Category Archives: learning

Authentic Caregiving in Centers

Authenticity: authentic caregivers, authentic baby

The RIE® method is one that makes caregiving a pleasant experience for every party involved. One of the ways this concept is best demonstrated is through the belief and practice of authenticity that Beverly Kovach discusses in her video series, Being with Infants.

As caregivers, we understand that children are coming to school on their good days as well as their bad days. For the most part, we are able to keep our expectations for them at an appropriate level. That means that we don’t expect the children to just stop being tired, stop being upset, or do anything to repress their mood on their own.

The Greeting

In my experience in centers, most adults feel the complete opposite way when it concerns themselves. Perhaps they didn’t sleep well the night before. Perhaps they are going through a situation that is causing them emotional turmoil. Despite the way they are feeling, they feel they must put on a happy face in order to be with the children.

Children can easily feel the tension in our bodies and have insight to what we are feeling – even if we don’t want to admit our feelings! Having a tensed and stressed body while having a smiling face can be confusing to any child and send them mixed messages. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be honest with the children you are caring for? This not only helps the caregivers by being honest with her emotions, but also teaches the children about their emotions and empathy for others.

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In Magda Gerber’s book, Your Self-Confident Baby, she tells a story about a mother who learned to be authentic with her daughter. When the daughter was sick, of course the mother cared for her. When the mother got sick, she was honest with her daughter from the start. “I hear you crying, I want to give you what you need, but right now I don’t feel well.” The mother said the daughter was less demanding than she was ordinarily!

Children understand more than most caregivers might think they do. We can be authentic and honest with them.

Note: Thank you, Ms. Rebekah for sharing your thoughts on Authenticity: authentic caregivers, authentic baby. Ms. Rebekah began working with infants at the center May 2017

Sources:

Being with Infants Video Guide

Your Self Confident Baby

Cooking with Kids @the Center (with video)

Each day at the center, we involve the children, from young toddlers through Kindergarten, in the process of creating the daily bread which will nourish the community throughout the day for snack.

Challenged by Dr. Angeline Lillard in 2007 to make our Practical Life Area more practical, we seized the opportunity to utilize the young child’s budding independence, order, coordination, self-confidence and love of learning in a way that would fuel all developmental planes.

Regardless of age, race, gender or ability- you will find children gravitating towards the Slow Food Inspired Cooking Curriculum which links not only the program’s gardening, but also the areas of Math and Cultural Studies. Each child has the opportunity to cook every day, throughout the day, as long as an apron is available. If one is not, the child is welcome to watch the process nearby.

Cooking together can become much more than getting a bite to eat- watch as Ms. Jaime begins the morning bread baking routine:

In making bread together, we see evidence of all Eight Principles of Optimal Education described in Dr. Lillard’s research.

According her findings, learning occurs best when:

1. movement is linked with cognition,
2. children are interested in the topic,
3. extrinsic rewards are left out of the mix,
4. choice and control are offered to the child,
5. it is situated in meaningful contexts,
6. children are grouped in blended ages amongst their peers,
7. the environment is orderly with consistent routines and rituals, &
8. the adult guides in a firm and warm manner.

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.”
Plato

GOOD Magazine chooses Ms. Megan!

