Just Breathe

“Your blood keeps pumping because, like, you’re really mad. And you start to get sweaty because you’re getting really, really mad. And then when you start getting really mad, you turn red.”

Entirely un-scripted, this video was filmed on a Saturday afternoon with students of Citizens of the World Charter School in Mar Vista, California, and their families. These 6-year old kids began learning mindfulness techniques in Kindergarten and can teach us all a thing or two about coping with difficult emotions.

Watch the video here.

Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn

When students use their bodies in the learning process, it can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand. Researchers have found that when students use their bodies while doing mathematical storytelling (like with word problems, for example), it changes the way they think about math. Read More…

Photo Credit: Barnaby Wasson

Kids Talk – Understanding A Child’s Love Of Order

As parents and teachers we are concerned about doing the right things with our children. When our children go through difficult periods, we can spend nights tossing and turning about what can be the matter.

As our tools can be friend or foe, depending on how we use them, it can be helpful if we understand the innate development characteristics of children under the age of seven.

Read More Here

AMS Distinguished Dissertation of the Year

We are so pleased to announce that our very own Rebecca Keith has received the Distinguished Dissertation of the Year award from the American Montessori Society for her doctoral dissertation. This is an incredible achievement and honor. Rebecca will be presenting her dissertation at the annual AMS conference in Philadelphia in March. Congratulations Rebecca!

Nutritional Coach for Foxworthy Primary

We recently partnered with nutritional coach Dana Yeats, who will be consulting with our Foxworthy Primary staff about our snack program.  Dana will be providing the school with recipes for whole food snacks that not only satisfy but promote and provide balanced blood sugar throughout the day. When children are nutritionally balanced, they are calmer, more aware and centered and they will be at their optimum levels for learning and playing. If we can create an environment where our children form a healthy, satisfying relationship to food, they will know and understand what their body needs and how to fuel it down the road.  Every snack will be balanced between lean protein, healthy fats and whole food carbohydrates. We want to encourage children to try new foods and to eat a variety of fresh seasonal foods. When we do that, we provide their bodies with the essential vitamins and minerals that they need to thrive and grow.

Part of the partnership includes a complimentary 30 minute Family Nutritional Analysis with Dana for every family. Schedule your time with her or learn more at:

http://4pillarscoaching.com/services/

I learned something new today – Ancestor Appreciation Day was this week-end

Many people are completely unaware of their ancestors and the lives they lived, yet these people almost certainly went a long way towards shaping our habits, traditions and values today. Ancestor Appreciation Day gives people a reminder to learn more about those who came before us.
Building a more complete picture of your relatives and their history can help to promote a greater appreciation for life and form a better understanding of the individual journey your family has been on.
If nothing else, why not spend the day with your living relatives? Ask a few questions, let them tell stories and find out about previous generations that way.

Talk Less, Listen More

[An article written by Maren Schmidt and published on http://www.kidstalknews.com/]

When I asked one of my elementary students what he didn’t like about his life he told me that it was when people started to sound like blah-blah-blah.

Too often our good intentions of telling our children what to do, how to do it, where to do it, when to do, and why to do begin to sound like unintelligible garble.  In the process we get tuned out, sometimes for life.
One of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is “seek first to understand and then to be understood.”  Too often we want our children to understand us first, and we stop there, never trying to see from their point of view.
What do we do too many times when we try to listen and understand our children’s behavior?
Instead of listening for understanding we offer advice. We give our opinion. We tell a story of how we went through a situation that was even worse. We blame. We insult. We criticize. We punish. We make judgments and diagnose. We interject our own needs, emotions and values into the scenario.
In the process, we block and most likely destroy any opportunity for true listening. All our children need is for us to listen to them without judging, criticizing, complaining or evaluating.  Our children want us to be interested in them. Conversely, when it is our turn to talk, we want to be listened to in a way that makes us feel understood.  We have to prime the pump.
Asking questions is our most effective way to talk less and listen more.  As a listener we need to be calm enough to be able to hear and to process what we are being told.  We don’t have to own the problem (at least not at the time of our listening).  As we listen, we refrain from advising or defending our point of view.  As a listener we provide a safe environment for our children to speak. We seek to understand and ask questions to clarify our perceptions.
A simple technique to help us avoid the pitfalls of judging, criticizing, complaining or evaluating is to only ask questions. 
Asking question after question with no statements helps us sidestep those listening obstacles.  Also, if we sit kindly and patiently waiting for an answer we provide that safe environment.
Our session might go something like this:
Why did you hit your brother?  I was bored.
Why did you choose to be bored?  I dunno.
Do you realize you have a choice about how you treat other people?   Yes.
Would you tell me why you would choose to hit your brother instead of doing something else?  I guess I just wanted to have him do something with me. I was bored.
Can you think of how you might have gotten your brother to do something with you?  All I really needed to do was ask him.  I guess I just hit him so he wouldn’t be able to say no.  If I hit him he’d hit me back and then we’d be doing something together.
What do you think you can do in the future to get your brother’s attention?  I can just ask him to do something with me.  And if he says no, I can ask him why.
Do you have anything you’d like to ask me? 
Are you beginning to see how a few questions might be a way to help our children effectively learn another way of behaving?

 

About Maren Schmidt 
Maren has over 30 years experience working with children and families. She holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale, as well as a M.Ed. from Loyola College in Maryland.
With your twice monthly Understanding Montessori Newsletters you’ll get put-it-into-action advice you can use today.

Learning How to Care

How can we help our young children to learn how to care for themselves and about the others? Here’s an interesting read: http://www.kidstalknews.com/2012/11/learning-how-to-care.html

Learning to Set Goals

Is goal setting an adult-oriented skill set? Or can we teach our children how to properly formulate goals and the strategic and tactical steps to achieve them? Here is an interesting article on the subject:  http://www.kidstalknews.com/2012/12/learning-to-set-goals.html

Kindergarten or the 3rd Montessori Year?

What’s so important about the third year in a Montessori program?  How is it different from kindergarten?

What’s best for my 5-year-old?
Listen to an interesting recording with Maren Schmidt: http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=53485077