Kathy’s Insights

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

How do you keep a Montessori schedule at home?

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One of the key and most difficult components of a schedule is consistency. After the adults finish their workday and come home, their homework begins. Chores like shopping, cooking, bedtime and preparing for the next day are what keep parents up late at night. We all need nourishment and plenty of rest to help us live full lives. Children need these things too. Often the difficulty comes in when there is not enough time between everyone returning home and going to bed. What I hear mostly from parents are two things: we get home so late but still want to spend time with our children so we keep them up later at night, then our children cannot fall asleep or wake up on time in the morning; or, because our children take naps at school, they are not tired and don’t fall asleep until long past our bedtime.

The first thing to do is establish a bedtime for your children and backtrack from there. Our sleep coach, Christina Gantcher*, tells us that young children do need naps during the day. Additionally, the time they go to bed at night should not be more than five (5) hours from the time they wake from their afternoon nap.

The following chart provides a guide for the appropriate sleep time per age.

Age          Night Sleep (hrs.)      Daytime Sleep (hrs.)   Total (hrs.)

3 months                10                              5 (3 naps)                  15

12 months             11.25                       2.5 (2 naps)                 13.75

18 months             11.25                       2.25 (1 nap)                 13.5

2 years                     11                              2 hours                       13

3 years                     10.5                          1.5                               12

4 years                     10.5                          1                                   11.5

*Christina will conduct two Twin Parks Parent Sleep Workshops: October 6, 9:00 a.m. at Central Park campus and November 18 at 9:00 a.m. at Park West Montessori School

If you start with the end goal in mind, 7:30 p.m. bedtime, you can back up everything you need to do in the hours you are home to bedtime. If you get home at 5:30, that gives your family 2 hours to eat, clean, and prepare for bed. The preparation for the next day including packing lunches can happen after the children are in bed.

Dinner together is a time to develop social skills

A bedtime routine should be the same every evening. Dinner, wash up, brush teeth, read books and snuggle, lights out. Children do best when they can predict what comes next in their day. If you usually have time to read 3 books, then set the limit to 3 and stick with it. Your child can choose the 3 books from a group of acceptable books that you make available. This is also a great time for your older child to practice reading skills with you or siblings.



Reading before bed keeps bonds strong

Reading before bed keeps bonds strong

Positive family preparing lunch together

Children feel important and add value when preparing meals together with parents


Many organized parents do the following with their children:

• cook meals ahead on the weekend, prepare cut up vegetables for dinners and have plenty of fresh fruit on hand

• include children in the selection of clothing the night before, making sure all choices are good ones (sandals and shorts are not available in winter)

• pack lunches the night before or choose the catered school lunch option

• wake up before children in the morning, shower, dress and have coffee before breakfast with family

• pack backpacks with your child the night before

• turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime

Change and organization are hard. Just chose one item that you want to change and slowly move towards it. It takes about 2 weeks for a change to become part of a routine. Don’t give up. The reward is manageable evenings and more sleep for you!




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Why Montessori? …A Father’s Perspective

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One of our very observant and involved parents at Twin Parks Montessori Schools, Matthew Mandelbaum*, has shared his observations about his children and our program. His insights are included below.

Why did you choose Twin Parks Montessori School for your child?

I became a teacher, so I could learn to be a father. I became a psychologist to help others reach their full potential. When it came time to choose a program for our daughter, our first child, my wife, a reading specialist, and I knew first hand of the responsibility and the impact that a school and its teachers could have on children and parents. We chose Twin Parks because we were looking for a true school and not a daycare, even for a 9-month-old! We admired the school’s nurturing and academic capacities.

What have you learned about child development and Montessori as a result?

Twin Parks Montessori offers the combination of excellent teaching, curriculum, materials, and mixed-age groupings that allow children to explore their world, develop trust in themselves, and build a firm foundation for now and the future.

How has the experience helped you as a parent?