Ms. Megan makes the TOP TEN GATO finalist as a nationally recognized innovator in the classroom! The formal announcement and voting begins March 4th. http://www.good.is/great-american-teach-off
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We are excited to announce that Megan Nordoff, of Montessori of Mount Pleasant, has been selected as a finalist for GOOD Magazine’s Innovative Teacher Award.  You already know Ms. Megan’s commitment advocating for innovation during the first stage of development and her support in ensuring that children reach their fullest potential across all planes of development.  We now have an opportunity to share our work on a larger platform- and we are asking for your help.
If you aren’t already a fan, please LIKE our page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Montessori-School-of-Mount-Pleasant/121505131043?fref=ts
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We’ll be making announcement regarding voting and updates on Megan’s status via this social media outlet.  We will also send out general information via email and Google Group.
Why VOTE (each day, and every day) –
* An opportunity to feature South Carolina as an INNOVATOR in the field of education
* Highlight progressive models of education including MONTESSORI, RIE (www.rie.org), ORTON GILLINGHAM, Richard Louv’s Nature Education, Slow Food, Agriculture and Gardening to early literacy, Reggio inspired environments and more!
* Bring a national spotlight on the work being done at the EARLY CHILDHOOD level (birth – six years) and the impact a quality early childhood experience has on school readiness and innovation at Kindergarten
* Show the nation that there’s more to the Charleston community then a happening tourist destination- it’s a wonderful place to live and raise your children!
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What will we do if we win the 10K grant?
We have an idea concept in place for a MOBILE FARM CLASSROOM modeled after the Montessori (Grammar) Farm built to a Tiny House scale.  The 10K will get this project off the ground.  It is our intent to build “sister-school” relationships outside the walls of our facility and extend the mobile farm classroom to other South Carolinian schools.  If you are interested in participating as a sponsor with the design of this GOODInnovation Idea, we are very happy to welcome your efforts and contributions.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
– Abraham Lincoln

The Large Bead Stair

The construction of the large bead stair began as a problem to be solved in our outdoor classroom.  Each morning the children help open and set up the cognitive materials on the porch.  The Montessori bead stair is a quintessential math material which helps with one to one correspondence, links quantity to symbol and is used in higher end math materials, such as the teen boards, short and long chains, and operations.  Day after day pieces of the bead stair would get accidently dropped through the floor slats of the porch.  As a result, much of our time in the morning was spent replacing the missing beads.
Hanging Bead Stair
Hanging Bead Stair
One day a child remarked, “Oh!  I wish these beads were not so small!”  We started brainstorming a weather-proof, porch-proof bead stair.  It would need to be inexpensive and involve the children as much as possible in its construction.  We also wanted it to highlight the small Montessori bead stair located inside in the classroom rather than take its place.
Large Bead Stair
Large Bead Stair
It has been a beautiful point of interest for both the Toddler and Primary children as they walk by the material on the way to the playground and a valued addition to our math curriculum for the outside classroom.
 How to Make the Large Bead Stair:
Materials:
55 golf balls
2 tomato cages
white primer spraypaint
9 permanent markers or paint pens (red, green, pikn, yellow, light blue, purple, brown, dark blue, and gold)
Tools:
electric drill
wire cutters
needlenose pliers
Large Bead Stair
Large Bead Stair

 

Directions:
1. Wash and prime golf balls
2. Drill a hole through each one
3. Cut cages into 10 strips (3 inch, 5 inch, 7 inch……..up to 21 inch)
4. Bend a loop at each end and thread golf balls onto wires.
5. Add color to golf balls to match the small bead stair.
Once the tools came out the boys were all ready and willing to help!…drill the holes, cut the wire, and string the balls on in 1-10 sequence. When we were ready to add color, the girls arrived and organized themselves to apply color to the balls to match the small bead stair.   Kindergarteners checked in periodically to supervise and make suggestions (they have been working with the bead stair for years and are well-versed in managing others and chiming in with their expertise at this point in the year)…..
Community Building
Community Building

…and voila!  We finished and presented the large bead stair as complete and available to use!  It has shown to be quite inviting and enticing due to its appearance and location.  It has even called to young children who do not have a developed pincer grip yet but who are able to exercise a 4-finger grasp and strengthen their one to one correspondence.

As a larger indirect benefit, we have watched the primary children pass by and comment (as they always do after community projects) that they helped make that!

Relationship Matters: Table Manners

I was inspired by a recent email exchange between our Head of School, Megan Nordoff, and a parent of a child enrolled in the Primary Community of MMPSchool. 

