From WABC New York
November 18, 2011
“We don’t’ use technology because they get it everywhere else when they’re out and about they get it at home,” said Sarah Petri.
The long term effects of technology overload at a young age are not known yet, but one concern is brain development.
Too much technology could mean too much visual stimulation, and not enough stimulation of the other senses.
“We work on auditory, tactile everything you see in the classroom is very hands on so the kids get to feel and touch everything,” said Dr. Kathy Roemer, Executive Director of Twin Parks Montessori Schools.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time before the age of 2 and instead encourages more unstructured and unplugged playtime for toddlers, to improve creativity and problem solving skills.
But a recent survey says the advice is being ignored.
47 percent of the toddlers watch on average 2 hours of tv or dvd’s a day.
And 52 percent of all children have access to a smartphone, a video iPod, or an iPad or other tablet device.
But some parents and educators believe that for certain children the use of technology may in fact improve learning, especially for those learning disabilities.
And many schools across the country are buying iPads and computers for all their young students, saying they give students more immediate feedback and individual attention.
Most parents agree, it’s all about trying to find a balance.
From Radio Free Washington
August 22, 2011
Guests: Juan Williams and Kathy Roemer
Topic: This week on RFW, we talk to our good friend, best-selling author and Fox news contributor Juan Williams. We discuss his new book Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, in which he openly talks about his termination from NPR. Later on the show, we discuss education with Dr. Kathy Roemer of Twin Park Montessori Schools in New York City.
Click here to hear the interview
By Alex Beam
Globe Columnist / August 26, 2011
Succeeding at their own pace.
The Montessori approach to education and some of its famous alumni have made great strides in recent year
Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.’’ Cynics might call it a disguised ad for the cabinet of many wonders that is Google – as if the company needs promotion. It is also a heartfelt Valentine to the Montessori educational system, which, Levy writes, inspired the Google experience.
“You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] were Montessori kids,’’ one staffer tells Levy. “Montessori really teaches you to do things on your own at your own pace and schedule,’’ Brin says in the book. “It was a pretty fun, playful environment – like Google.’’
Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor who believed that young children could learn better and more quickly in a school environment that didn’t feel like a school. Hallmarks of Montessori schools include child-appropriate furniture, older children teaching younger children, and lesson plans that are invisible to the pupils.
Typically, Montessori teachers shepherd children into and out of learning experiences, at their own pace. If a 10-year-old girl is enjoying long division, for instance, she can do long division all day. No bell will ring. Spelling can wait, until next week if necessary.
I gleaned some Montessori background from Wikipedia, founded by – you guessed it – self-described Montessori kid Jimmy Wales. Wall Street Journal writer Peter Sims recently included Wales in a distinguished “Montessori mafia’’ that includes Brin, Page, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, and Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims.
Forget for a moment what you think about Amazon (my friends in publishing hate its predatory price behavior) or whether you disdain Wikipedia as a sewer of error and confusion (I see it has corrected that mistake about my being born in Oakland) – both organizations are stupendous acts of applied imagination. I’ve raved, in a good way, about Google before. SimCity? I’ve been there. It’s wonderful.
You wouldn’t want to compete with Amazon, but it does keep adding fascinating new fillips to its business. My latest enthusiasm: Amazon Singles. I am dying to write one. It turns out that I’m too lazy. But I digress.
If Montessori was a stock, you would buy it. There are almost 4,200 private Montessori schools in the United States now, compared to 3,500 a quarter century ago. In the past 20 years, more than 140 charter schools have been founded on Montessori principles. A quarter century ago, 50 public schools used the Montessori method. That number is now 280.
Not hard to explain, says Dr. Kathy Roemer, who is the president of American Montessori Association and executive director of three Montessori schools in Manhattan: “Brain research shows that all the characteristics those Internet entrepreneurs value – divergent and innovative thinking, intellectual self-reliance – develop before the age of 10.’’ That has always been the primary focus of Montessori education. “In the Montessori classroom, mistakes are opportunities for learning, chances to get children to think for themselves.’’
