Community Appreciation Breakfast

 

Being part of the Midtown Montessori community means friendships, connections, a loving environment for your child, support in your parenting journey, and a commitment to “work together for unity and love,” as the Elementary children say each day during their morning intentions.

There’s a lot to be thankful for in our community, and one way we show gratitude for each other is through our annual Community Appreciation Breakfast.

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The children worked hard in the weeks leading up to the breakfast to make candles and decorate bags to share with their families. They also helped make French toast, pumpkin muffins, and casseroles.



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Working together for unity and love goes beyond our school as we serve the broader community. This year we held a blanket drive benefitting Room in the Inn—an organization that offers hospitality to people experiencing homelessness.

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If you’d like more information about Room in the Inn and how you can get involved, click here.

Thank you for being part of our community!


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

 

Historical Halloween 2018

 

Halloween is a time of fun and great excitement for the child. Like all holidays, it can provide a context for connection through participation in shared activities. At Midtown Montessori, we capitalize on the excitement that children already have about this holiday and try to offer them keys to exploration about the past through our Historical Halloween celebration.

Every year, we select a theme and ask children to dress as someone from the past that is inspiring to them in some way. In the past, we have celebrated activists, explorers, and world leaders. This year, our theme was “Athletes, Artists & Performers.”


The children in the Casa were given an opportunity to dress up, but also practice speaking to a group. They were given a few important facts about their historical figure and shared it with our community of our parents. Sarah guided them through how to speak clearly and loudly. They also practiced the grace and courtesy of listening to their friends while they did their presentations.

We are always seeking to scaffold experiences in our community throughout the planes of development, so we take our Historical Halloween to the next level with our elementary children. One of the important characteristics of the second plane child is the capacity and desire to do “big work.” Big work means expansive projects that are crafted over days or weeks. Over the years, we’ve learned that children need to be guided carefully through their initial attempts at “big work” so that they can feel the sense of accomplishment that goes with taking the journey from start to finish on a project.

One of the misunderstandings about Montessori education is often predicated on the idea that Montessori classrooms are unstructured and allow children to do whatever they please whenever they please. In truth, such opinions often rely on hearsay and are not based on careful observation of a fully functioning, authentic Montessori environment. We believe that human beings are innately creative, diligent and focused. Children are free to express their deepest human nature in our environments. The preparation of our environments leave children free to express these innate qualities and understand how these qualities align with the responsibilities they have to learn about the world they live in. For this project, the lower elementary children (6-9) were directed to write a first person narrative and create a visual aid for the person they chose. Our upper elementary (ages 9-12), were asked to write a multiparagraph essay, speech and visual aid. Their work was something to behold. Whether through written expression or artistic expression, our children of the elementary guided the adults of our community through historical journeys in music, art, athletic and dance history.

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Room in the Inn

 

Our greatest goal is that the children of our community go into the world knowing that we are all responsible for one another's welfare, for the stewardship of all that surrounds us and with the wisdom that we are each tasked with the important work of creating a world that is more peaceful than we found it.

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One way we guide the children to understand their responsibility for their community is by volunteering with Room in the Inn--an organization that provides shelter and meals for people experiencing homelessness. 

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The children prepared table decorations, served the meal, offered refills, sat and talked with guests, and cleaned up after the meal. They practiced grace and courtesy as they offered food and drinks to guests, waited their turn to serve, carefully carried trays of food, and waited patiently to ensure all the guests had been served before they ate their meal.

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Volunteering with Room in the Inn also fosters empathy in the children and gives them an opportunity to experience the joy of helping others--even people they don't see every day. The children were eager to serve in any way they could, and the next day several of them asked where the guests were, if they had a place to sleep, and if someone else would be serving them dinner. It's beautiful to watch their joyful, compassionate spirits develop not only within the school but also within the broader community.

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Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

Sensitive Periods: Order

 
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A child from 3-6 years of age experiences a sensitive period for order. You can think of a sensitive period as if you were viewing a ballet and a spotlight is placed on one dancer.  Your focus is brought to that dancer while the light shines on them and all else disappears into the darkness for a bit until the lighting is changed.  

For the primary child the spotlight is focused on order. They notice everything and have a strong need for things to be in just the right place and to be able to predict what will happen next. You may notice a child becoming distraught if their schedule changes, a blanket isn’t arranged just right, or they can’t have the glass that they usually use. These things often seem small to adults but they are really disturbing to the young child who is trying to make sense of a world that always seems to be changing.   

 

 

 

Gratitude and Giggles: Our Annual Community Appreciation Breakfast

 

Midtown Montessori School is a community comprised of children, families, teachers, and connections to the broader community of Memphis. Our community unites in the common goal of being peaceful, collaborative, global citizens and guiding others to do the same.

Our annual Community Appreciation Breakfast is one way we express our gratitude to all the families who make up the Midtown Montessori community.

