Category Archives: Montessori

ARC

I have learned a lot of things (I mean…a lot) in my 8.5 years of being a mom.  But one thing that I’ve learned over and over again is from Maria:

Give and give and give.

She’s a giver.  Her heart is so big that I’m pretty sure it will burst one of these days.  She has a million ideas in that little head of hers and while there is the occasional selfish thought (because she’s 8), the majority of them are all thought up with the idea that she can help others.

Her most recent project is ARC: Animal Respect Club.  It popped into her head a couple months ago after watching a video at school of animals (I think maybe they were of the poultry variety) being mistreated at a factory.  The original name for her club was the Hen Respect Club which I happen to absolutely adore — but Mr. Matt had a good point that maybe they should choose a name that includes all creatures who may be being mistreated.  And so the Animal Respect Club was born. She roped in all of her school friends to be a part of it.  They hold meetings at school.  They have ideas to hold egg sales and have rallies and really “help all those animals!”  It’s adorable.

So let’s get to the point, shall we?  Are you all familiar with the recent Loom Bracelet craze?

ARC-1 These tiny little rubber bands (we have approximately 10,000 on our floor in various locations) are put on a loom and wrapped around each other until, voila, out pops a cute little bracelet.

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Do you want one?  Maria is selling them to raise money for ARC.

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“ARC is a place where we can help animals who can’t help themselves.  I think it’d be really fun to sell stuff and keep the money until we have enough to buy an animal for a family.  Like that one thing we did once (Heifer International).  And the family can help care for their animal and it can help them survive.”

Really, this girl is pretty amazing.

Here are the deets:

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Muchness

I don’t ever want my kittens to lose their muchness.

Your muchness is what makes you….you.  It’s your curiosity.  Your adventure.  It’s what makes you great and wonderful and unique.  It’s that thing you have that makes people love you.  It’s the way you walk, talk, laugh, and it’s what the world looks like through your eyes.

In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter told Alice that she used to be “much more muchier.”  She’d “lost her muchness.”

Like I said…I don’t want my kittens to lose their muchness.  And they have it in abundance.

I’m lucky.  Dan’s lucky.  We are lucky that our kids spend their days at a place that encourages them to keep it.  That muchness.

Jamie and Maria both came home so excited to tell me about the new project they had.  The homework they had to do.

I’m gonna back up just a little bit.  This year has been amazing so far.  My kids come home from school happy.  Every day.  They’re happy.  Even on days when Jamie has “minutes” (he has to sit out a few minutes every once in a while from recess for poor behavior choices), he still tells me what a great day he has had.  Maria doesn’t come home upset and stressed out over friendship drama.  She doesn’t have to come up with a recess game plan the night before to avoid conflict between friends.  She comes home happy.  She comes home excited and content and comfortable and happy.  That makes me happy.  More than you could guess.

So this homework.  It’s a research project to be completed at home.  That’s their homework.  They don’t have pages and pages of worksheets.  It’s nothing that I am doing for them but trying to pass off as their own work.  It’s 100% their work.

Tonight after dinner, the tv was on.  The video games were available downstairs.  But Jamie sat at the dining room table and started his research.

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Each student has to choose an animal and answer a set of questions about it.  They can answer them in a variety of ways, whether through a speech, a book they create, a poster board….etc.  Jamie has chosen to research the arctic fox and Maria has chosen the leatherback turtle.

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Jamie’s muchness.  He still has it.  He’s a curious kid.  He learns facts and figures and doesn’t forget them.  He loves teaching me about things:  the universe (did you know that Neptune was named after the God of the Sea?), definitions (having a job is better than an internship.  An internship means you work but don’t get paid.), stories (so many dragon battles), you name it.

Children’s House Montessori helps spark his curiosity enough that when he comes home, it doesn’t stop.  He just keeps going.  I’m not trying to pretend that every day he comes home and just sticks his nose in a book.  That he’s constantly doing research and doing math work and is begging to do science experiments.  He’s not.  But he’s also not glued to the television.  He’s happy to play and create pretend lands and story lines.  He’s content reading in his room.

And sometimes we get this:

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And this is why we love Montessori.

 

 

Pumpkin Patch

Reason number 5,634 that Papa and Lala are the best:

They plant a whole mess of pumpkins for the kids.

Reason number 5,635 that Papa and Lala are the best:

They invite the entire elementary class over to pick pumpkins!

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The kids arrived around 12:00 noon and ate their lunch on the back lawn.

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Some moms are very busy and only have time to call in an order for Paraiso Vallarta take away for their children’s lunches.

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And apparently some wake up just 5 minutes earlier so they can make their children lunch to take to school.  You know what I say to that?  Psh.

