Twin Parks Montessori - Largest Accredited Montessori Program in Manhattan

Kathy’s Insights

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

Being Thankful

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Yesterday, I witnessed children walking to the school office while carrying their contributions to our growing collection of food to support our local philanthropy project – City Harvest.  One child commented that his box of oatmeal was “soooo heavy”.  When asked why he was bringing it to the office to join the hundreds of other boxes and cans of food, he replied, “to give to children who do not have any food”. Role modeling the act of giving to others empowers very young children to make a difference in other people’s lives.

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This year, more than ever, I have seen evidence of people giving thanks for all of the wonders in their lives.  In this time of increased security and fear that our city has been targeting, we need to reflect on the little things that make us smile and be thankful.  This is truly the time we set aside for counting our blessings.  When I think about the thing I am most thankful for it is the opportunity to be with my immediate family and friends for a long weekend.  I am anticipating a lot of baking, eating, movies, games and conversations together.  Next, I am thankful for the community of Twin Parks Montessori Schools – the teachers and staff who are my colleagues, the parents who are our partners in development of the most precious children in our care, and for the children themselves who are making a difference in the lives of others.  Thank you for being a part of my life!

 

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Parent and Teacher Relationships

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I once heard a parent say, “I will believe half of what my child tells me about you, if you promise to believe half of what my child tells you about me.” I think this is a fair statement to begin a relationship, don’t you?

fdd518aed4d4b1ccfa840f3121081b6bFor many of our children, the relationship with a teacher may be the first adult relationship the child develops outside of family members. Allowing a bond to form between teacher and child without interference is powerful and contributes to successful relationships in the future.

Twin Parks Montessori Schools just hosted its first Parent/Teacher Conferences for this year. The focus of our first conference of the year includes reflecting on expectations, establishing a baseline of ability, sharing Montessori philosophy and strengthening the newly formed bonds between parents and teachers. As the year progresses, the meetings together are focused more on the growth and development of the child with reference to the progress reports prepared by the teachers.

A positive relationship between parents and teachers contributes to the child’s success in school. It is important that the parent-teacher-child relationship functions under an umbrella of respect. This collaborative relationship has the development and well-being of the child in the forefront. Problem solving is more pro-active than assuming the worst before the facts are known.

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“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Conversations between teachers and parents can include academic progress, social and emotional development and anecdotal observations of a child putting learning into practice. Active listening is extremely important for great dialogue to take place. Scheduling time for parents and teachers to be together insures less distraction.

Together, parents and teachers guide children on their journey into the world. Before a 3-year old enters an early childhood classroom the child has already had about 20,000 hours of action-research happening. Challenges occur every day and the child’s brain adapts and changes as it addresses each new opportunity for learning.

Positive parent and teacher relationships are part of our core beliefs at Twin Parks Montessori Schools. We appreciate all of the parents who have selected our school to partner with them to facilitate the growth of their most precious child. We believe that our community is strengthened when our people come together in celebration.

Autumn-harvest-basketWe look forward to welcoming our parents to our first in class social of the year during the week of November 23.

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What is an Inclusive Community?

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slide_tapestry-program-cropped At Twin Parks Montessori Schools we are working to change the conversation from “diversity,” which is looking at differences, to “inclusion” and helping to make everyone feel a part of something larger – the Twin Parks Montessori School Community (TPMSC). We are preparing our students to be part of a global society. We are creating a safe space that is welcoming, supportive and safe for every unique individual within our school. This space will be safe for people regardless of color, ethnicity, gender or other unique abilities and characteristics.