Roemer recently returned from Asia, where she says interest in Montessori is high. “They’re curious – Why do Americans have all the patents? We’re a very confident and inventive people. They score better on standardized math and science tests, but we are obviously doing something right.’’
Here in America, it seems that the teach-to-the test ideology of the No Child Left Behind Act is in retreat and that Montessori-like principles may be coming into vogue. Roemer agrees: “Leaving teachers no choice but to teach to the test is going to be passe.’’
Not everyone is as gaga about Montessori as I seem to be. Italian blogger and young mother Francesca Amè, quoted on the Forbes magazine website, criticized the “general anarchy’’ of Montessori schools she saw in Milan. Amè warned of “tyrant kids’’ produced by a “falsely libertarian education.’’
Roemer allows that a Montessori classroom may seem chaotic, because each child isn’t sitting down and listening to the same lesson. “The children have freedom of movement, they’re not all doing the same thing at the same time.’’ Good Montessori teachers are well prepared, she says, and have a daily plan for each student.
Understandably, the Montessori Society has been anxious to solicit testimonials from its distinguished Internet alumni. So far, only Wright has done so: “SimCity comes right out of Montessori – if you give people this model for building cities, they will abstract from it principles of urban design.’’ But next year’s annual conference will take place in San Francisco, not far from Brin and Page’s famous Googleplex. Says Roemer: “We’re hoping we might get them to come out.’’
Need a Tutor for Your Child? First Steps and Cheap Options
By Kathryn Tuggle
As semester report cards start trickling in, many parents may see room for improvement in their child’s grades. Although hitting the books a little harder may be the easiest and cheapest solution to improving a GPA, some children may need additional help to work through tough subjects. For many families, a tutor may be the best option, but how do you know if it’s right for your child and your budget?
Before parents spend money on a tutor, they should make certain that a bad grade can’t be improved by a simple fix, says Kathy Roemer, president of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and executive director of Twin Parks Montessori Schools of Manhattan. Roemer advises parents take their child for thorough eye and hearing tests to make sure everything is working correctly.
“In some cases, they may simply not be able to see the blackboard as clearly as they need to, or hear the proper instructions from the teacher. Any questions on that front should be cleared up first,” says Roemer. She adds during homework sessions, parents should make sure their child is not hungry or tired, and has a quiet workspace.
Once parents have assessed any physical road blocks in their child’s learning, they should look at why they want their child’s grades to improve, says Roemer.
“There are situations where a parent is really trying to create a superstar to the detriment of the social development of the child,” says Roemer. “They are not looking at the child as a whole, and instead the child is judged by academics. On the flipside, some students may be doing well in every subject but one. If it’s something like math, that’s only going to get more complicated with time, and tutoring can really help.”
But there are many forms of “tutoring,” and some options are far more affordable than others, according to Craig Meister, president of Tactical College Consulting, an educational consultant firm. Meister says that for one-on-one tutoring, parents can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 per hour for subject tutoring. He adds that parents in larger, more competitive cities like New York, can face rates of $500 or more per hour. For group tutoring, which involves a handful of students struggling with the same topic working with one tutor, parents typically pay an up-front fee of around $1,000 that guarantees their child a certain amount of tutoring hours, typically anywhere from 10-20.
“We find that parents are more willing to consider group tutoring because the overall hourly rate is sometimes lower,” says Meister. “Also, a lot of companies that do group tutoring are more visible: [Companies like] Sylvan, Kaplan, parents have heard of these companies because they are the ones you see in a strip mall or on a billboard.”
Of course, if a student pays for a $1,000 tutoring package but doesn’t use all the sessions they paid for, then they might as well pay a higher hourly rate for a few sessions from a private tutor, says Meister, adding that the best results can typically be found with a one-on-one tutor.
“In a group, the tutor is always going to be spending time with another child, who may be more or less advanced than your child. Why pay more for that when you could be paying for someone to meet your child’s needs 100% of the time they have together,” says Meister.