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The kids had the best time with their friends.  I can say, very proudly, that everyone in their class is a friend to everyone else.  I have not once heard Maria complain or cry or talk about how some girls are mean to others.  How on the playground there was a lot of drama and so-and-so is made at someone and alliances were made.  Nope, none of that this year and I’m so thankful.

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(Maria and her very best pal, Anna)

Mr. Matt does does an amazing job with them (so does Miss Ellen, but she’s on maternity leave!) and the kids respect him and think he’s pretty cool.

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(Ladies, hands off.  He’s taken.)

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(the very best friends in the whole world)

So not only did my dad and mom invite 12 kids over to pick pumpkins, my dad also put together a little presentation about how pumpkins grow, what they look like at each stage, etc.  It was so great!

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He broke a pumpkin open and the kids felt how squishy and gross it was.

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And after running and playing and inspecting and feeling and picking, it was time to go back to school.

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This is one of the MANY reasons why I love Children’s House Montessori School.  Taking a little fieldtrip to a pumpkin patch is no biggie.  Running around crazy is encouraged.  Getting your hand sticky and gross and messy is okay.

Everyday I think about how lucky I am to have my kids here.

First Day Jitters

I have first day jitters. First day of school jitters.

I’m jittery because I can hardly contain my excitement that it is FINALLY TIME FOR SCHOOL!!!

Fact: I love my kids. More than anything in this universe.

Fact: They need their friends and I need them to have their friends.

This mama is worn out! “Mom, I’m bored. Mom, what are we doing after we eat breakfast? Okay, then what are we doing after that? Are my friends home? Can we go to the aquatic center? When are we going to Disneyland again? It’s not fair that I can’t watch tv anymore. Alice touched me! Charlotte looked at me!”

We were all ready for the day to come.

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We loaded up in the car, just barely late. If we lived in the heights, we’d be so late. But nope, it’s just a quick trip across the bridge. Tomorrow we’ll get there on time, I swear.

They were so excited. Maria especially. I know I keep bringing it up, but this is so new and scary for her, even though she’s being very brave and pretending it’s not. She always brings up the question of, “Will I still see my other friends?” She’s nervous that everyone is going to have a great time without her at the old school and totally forget about her. Newsflash, Maria, you’re the awesomest. No one will forget about you.

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And I was so happy this morning when she practically jumped out of bed, ate her breakfast, then got dressed as quickly as she could because she was so excited for school.

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[peek kids dress, Sam Eidelman shoes]

Jamie was excited, too.

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[printed palette shirt, boden shorts]

School is where Jamie feels safe. If he is not at home, he wants to be at school. I want that to continue through this year, too. We were so beyond blessed last year that Ms. Megan taught both Jamie and Alice. Ms. Megan understands Jamie. She not only “gets” his quirks, but appreciates them, too. And Jamie has a lot of respect for Megan. It’s really hard to read Jamie, but Megan does it and does it well.

Godspeed, Matt and Ellen…

They went inside and changed their shoes and headed up to start their new schoolyear. *sigh*

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The baby girls and I went home, cleaned up, sat in the sitting room with our friends Tara and B, ate some snacks, did some learning exercises (just kidding, she played on PBSkids.Org), ate lunch, then headed back out to take Miss Alice to her first day.

She’s so cute.

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[ps, her top is Zara and her jeans are Joe’s]

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And I saw for myself that Maria is having a great day.

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[“Mom, this day has been awesome.”]

Happy Back to School!

This Place.

This place.

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Children’s House Montessori School.

It’s time for the move from All Saints to Children’s House to be official.

I’m so excited. I’m ready for the change and so is she.

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This is where she will become a scientist.

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A mathematician.

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An actor.

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These little hands will become an artist and an author.

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An explorer.

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These beautiful eyes

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will see for themselves what it’s like to learn kindness, cooperation, independence, responsibility, respect and love by doing it in the classroom. By helping her classmates, cleaning up her environment, watching her teachers, and trying things on her own.

This is where she will thrive.

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Why Montessori?

This.  This is why.

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[“She is the energy of the sun. Let her face shine with the same radiant joy.”]

This little, perfect, incredible soul has the potential to do huge, wonderful, amazing things.

The fate of the world depends on how we educate the future.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been introduced to Montessori by my friend (and my children’s teacher) Megan. Through her, I’ve been shown a world where children aren’t just taught – they’re guided.

I am passionate about things. Sometimes, the passion fades a bit (can we go back to my essential oils phase?), but when I believe in something real, and believe in it with my whole heart, I want so badly for others to experience it, too. I have become passionate about Montessori.