After our daughter finished four years at Twin Parks, our son spent three years at Twin Parks, too. There is no doubt that as parents, we have to help children make a bridge between home and the surrounding community. Twin Parks does a good job at doing that.

What about Montessori has been most surprising to you?

The most surprising things are the little insights and nuggets of knowledge and skills that children bring home showing what they understand and what they can do. These basic building blocks are so important to them feeling curious and competent. Twin Parks does a great job getting children started in many areas of life and school.

What would you tell a parent who is thinking about enrolling his or her child in Montessori? 

Don’t just think about what the future can offer with a Twin Parks education. Think about your child’s growth and development each and every day. Think about how they can come to enjoy and appreciate the present moment as they come into their own. Think about how much you will grow and change as a person and as a parent while your child matures.

How has your child flourished since attending our Montessori school?

Both children are interested in a variety of ideas, subjects, and hobbies.  They love learning and are kindhearted people.

Anything else you would like to share?

I believe that Twin Parks has been a good investment, both during their tenure and beyond.


*Dr. Matthew G. Mandelbaum, PhD, MSEd, MA, New York State Licensed Psychologist   http://www.psysoed.com

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School Improvement Through Accreditation: Twin Parks Montessori School’s Experience

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Twin Parks Montessori Schools (TPMS) are in a mode of continuous school improvement. Once an accreditation cycle is completed, the strategic plan incorporated and the recommendations from the visiting team of educators in followed, we begin the process all over again. TPMS is accredited with the American Montessori Society and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. We compiled two self-studies, which involves a thorough examination and documentation of the schools’ governance, curriculum, fiscal and personnel policies, facilities and health and safety practices. Throughout the self-study process I remind our various work groups that this is not my self-study, but theirs; this is an opportunity for teachers and administrators to represent Twin Parks, using their collective knowledge and observations about who we are, and to have their voices and passions heard. We reflect on and write about the characteristics that made our school unique; this moves us from regurgitating “Montessori-ese” about what Montessori teachers do and what our environments provide to digging deeper into the heart of our work and what our programs mean to the families we serve.


We examine the organizational health of TPMS. A school does not grow in a tidy, linear fashion. Like relationships among people, schools can be messy and frustrating as they develop, change, and blossom. Our school has three campuses, which means three groups of teachers and administrators. At various times during the year, these groups share professional development opportunities and our administrators meet to discuss and plan for our future. Dr. Brené Brown writes, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” (2010, p. 19). Our teams of administrators, whether they focus on admissions or on curriculum programs, must share objectives and must really trust one another.

Each section of our self-study leads to reflection on what we do well and what needs improvement. We focus on three major aspects of our school that we determined needed improvements: student programming and curriculum, professional development for faculty, and building community within and outside of our school. These objectives were written in our strategic plan, which clarifies our primary goals and keeps us anchored, preventing too much valuable time spent on tangents. Communicating this focus and timeline requires reminding everyone about what is really important and what connects to our mission. How many of you have learned that most teachers and parents have to hear what leaders are communicating at least seven times? The key is consistency over time.

It is essential that our employees understand our primary focus and be given a reasonable timeline to complete their work. Just as our students need repetition in their work to internalize concepts, our teachers need to hear the same message in a variety of ways from a variety of people over time to achieve success.


In our school community, accountability can be a challenge. In an educational setting that serves young children, most of our teachers are compassionate, nurturing, empathic, and gentle. Teachers with these traits have a hard time holding each other accountable for the daily work of a school without guidance from a coordinator or director. To assist with this, my administrators and I disseminate the message that holding people accountable means that you care enough about them to understand they maybe defensive regarding their insufficiencies. As Brené Brown says, “One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries and holding people accountable” (2010, p. 16). Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity and are able to accept others for who they are while holding them accountable for their behaviors and work habits.

Work on our self-study is rewarding in many ways. It gives purpose to our conversations about our future. It is a difficult process but very rewarding in the end. It also reminded me of Dr. Ned Hallowell’s message about innovation: select the right people for the job and give them responsibility; strengthen the connections of people on the teams; make time to play; deal with frustrations and grow from them; and use the right rewards to help people shine and want to excel (Hallowell, ).