Parents of middle-school students may find the most luck getting a break on tutoring costs, according to Meister. Typically, tutors focusing on standardized test preparation, like the ACT or SAT, command the highest fees, followed closely by tutors for high school juniors and seniors. Elementary school tutors can also cost a pretty penny because of the hands-on nature required when dealing with children that young. The lowest tutoring prices are for children in grades 5 through 8, Meister says.
“It really seems to be the most cheap for kids in that mid range, dealing with things like Algebra 1, Spanish 1 and other entry-level subjects. It’s an inverse bell curve when it comes to pricing and age,” he says.
But regardless of price, when you’re choosing a tutor, Meister says that above all, check references.
“Sometimes parents find themselves in a desperate situation looking for someone last minute, but don’t go with first person you’ve heard of. Just like you don’t buy the first house you set foot in or buy the first car you drive, these things take time,” says Meister.
An online program may be a more cost-effective alternative for parents. At the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Suffolk County, N.Y., 56 public libraries now offer free online tutoring to children in grades K-12. The libraries have partnered with Brainfuse Online Tutoring, and all students need to get some homework help is a library card.
Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, says the program has exceeded expectations so far, with approximately 35,000 one-on-one online tutoring sessions launched annually. Since the library began offering the online tutoring in 2009, usage has increased on a month-to-month basis, to the tune of 7,000 new sessions launched per year.
“It’s an affordable way for a student to catch up on a subject they may be falling behind in, but this is not an equal substitute for a $500-an-hour tutor sitting in your living room talking to you face to face,” says Verbesey. “But why not try this first? It’s already paid for through your hometown library, and it’s a great service.”
Verbesey says the library typically sees students using the online service in two ways: to get help with a specific, challenging homework assignment, or to improve in a subject they’re falling behind in. Students can also use the service to submit essays and reports and have them edited by a professional.
If online tutoring sounds like the best option for your child, Roemer cautions that it tends to work best for older children. Children under 7 years of age tend to grasp concepts much better when presented in paper and pencil.
“Younger students really need to be able to see, feel and touch materials associated with a concept,” says Roemer, adding that before any parent goes to a tutor, they should go to their child’s teacher first.
“Don’t be afraid to have the communication with a teacher. They are observing your child every day, and they want your child to succeed just as much as you do.”
From Good News Planet
Preschool Children Learn Giving With the Help of City Harvest
Twin Parks Montessori teaches philanthropy to young students.
New York, November 22, 2011 – Today at Twin Park’s Park West Montessori school, 435 Central Park West, preschoolers donated to one of NYC’s most celebrated charities, City Harvest. The children hand-delivered the canned and boxed food they collected to feed New York’s most hungry. Although Twin Parks does not celebrate holidays, they teach their students lessons of selflessness and compassion during the winter season. City Harvest representatives were on site to accept donations from the children.
About Twin Parks Montessori Schools: Twin Parks Montessori Schools is the largest accredited Montessori program in Manhattan and the only infant toddler program in New York State to be accredited by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools. Twin Parks Montessori nursery/
pre-schools include Park West Montessori, at 435 Central Park West and 104th Street and Riverside Montessori, at 202 Riverside and 93rd Street and the newest, Central Park Montessori, at 1 West 91st Street and Central Park West. www.twinparks.org.
Better TV is a daytime nationally syndicated lifestyle show produced by Meredith Corporation. Topics on Better TV include food, family, home, style, remodeling, entertainment, relationships, fitness and health. Better TV debuted in September 2007. The program’s launch included fourteen markets such as Portland, Phoenix and Hartford. The program airs on the broadband network www.better.tv and cross-promotes with Meredith magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Ladies’ Home Journal. 300,000 – 400,00 viewers.
From The Wall Street Journal
April 13, 2011
Live Chat: The Montessori Mafia
Peter Sims, author of “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries,” argues that the Montessori approach offers the keys to greater innovation, even for those of us too old to go back to school:
The Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia: Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, not to mention Julia Child and rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Peter Sims fielded questions from WSJ readers about what propels creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship on April 13. The chat was moderated by WSJ.com Life and Culture editor Allison Lichter. Replay the event.
