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Time to Bloom February 29, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:57 pm

So, over the years I have donated money to so many various causes ~ an independent video store in Bellingham wanting to transition to a non-profit, a friend’s son’s rock band raising money to tour, another friend’s daughter’s clown troupe raising money to fix their van so that they could tour Canada, because everyone needs more laughter in their lives, a poet wanting to tour Eastern Europe, a yoga studio, to help pay for someone’s medical bills, to rescue animals . . .  All good causes.

What I have never done is asked for money to support a cause I believe in with all of my heart ~ Montessori education.  I am the Director of the Montessori School in Pullman, Eastern Washington, USA.  We have about one hundred children enrolled in our school, and about sixteen percent of our students either pay reduced tuition through school scholarships, or through state funding.  We offer scholarships because we want to offer Montessori education to as many children as possible, regardless of family finances.  I truly believe that Montessori education helps children reach their true potential.  That’s why all of my children went to Montessori schools, and I hope that my grandson will go to Montessori schools, too!

Now I turn to those who read my blog, hopefully for Montessori information and inspiration, to help support our school and some of our students who attend.  I promise that we will put your contribution to very good use.  And there is no such thing as a donation that is too small – that’s the power of crowd sourcing!  And I will never sell your contact information or pester you with requests.  This is it for this year.

We are a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization, so your contribution is 100% tax deductible, as allowed by law.  You can donate by selecting this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/5cm6gxx9

If you would like to learn more about our school, please check out pullmanmontessori.org or find us on Facebook!

Please help us bloom and reach out true potential!  Please share!

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Working Together for the Common Good ~ Part Two February 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 3:40 pm

In wrapping up the Kids Give project, our elementary students spent time working out how much money was raised, after paying for groceries.  $160!  Next they spent time deciding where to send the money.  They decided to give to five different charities, and selected Orphan Acres, an organization that takes care of abandoned, neglected and abused horses and ponies, Animal Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of the Palouse, pretty much a one-woman organization that takes care of orphaned animals, like deer and squirrels and chipmunks, First Books, an organization that provides books to children who may not have books of their very own, Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes using lots of sweat equity and volunteer labor, and the Moscow Bike Project, that repairs and sends bikes to Africa.

The children remembered all of these organizations from when they started the Kids Give project in December.  These were the organizations that really appealed to the children.  The ones they chose made total sense to us, based on what we knew about this particular group of children.  The girl who remembered the Bike Project comes from a family of bike enthusiasts.  First Books was named by a child who is a passionate reader.  The girl who remembered Orphan Acres is now volunteering for this organization, and with her family, helps feed and groom the horses.  Most of the children remembered the woman who spends her time caring for orphaned animals, and they thought their money would be a good help in buying milk and bottles for the orphaned animals.  As for Habitat for Humanity, one child wrote ‘a family + a home = happiness!’

After some division work using the golden beads to find that $160 divided equally between 5 organizations is $32, the children wrote letters and drew pictures to accompany the checks we are sending.

From start to finish, this was a very engaging project for the children, and one we are sure to continue in one way or another throughout the years, helping to nurture within these children their empathy, and their sense that they can work together to make a difference in their communities.

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Working Together for the Common Good ~real practical life in action! February 12, 2016

In December, our kindergarten and elementary students were invited to participate in a program called ‘Kids Give.’  This program is organized by a local group, “The Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse,” and in 2015 the money to fund the ‘Kids Give’ program was donated by our local Food Co-op through their ‘dime a bag’ giving program.  Each time a shopper brings reusable bags to the Co-op, a dime is donated to a local non-profit.  So

already you can see a large group of people working together for the common good ~ a local non-profit, a local Food Co-op, and all of the shoppers who donate their dimes.

The Kids Give program gives each participating class $50 to donate to a local non-profit.  The children learn about what each charity is about, and then through small and large group discussions, the children come to consensus about how to donate their $50.  This is a kid friendly introduction to the concept of philanthropy.  And children are so naturally generous and excited to get involved.  This is a second year for our school to be involved, and both times the children have responded with, “What else can we do?”  In 2014, the children decided to work for donations at home by completing extra chores, and some also brought money from their own piggy banks and ‘tooth-fairy’ money.

