Twin Parks Montessori Schools - Preschool Manhattan, Upper West Side, New York City (NYC)

Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

Kathy’s Insights

Preschool Life Skills: The Marshmallow Test

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Attendees at the American Montessori Society’s Annual Conference in Chicago last weekend listened to Dr. Ellen Galinsky talk about research regarding preschool life skills.  Dr. Galinsky has traveled the globe gathering information about how children learn.  This research is culminated in her new book, Mind in the Making.  Watch the video to see how you can help your child learn how to delay gratification.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu1V9GM6BXE]

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Test Scores or Happiness? What is important for Global Education?

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This past weekend I attended the the American Montessori Society’s Annual Conference in Chicago.  The programming was superb!  One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Yong Zhao had a strong positive message about Montessori education and how allowing children to make choices and to learn from mistakes builds confidence and creativity.  Dr. Zhao’s research indicates that compared to other nations,  the United States does not score well on standardized tests which leads to left-brained thinkers.  However, what our students do well is score very high on confidence.  Passion for learning and happiness attending school should not be underrated.  At Twin Parks, we celebrate the talents of each individual student.  According to Dr. Zhao, a diversity of talents supports the growth of a community and of a nation.

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Quietly Observing

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Montessori teachers learn the value of quietly observing when they are in training.  Once the classroom environments are prepared with every child’s needs in mind, the children can explore and discover the concepts that each material holds.  An observant teacher can discern more about a child’s learning style and disposition by observation than by any other teaching technique.  Parents can quietly observe their children in natural surroundings where children can be free to explore.  Freedom within limits, boundaries dictated by keeping safe.  These observations take time, something we have to carve out of our busy days.

I read an article this morning about Native Americans and their definition of time as it relates to nature.

Science defines time as an absolute unit of measure – a day, an hour, a minute, a second. However, tribes, their languages and culture look at time as a relationship between events of nature and include humans. Humans created the concept of finite time, whereas nature creates events. Tribal focus is mainly on observing time’s relationship with nature, which is communicated through tribal culture and its language of connection. This relationship is taught by elders to tribal youth. For example, I would go hunting with my family, and elders might not say a word for hours. A small animal would appear, and I would hear my uncle say, “This means something.“ When I asked, “What does it mean?“ He would answer, “Just watch.“

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Exmissions – what’s next?

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When the nursery school years are behind you – where does your child’s education continue?  We are fortunate in that NYC has many options.  The question then becomes – what school is a good match for my child?  The exmissions process at Twin Parks Montessori Schools begins the spring of the year a child turns 4.  We meet with parents, conduct workshops regarding public and private options and application processes, and visit the various schools ourselves to guide parents when they are making the important decision of where to apply.

Then you may ask, how well do we prepare our students for their next school?  Exceptionally well!

Dane Peters, Head of Brooklyn Heights Montessori School summed it up in an article in the Parent’s League of New York Review 2011.  In it he states:
“The outcomes of Montessori education I love most, however, is that students are always eager to take on new challenges.  The notion that the Montessori setting is ideal for creating self-starting, self-motivated students is supported by Daniel Pink, author of Drive, the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  After all, what better environment for learning than one that promotes independence, mastery, purpose, responsibility and respect.”

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Remembering Childhood

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Each year I meet individually with the Twin Parks Montessori School teachers for a time of reflection – like a mini retreat.  Teachers write about our school mission and how it resonates with them and how life at Twin Parks is going.  This year I asked them to reflect on their childhoods and what they remember doing as a child that has contributed to their happiness as an adult.

The answers are so interesting and vary from memories of large extended families, cooking with Grammy, taking pleasure in simple things like playing in the mud and creating forts from natural found objects outdoors.  I remember building forts and learning to collaborate and negotiate with the neighborhood children.  There were many life lessons learned during that unsupervised playtime.

This shared time with teachers is so valuable. Not only does it give me time to make individual connections, but I learn so much about what people value.  And in turn what they bring to the students at Twin Parks.  So my suggestion for you today is to think back to your childhood – what did you love doing?

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Having Difficult Conversations With Children

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We host “Coffee Chats” for parents every two months at Twin Parks Montessori Schools. This past week we discussed the topic of “how to have difficult conversations with your child”, which I have dubbed the “3 Big Ds and Sex, or Disease, Divorce, Death and Sex”.  Heavy subjects!  Uh oh! I see the deer in headlights now!

We firmly believe that parents should be the source of truth for their children.  Children come to us with no knowledge of the world.  It is up to us, the most trusted persons they know to provide information that is vital for their confidence and the development of their moral values.

Of course we need to make sure that what we say is not too much than their particular development stage can handle, or be unnecessarily frightening, and don’t volunteer everything.  We are not protecting children when we spare the truth – we are actually validating their intuition.  They know the difference between a real and an insincere smile, and they know when we are uncomfortable or upset.  Their selective listening is in tune when we don’t want them to hear the conversation.

So when the difficult questions are asked, rather than use cute words use the real ones.  Yes, like penis, vagina, cancer, and dying.  Tell the truth without a lot of discomfort.  You will be thankful that you are the source of truth for your children, especially when your child gets older and the conversation is about the lures and perils of drugs, safe sex or the death of a friend.

So practice the answers with your partner, be on the same page, and get ready for some interesting questions!

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