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Montessori School of Greater Lafayette Blog


Insights and inspiration from our Montessori classrooms.rss


 

 

   Have you ever wished you could experience Montessori through a child's eyes? We would like to offer you the next best thing. Please join us on Wednesday, September 23rd from 6:00 - 8:00 pm on the MSGL campus for the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery. This is your opportunity to see the classrooms as your children do and to use the same materials they use to develop their bodies, minds, and spirits.

     The Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery will take you on two guided tours of the school, starting as an infant and progressing through the Toddler, Preprimary, Extended Day, and Elementary classes. The first tour is silent. Your tour group will spend 3 minutes in each room looking at - but not touching - the classroom environment and the various materials. After the first tour, your guide will once again take you to each of the classrooms, but this tour will be the Discovery portion when you can use the materials, ask questions of the guides and teachers, and take part in the teachers' presentations. We will wrap up the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery by gathering together for refreshments and discussion afterwards.

     We are very excited to offer this parent education event and we highly recommend it for all new families and anyone who would like a hands-on experience in our Montessori classrooms. This is also a nice tour for grandparents and caregivers. You can read about one parent's experience with a Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery on the I Heart Montessori blog.

     Please register for this fun event in the office or by phone by this Friday, September 18th.


 

   

      "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" said the little blue engine as she chugged faster and faster to the top of the mountain. And she could, of course. She did. The little blue engine saved the day by successfully pulling the stranded train full of good things for girls and boys over the mountain and into the valley where the children lay sleeping. Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could, published in 1930, was my favorite picture book as a child and the little blue engine my favorite heroine. Sure, she was kind and a lovely shade of blue, but more importantly she was a strong female character. She was useful! She did important stuff that helped children! And she did it at the end of a long day even after all of the self-important macho engines said, "I pull the likes of you? Indeed not."

     It never occured to me until preparing this post, that The Little Engine That Could, which was read to me over and over again - as many times as I wanted, by my devoted babysitter Arnetha Trent - might have been key to the formation of my beliefs about society. Perhaps it was this determined little engine that opened my eyes to the truth that not everyone wants what's best for children. After all, if three out of four engines are not willing to pull a train filled with fresh milk, veggies, toys, and candy (just enough for an after-dinner treat, mind you) over the mountain to the children in the valley? Something's not right in the world. Four-year-old girls notice things like that.

     I use this newly discovered self-knowledge as a metaphor because our school, the Montessori School of Greater Lafayette (MSGL), has been called by some, "The Little School That Could." We are small and we operate on a tight budget, but do a lot with what we have. We offer 10 different programs for over 200 children, ages one to nine years, and we make it all happen in seven classrooms on our five-acre campus. We are a non-profit, parent-owned school which means when something needs to be done, whether it's adding an elementary program or building a new sand box, the families and staff work together to make it happen. This willingness to collaborate and create the best possible environment for children is the source of our strength. It's why we are known as the scrappy little school that's brought respect, independence, and a love of learning to the girls and boys of the Wabash Valley for over 42 years.

        Clearly, I'm proud of our little Montessori school. It's been my extended family since my daughter started preschool here in 1998. And it has chugged its way up more than a few metaphorical mountains. But I'm especially proud today as I share news that not only is MSGL still making a difference in the lives of its families, it's poised to make a difference in the lives of families across the country. Our accrediting organization, the American Montessori Society (AMS), delivered three such helpings of good news this week. First we learned that we were featured in the quarterly publication Montessori Life for our parent development program, "Bringing Montessori Home." This event took place in January and will be offered again this year. You can read it here:

    Then we learned that we were selected to present "Bringing Montessori Home" at the AMS National Conference in March. All of MSGL's lead teachers will be traveling to Chicago, March 11 - 13th, 2016, to take part in this presentation to other Montessori teachers, administrators, and parents from all over the United States. You can read more about the conference here:

 

 

