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

The Survivor Tree

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On September 11, 2014, we thought about what we were doing on that day many years ago.  I was in Memphis, head of Lamplighter Montessori School.  We invited the then Executive Director of the American Montessori Society, Michael Eanes, to spend two days with our school community.  I was ready to pick him up at his hotel when I was alerted to the first crash into the tower.  I remember watching horrified as the second tower was hit.  Words cannot express the impact it had on our school community in Memphis, many miles from NYC.  Michael was worried about his staff back in NYC and his family in Connecticut. It took 4 extra days for him to be able to get back home.

Today, I received this story of The Survivor Tree.  May it bring you as much peace and hope as it did for me.

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How do Babies Learn About Music?

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Adults listen to music for a variety of reasons:  to lift our spirits; soothe our frayed nerves; and move us to dance.  Can listening and playing music benefit your baby?  We know that singing to and playing lullabies for babies helps to sooth infants.   Although  Baby Einstein was debunked as a way to increase cognitive abilities, research has shown that learning to play a musical instrument definitely helps with higher level thinking, memory, and problem solving required for mathematics. Click here for more benefits.

There are many ways to encourage musical play with children.  For centuries babies have been given rattles and shakers to hold and enjoy shaking.  Pots and pans or any unbreakable container with a wooden spoon will produce beats and eventually rhythm.  Using call-and-response sessions between you and your baby will show him/her how to shake or drum in response.  At your next gathering of other parents and babies you can host a jam session!

Watch this video to see how one family is encouraging music in their house.

For more detailed information, visit this blog.

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What’s so great about MUD? International Mud Day – June 29th!

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I have fond memories of the role mud played in my childhood.  From raiding the kitchen of old containers and pots with dents, to gathering twigs and bits of moss, to finding a water source so essential to any mud project.  My learning evolution progressed from a sensorial experience with mud on my hands and squishing between my toes, to cooking mud cakes in the sun, to sliding down a muddy hill on a flattened cardboard box, to constructing whole communities for my troll doll, Pumpernickel.

Those of you with access to green space around your home will appreciate the latest article by Mary Rivkin in the Community Playthings newsletter.  Click here.  Rivkin has also written a book, The Great Outdoors:  Advocating for Natural Spaces for Children.

Jan White’s Natural Play Blog also talks about creating a mud kitchen.  I love this picture that is posted on Jan’s blog.

Mud cooking with small hands!

Mud cooking with small hands!

 

Did you know that there is a World Forum International Mud Day?  It is happening on June 29th!  It is for children and early childhood professionals , parents, and mud enthusiasts all over the world.  Check out their FaceBook page!  The pictures are fantastic!   I am disappointed not to find any mud day activities listed for my back yard – Central Park in NYC.  I will have to find my own mud!  What will you do with your children on June 29th to celebrate International Mud Day?

 

International Mud Day!

International Mud Day!

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Toddlers and Social Skills

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New York City is a wonderful community that provides learning opportunities for people of all ages.  Parents have multiple opportunities for their children to participate in a variety of educational settings.  One such opportunity for toddlers was highlight in an online article in the Wall Street Journal. I was contacted by the journalist who wrote the article asking my opinion about the program and the length of time the children are in this particular program.  Please read the article and respond.

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Dr. Tovah P. Klein Lets Little New

Yorkers Resolve Their Own Disputes

 

 

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Why do we need handwriting skills?

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Many of you have heard me say that we must limit screen time for our toddlers and early childhood children.  The ideal would consist of no screen time under 2 years of age and no more than 30 minutes for 3 and 4 year old children!

Many schools are moving away from teaching handwriting after 1st grade and focusing on keyboarding skills.  This is a mistake.  The New York Times published an article on June 2, 2014 titled, What’s Lost as Handwriting FadesRead it here.

03WRIT-master495What is lost when we skimp on handwriting skills?  According to psychologists and neuroscientists, there is a link between handwriting and broader educational development.  Children learn to read more quickly wen they first learn to write by hand.

Montessori always taught writing skills before reading, or simultaneously.  When learning sounds that letters represent, we use sandpaper letters.  Students trace the letters while hearing the sound and seeing the letter.  The tracing reinforces muscular memory.  Hearing, seeing, touching, use three senses to learn letters.  Experts say that handwriting has links to working memory – a skill linked to long term success in school.

Plus if were are not writing when would we get a chance to doodle? And you all know that doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending enough energy to keep one from daydreaming.  But that’s a topic for a future blog!

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Ceramics or Plastics – what do you use?

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Twin Parks Montessori Schools use real glass or ceramics table ware whenever possible.  We introduce an open glass to our infants as soon as they are ready to hold on.  A picture of one of our students was featured in an article in DNAinfo New York.

 

Central Park Montessori Student prepares for lunch using real table ware.

Central Park Montessori Student prepares for lunch using real table ware.

Most parents are using glass and ceramics to prevent harmful chemicals from plastics which could potentially leach into foods.  We want to allow children to have responsibility for authentic experiences with with hands and minds.  What do you use?

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Keeping Children Safe in Times that Don’t Feel Safe

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In early childhood children depend on adults for their physical, social,
sexual and emotional safety. The lessons children begin to learn from their parents, in school, and from their own observations and experiences help them develop behaviors, feelings and attitudes, both about themselves and their environment, that builds their good judgment. It is this good judgment that helps to keep them safe as they get older. Let’s come together to discuss the thinking, trends and behaviors that keep children safe and build resiliency.
On April 29th Twin Parks Montessori School hosted a presentation by Fern Fisher, MA. MS, LCSW.  Fern is a social worker specializing in early childhood mental health.
Please listen to the audio recording of Fern Fisher’s presentation.

 

Keeping Children Safe – Fern Fisher from Twin Parks on Vimeo.

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Advice for the Next Big Step

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During this time of year, everyone knows someone who is graduating from high school or college or a professional program.  In two weeks, my son will be graduating from the School of Visual Arts with an MFA.  I wonder who chooses the person who does the commencement address.  It is not always a former graduate or teacher or politician.

While reading a Brain Pickings newsletter that a colleague sent to me for another reason, I saw a posting from Pratt (my other son’s alma mater) on the side bar.  It is a commencement address given by Patti Smith.  Some of you may remember this poet, philosopher and singer from decades ago.  I found it very interesting and wanted to share it with you.

PS. The video is not the best, but the audio is great.

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