Monday, November 23, 2009

"You're Sad When Your Pet Dies"

Our beloved Robby died last week.  He was 9 years old, which, as my husband says, is about 1,000 in human years (just kidding).   I could say much more, but I will only say he became dear to me and to the children.  Here is a song one of the children in my Casa wrote to honor Robby.

If you're sad when your pet dies,
You can still take care of your pet.
Be calm and take a deep breath
Because you're sad when your pet dies.

Remember, once it was born a baby. . . 


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Writing and Art

Do any of you Montessorians out there use this technique to inspire writing?  I love to see what images in the pictures inspire the child.  In this particular example, the child not only wrote a thoughtful sentence ("I like the design") but extended the picture with her own drawing, putting herself in the composition.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wasp Nests and the Universe

Can you believe this wasp nest?  My assistant found it in her backyard in her crabapple tree and brought it to school, where the children examined it in-depth (all the wasps were gone, of course).  All summer long the lush leaves covered the amazing handiwork of the wasps and the nest was only finally revealed in the winds of fall.  The intricacy of what nature produces makes me realize that the universe has  revealed to us only a tiny bit of what is possible.  If wasps can get together and create something so practical yet beautiful, what are we capable of if we use our collective intellect?  My son has been talking about an "elevator" tethered from earth to a distant space outpost that would serve as a launching pad to deep space.  One of the books I'm reading posits 11 dimensions.  There is so much to learn!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Children Need to Feel Needed
We had the second meeting of our "Positive Discipline" book club and the turnout was great!  We covered Chapters 2 and 3.  Some of the ideas we discussed:  The mistaken belief that children won't learn unless they suffer for their mistake, that we can't give children self-esteem, children need to feel needed and to make  positive contributions, and that asking instead of telling is one of the most positive actions we can take with our children.  One way children gain self-esteem is through self-reliance.  When self-reliance is gained children are able to contribute positively and feel capable.
One concept that stood out for me is the way to win a child's cooperation.  This involves four steps:  express understanding, show empathy, share your feelings, and invite the child to focus on a solution.  We all agreed that when the child has a stake in the solution because he was part of the idea, it is more likely to work.  We also talked a bit about birth order, and more in-depth about perfectionism, which seems to affect a fair number of children.  Last thought; "all people (including children) have equal claims to dignity and respect."  Please add your thoughts in the comment section.  Until next time!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Children Teaching Children

Maria Montessori wrote, "The greatest sign of success for a teacher. . . is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'"  In this video that one of my parents shot through the one-way window, we see one child presenting coffee grinding to a younger child.  She mimics my presentation almost perfectly.  They really are watching and listening!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Puppy Potential

This past week we had the gift of welcoming a 7 week old puppy into our Casa.  Now, you might expect chaos and complete anarchy in the face of an energetic puppy partnered with 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds, but the opposite was true.  The puppy, probably exhausted in the face of this new adventure, promptly fell asleep.  The children were quieter than I dreamed was possible.  They had such respect for the puppy (Cleo) and her need for sleep, that they did not even whisper.  They silently found work, and moved as if on a balance beam.  Cleo whimpered in her sleep, and the children were immediately at her side, ready to attend to any need she might display.  The great respect and consideration the children displayed is inspiring.  There is such a huge capacity for love in every one of these children.  Whenever I think about the huge task of bringing peace to even a small part of the world, I am comforted by the potential for love and caring that a puppy brought to our lives.