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The children were overjoyed to have their families at school to share a special breakfast with them. Giggles abounded as the children ate bagels, chatted with friends, and spent time with their families. 

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Each family received a bag filled with vegetables and herbs fresh from the garden. The children worked for several days to harvest the plants and prepare the bags to share with their families. 

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We invited everyone to donate blankets for our Blanket Drive for Room in the Inn. We collected many blankets for people in Memphis experiencing homelessness this winter, and this effort sparked conversations with the children about what it means to be a good, generous friend who's considerate of the needs of others. 

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We are so thankful for every member of the Midtown Montessori School community and look forward to continuing to collaborate with you for a more peaceful world. 


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

 

Movement and Freedom

There is so much movement in a Primary Environment.  The freedom to choose when, how, and where to move ones own body is a right for all of us, even the very youngest.  The environment and materials in a Primary Classroom call to the young child and encourage movement. The child has the freedom to move about the room as they wish. The child may go to the restroom when they feel the need with out asking permission. The child may satisfy their hunger and thirst by pouring themselves a glass of water from the child size pitcher or sitting down to have snack with friends as they notice that they are hungry and that a chair at the snack table is available.

     This freedom is always present but the natural consequences to movement that is not refined is also always present.  The glass cups and plates ask the child to carry them carefully without the adult having to. The porcelain pouring vessels slip precariously on the small tray, so the child holds the tray a little more level than before.  The bucket that is filled too full of water this time spills so that they may not fill it so full the next time. Or maybe they will.  

     There is also a friendliness toward error that must accompany the freedom. Glasses will break and water will spill. The environment is the reminder that beautiful things must be handled with care.  We give the children the most beautiful things and then trust that they will take care of them. This is something that even the youngest child can learn to do if given the opportunity

The Cosmic Task

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Our elementary students learned about the world of plants this week. We wrapped up a group experiment aimed at discerning the needs of plants -- discerning the commonalities of warmth, mineral, light, water and air.  At the conclusion of the needs of the plant experiment, it is tradition in the Montessori classroom to tell what is called the “Story of Plants.” This story highlights the diversity of the world of botany. We touch on all the different environments, and also how plants achieve the cosmic task of creating an atmosphere in which life can thrive on Earth. “We never take without giving back,” the plant says in the story, “and we joyfully complete our Cosmic Task.” The story and exploration of plants speaks to the heart of each elementary child that desires to know the world beyond the confines of the indoor world. The idea of the Cosmic Task is a central theme in all of Montessori education. It rests upon the idea that each member of creation has a contribution to the functioning of our planet, that we all have the potential to contribute in a positive way.


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

Historical Halloween

 
This year's theme was "Explorers, Scientists, and Inventors."

This year's theme was "Explorers, Scientists, and Inventors."

Historical Halloween is an exciting time in our community. It provides an opportunity for the children to connect with historical figures in a unique way that can inspire our children to make their own positive impacts on the world. It also marks the culmination of weeks of preparation in both the Primary and Elementary environments and gives the children an opportunity to share their work with friends and family. 

Children in the Primary environment have spent the past several weeks reading books about explorers, scientists, and inventors and selecting someone they admire to dress up as. This has generated a lot of interest in astronauts, Albert Einstein, and Jane Goodall. At Historical Halloween, they shared with the audience who they are, and some spoke about the work their figure is most famous for. 

For Primary children, Historical Halloween offers a strong foundation in reality and introduces them in a fun way to important historical figures. It also offers them an opportunity to dress up while still honoring their need for reality.

"Maria Montessori found that children up to age 6 need a very strong foundation in reality. They absorb their environment as a way to understand the world, and when fantasy and fairy tales are introduced too early, children can become confused about what is ‘real.' To a child under 6 years of age, everything is real as they try to make sense of our world."-iheartmontessori.wordpress.com.

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The elementary children have spent the past several weeks preparing presentations for the Living Wax Museum. While each presentation was about two to three minutes long, it represented several hours of work. Elementary children have a need for heroes to look up to, whether mythical heroes or those recorded in history.

These projects allow the children to explore the nuances of what makes a hero while delving into research skills that are age appropriate. It was wonderful to see the diversity of characters and the enthusiasm that the children displayed in their work.

In the Montessori elementary environment, we talk of big “work.” Big work is the kind of work that expands consciousness beyond one’s own time and space. It’s material or verbal expression of the child’s studies of the universe, human civilization and the natural world. Our biography projects this past week were “big work.” 

 

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At Midtown Montessori, we are a community of children and adults who are committed to joyfully the doing the “big work” of learning, collaboration and making peace.


Midtown Montessori parent and Barefoot Book Distributor, Rebekah Gienapp, interviewed our co-founder and elementary guide, Faiqa Khan, a few weeks ago about Peace and Montessori. Click here to read the interview.


