development it is much easier for children to simply pick up a different set of vocabulary and grammatical rules. Not much thought or effort has to be expended on the part of the child as he learns through his experiences.
Wouldn’t it have been great if our parents had known this when we were young and enrolled us in a second language program. Then maybe now we would be able to communicate better when we travel to that exotic place. Well, at least we now know that we can have a positive effect on the next generation’s ability to communicate across cultures.
Yes, but is learning a second language right for your pre-school child? This is a common concern for many parents. And one of the most frequent questions asked by parents considering a second language program for their child is “will learning two languages confuse my child?” The answer is no. A child may mix the languages some at first but he soon learns through experience to separate the two languages and to associate each with different sets of people and environments. Many parents of bilingual children even find that their children develop a greater resourcefulness and sense of confidence in their communication abilities.
In order for your pre-schooler to fully realize this sense of confidence and resourcefulness you may want to consider several key factors when looking for a second language program. First, the class should be conducted by fluent, native speakers of that language so that your child will be exposed to the language as it is used naturally. Second, the program should be conducted in a separate classroom so that the child can learn to associate that language with those surroundings. And last, as with any pre-school program, the classroom should be inviting to the child while the teachers should be friendly and caring.
Have you ever had that feeling where you just have to get up and move around? Maybe you have been at your desk all day or driving in your car, perhaps just sitting in a chair too long. All of these can restrict your movement. And after a while of this even the most passive of us begin to feel a little confined and a bit frustrated. Children can experience that same frustration.
For some of us, our earliest memories as children were of being confined to a playpen. When everything and everyone around us was moving freely about, we were restrained from participating by those four meshed walls. And as adults we may now find ourselves unwittingly restricting the movement and growth of our own children in a similar manner. We may not realize that it is through movement and interaction with his environment that a child develops his view of his surroundings, his relationships with others, indeed, his own personality. That is, a child constructs his outlook of his world through his interaction within it. Therefore, by restricting a child’s access to his surroundings, by whatever means available, we are actually slowing his development.
Movement and vision are two of the primary components of early learning. Through observation and physical interaction infants and toddlers learn about themselves, their environment, and the relationship between the two. To foster this development, a room or corner can be prepared for the child in which he can move about freely, yet safely. This environment should be one in which he can see and get to all things. It is also one in which everything he has access to is appropriate and safe for his development level.
The importance of being able to move about freely is seen early in a child’s development. Consider the process of learning to walk. Infants learn to walk partly as a natural process of their development and partly as a result of their seeing other children and adults walking around them. They learn purposeful movement (and language) by imitating the actions of other people. They do so because they have a genuine desire to be like them. That is, the younger child wants to be like the older child who, in turn, wants to be like the adult.
Freedom of movement, then, is vital in early growth because it allows the child the opportunity not only to copy the actions of others but also to discover and interact with his surroundings. Therefore, a child should be exposed to activities that are appropriate to his level of development and that are designed to promote purposeful movement. As with an older child, an infant or toddler is stimulated by the activity and the result that can be achieved from this activity.
It is, then, the satisfaction that the child receives from meeting an inner desire to accomplish a goal, be it walking, crawling, or picking up a ball that drives his activity. By restraining his movement, through restrictive clothing or confining furniture, a child at a very young age learns that movement, or activity, is bad. He may become overly passive, learning from experience that his environment does not respond to his movement. Or, he may learn to be overly aggressive, when he is free to move about, as he compensates for inactivity and attempts to interact with the world around him. By allowing a child to learn about his environment first hand, we enable him to foster a positive sense of self and develop a constructive outlook on life from the very earliest years.
If you’re like most parents you’ve at some point picked up your four or five year old from pre-school to find him very excited about the picture he drew and the story he wrote about it. When you tried to read what he had written you might have found something like “i yNt Tu hTe prk ND so The Dox.” Thinking for a moment, you may have asked him to read it to you. This way, you could help build his self-concept while at the same time understand what he was exactly intending.
When we teach children to read and write we (educators and parents) often do so by first teaching them the names of the letters. While this is quite nice for familiarizing a child with the letter names it can also prove to be a hindrance later when the child is learning to read and write by sounding out words. Children do this naturally. They take sounds that they know and then either put them together in order to write or take them apart in order to read. We know this “natural” method of learning to read and write as phonics.
Children who learn the names of letters before they learn the sounds will more than likely use a letter name that begins with the sound of the letter sound that they intend. For example, a “y” may be used in place of a “w” because the letter name “y” starts with the sound “w” whereas the letter name “w” is pronounced “double u.” Therefore, the sound that is most similar to the sound “w” is the letter name “y.”
As you can tell, all of this can be very confusing. Well, it needn’t be. One way to help lessen the confusion for the child is to allow him to learn the sounds of letters, if not before at least while he is also learning the names of the letters. This phonetic-based approach to learning to read will enable him to more easily decode what someone else has written while also helping him more effectively communicate what he writes. Who knows, you may even find that eventually he becomes a pretty good speller.
Something else that may have occurred to you when looking at your child’s picture: You may have noticed your child showing an interest in writing even before he shows an interest in reading. Although sometimes lacking in the fine-motor skills necessary to grasp a pencil and form a letter exactly, young children are generally more interested in expressing their own thoughts than in reading the thoughts of others. This is due to a
child’s developmentally natural focus on himself at this age.
Capitalizing on this bit of knowledge, you may find some pre-formed letters and let your
child trace them while saying the sound of the letter. This will allow him to learn the sounds while at the same time let him learn the shapes of the letters. With these new tools he will be on his way to writing and reading in virtually no time at all!
Everybody’s INVITED to our OPEN HOUSE this SUNDAY from 2PM ’til 4PM. Come learn more about the “hands-on” Montessori Method! Families of current and propective students can find out more about Weinacker’s Montessori School and our early learning program and childcare services. Bring your children. We’ll see you Sunday!
Be sure to come to our Open House on Sunday, July 24th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. All of our locations will be having an Open House. Families of young children are invited to learn more about Montessori and Weinacker’s, where we offer child care in a learning environment. (That’s why we are called a school!) Both current and prospective families are welcome to attend. We look forward to seeing you then!