     Finally, the AMS Board of Directors officially approved our school reaccreditation this week. The two-year reaccreditation process involved a lengthy self-study of our educational philosophy and practices, business practices, and plans for growth and improvement. An on-site team visited the school in March to verify that MSGL's practices are in-line with the AMS standards and our own self-study documentation. The team reported that their visit to MSGL was the most organized they have experienced mostly because of the work of our own Lena Atkinson, Office Manager and Parent/Infant Teacher. Lena organized all of the school's documents online so the reaccreditation team could simply follow links to view documents instead of sorting through file cabinets. Now, Lena has been asked to host a webinar to show other schools how she used tech to improve the tedious reaccreditation process. Reaccreditation with AMS occurs every seven years. Congratulations to the staff, board, and families who have been working toward reaccreditation since August, 2013 and to all future MSGL families who will benefit from it!  You can read more about the value of the AMS accreditation process here:

 

 

     So, it's been a big week and we are pleased with the school's good work. We are excited that others in the Montessori community appreciate that good things can come in small, scrappy packages. But I can't say we are surprised by the news. Just like my favorite little blue engine, we always thought we could.

     Thanks for reading,  Heather            

 

 


 


An MSGL preprimary student prepares carrots at home using a chopper and cutting board of her own.

     Dozens of MSGL students are enjoying increased independence at home thanks to the “Bringing Montessori Home” parent development night held January 21, 2015. Thirty parents and grandparents attended the 1 ½  hour event that offered live demonstrations of Montessori-inspired activities children can do at home as well as hands-on activities, and an introduction to the Montessori philosophy.

     Small groups of parents rotated through three different classrooms to observe and take part in presentations. Dena Saunders and Emily Frazier presented Care of Self and Care of the Environment. Getting dressed, caring for plants and pets, and cleaning up spills were some of the topics covered. Dena elicited “oohs and aahs” from one group when she demonstrated how to use masking tape to make a square on the floor so a child can easily sweep spills into a dust pan.

     Angie Shamo and Machelle French demonstrated how to put together a few simple art activities on a shelf at home for when a child wants to work creatively and independently. The cutting strips, which consist of thin, sturdy paper strips on a tray with a pair of scissors, allow the child to practice cutting safely and successfully. Another suggestion was to offer just three colors of watercolor paints at a time - in the beginning - so a child can successfully create a painting without all of the colors mixing into brown. Families were also given the school’s popular recipe for making play dough at home.

     Many parents tried their hands at peeling and chopping carrots and peeling clementines in the food preparation class led by Anita Trent and Ana Ramirez. Each activity was arranged as it could be in the home, including child-sized tools. Hand-washing and serving etiquette were also discussed as these are important aspects of food preparation for young children. While one parent offered sliced carrots to the group, Anita said, “Imagine how it feels for your child to serve you just like you have always served your child.”

     After the presentations, many parents said they were excited to try these activities at home with their children. They also felt that some of the things their children were already doing at home, such as preparing a salad and feeding the fish, meshed nicely with the Montessori philosophy.

 

And this one isn't too bad either.
Each family received a selection of child-sized items to use at home.
 

     Each family in attendance received a materials bag containing a child-sized vegetable peeler and chopper, a small pitcher, a dust pan set, cutting strips and scissors, child-sized sponge and towel, and a hook to hang the child’s coat or book bag at a level where she can reach it. Families also received a custom-made photo book - created by the teachers - that reviews materials covered in the presentations as well as offering additional ideas and resources.

     Materials bags and books are still available for purchase in the office for $10.

     Thank you to everyone who attended! MSGL plans to offer “Bringing Montessori Home” again next year and will include new activities and take-home materials.

 

 

 


Children at work in the Montessori Elementary class.

     October is observation month at our Montessori school. Now that the classrooms have been up and running for six weeks and the children are mostly adjusted to being away from their parents, we invite the parents to spend 15 minutes in the class just observing to see what their children's days are like. Parents are given a clipboard with an observation sheet that asks some general questions about what they see. After class, the teachers read over the observation sheets and respond to any questions or concerns the parents may have at the upcoming Parent/Teacher Conferences. Observation month is offered again in April.

