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

Sleep Coaching for Everyone

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Each year Christina Gantcher comes to Twin Parks Montessori Schools and talks about sleep coaching our children to enable them to become great sleepers. Christina helps families get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping is a learned skill. The ability to fall asleep and get back to sleep is taught by children’s caregivers.

Happy sleeping child.

Sleep Cycles
We all have sleep cycles that are of two types: Non-REM and REM. We don’t actually sleep through the night. WE have periods of deep, restorative sleep (non-REM) and light sleep. As adults we can usually put ourselves back to sleep. Children, however, have to learn how to put themselves back to sleep.

One parent told me that her 14 month old goes to bed at 5:45 PM and wakes around 6:00 AM. That is fantastic! This child yearns for sleep and gives cues he is ready. His parents know his sensitive time to fall asleep and they are not prolonging his awake time so that he would get a second wind.

A second wind occurs when the body secretes cortisol and then the body has to process it through the systems to feel sleepy again. This second wind is often the cause of parents inability to have a consistent bedtime routine for their child. They miss the sensitive period for children to fall asleep on their own.

Another interesting thing I learned from reading Christina’s blog was that putting children to sleep by rocking them and then laying them down in their beds is often disconcerting to children. This may cause a child to wake up later and wonder how he got into bed. He may look for the “thing” that put him to sleep in the first place. Not falling asleep independently makes it hard to fall back asleep without adult help.

What about adults and sleep?

I often hear that colleagues are not sleeping well. They have a lot on their minds. I often wake early in the morning and find that I am thinking about an issue at work or a family member. How do we soothe ourselves back to sleep? There are several health problems that can cause insomnia such as pain, sleep apnea or acid reflux. These are issues to consult with a doctor, however what about those of us who awaken because we are worried or thinking too much?

Is this you sometimes; sleepless and watching the clock?

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorder Center:
• Stop watching the clock.
• Try relaxing your body to fall asleep again – from toes to forehead, make it tense and then relax.
• If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go to another room and do something uninteresting. You don’t want to associate your bedroom with not sleeping well. Try the couch!
• Find an uninteresting activity – boring reading, relaxing music set on a timer, then get back to sleep.

The right combination of pillow, comfortable bedding, air flow and quiet or white noise machine already waiting for you takes some organization. Make sure it is not too bright. Also, it is very important to stop working and using technology an hour before bedtime; instead read a book. Do not watch television or play electronic devices while lying in bed.

When images of work or a stressful situation comes into your thoughts, think of a relaxing, favorite place you have visited. Think of every detail of the moment of being there. Keep this happy, peaceful place in your mind and soon you will find yourself drifting off to slee. . . Sweet dreams!

We are all happier and healthier with good sleep.

Yes! A great night’s sleep!

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How Parents Teach Children about Philanthropy

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There have been so many opportunities for parents to teach children about giving a part of themselves to others around the world and locally. There are local organizations collecting toiletry items for survivors of the hurricanes in Texas and other southern states, as well as the Caribbean Islands.

Philanthropy is a big word for a child to pronounce and it may seem like a challenging concept to comprehend. Quite simply, it is a gift of yourself that you give to others. It can take the form of simple acts of kindness, cleaning a neighborhood park, sharing food, or giving money to an organization. Philanthropy programs for young people provide authentic, positive opportunities for children to develop skills and knowledge that will make them better students and human beings. Teaching young children about philanthropy is also about demonstrating and teaching empathy and justice. Empathy comes from imagining what life would be like in other circumstances and being humble for the privileges that one enjoys.

No-one has ever become poor by giving. ~ Anne Frank

Parents who want to raise philanthropic children are teaching them to be aware of others’ needs, but also to be in tune with their own shareable abilities. Parents who talk about their own passions and philanthropic giving with their young children are helping to create a lifelong habit. In addition, children learn other executive functioning skills such as organization, communication, teamwork, collaboration and problem-solving skills. Children receive a boost in self-esteem when they perform selfless tasks. This begins the development and growth of empathy.

At Twin Parks Montessori School, we strive to develop classroom communities where feelings are validated, and empathy is modeled, learned and shared. Teaching children to be empathetic now, whether offering an upset friend a tissue, or inviting others to play, will have a lasting effect on their citizenship in our global community. Each year at Twin Parks Montessori Schools, children participate in two philanthropy projects; one local and one global.

Little gifts mean a lot!

Twin Parks Montessori School’s local philanthropic project will be happening in just a few weeks. We will collect food for City Harvest. This project is very relatable to young children. They can imagine what it feels like to be hungry. Children enjoy choosing non-perishable food items to give to others. They watch the classroom and schools’ collection grow. This is a clear demonstration of how one small donation can become a larger gift.

Giving can be a year-round activity for your family. If everyone demonstrated empathy and helped others, our community would be a wonderful place to be.

Sharing a bit of yourself can change your world.

One must know not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it.
-Maya Angelou

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How Does a Growth Mindset Help Student Achievement?

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Thanks to Dr. Carol Dweck and her colleagues for their research on students’ attitudes about failure. They questioned why some students rebound and try again while others are devastated by small setbacks. After studying thousands of children, Dr. Dweck came up with the terms Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset to define some thoughts about learning and intelligence.

When children think they can get smarter, and they will put in extra effort to help themselves – this is a Growth Mindset. Dr. JoAnn Deak also said that the brain is malleable and flexible like stretching rubber bands. The more you work at something, the connectivity between neurons increase and change. Dr. Deak’s book, The Fantastic Elastic Brain describes how the brain works and how you can work your brain!

Practice, along with using good strategies, asking questions, and eating and sleeping well do help us become smarter. If you believe your brain can grow, you will increase your motivation and achievement.

The following chart gives examples of what children can be taught to think and say to themselves during times of challenge and frustration. I also think they are wonderful messages adults can use, too.

Growth Mindset statements for everyone!

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Kathy’s Insights