This year, the children have been enjoying cooking meals together, so they decided to cook and serve a lunch for donations.  This project involved so many skills – choosing a menu, setting the date, advertising the event, lots of food prep work (slicing, dicing, stirring, whisking, measuring, timing, mixing, serving . . .), setting up our ‘pop up café’, clean up, money work (donations – cost of ingredients = amount to donate), and more group discussions and decision making about where to donate the money raised.

The children prepared penne pasta with made from scratch creamy garlic alfredo sauce, salad, chocolate brownies and strawberries.  The food was delicious, and the whole school smelled like an authentic Italian restaurant.  The children served about fifty lunches, including serving themselves!   You can see from the photos how busy they all were.

This project fitted in so well with our values – child-centered, love of learning, community, diversity and dignity.  The children were excited, proud and enjoyed all of the tasks involved.  They worked together in teams, building their sense of community.  The project was the kids’ idea, and they were deeply involved in every step, so it was definitely child-centered.  I really love it when children experience the dignity of real work and are able to work together as a community for the greater good of the larger community.

As a side note, several families have told me that their child is now cooking dinner for the whole family on a regular basis.  Scrambled eggs, made-from -scratch macaroni and cheese, English muffin mini-pizzas, salad, grilled cheese sandwiches . . . all made with love by a child.  What could taste better than that!

 

Freedom of choice = respect for your child! February 4, 2016

Recently, one of our students has blossomed into math.  Every day he completes challenging works in math, and is practicing excellent problem solving skills.  For example, with the multiplication bead board he found that 4 multiplied by 10 is forty.  To solve the problem 4 multiplied by 9, he started with forty, and counted back by four . . . 39, 38, 37, 36 . . . as he removed four beads from his bead board.  Later, while working on a series of multiplication equations related to the number 10 (4 x 10, 6 x 10, 10 x 3), he asked, “Can’t I just count by 10s?” and he proceeded to do so.  During the last four tours I have given to prospective families, this child has introduced himself, walked the visitors over to the bead cabinet, and explained to them how you work with the short and long chains for skip counting.  “I used this chain to count to a thousand.  It didn’t take me too long because counting by tens is easy.  I also like counting by twos and fives – they are easy.  Counting by nines is much harder.”  He feels very accomplished and satisfied.  He is working in the areas that most interest him at this moment in time.  His work is joyful.  He feels happy and proud.  This is the gift of Montessori.  When you respect the choice of the child, you are acknowledging that he is a person in his own right, with his own likes and dislikes, his own strengths and challenges, his own way of learning and doing things.  You are teaching him that his choice matters and that he is in charge and responsible for his own learning.

Sometimes a parent and/or teacher feels that a child should be doing more work in another area of the curriculum.

“Why isn’t he reading?”

“Why isn’t he choosing to do more writing?”

“Why is she spending all of her time drawing and painting maps instead of learning to count?”

 

Montessori asks us to trust the child, to follow the child!  When we allow the child to make choices, the child is most engaged and learning comes easily and joyfully.  Think about a time you learned something new, when you were really engaged in learning this skill.  It could be anything from skiing, to driving, to learning a new language, to learning to knit or crochet, or learning a short cut on the computer.  At such times, you are focused, engaged, willing to work hard to overcome obstacles and difficulties, and so happy when you mastered that new skill.  This is a high-five moment!

 

Respecting the choice of the child is crucial for optimizing learning.  To put focus on an area that is currently not a focus in the child’s mind, is to replace something that is intrinsically interesting to a child with something that we have to work hard to make interesting.  So please, if your child is currently enchanted with counting and numbers, embrace this and count everything you see.  If your child is currently enthralled by letters and sounds, embrace that and read everything you see.  If your child is busy every day with practical life . . . all of the food prep, pouring, washing, sweeping, cleaning activities . . . please try to respect that choice.  Your child is working on so much through these activities – developing independence, concentration, hand-eye coordination, a sense of order – skills that will prepare them well for later academic work. Try to find opportunities at home when your child can help with cooking, folding laundry, emptying and loading the dishwasher, washing windows . . .

 

When you embrace your child’s choice, you are not only maximizing his or her learning potential, you are letting your child know that you respect his or her choice, and that you recognize and value his or her opinions.  That is respect!