     Parent observations are important to the teachers because they keep us focused on our own observations. "I'm seeing that this child rarely chooses to work by himself. I wonder if his parents will see the same thing? Is that how he is at home or only at school?"

     Observations are important to parents because they can serve as an informative window into a child's day. "I didn't realize she had so many friends at school. Does she ever work by herself?"

     Observations are also important to the children because every child enjoys when Mom or Dad come to visit. "Mom's at MY school watching ME work??? Awesome!" Being a part of your child's day promotes good feelings and almost guarantees terrific dinner conversation.


Children at work in a Montessori preprimary classroom.    

     So what can you expect during your in-class observation? 

  • Your child is going to notice you. If MSGL had the facility of its dreams, each classroom would have a one-way window that would allow you to observe your children from the hallway without changing the dynamics of the class. But, we have the beautiful facility that we have, so we can only offer in-class observations. Your child, especially a very young child, may want to spend the whole time sitting with you and that's okay. You can remind her that she should continue doing what she was doing before you walked in, but don't push the issue. Tell her that you are just watching and not talking, and that may help. With so many children in the class, there is plenty to observe even if your child is sitting on your lap.
  • The teachers will be busy but not in control of the classroom. They will greet you politely then get back to their jobs of presenting, observing, and responding to the children.
  • Children will be doing lots of different things. Some children will be working with Montessori materials, others will be drawing, others will be having snack, and still others may be pouring beans into the dishwater. When you see things that make you curious (or even anxious), write them down! The teachers would love to discuss them with you at conferences.
  • You will see many good things. Ask yourself, are children Concentrating? Cooperating? Leading? Following? Smiling? Laughing? Moving gracefully? Being polite? Write those things down, too.
  • There will, occasionally, be chaos. The children may be adjusted to being away from home after six weeks, but the classrooms are far from normalized. Many children are still learning how to work independently, to share space and materials with others, to care for themselves in the bathroom, to join in group activities peacefully, and to clean up after themselves. Within the span of a 15-minute observation, dozens of things can happen that the teachers would prefer did not happen at all, let alone in front of innocent parents!  But this is also the reason we invite parents in so early: we want you to see the tremendous changes that take place - in the classrooms and within the children themselves - between October and April.


Children working in the Montessori toddler classroom.

​     ​Sign up for an observation time outside your child's classroom. We look forward to seeing all of our parents in our classrooms!

     ~Heather

 

 

 

 


 

 

Miss Emily tries out a science experiment during the Teachers' Silent Journey and Discovery.

 

     Have you ever wished you could experience Montessori through a child's eyes? We would like to offer you the next best thing. Please join us on Monday, September 22nd from 6:00 - 7:30 pm on the MSGL campus for the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery. This is your opportunity to see the classrooms as your children do and to use the same materials they use to develop their bodies, minds, and spirits.

     The Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery will take you on two guided tours of the school, starting as an infant and progressing through the Toddler, Preprimary, Extended Day, and Elementary classes. The first tour is silent. Your tour group will spend 5 minutes in each room looking at - but not touching - the classroom environment and the various materials. After the first tour, your guide will once again take you to each of the classrooms, but this tour will be the Discovery portion when you can use the materials, ask questions of the guides and teachers, and take part in the teachers' presentations. We will wrap up the Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery by gathering together for refreshments and discussion afterwards.


Miss Stacie presents the Squaring Chains.  

     We are very excited to offer this new parent education event and we highly recommend it for all new families and anyone who would like a hands-on experience in our Montessori classrooms. This is also a nice tour for grandparents and caregivers. The teachers practiced the Silent Journey and Discovery in August and really enjoyed the experience. You can read about one parent's experience with a Montessori Silent Journey and Discovery on the I Heart Montessori blog.

     Childcare is available for children ages 2 and older who are currently attending MSGL or familiar with MSGL. All of our teachers will be on hand for this special evening and we look forward to seeing you there, too!

     Please register for this fun event and sign up for childcare in the office or by phone by this Friday, September 19th.