Hi Bev and John,
Thought I’d take a minute today to pass along some tidbits from this
week with Marcus.  He’s been very cheerful this week starting with
early Monday morning relaying to us that he went camping and slept on
the top.  He was excited that we had oranges for snack and asked if
they were his oranges from his birthday.  I told him Ms. Nicole
brought them from Florida- he ate 3!  He also said that his Pops is
in Florida.  Late he and a friend did the number rods together,
quantity and symbol 1-5.
On Tuesday, he recognized 4 on the clock and exclaimed, “I am 4!”
and then asked “Am I 4?” to which I let him know “Yes, you will be 4
for a year and then turn 5.”  He looked absolutely flabbergasted!  🙂
He worked with a friend for a little while matching beginning sounds
of objects to the right letter and then went off to climb.  He had to
wait his turn as another friend wanted to climb alone on the
structure.  Ms. Amy reminded him to wait upon the other friend’s
request and he was a little tiffed at Amy for about a minute (arms
crossed and eyebrows furrowed).  He came over to me and showed me her
face.  I asked him if he wanted to tell me something.  He told me
Ms. Amy wouldn’t let him climb.  I reiterated that he could climb
after the friend was finished- she wanted to be alone on the structure
to concentrate on balancing.   He relaxed, got busy with something
else and eventually went back to climbing later.Hope you are having a nice day and hope this sort of info is helpful
to you at home and in communication with the OT.MeganP.S. He was so excited today that he was able to hang his purple
jacket on the coat rack with no help at all!

Megan,
Thank you so very much for this feedback. This is so helpful exactly what we need and truly appreciate your time, courtesy and attention.Please continue to send these updates. We meet with the OT & ST on Weds. mornings.You mentioned on our conference that Marcus often has trouble staying seated at mealtimes. We consistently have the same behavior at home. When you have a moment, could you tell me how you “scaffold” with him in these situations? I want to be consistent with your methods.He seems to be having so much fun at school this week.Thank you for your continuing communication.With our best,
bev & john

Sent from my iPhone

Montessori Snack
Montessori Snack
Hi Bev,

At school he stays seated but if he gets up to get something or go to the bathroom he can get sidetracked not come back with prompting.  Meal times can be difficult because they are sensory-rich so keep this in mind and try to see it from his perspective when you set your expectations.  I would take a look at environmental details first:
* he should be seated comfortably, waist at the table with bare feet touching a surface is optimal
* soft lighting (stay away from fluorescent)
* background music can be a disturbance
* visual distractions on table? keep it as simple as possible
* consistency wherever possible: dishes, sequence, seating arrangement
* timing of meal: is he hungry when you sit down?  after school snacks? is he starting to get tired?
* length of meal?  adults will prefer to sit longer….at lunch he sits for about 20 minutes
* food being served
* his buy in: has he been able to contribute to the meal/experience?
* expectations?  before, during, after?  clear his own dishes, etc.
* conversation: is it pleasant for him?
At school he is expected to take his dishes and scrape and wash his plate after he is finished.  This marks the end of the meal and the child does not return to the table to continue eating after this.  As they master caring for their own dishes then their desire to help expands to assisting with clearing the table and cleaning up the whole room for the next part of the day.   We are currently scaffolding Marcus with staying on task and completing the transition from getting up from the table, scraping, washing and leaving the sink.  He doesn’t complain about it but can get distracted and wanders away before finishing.
Just be sure that whatever limits you set that you’re prepared to stick with and follow through.  At the end of the day it is usually better to lower the expectations slightly since everyone is tired- otherwise you won’t be able to stay consistent on a daily basis.
Megan

Thank you for this, Megan! 
I followed your advice at breakfast & it went (almost 😉 very smoothly.
Very helpful.
Hi Bev,
I’ve been meaning to ask you.  I think this question from you regarding meal time is a pretty common one.  Would you be ok if I changed the names and shared it with others via our BLOG?
Megan

Of course!Sent from my iPhone