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Kindergarten: Montessori or Traditional ?

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It is that time of year again….pre-k parents will be making a very crucial decision on where to send their preschool student to school the upcoming school year.  I have  posted this article from Tommorow’s Child on why Montessori is a perfect environment for your child! 

 

25 Reasons to Keep Your Child in Montessori through the Kindergarten Year
Every year thousands of Montessori parents whose children are about to move up to kindergarten face a common dilemma.  Do they allow their child to remain in a Montessori environment or do they transfer their children to a more traditional kindergarten program.  Although there are plenty of issues that factor into this important decision, most Montessori administrators, educators, and parents will agree that perhaps the most compelling factor for most parents has to do with basic economics.  Simply put, their child can attend a local public school kindergarten program free.  Although each family must make this decision on their own, we offer a number of thoughts which should be considered before transferring a child in the kindergarten year.

1) Does your child love school and can’t wait to go every day?  If so, consider yourself lucky.  Why tinker with a winning school situation when so many families are frustrated and disappointed?

2) Your child has waited for two years to be one of the five year old leaders of her class.  The kindergartners are looked up to as role models for the younger students, and most children eagerly await their opportunity to play this role.

3) The third year, the kindergarten year, is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become permanent part of the young child’s understanding.  An excellent example is the early introduction to addition with large numbers through the Bank Game.  When children leave Montessori at age five, many of the still forming concepts evaporate, just as a child living overseas will learn to speak two languages, but may quickly lose the second language if his family moves back home.

4) As a five year old, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that he learned when he was their age.  Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.

5) As five year olds, Montessori children normally go on to still more fascinating lessons and more advanced Montessori materials, such as the Stamp game.

6) The Primary Montessori curriculum is much more sophisticated than that found in most kindergartens.

7) Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know her very, very well.  They    know her strengths and areas that are presenting challenges.

8) Your child already knows most of her classmates.  She has grown up in a safe, supportive  classroom setting.

9) If your child goes on to another school, he will spend the first half of the year just getting used to the new educational approach.

10) Montessori math is based on the European tradition of unified mathematics.  Montessori introduces young children to basic geometry and other sophisticated concepts as early as kindergarten.

11) In many Montessori schools, five year olds are beginning to read the Junior Great Books;  kindergartners in other schools may be learning to recognize letters and numbers.

12)  Five year olds have a real sense of running their classroom community.

13)   In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at her own pace.  In traditional kindergarten, she will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up.

14) Even in kindergarten, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning  to grow into global citizens.

15) In Montessori, five year olds work with intriguing learning materials, like the Trinomial  Cube instead of coloring books and insipid basal readers.

16) With the Land and Water Forms, he’ll learn about lakes, islands, isthmuses, straits,  capes, archipelagos, peninsulas, and other geological forms, rather then circles, squares, and rectangles.

17) In art, she’ll learn about Picasso and Renoir, rather than learn her basic colors.

18) In Montessori, your child has been treated with a deep respect as a unique individual.   The school has been equally concerned for his intellectual, social, and emotional       development.  Unfortunately, despite lip service to the contrary, this is often not the case   in traditional classrooms.

19) Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and    parents.  Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!

20) Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.

21) In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization.  Our goal   is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.

22) Montessori students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research.   They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon- fed.

23) Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles,    helping students learn to study most effectively.

24) Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.

25) Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and        motivation.

If you still have any doubt, spend a morning observing in your child’s class and compare it with a morning in a kindergarten class in the other school you are considering.  Sit quietly and take mental notes.  The differences may be subtle, but most likely they will be significant.  Then project your child into the future and ask yourself how the positive differences you observed in the Montessori classroom might help shape your child to become the teenager, and later the adult, you envisioned for your child’s future.

(Reprinted,  from Tomorrow’s Child Copyright by The Montessori Foundation)

Posted in AL, Child Development, Environment, Kindergarten, Montessori | Leave a comment

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Hello everyone!   I wanted to post this blog to thank everyone for their continuing support of our schools. I thank each and every parent for their contributions to their child’s classroom and to the school community as a whole. Your commitment to finding the best possible education for your child is what drives us to be the best that we can. I have had the opportunity to meet many of you as I am visiting the schools but I don’t believe that I have ever thanked you for your support. So, I would like to say “Thank You” now.