From The Wall Street Journal
April 12, 2011
The Montessori Mafia
Kathy Roemer wrote:
As the Executive Director of Twin Parks Montessori Schools in Manhattan, New York, which has accredited programs for pre-school toddler and infants (to age 6), a mother of two Montessori graduates, and having had 25 years of experience as a Montessori director, teacher and consultant in different parts of the US, it is heartening to have Maria Montessori’s method brought to the forefront of the education discussion. I would like to address points brought out in Peter’s article and in some of the comments:
• In the beginning, Dr. Montessori worked with the “unteachable” children in a sanitarium and the children of the very poor. This proved to be a useful laboratory as she used her scientific method of observation to deconstruct the basics of how individuals learn. Her students surpassed the results of children in the traditional classroom of Italy in 1907. Montessori then continued her work with tenement children who were left to their own devices while their parents worked. Soon, the children were teaching their parents how to read.
• Maria Montessori’s brought her method to the US in 1913 between the Great Wars and was hailed as what would be considered a “super-star” in today’s terms. Her method was supported by then president, Woodrow Wilson, and was selected to be implemented in the NYC public school system. How different things may have been if this had come to pass. NYC’s first Montessori public charter school will begin in the fall of 2012 in the Bronx, NYC.
• In the 1960’s, the Montessori Method was re-introduced in this country by Nancy McCormack Rambusch during another time of education reform when the US was in competition against the Russians following the Sputnik launch.
• The Montessori Method has not been strongly regulated, but the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori International (AMI) both are working to create standards for which schools/programs calling themselves Montessori can be reviewed.
• In December 2010, Education Chancellor Arne Duncan stated, “The brutal fact here is there are many countries that are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are,” Duncan said. “This should be a massive wake-up call to the entire country,” in response to the published results of the Economic Cooperation & Development’s Program for International Student Assessment which shocked many by placing the results of 15-year-olds in the United States well below those in China and other parts of the world. It is interesting to note that the Montessori programs in China are growing rapidly as the country moves its education system away from rote methods and towards a program that encourages creativity, innovation and cooperation. Mr. Duncan gave the graduation commencement speech at Clark Montessori High School in Cincinnati. Clark came in second nationwide in the “Race to the Top”, an Obama initiative.
• A premise of the Montessori philosophy is to teach the whole child; to create a supportive environment where the child’s natural passions and curiosity are continually being challenged. In this setting mistakes are welcome and considered opportunities to learn.
• Montessori classroom materials are carefully laid out to assist children in purposeful actions that are self directed. The entire philosophy is child-centered from the size of the furniture to the daily schedule. Montessori teaching methods build from the tactile/concrete to the abstract, from the sensory to the cognitive, from large motor skills to small, problem solving in all subject matters including math, science, reading and inter-personal relationships is promoted.
• Children are taught in multiaged groups. Children are able to find their place in the continuum of learning. In some curriculum areas they can excel and move forward and in other curriculum areas they can spend extra time if needed. The success of the Montessori approach is that it utilizes the natural way we are wired from birth to actively be engaged in learning as opposed to being passive in a teacher-directed environment often found in traditional education systems.
• The Montessori method has been in use for over 100 years and many of the methods have been incorporated into “traditional” classroom curriculums and has influenced the educational approach of leading private schools like Dalton and Caedmon.
• Montessori programs can be found throughout the world. For this reason, many Montessori classrooms are very international in appearance. Diversity of culture, economics, and family structure add to the universal appeal and create a multitude of learning opportunities. Montessori educated students are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century as global citizens.
Dr. Kathy Roemer, president of the American Montessori Society (AMS), has over 25 years experience as a Montessori teacher, director and consultant. She joined the AMS Board of Directors in 2006 and has served as the vice president of the Board of Directors since 2008. Her two children are graduates of Montessori programs. Dr. Roemer was a charter member of the AMS School Accreditation Commission, and chaired the Commission for four years. She joined Twin Parks Montessori Schools in August 2004, as the executive director and has grown Twin Parks into the largest accredited Montessori program in Manhattan and the only infant toddler program in New York State to be accredited by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools (MSCES).