“… Raising students to live in a bubble — a white bubble, a black bubble, a Latino bubble, whatever type of bubble you want to call it — is not to your benefit in a global society.” — Derrick Gay, New York Times

Our students make sense of their environments by sorting the objects, people and experiences in their world. For instance infants go through phases of stranger anxiety. They meet a new person who does not fit into family member, caregiver, or teacher category, and turn away or become upset. Toddlers and Early Childhood children sort by shape, color, texture, sound, taste and appearance. For example, children may sort their classmates by length of hair, gender, or by skin tone. Yes, they do see the differences. It is our job as adults to help them see the similarities of all human beings. We all have hair, we all have eyes, ears and noses. We are all fabulously unique and similar in so many ways. Children learn prejudice from prejudice, not from learning about human diversity (Sparks and Edwards, p.4) From the moment we are born we are inundated with messages, verbal and non-verbal about different types of people. Children learn about stereotypes without realizing it. Adults’ tone and behaviors help children to be inclusive in their interactions with others.

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Children learn to be proud of themselves and their families, and to respect human differences. Many of our classrooms display pictures of students’ families. They are a reminder of loved ones and they offer comfort for children acclimating to a new school experience. It is important for children to see themselves and their families reflected in our school. TPMSC’ families are all unique just like our students. Some families have more than one child or an adopted child, some have one parent or two and they may be the same gender, some are multi-generational with grandparents in the home, some may have family members who have a physical difference or use a wheelchair.

Our social and emotional curriculum allows for children to express how they feel to one another. This can be as basic as “I don’t like that, please stop” or, “You hurt my feelings when. . . ” Our goal is for students to increasingly recognize unfairness, and have language to describe it and understand that it can be hurtful for themselves and others. Our teachers observe behaviors and listen to conversations to help facilitate learning new words to use and actions to take.

Our first steps began at the start of the year during a full day workshop with Derrick Gay. We collaborated with Derrick to better understand our own perceptions and deepened our commitment to having an inclusive and empathetic community. Self-reflection to deeply understand our own lives is crucial to assisting children in developing to their fullest potential.

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Sparks, L.D. and Edwards, J.O. 2010. Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

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Collaboration – Montessori Style!

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One form of collaboration is related to education. Collaboration happens when a group of students are working together to solve a problem, complete a task or create a product. We encourage collaboration in the Montessori classrooms at Twin Parks Montessori of NYC by having multi-aged groups, offering opportunities to explore and discover, to use their divergent and creative thinking,  to invite others to share work, inspiring children to talk during work time, and to consider other students as sources of knowledge.

Children collaborating with Montessori Sensorial materials.

Children collaborating with Montessori Sensorial materials.

The Montessori Movement is experiencing an historic thrust of collaboration. The Montessori Public Policy Initiative, supported by the Trust for Learning, hosted a retreat for Montessori leaders from the Association Montessori International/USA and the American Montessori Society, October 25-27, 2015 in Washington, D.C. This event was truly collaboration at the highest level of cognitive function to benefit children and Montessori education. I was honored to be included in this group of individuals and represented New York City and the state of New York.

Richard Ungerer, Executive Director of the American Montessori Society and Bonnie Beste, Executive Director of Association Montessori International/USA said the final words at the Montessori Public Policy Initiative Retreat in Washington, D.C. today. It was a historic event that brought educators and policy makers from 26 states together to address issues Montessori schools and teachers are grappling with. Everyone participated in fantastic networking and problem solving - all Montessorians working together.

Richard Ungerer, Executive Director of the American Montessori Society and Bonnie Beste, Executive Director of Association Montessori International/USA said the final words at the Montessori Public Policy Initiative Retreat in Washington, D.C. today. It was a historic event that brought educators and policy makers from 26 states together to address issues Montessori schools and teachers are grappling with. Everyone participated in fantastic networking and problem solving – all Montessorians working together.

Attendees from charter, private and public schools shared their states successes and areas that they need additional help. Topics discussed included: national trends in education policy, advancing Montessori in the face of changing trends, messaging and advocacy, teacher certification, and state action planning. We all gained incredible knowledge about next steps for our own states and promoting Montessori as a choice for all students. Added bonuses were the incredible networking and the opportunity to make new friends. This meeting of the Montessori minds was an exquisite example of the meaning of collaboration in a Montessori setting. The attendees’ focus on shared work was a joy to experience and I wish all of their students could have witnessed.

 Montessori is on the Rise! Montessori Rocks!

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Kathy’s Insights