 

I am also extremely thankful to our teaching and support staff for all that they do on a daily basis. Their unwavering belief in the Montessori philosophy and their love of children is the cornerstone of what makes us a great place for children to learn and grow.

 

I want to recognize the Directors of each school.

 

At Hillcrest is Leah Norris. Leah started her path at Weinacker’s as a Preschool teacher at our Midtown school, moved to Hillcrest and quickly became the Assistant Director. Leah has been the Director of Hillcrest for over a year and a half now. She is very committed to her school and is making some changes to expand her classrooms to meet the needs of the children. Great job Leah!

 

Our Lake Forest school has Terry Kasmia at the helm. Terry also started with Weinacker’s as a Preschool Teacher. Terry became the director in June of 2010 and has done a spectacular job. Terry left Lake Forest in January to help at our Tillman’s Corner location until the new permanent Director could be chosen. She recently returned to Lake Forest and is looking forward to building a wonderful community to include all of her new families and to making 2014 a great year. You rock, Terry!

 

Amanda McCarthy is back and is now the director of our Tillman’s Corner school. From early in 2009 until April 2012 Amanda was the director of our Hillcrest school. In 2012 she worked as Director at our Midtown and University schools. At the end of 2012 Amanda left us to pursue other interests. Happily, she recently returned to us as the Director of Tillman’s Corner. So far so good and I’m so happy to have her back. Welcome Amanda!

 

And finally……..At University is DeEtta Brown. DeEtta started on her path as a Preschool teacher at our Lake Forest school in Spring of 2010. in January 2013 she became the director at University, our newest site. DeEtta has done a fabulous job of completing the transitioning of her school from traditional childcare to a great Montessori school. She is excited about the enthusiasm of her teachers and families and loves planning community events with them. Keep up the great work DeEtta!

 

As many of you may know, we have been through a transition period this spring with the closing of two of our sites and the consolidation of those sites into our remaining classrooms. With the support and understanding of the families involved we were able to transition more than two thirds of the children from the two schools which were effected into our other programs. I’m happy to say that although there have been some growing pains at a couple of our programs, I feel that our transition is now complete. I believe that our programs have benefited greatly from the changes that we made. Our future is bright and we are moving forward. Most recently, the Directors and I have been working together to come up with ideas for more exciting community events at each of the schools. We welcome suggestions and assistance in making these events fun and memorable for our families. So, if you have any ideas, please share them with your school’s Director.

 

Once again, THANK YOU !

 

 

Cheryl Marrison,

 

Operations Manager

 Cheryl

 

Posted in AL, Child Development, Community, Environment, General, Grace & Courtesy, Learning, Love, Mobile, Montessori, New beginnings, Routine, Teamwork | Leave a comment

Observation

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If you have ever read any books written by Maria Montessori or books regarding the philosophy you know that her most useful tool in all of her years as a doctor and the head of Casa dei Bambini was simply, observation.  I think that sometimes observation is not given enough credit for the power and knowledge it possess.  Last week I was working my normal shift in the infant classrooms at one of our locations and saw something amazing—-at one point one of the babies was moving and grooving all over the room, having a blast!  Then I noticed that the baby stopped moving and started to make some noises of frustration—–if you know me you would know that my immediate reaction generally is to jump up and fix the situation immediately, almost frantically (which I am working on).  For some reason I forced myself to take a deep breath and simply observe the situation.  I simply watched the eager child work out her frustrations and less than thirty seconds later, the child was well on her way to exploring every inch of the classroom.  I know some people may not think twice about this recent experience or would have even noticed the magic that occurred but this was not only a learning experience for myself but also did so much for the child!  Observation is essential!  

Posted in Child Development, Environment, General, Maria Montessori, Mobile, Montessori, Teachable Moments | Leave a comment

Biting!