The final phase of the accreditation process is hosting a team of education peers at our school for several days. Visiting educators become a part of our community and daily school life during their visit. They validate that we do what we say we do and they will find evidence of our self-study document in our work at our school. The team also enjoys learning about what makes us unique. We look forward to this visit with pride for the opportunity to display our school and demonstrate what we do in our classrooms and in anticipation of the recommendations the team offers that will help guide us into our future. TPMS has already begun collecting materials for our next visit in 2019.



Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Hallowell, E. M. (2011). Shine: Using brain science to get the best from your people. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.






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Announcing Our Newest Program: The Nurture Center

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We have had so many parents ask us about pertinent information or online resources regarding newborns and toddlers. In particular, we noticed that so many parents, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds within our community, had similar questions surrounding the care and development of their young children. These included questions about learning, feeding, toileting, social skills, talking, walking, exercise and others. We realized that there was a huge need for a new kind of class that focused, not just on the young child’s development, but on the development of the caregiver’s ability to provide and care for the child in the most advantageous way possible. A class where the child and caregiver could grow together in a learning environment that was nurturing, developmentally appropriate, and provided a positive educational and social experience for both the child and the caregiver.

We Are Pleased To Introduce The Nurture Center

The Nurture Center is an exciting new program we are offering at our Riverside Campus. This program is for infants (newborn) through 3-year old toddlers along with a parent, caregiver, nanny, grandparent or anyone who is providing care for a child.

The Nurture Center’s program is specifically designed to assist parents and caregivers with developmentally appropriate activities for babies and toddlers. Our Infant and Toddler Coordinator, Jenna Dabney, MEd, will introduce children and adults to the developmentally appropriate practices and methods of teaching with carefully chosen materials.  Adults will bond with their children, network with other adults, explore Montessori materials, and collaborate on a variety of topics related to child development.

The program format will include:

• One (1) morning a week for six (6) weeks beginning October 2016

• 90-minute class, one (1) day a week

• 0-36-month-old children in a carefully prepared classroom

• Three  (3) 90-minute parent discussion groups

• Led by an experienced, Montessori certified teacher

**Open to dads, moms, grandparents and other caregivers**

During the class children will explore in a nurturing environment, choose from the materials provided, and learn at their own pace.  Caregivers can watch their children’s exploration, observe their discoveries and come together for music, stories and a community snack. The parent discussion groups offer adults the ability to share ideas and questions about eating, sleeping, toileting, discipline, and many other topics.  The Nurture Center offers parents and caregivers an important opportunity to meet other parents for sharing and networking with one another.

Click the image below for more information.


Join our community, create friendships and build a strong network of mutual support for children and caregivers.

Space is limited!

Apply online today at TheNurtureCenter.nyc or call 212-665-1600 for more information.


What is Montessori Peace Education?

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There is a saying that “history repeats itself.” Many people are equating past times of social concerns about violence, ethnic hatred, racism, and abuse, to the current unrest in our country and others. It is a confusing, frightening time to live and raise children.

How can parents and educators teach the next generations about peace?

Peace truly begins in our homes and in our classrooms. The basics of peace include providing day-to-day environments which operate under an umbrella of respect, where members can freely share concerns, be productive, be creative, and enjoy one another without punitive or violent results.

Between the First and Second World Wars, there was a movement to teach more subjects about international relations so that students would not want to wage wars against people in other countries. Perhaps this was the start of educating “global citizens.” It was a time of teaching tolerance that had the potential to contribute to peace. During this time, Maria Montessori was instructing educators throughout Europe to replace authoritarian pedagogies and replace them with a curriculum that allowed students to make choices. She saw authoritarian teachers like some rulers, and she believed if children had choices, they would not automatically follow rulers who waged war.