It’s more than just a different type of school. It’s so much more than that, and I really only completely understood this after the 2+ days I spent at the International Montessori Congress in Portland. Here I was able to listen to people who spoke about their passion. Judith Snow spoke of inclusion and that “with inclusion comes peace.” She asked us to think about ability vs. capacity. She told stories about people with different abilities who changed lives — not because of their abilities, but because of their capacity.

Lynne Lawrence explained that “learning is something personal…not dependent on the knowing adult.”

I love that.

I think that too often in ‘traditional’ schools, teachers see it as their job to teach the child. That they are the ones who create readers, mathematicians, scientists. They do everything they can so that their students score well on tests, and those results are then direct reflections on them as teachers…and it’s kind of appalling that then sometimes those teachers are rewarded for their students doing well — as if it’s all because of them.

Not once during this conference did I hear talk of improving test scores. I didn’t hear talk about how you should teach your students. What I heard was talk of peace. I heard over and over again the importance of doing good in the world. These Montessorians know what’s up. They respect children as humans. They know children are capable of huge things…they don’t just think it. They know that they aren’t the ones creating these big things, the child is.  And that’s important.  They believe in their work and they know that by guiding children through their own learning process, they are helping to shape a world of good. Where cooperation, love, peace, and inclusion are things that just happen.

When Judith snow was talking about students she knew with severe disabilities, it made me think of Jamie and Alice’s class this past year. A child in their class is almost completely blind. The compassion and friendship that his friends in his class show him is amazing. They think absolutely NOTHING of taking his hand and leading him to a safe place in the classroom. It’s natural to them. When he accidentally bumps into someone, there isn’t angry talk — they scoot over or move so he can get by. Usually with no words being exchanged besides an, “I’m sorry,” from the child. And if I think about it too much, I might cry because I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful that my children will grow up not having to learn how to treat people who are different — they’ll see it as normal. And because of all of this, they will be more peaceful. Judith pointed out that when you see that being different is okay and everyone benefits from diversity, there is no need to fight.

Montessori teaches peace.

It teaches responsibility for oneself and the environment.

It teaches love and respect.

It helps to create artists and musicians and scientists and mathematicians. Writers and teachers and builders and dreamers.

That is why Montessori.

“The unknown energy that can help humanity is that which lies hidden in the child.”

 -Maria Montessori

Singing Alice Around the Sun

I love lots of things. I love Disneyland and white mochas. I love HBO Girls and french toast. I love Dave Matthews and Mumford and Sons and Yoga with my friends.  And I LOVE Children’s House Montessori birthday celebrations. It doesn’t matter if it is my child or someone else’s, the birthday celebrations would bring a tear to my eye if I was the crying type.

Today, the friends at CHMS sang Alice around the sun and it was perfect.

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[watching her try not to smile was hilarious]

She chose Kaitlyn to help her set up the sun and the months on the birthday mat.

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Then we started with the day she was born and I told her friends all about her first year. What she liked to eat, where she visited, her friends, that kind of thing. Then she hopped up, grabbed the little globe, and her friends sang her around the sun:

“The Earth goes around the Sun. Tra-la-la. The Earth goes around the Sun.”

THen she’d sit and I’d show pictures and share about her 2nd year. Etc, etc.

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Papa came to watch.

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And when she hit her 4th year, she blew out her candles after a very heartfelt Happy Birthday song.

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Why do I love this tiny community of friends at CHMS? Because birthday celebrations are a big deal. It’s not just a “sing happy birthday and pass out cupcakes.” It’s a celebration. The kids all learn about each other more than in any other classroom I’ve ever observed. They are interested. And that’s not the norm. They are excited for their friends to share their birthday celebrations and it’s not just because of the treat at the end. Each child has a chance to be completely celebrated and it takes longer than 10 minutes. It’s part of the day, part of that day’s entire plan, not just something that is stuck in at the very end before it’s time to go home.

After Alice was sung around the sun (4 times…ridiculous), she got to host group snack.

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Spot on Yogurt with toppings.

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[she got some too of course]

Then they all walked over to LCSC and played on the field.

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So much fashion going on here.

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And then mom of the year arranged for a miniature pony to visit the class.

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Oh, you thought mom of the year was me? No. I went and bought my girls’ birthday gifts YESTERDAY at Walmart at 8:45 pm. I’m not kidding. No, mom of the year was Miss Stephanie!!! She’s awesome. And so stupidly adorable. Look at her.

She brought Rocky, Emily’s mini horse.

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And 5 minutes after we buy a farm, we are buying a mini horse. I can’t handle this cuteness, I have to have one!!!

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It’s a good thing Alice packed her binoculars….

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Hip Hip Hooray for Alice’s birthday celebration. Hip Hip Hooray for the beautiful friends at CHMS. Hip Hip Hooray for Rocky and Stephanie and Emily.

Hip.

Hip.

HOORAY!