 

The following is the first of a two-part series which will be posted today with the second part to be posted next
week. It is adapted from an article first written by our owner and titled “Toddlers and Biting: What Can Be Done?”

Part 1: Why Young Children Bite.

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                                               (Photo source, The Biting Toddler)

It’s a familiar scenario: Young Johnny and Susie are playing and
having a wonderful time together until Johnny decides he wants
Susie’s toy. He, of course, tries to take it from her and without
hesitation she responds by biting him. Is this survival of the fittest?
Perhaps, but it is developmentally inappropriate behavior for all but
the youngest of infants. So, our questions arise. Why does biting
occur, particularly with toddlers? And, what can be done to keep it
from continuing? To understand, let’s begin by addressing the
question of why biting occurs among young children. We’ll start by
looking at what is developmentally appropriate behavior among
toddlers…and adults.
While we as people grow we develop more refined, and socially
acceptable ways of dealing with conflict. In adulthood, we find the
most successful and socially, well-adjusted people are those that have
a gift of getting what they want or need through words. This
is developmentally appropriate and socially acceptable for adults.
For infants, the first instincts are that of suckling. It is in this manner
that infants are able to have their most basic needs met. As they mature they explore their environment through the most developed
muscles in their young bodies — those that make up the mouth.
However, while biting is appropriate for infants who are teething and
exploring their environment with the one part of their bodies that they
have most physical control over, children who have begun walking are
at another stage of development. By this point children are developing
the gross motor skills necessary to interact on a different level.
This corresponds to the onset of verbal language, which is necessary to
engage other people on a social basis. For a toddler this can be a time
to state one’s independence with the familiar word, “No!” It can also
be a time of much frustration as a child’s greater needs for
socialization and exploration meet with the limited needs to verbally
express himself. This is where biting comes in to play. Biting, then, is
a primitive reaction to a more complex social situation.
Next week: How to Stop Biting!
The following is the second in a two-part series. The first part was posted last week. This is
adapted from an article first written by our owner and titled “Toddlers and Biting: What Can
Be Done?”
Part 2: How to Stop Biting!
So how can we stop biting? Well, to answer this question let’s look at
how to handle when biting initially occurs. First, the biter should be
addressed, firmly but not harshly, with the words “No biting.” Then
the biter should be separated from the rest of the group. After this,
calmly and as a matter-of-fact address the needs of the bitten child.
The less fuss made over the bite the calmer the reaction will be, even
though the bitten area may still hurt. Finally, allow the biter to rejoin
the group when appropriate. You may also want to offer an object the
child can bite during the day, particularly at times when the child is
prone to get tired and frustrated.
Now that we know how to address biting after it occurs let’s look at
how to prevent it from happening again. The first recommendation is to always have interesting, developmentally appropriate activities for
children to do. This not only provides them with something on which
to focus their attention but also helps to develop their concentration
and lowers their frustration level. Second, when a child does bite
another child it is a clear signal to increase supervision and awareness
of the child’s social interactions. In other words, watch who he is
playing with and be prepared to jump in when necessary.
If a child is persistent in his biting habits a change of environment
may also be necessary. As with adults, children develop routines.
Biting other children in similar situations day-in and day-out can
become the expected and accepted behavior. By changing the
environment a child is put into a new or different situation where the
rules and routines can be more easily re-established.
Another recommendation is to provide the child with the words to
express himself. By doing so, we are providing him with the tools with
which he can state his desires or concerns. By enabling a child to
express himself he is then able to handle frustrating situations by
communicating what is wanted rather than by physically hurting
others to get his way. And, finally, remember that consistency is vital.
When a child knows what the limits and expectations are he is able to
spend less time exploring the boundaries and has more time to
concentrate on the activities that are available to him.

Posted in AL, Child Development, Environment, General, Montessori, Teachable Moments, Teamwork, Toddler | Comments Off

Mardi Gras 2014!

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Mardi Gras has come and gone!  We hope you all had a wonderful Mardi Gras 2014!