Montessori’s philosophy of education was the first that demonstrated the importance of freeing the child’s spirit, to promote love for others and by developing prepared classrooms to remove unnecessary restrictions. Her initial work in the slums of Rome facilitated a love for learning for children while they were living in extreme poverty. It was not just about teaching peace it was about changing the paradigm for the way teachers teach and the importance of the prepared classroom. In addition, Montessori encouraged teachers to nurture characteristics of a healthy family. Montessori found that if parents, children, and teachers all work together to help develop the child more consistent progress will follow.

Montessori teachers are instructed in the importance of preparing the classroom to ensure that each child has activities that provide comfort, creativity, challenges, and joy. Children are able to move about the classroom freely, make choices, converse with peers and teachers, immerse with concentration in meaningful work, and to relax at will. Children are taught important executive function skills such: as how to wait, persevere, how to watch, how to interrupt politely, how to take care of their belongings and the classroom, how to plan, and how to solve conflicts peacefully.

Using a peace rose and peace table in a Montessori classroom

Using a peace rose and peace table in a Montessori classroom

Impromptu lessons in grace and courtesy happen throughout the day. Grace and courtesy impact all interactions in life – with the environment, with peers, with adults, with family members and new acquaintances. These lessons empower children to be self-aware, empathetic, responsible and independent. Again, the umbrella of respect is ever present.

Many Montessori scholars believe that lessons in grace and courtesy are just as important as lessons in math, language, or music. Children in a Montessori school help to establish and keep the ground rules of the classroom. When undesired behavior does occur the manner in which this is handled involves honoring the humanity of both the child who exhibits the behavior and any victims. Children are taken aside, spoken to in a calm manner, given an opportunity to reflect on what could have been done differently and then showing compassion and kindness towards any who have been mistreated. Montessori teachers are role models of the expected behavior with all classroom community members. In addition, mistakes are considered opportunities for learning to take place.

Maria Montessori not only produced the theory of peace education but she also made major contributions to concrete lessons for peace. Montessori education is still thriving after 110 years and continues to grow in popularity throughout the world. Her focus on the development of the whole child including creative and critical thinking skills as well as interpersonal skills leads to the development of people who are equipped to enable lasting peace.

Maria Montessori said, “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of educators.”

Children around the world in peace

Children around the world in peace


Duckworth, C. (2006). Teaching peace:  A dialogue on Maria Montessori. Journal of Peace EducationISSUE NUMBER  39-53.

Harris, I.M., 2002.  Peace Education Theory. Available online http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED478728.pdf

Lillard, A. 2005. The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.

Miller, A. 2011. Cultivating Peace in the Classroom.

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Montessori and “Follow the Child”

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“Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori used her advanced skills of scientific observation to understand how children learn. She learned many useful lessons that hold true today. The first lesson is that children learn through their senses and they absorb knowledge through their surroundings. Children have an incredible interest in manipulating materials and tools with their hands. Given time to explore and discover, they can teach themselves more than adults imagine.

One of the first Montessori classrooms

One of the first Montessori classrooms

The second discovery Montessori made was that children have sensitive periods when they are at their peak learning capacity and are tuned into certain skills like learning to walk, talk, toilet, skip, read, write, and learn mathematical concepts. The development of materials for each curriculum area came from her knowledge of sensitive periods. Sensorial materials help develop the senses. Practical life work develops eye-hand-mind coordination, control, concentration, independence ,and order. Language and math areas continue the work on discrimination skills that begin in sensorial and practical life. Using the sense of touch with Sandpaper Letters develops muscle memory for later writing. Math concepts begin with one-to-one correspondence and objects of varying sizes promote the concept of greater than and less than which leads to linear counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Montessori teachers prepare the classroom with each student in mind and to anticipate the next steps that each child will take and the materials necessary to assist with those steps. Children are encouraged to follow their interests and independently make decisions about the work activities they will do. However, the teachers also have a plan to introduce the next steps in the child’s learning. Montessori followed each child’s interests and growth and development. Children were permitted to work with the same activity until they determined they had completed the work.

