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Lynn FisherToday, the urgency of educating our young children in the languages and cultures of others is heightened. We’re all connected instantaneously via technology and personally experience the complexity of worldwide social, ethnic, religious, political, and natural systems.  Awareness and understanding increase the possibility of cooperation and collaboration to make the world a better place for all living things.

If you are fortunate enough to have family members or neighbors who speak another language or celebrate customs from another land, cultivate that connection, build a friendship. Ask them to share stories. Taste their food. Demonstrate appreciation for their differences.

Very young children are fascinated by the idea that others speak differently and live differently. And they are uninhibited, open to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It is the ideal time to begin their cultural education. They greedily absorb language and subtle meaning and have the capacity to learn new sounds easily.

Teaching young children a second language is a priceless experience that many American children are not offered until way too late in their school experience when they are self-conscious and new languages do not come easily. However, if you are resourceful and determined there are online options even for the very young.

Search the internet for pictures of other lands. Let your children hold a globe and talk to them about the world. Children as young as 3 years old are intrigued by discussions of far-away places. Borrow books and DVDs from the library.  If you have the opportunity to take your children to the ocean you can strike their imaginations by talking about the vastness of the water and how it both separates and connects us. A moonrise walk on a deserted beach is an amazing opportunity to talk about children on the other side of the world who are waking up to the sunrise.

Make a conscious effort to expose your children to what lies beyond. It is the best preparation for living in a connected world.

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Welcome back everyone!

Lynn Fisher, West Side Montessori Head of School

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

School is well under way after just a few days. At the start of each new school year excitement and anxiety are both high. Many parents are scrambling to get their children to bed at a reasonable hour at night and make it to school on time in the morning. New West Side Montessori parents are practicing the intricate carline routes. Children are settling in to school routines. Teachers are adjusting to new students, teaching partners, and classrooms added at the last minute due to increased demand.

I’m always amazed at the personal time and energy our faculty invests over the summer preparing for your children. They engage in professional training, team retreats, curriculum workshops, making learning materials, and designing and creating their rich learning environments. When hundreds of new shoes step through the doors on that first day, a calm, gentle, focused, inviting, and challenging world awaits the children who proudly wear them.

Some of the things I’m looking forward to this year are meeting new parents and sharing the insights of an authentic Montessori education. I’m presenting this week’s First Thursday morning and afternoon programs designed for parents of children birth to 6 years old, titled, Montessori 101: Your Child’s Super Powers. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, I will present Montessori 201: Elementary Montessori, Sparking the Imagination. Parents, grandparents, caregivers, and friends are invited to any and all of our educational programs. Your understanding and support of our work is the cornerstone of our family-oriented mission and your child’s success.

All parents and friends are also welcome to join me at an informal Q & A after carline on Tuesday, Sept. 23, in the library for follow-up discussion, questions and feedback from your hallway window observations and/or West Side experience to date. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Warm regards,

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

P.S. See you at Sweet September Sundae on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Toledo Campus!

Thursday, Sept. 4 • 8:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. at Toledo Campus

pink towerMontessori education is designed to maximize development of your young child’s brain power. How?

Join Head of School, Lynn Fisher, at September’s First Thursday as she unlocks the secrets of how an authentic Montessori program works. Little House & Children’s House parents are invited to attend this monthly program held at the Toledo Campus. This month’s event is Thursday, Sept. 4, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and again from 3:45-4:45 p.m. Come and discover your child’s super powers!

First Thursday is a monthly parent education program presented by West Side Montessori faculty. Any family is welcome to attend! First Thursdays are opportunities for parents in our community to learn more about Montessori through the eyes of children, teachers, and other Montessori parents.

Make plans to come, meet other parents, and learn more about the Montessori method.

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Head of School Lynn Fisher walks on WSM’s wooded trails.

The urge for adventure, exploring outdoors, is one of the joys of childhood. This summer, in addition to the zoo and our 12 amazing Metroparks of the Toledo Area, take your children for a walk on the wild side to one of the more isolated nature preserves in the area. One of my favorites is Irwin Prairie located on West Bancroft Street just west of Irwin Road. A boardwalk winds through the wet woods to Irwin Rd. and then crosses the wet prairie to an isolated observation deck.  There you feel like you are in a remote location. There are no crowds, no thrilling rides, but if you stay very still and listen very carefully a blue damselfly might land nearby or a frog dive into the water.

Traveling farther west and north of Airport Highway, at 10420 Old State Line Rd, west of Eber Rd., Kitty Todd Preserve has one of the highest concentrations of rare species of any nature preserve in the state. Explore the low lying wetlands and sand dunes any day between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and you may see wild lupine in bloom and glimpse an endangered karner blue butterfly. Have you ever seen an earth star? Before you go, have your school-age children use their Internet savvy to research some of the plants and animals found in the Oak Openings area of northwest Ohio. Or take a side trip to your local library to discover what awaits you.

Travel doesn’t have to be at a great distance to open children’s minds and hearts. What matters is leaving the comfort of the familiar and introducing them to a world apart from their own. Cultivate a sense of wonder in your children by stepping out and into the natural world where their senses will be reawakened and mysteries revealed.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

Lynn Fisher, Head of School

Lynn Fisher, Head of School

How will your children spend their time this summer? Riding bikes? Swimming? Playing with friends? Attending summer camps or classes? Relaxing and reading?

What about screen-time, the amount of time watching TV, playing video games or using mobile devices? We are in an era of accelerating screen-time for children of all ages. Current research shows an average of 7+ hours per day of screen-time for young children and as screen-time increases the amount of sleep-time decreases.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the use of media is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping and there is considerable evidence that a bedroom TV increases the risk for obesity, substance use, and exposure to sexual content. The AAP now recommends limiting screen time for children to 1-2 hours per day and discourages exposure to all screen media for children under age two.

Many child development experts are concerned. When children are physically engaged in a challenging activity, like learning to walk or ride a bike or skate, their brains are stretched; muscles are strengthened; coordination improves. Children’s brains are elastic and grow the most during the first 10 years of life through lots of physical and mental exercise.

Social and emotional development is equally important and is dependent on human interactions. Children learn to read body language and appropriate behavior from experience, trial and error. The less time children interact with peers and nurturing adults, the less time to develop life skills that determine success.

How are your children spending their time this summer? Encourage them to get outside and move, stretch their bodies and minds, develop friendships through play and shared experience, and savor summer with time to relax and rejuvenate. Come to think of it, we could all benefit from more outdoor play.