Posted in AL, Community, General | Comments Off

Give Peace a Chance….

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This past weekend so amazing–it almost seems unreal!  The teachers who are currently going through the AMS Infant&Toddler training met the one and only, Sonnie McFarland!  If you are unaware of who Sonnie McFarland is—she is a famous Montessorian who is on the founding member of the Montessori Peace Committee.  McFarland is also the author of, Honoring the Light of the Child and Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self.  

I can easily say, this is one of the best seminars I have ever experienced.  Sonny was an amazing instructor and shed so much light on the subject!  This training has really opened my eyes to Peace Education and the need to implement this into our children’s curriculum.  If you are ever looking for something to read, I highly recommend checking out these amazing books!

MontessoriParentingHonoringthelight

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Snow Days down South

I can easily say that, I never thought I would see the day where Mobile, Al was covered in snow. Today was actually our third day off of school due to the wintery conditions. Never say never, I suppose. I know this may have been inconvenient for some but deep down I was kind of excited about the situation. I was excited for all children to have their first “snow” experience. It was really cool to see all my neighbors, young and old, standing in their front yards inspecting the thin layer of white dust that now covered their lawn. I think it is important for us–teacher, parent, aunt, neighbor–we realize that we have the opportunity to take a situation and turn it into something magical and memorable. Children love to learn and thrive when we help foster that love of learning!

Megan

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Posted in AL, Environment, Making Memories, Teachable Moments | Comments Off

A Time for Change….

 

 

 

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The new year has brought on some big changes for Weinacker’s and I feel it necessary and appropriate to touch on the subject. To fill some of you in, so you are not completely lost, I will do so. At the beginning of December it had been decided that two of our locations would be closing their doors and joining forces with our other locations. This decision was one that, to the best of my knowledge, was not an easy decision to make by any means. This was definitely not a spur of the moment decision, but one that took lots time and reflection, taking all aspects of this decision into careful consideration. When the decision was announced there were many different feelings that came with the big news, as expected–there was sadness, confusion, joy, excitement, and probably some other feelings that surfaced,as well. Feelings, are a positive and natural reaction to any event or situation that inevitably bring change into our lives. To live a well balanced healthy life, it is important that we are able to effectively cope with different emotions and feelings that may arise throughout our lives, this is something we strive to teach our students . This decision did inevitably  bring about change to  people’s lives; our parents, our teachers, our community, and most important, the students of WMS.  This is a  change for the best and is only going to make us stronger as a community!  

The word change sometimes comes with a negative connotation and that is really unfortunate, in my opinion. To me,change,means that we are getting the opportunity to grow into something bigger and better, whatever it may be and in this case it is our schools.  It has been truly amazing to witness how great everyone has been during this time.  I would also like to take this time to personally thank everyone who came together and made Weinacker’s even stronger.  I am extremely grateful and humbled by this experience to have been able to come together with the wonderful students, parents, and teachers and move forward together!  

Have a great weekend.

Megan

 

 

 

 

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Lights, Camera, Action!

There is nothing better than cuddling up to a good movie when  it is cold outside!  If you are at home or at work, you will definitely enjoy this informational movie about Montessori!  I hope you enjoy!

Megan

 

 

 

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Until Next Year

 

 

Greetings everyone!  It is hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone!  I truly hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday!  Even though Christmas seems to come and go so quickly it always has a profound impact on us leaving us with sweet memories to hold on to.

Monday we will be having our annual company wide training!  I am pretty excited.  It is always fun to be reunited with the teachers from all of our schools and catch up with everyone!  I will definitely take some pictures and post them when I return next week! They should be worth checking out.

In just a few days we will be entering the year 2014!  Crazy huh?  Being that the New Year is usually a time for new beginnings and resolutions really got me thinking about a lot.  As some of you may know we are going through a lot of changes at Weinacker’s and it will undoubtedly impact everyone–the children, the parents, the teachers, the administration.  As we make our way into this brand New Year, I wish all of you happiness, love, and peace.  Sometimes it is easy to become consumed with everything else other than happiness, love and peace so maybe if we all make a point to remember the little things in life that truly make a difference and embrace change with open arms and understanding hearts– we will have a really great year!