A Montessori classroom today.

A Montessori classroom today.

Following the child for teachers follows a cycle of observation, analysis, planning for the child and then observation again. Through observing the actions of children, teachers can determine what children need to do. If a child is throwing things, give him objects that are safe to throw and a container to aim the throw into. If a child is climbing, encourage a time and place to climb safely. As long as children are interacting with the materials in the environment and being respectful of the materials and others, the teacher can stand back and observe without interfering. Following the child gives her the freedom of choice and the ability to be independent.


“Trust in the child, take your lead from the child, support the child, entice the child, don’t rescue the child.”

Margot Garfield-Anderson, The Montessori Foundation


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What is Montessori Sensorial Education?

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Maria Montessori was a trained scientist. Her ability to observe children’s behaviors and their responses to materials in classroom environments led to the development of Montessori Sensorial Education materials. Montessori understood that all learning comes through our senses. Most of the activities designed by Maria Montessori focused on training children to discern similarities and differences in size, shape, composition, weight, sound, taste, temperature, and feel.

For instance, the Pink Tower and Broad Stairs are both geometrically and mathematically perfectly proportioned cubes and rectangular prisms that change in size and stack on top of one another. Children learn the descriptive language to use with words like larger, smaller, longer, shorter. A teacher may ask the child to find “the next largest one” from the cubes remaining.

The Montessori sensory materials are designed to help children focus their attention more carefully on the physical world and their ability to discover subtle variations in the attributes of objects. The absolute beauty and joy of the Montessori sensorial materials are in fact the discovery that many of the materials have attributes in common or can be linked in some way. For example, the Pink Tower and Broad Stairs share common dimensions. The cubes have equal sides, the rectangular prisms have two equal sides and a third that is longer.


The Pink Tower and Broad Stairs side by side.


The Pink Tower and Broad Stair in combination.


Some of the ways children discover how they put the Pink Tower and Broad Stair together.










The pieces of various triangles in the triangle box match the pieces of the skittles in the fraction skittles.

A child working with Montessori triangle box.

A child working with Montessori triangle box.

• all of the sensory materials were designed with the same conceptual learning in place.

• all of the materials isolate one quality to be presented, explored and learned

• all of the materials have control of error built in so children can make mistakes and learn from the mistakes to correct their work

• all of the materials are beautiful, they are attractive to children and children can manipulate with ease within their hands

• the teachers prepare the classroom making sure all materials are complete so children can work from beginning to end

• all of the materials can be extended with additional related activities

The Montessori fraction skittles.

The Montessori fraction skittles.

Through work with the sensorial materials at Montessori schools like Twin Parks Montessori, children are able to classify things around them and experiment with the environment. This work helps children organize their intelligence which leads to increased comfort and adaptation in the classroom, and in the world.

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Why We Chose Twin Parks Montessori School for Our Child

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Every family and every teacher finds Montessori education through different paths. We all have our own stories about our discovery of this magnificent educational method. I interviewed a parent, Marianne T., from one of our schools to learn about her families story.

Marianne T. and her daughter

Marianne T. and her daughter

KR: Why did you choose Twin Parks Montessori School for your child? 

MT: As the parent of an adopted little girl, I wanted to have her grow under the Montessori approach [by] letting our little ones find what interests them the most and then following their spirit and instincts that way. I felt that [Montessori] would help me learn more about her since we don’t have the biological tie-in. I also wanted a gentle, sweet, nurturing and respectful environment for our little girl to first go to school so that she could learn and trust going somewhere other than home. We chose Twin Parks because of the program, facilities, and [the] staff that we met. We fell in love the first time we came – and in fact, we chose Twin Parks for our girl and then moved from Brooklyn (where we did not like our Montessori prospects) to Manhattan to have her attend. It is also pretty amazing to have Central Park right outside the school door – our daughter knows so much about nature, and this from a kid who lives in Manhattan!  We also chose Twin Parks due to the diversity in the school, both in terms of staff as well as students. There are students from all over the world, and as a transracial family, it was important to us [that our daughter] have a racially diverse classroom. I grew up in NYC and attended public schools in Queens as well as The Bronx High School of Science back when it was very racially diverse. Diversity is something I think benefits all children, no matter their race or ethnicity – I wish more private schools in NYC cared about diversity the same way Twin Parks does.  