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

 

Peace, Conflict, and Planes of Development | Parent Education Night

 
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The purpose of Montessori education is not just a scientific approach to education or ensuring every child knows how to stack a pink tower or do long division—the ultimate goal of Montessori education is peace in our world. This lofty goal is pursued in small ways each day in the Montessori classroom. At our most recent Parent Education Night,  we hope we provided parents with the knowledge they need to help their child pursue peace beyond the time they spend in school.

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Fostering a peaceful environment does not mean being fearful of conflict and keeping the peace at any cost; it actually means reframing conflict as an opportunity for growth and connection. Because navigating conflict involves different approaches depending on the developmental stage of each child, a helpful tool for guiding children to reframe conflict is understanding the planes of development—patterns of growth observed and defined by Dr. Montessori.

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A first-plane child—ages 0-6—absorbs and understands the world around them using their senses. Therefore, managing conflict for a first-plane child involves preparing the environment so that conflict is manageable and controlled. This can mean maintaining a consistent schedule or giving children space to work alone. We also introduce conflict as an opportunity to build social skills by keeping limited materials and resources in the environment. Often for first plane children, recognizing that they often simply need to be heard and then move on, works fine. We find that they don’t always need to talk about their feelings to the extent that we might think they do.  

Through calling out other words they associate with the word "conflict," caregivers examined their understanding of conflict.

Through calling out other words they associate with the word "conflict," caregivers examined their understanding of conflict.

A second-plane child—ages 6-12— responds to reason, justice, and discussion. Therefore, managing conflict for a second-plane child requires the caregiver to do the emotional preparations around their own views about conflict. This preparation of the caregiver means examining themselves to see how they manage conflict and how they might project their own strategies or negative associations with conflict onto their children.

With regard to conflict between the child and caregiver, this preparation of the adult can also mean ensuring that the caregiver is being consistent and "fair" in setting boundaries for the child. For example, is it just to accuse a child of “talking back” to an adult when they question a new boundary the caregiver offers that may seem to contradict a boundary set last week? We must remember that a child who is in the second plane is called a "Reasoning Mind" because they generally have a thoughtful approach to situations. Questioning a rule doesn't necessarily mean disrespect for authority.

When dealing with conflict between the child and peers, the preparation can mean resisting the urge to take control. As adults, we would like to jump in and fix the situation. Maybe we feel that our experience will help our second plane children avoid missteps when trying to solve their problems. As caregivers, though, we should always employ stepping back and letting children gracefully work out their conflict. The solutions they produce tend to be more meaningful and lasting. The ability to solve these conflicts is given a strong base through grace and courtesy lessons in school as well as community meetings in the elementary that discuss behavior and expectations.

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Understanding the planes of development empowers parents and caregivers to tailor their parenting to their children and meet their needs at each stage of life. We are grateful for all the parents who were able to attend and know that their efforts to providing optimal support for their child in their development will make a big difference.


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process. 

 

Grace and Courtesy in the Primary Environment

Relationships with others are complicated.  Whether you are four years old or forty years old it takes a lot of grace and courtesy to navigate living and working in a community with others each day. In the Primary Environment, grace and courtesy lessons are given from the very first day of school. These lessons evolve over the three-year cycle to incorporate all the many nuanced ways that we must interact with those around us.  The very first lessons are as simple as "How to walk around a mat" or "How to open and close a door silently." Later, more complicated lessons like "How to join a group" or "How to invite someone to a discussion about a disagreement" can be added. Grace and courtesy lessons cover a wide range including for example, "How to blow your nose," "How to interrupt," "How to introduce yourself and others," and "How to relay a message to someone who is across the room." (Spoiler-You get up, push your chair in, walk to the person and then quietly tell them the message you needed to express.) 

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These lessons are given in advance of when the behavior will be expected and are often done in a dramatic way with the children getting to role play and take turns pretending to be in the situation. In this way the child has a whole toolbox of appropriate behaviors that they can pull from in various social situations and then may be spared the embarrassment of having to be told aloud by the adult what to do when the social situation arises.   Each day in our class the adults and children practice being as gracious and courteous with each other as we can. Along with our grace and courtesy lessons we often read books and have discussions about what it means to be peaceful, kind, and a helper to others. We talk specifically about what this looks like in the actions of ourselves and each other.

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This week I saw so many examples of the children in our class being peaceful, kind, and courteous with each other.  A child was absent and came back to school to a warm welcome from friends and a surprise card drawn with crayons in her cubby.  A child hurt her hand and many children came over quickly to offer tissues, a drink of water, and a cold pack.  A child spilled bird seed and other children immediately stopped to help him clean up all those tiny pieces. A young child saw an older child who was sitting quietly with a few tears in her eyes and then went to get a tissue to offer her.  A young child tried new work for the first time and several older children stopped by to offer encouraging words. A child bumped into another child but then paused to really look at them, help them up, and ask them if they are ok. These things were all done without prompting from adults. These are the acts of love that come from living and working in community and really beginning to care deeply about those who we spend our days with.


Interested in applying to Midtown Montessori? Click here to get all the information you need about the application and admission process.