Talk to you soon!

Megan

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Christmas Fun

 

 

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What a wonderful day it has been at all of our schools!  Today we celebrated the Christmas holiday with all of our wonderful families and friends!  The turn out was AMAZING!  We would like to personally thank everyone who came by and celebrated with us!  You all hold a very special place in our hearts.  From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

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Love.

 
let them be little

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Tis the Season

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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

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Holidays are Here!

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!  

Proactive Parenting

 

Enjoy!

Megan

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On the Road Again continued…..

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!

Megan

P.S.  Stick with taking I-10…..Don’t get me started on my trip home attempting to find I-65 :)

 

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Posted in Child Development, Community, Dothan Montessori, Environment, General, Learning, Maria Montessori, Montessori, New beginnings | Comments Off

On the Road Again….

 

 

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!

-Megan

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Happy Veterans Day

Veterans Day

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!

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It Takes a Village….

 

 

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.

 

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Posted in Child Development, Community, Environment, Grace & Courtesy, Learning, Montessori, Teamwork | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Getting to Know Weinacker’s!

Hope everyone is having a great week!  Just uploaded a video about Weinacker’s!  Please take a peek!  –Megan

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Weekend Update!

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Look how cute the teachers look dressed up as crayons!

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!

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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!

Megan

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Weekend Excitement!

 

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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)

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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!

—Megan

 

P.S  Can’t wait to tell you all about these awesome events Monday!

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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

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A Peek Inside…..

 

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!

—Megan

 

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Wonderful Weekend!

 

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AtlantaGA

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!

Megan

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The Beauty of Montessori

 

 Greathelpers

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.

-Megan

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Welcome, October!

 

 

There is something so beautiful about the month of October, even in the deep South!  We wish you all a refreshing and wonderful October!  

Lovely, October!

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Give Back to Your School Day!

 

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!  

 

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Training Update!

 

 

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!

Best Regards!

Megan

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Grace & Courtesy

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.

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Happy Grandparents Day

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.  

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Montessori!

 Happy Birthday!  

Maria Montessori Picture

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!

 

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Montessori At Home

“ 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!

 

Cheers!

Megan

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Week one: SUCCESS!

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.

 

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Parents & Teachers

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!

Megan

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A Fresh Start

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.

Take Care.

Megan

20130727_163149       marygirls 

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Unity

 

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.

 WMS Picnic      WMS picnic

WMS picnic

 

 

 

 

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Montessori Journey

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.

 

 

 

 

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Administrator Training has begun!

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

 

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My Montessori Beginning

 

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.

Megan

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Training Update

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……………………………………….

 

Training 1

Training 2Training 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Training

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
www.facebook.com/WMSMontessori.

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2013 International Festival

 

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!

 

 

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GEARING UP FOR SUMMER

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.

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AN AWARD WINNING TRIP TO WASHINGTON D.C.

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.

Photo from Blue Ribbon Award trip

 

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AMS Administrator’s Credential Course Scheduled

 

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 :cmarrison@weinackersmontessori.com">cmarrison@weinackersmontessori.com 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.

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Summer Training Schedule

 

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 :mbyrne@weinackersmontessori.com">mbyrne@weinackersmontessori.com or  feel  free to call her at 251-209-3659. We look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in these courses.

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2013 US Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon Finalist

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.

 https://dreambigaward.wufoo.com/forms/community-excellence-award-2013/

 

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WMS Wins People’s Choice Award!

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!

 

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Our Spanish Immersion Classroom at Hillcrest.

Spanish Immersion ClassWe 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 :amccarthy@weinackersmontessori.com">amccarthy@weinackersmontessori.com 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.

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Weinacker’s Hosts AMS Teacher Training.

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 :mbyrne@weinackersmontessori.com">mbyrne@weinackersmontessori.com 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.

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How Can We Treat Children With Respect?

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.

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