KR: What about Montessori has been most surprising to you?

MT: I can’t say I am surprised by anything about Montessori other than I am always delighted by the endless patience and kindness of the teachers. Goodness – how they can maintain their beautiful energy and equilibrium all day with little children is a true skill set that I, as a parent, am grateful for every day (and wish I had the same aptitude!). Actually, I am surprised sometimes when I hear about things my daughter does in school that she doesn’t tell me about (I have one of those children who doesn’t normally talk about what happens during her school day). The creativity, passion, and thoughtfulness of the programs – which change all the time – are so impressive. I’m always surprised to hear about the foods she has tasted at school because at home she’s a super-picky eater!  

KR:  What would you tell a parent who is thinking about enrolling his or her child in Montessori?

MT:  I would say they should definitely go observe a Montessori classroom and the children within it, like at Twin Parks. When you see how children are so self-possessed, respectful, independent, creative, inquisitive and playful (yet polite), it reflects on how the teachers interact with them with such respect and care. I think parents should always trust their intuitions about where to place their children because there is no shortage of opinions out there. I just know that for my family, I wanted to leave my daughter at a school where I didn’t have to ever worry about her once I left her at her classroom door. In fact, I know that she would have so much more fun and would learn so much more than hanging at home with me. That is the best feeling as a parent – knowing that my little girl is in the best hands possible and surrounded by people who love her.  

KR:  How has your child flourished/grown since attending our Montessori school?

MT:  Our daughter attended Twin Parks since she was 2 and a half, and now she’s 5 – so she’s grown in all ways possible! However, I do have to say that our daughter has always kept that playful spark in her eye, and you can tell she is a child that is surrounded by love. Even when she has had issues in the classroom, or has experienced consequences related to classroom conduct, she knows she will be treated with respect and understands there are repercussions to behavior. Our daughter is also a very compassionate child and dotes on the younger ones in her classroom. It has been so lovely to see that part of her spirit and her heart nurtured and supported in her classes.

One thing we also really appreciated about Twin Parks is that because [the staff] knows our daughter so well, they were very supportive in terms of helping us choose a kindergarten environment where we knew she could thrive. Not only did we make a decision related to what was right in terms of our family, but what we know from teacher and administrative input would be best for our daughter’s academic growth. We are so sorry to be leaving Twin Parks, but it’s time for her little wings to fly even higher! 


Learning at Twin Parks Montessori School

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10 Tips for a Montessori-Inspired Summer

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Children’s brains are working all of the time. Learning doesn’t stop just because children are not in school. Math skills especially tend to be ignored during the summer break because it is easier to pick up a book to read rather than figuring out a math problem. So, how can you assist continued learning and still enjoy the summer with your children? Here are a few tips for a Montessori-inspired summer from Twin Parks Montessori Schools:

Twin Parks Students Summer

1.  Keep a consistent schedule for meals, play and rest

2.  Mix up the activities of the day, choices may include:

• time outside

• stimulating work inside

• listening to music

• work with a variety of art materials

• time for quiet and reflection

• trips to museums and libraries

3.  Read a variety of books daily including:

• non-fiction

• poetry

• joke books

• chapter books to challenge the imagination

4.  Explore nature:

• go camping

• if you travel, read about the biomes before you go, learn about the plants and animals you may encounter

• make a botany map of your favorite area of the park

5.  Take up a new hobby with your child:

• fabric arts, such as knitting, sewing, tie-dye, bead work, weaving

• painting

• pottery

• woodworking

• photography

• playing a musical instrument

• dancing

• cooking

6.  Establish daily chores:

• watering plants

• setting the table

• dusting

• folding laundry

• feeding pets

7.  Create math activities to do together:

• measure everything, count everything, sort everything

• comparison shopping (keep a pad and pencil handy)

• graph daily activities like when you go to bed, how far you walk each day, how many ounces of water you drink

• measure things around the house, map them and rearrange the furniture

• learn to play chess

8.  Be social:

• invite friends for dinner, include children in the conversations

• get involved in your community

• explore cultural opportunities by attending local parades and festivals

9.  Engage in activities that foster independence:

• dressing and undressing

• help prepare snacks and lunches

• be responsible for belongings

• create an “Ideas Jar” where you write down new activities to choose from, and pick one when you’re avoiding screen time

10.  Reinforce grace and courtesy: “please” and “thank you” go a long way!

I have heard children say, “I am bored.” I recommend responding with “What does that mean?” Many times they do not know. Children often want parents to be their main source of entertainment. Know that it is okay for children to be “bored”. That is exactly the time when creativity can be encouraged! Instead of feeling guilty, ask, “What can you do about that?”

Enjoy your summer! Share ideas that are successful for your family in the comment box below.


Artist Studies with Young Children

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One of the many projects Twin Parks Montessori teachers work on with students is studies of a variety of artists. Modern artists are especially fun because children can imitate techniques without trying to be representational or realistic. For instance, Matisse-like projects can be accomplished by creating a collage of colored paper. Jackson Pollock –like

Pineapple still life watercolor paintings

Pineapple still life watercolor paintings

projects are created by a group of students using very large paper or vinyl on the floor and splatter painting various colors onto it. Wassily Kandinsky’s style can be demonstrated with markers and blocks with circles. Picasso is fun to re-create by cutting up and rearranging a self-portrait.

Recently, one of our teachers was hanging a pineapple field in her classroom. Each section was a watercolor still life paintings made by 3-5-year-old students. This project was part of a thorough study of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe.

In 1939, the Dole Company paid O’Keeffe to travel to Hawaii. Her assignment was to paint two pictures from her travels. O’Keefe painted Pineapple Bud in oil on canvas.

Georgia O'Keefe's Pineapple Bud

Georgia O’Keefe’s Pineapple Bud

Lei's made of straws and various paper

Lei’s made of straws and various paper

Students in the class learned about O’Keefe’s life and the different subjects she painted. In honor of her trip to Hawaii, the class made leis, and a field of poppies using coffee filters.

On the classroom shelves are a variety of art activities the students can choose to work with. Each activity had a medium that O’Keeffe used in her various art:  pastels, watercolors, and drawing instruments. Each activity is arranged attractively on a tray with all of the materials a student would need to complete the art project.

What is the purpose of teaching young children about art and artists? Artists are role models for children and help develop creativity. Looking at art helps children to think deeply and that skill translates to other studies like math, science and social studies.

IMG_4913Visual Thinking Strategies  is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and is documented to have benefits for teachers as well as students. After a group of students views a work of art, the visual thinking method leader asks three questions of young students:

• What’s going on in this picture?

• What do you see that makes you say that?

• What more can we find?

Deep thinking skills transfer from lesson to lesson and expose students to the oral and written language and visual literacy. It also facilitates collaborative interactions among peers.

Artist studies are not limited to visual artists. Musicians are excellent examples to study and help develop auditory skills. Listening carefully helps students to learn to discriminate nuances of tone, scale, instrument variations, and notes. Various genres of music and beats are very interesting to children. Some examples of music to listen to with children are:

  • Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saen,
  • Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, and
  • Four Seasons by Vivaldi.

These are excellent examples of music that tells a story. The voices of instruments in all of these selections are easily distinguishable from one another. What a fun, family activity to do while driving in the car or on a rainy afternoon!

Hawaiian Song from Twin Parks on Vimeo.

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Kathy’s Insights