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woods

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.

Fisher_picHow do you nurture a child to become his or her best self? Lovingly, tenderly, slowly, just like in nature. The transformation from baby to adult human being takes a full 24 years from birth to maturity. West Side Montessori capitalizes on the critical early childhood period of development through the tween years with insight and expertise by providing enriched learning opportunities as well as the time and opportunity for children to investigate their world so they develop the confidence to reach for the stars.

While exploring West Side’s 37 acres of woods, meadows, pond and swales tiny children may discover skunk cabbage or feel the velvety leaves of marsh mullein while older children collect and learn the parts of native prairie plants, classify those plants by phylum, study the ecology of the Oak Openings and plant reproduction, and tend their own gardens. By middle school the pond becomes their classroom again when students collect and analyze water samples in preparation for community involvement in our local Maumee River Watershed Watch program.

Our highly-trained and experienced Montessori certified teachers create enticing indoor and outdoor classroom environments full of abundant learning materials where children challenge themselves and ask for more. An atmosphere of shared learning creates a peaceful and purposeful learning community. At each age and stage of growth West Side Montessori students cultivate high level skills and develop creativity and leadership. Each child gains independence as natural curiosity blossoms into a love of learning at West Side.

Montessori students develop a high degree of self-knowledge and grow up to be creative problem solvers and leaders who face the challenges of the future with grace, confidence, and tenacity.

Come and see for yourself how your child can grow with Montessori.

Warm regards,

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

 

Fisher_pic

Cultivating the spirit of giving in children at an early age is important because it fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth. Very young children want to help. Encouraging them in simple acts of kindness such as bringing mommy a diaper for the new baby or helping daddy wash the car validates their place in the family. So what if their actions are incomplete or imprecise?

Your appreciation for their efforts makes their hearts sing.

Encouraging young children to reach beyond themselves and care for others is essential for healthy social development. Parents want their children to have friends, to learn give and take, to reach beyond themselves. This takes practice. It’s not easy for young children to put others first.

The situations you create for your child to care for others should be real. From little ones carrying a box of tissues to a sick sibling to big kids unloading groceries from the car, each act of kindness should be rewarded with genuine affection.

It’s important to explain to pre-school children why you go to visit a grandparent, or give money to a cause you value. The impression you make on tender young minds is validated by the actions that support your words.

When I hear of a 10 year-old forgoing birthday party presents and requesting contributions for a food bank instead, I know that the parents have thoughtfully developed a caring child who takes real pride in being a contributing member of society. The internal rewards are sustainable and help to develop social beings that can create a better world.

Chip DeLorenzo

Guest post by Chip DeLorenzo
Originally posted on May 29, 2013 at Maximize Your Talent

Editor’s Note: Chip DeLorenzo is the Head of School at the Damariscotta Montessori School in Nobleboro, Maine. He is a certified Montessori teacher (Early Childhood, Elementary I&II), and has been working in Montessori classrooms since 1995. He has been using Positive Discipline in his classrooms since he was a new teacher, and now works with Montessori schools and parents in bringing the message of Positive Discipline to the Montessori community.
 
 Mr. DeLorenzo will be the guest speaker at West Side Montessori’s Introduction to Positive Discipline on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Watch our website for more details.

In the previous article we discussed that we, as adults, are often the ones who need a “time out” when we angered by our children. We also discussed ways to cool down when we “flip our lid” so that we can naturally reengage our prefrontal cortex (or rational brain), which regulates emotional responses and interpersonal responses. Now let’s talk about how we can help our children develop their EQ by using a “positive time out.”

To begin with, let’s discuss some of the ways that time out is used with chlildren today. Many parents utilize some sort of punitive time out as a method to discipline their children. This practice became very popular in the 1970′s as parents sought out alternatives to corporal punishment. Today it is used everywhere you find children. Often, it is the primary tool for discipline.

When misbehaving, children are often asked to go to a predesignated area for a specified period of time, or until the adult retrieves them. The guiding ideas behind this discipline tool usually involve the parent wanting the child  to think about what they have done, or experience the negative consequence of being isolated with the hopes that this will prevent future misbehavior. Sounds logical, right? However, consider your own experience, as many who read this article have personally experienced time: If you were sent to there as a child, did you ever take the time to truly think about what you had done? Did you consider the consequences of your actions, and devlop contrition and a sincere desire to set things right? I can’t know what you thought about, but I can tell you what I thought about: how to get even, how to not get caught next time, and how to make my parents feel guilty for this obvious injustice!

One of the major tenets of positive discipline is that children do better when they feel better. “Feel better” does not mean pacified or happy at all times. When children are pacified they develop dependency and manipulation skills. By “feeling better” I refer to the experience that children have when taking responsibility for their actions, brought into the problem-solving process, and learn that mistakes are an opportunity to learn. When this happens they develop a sense of capability and responsibility for themselves and their family. In turn they experience a sense of connection and feel better about themselves and who they are.

One of the ways we can help children gain this sense of connection through personal responsibility is to teach them how to respond to stress, anger or sadness. A “positive time out” is an incredible way to teach children self-regulation and successful problem solving.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Begin by teaching children about the concept of a “flipped lid,” and explain matter-of-factly how the brain works to reengage the pre-frontal cortex and the importance of time in allowing this to happen.
  2. Explain how important it is to feel better in order to do better, and that it is really impossible to solve problems when your lid is flipped. (See Daniel Siegel’s video in the previous article).
  3. Have a family meeting to design the positive time out area and define the ground rules: a) Choose an area with the children that would work to provide some privacy and comfort. b) Have the children help design the area—what it will  look like and what things that they want to have in the area (things that will help them feel better, but not things that will allow them to disassociate like video games, computers, etc.).
  4. Develop ground rules together. Here are some suggested ground rules:

—Parents agree that no one gets sent to the positive time out area. Parents can suggest, but not force a child to go there (focus on self-regulation vs. parent regulation).  This helps the children see the area as a special place where the can go to feel better vs. feel worse.

—If there is a problem to be solved, then it is agreed, up front, at the planning meeting that when the child feels better he/she will come to resolve the problem.

—Children can take the time that they need to cool down.

—Use a name other than “positive time out.” Children often have a negative association with the term, especially if adult directed time outs have been used.

—Adults should avoid using punitive time-outs.

—Children come out when they’re ready, and when the feel better.

—Name the area together: cool down place, feel better area, Oz, etc.

—When children get angry or very upset, ask them if they’d like to go to the “positive time out” area.  Consider using a hand signal that has been pre-established to suggest taking a time-out to cool down.

—Use the positive time out area yourself when you need it. Modeling is your most potent parenting tool.

We began using a positive time out area with our second son, Nicholas. He was and is very quick to get sad and angry, especially if he perceives an injustice. We created the area with him, full of pillows, stuffed animals and a sleeping bag, and made it his special place. Whenever he was sad or angry we would ask him if he’d like to go to his “Feel Better Place,” and most times he does. Sometimes we would go with him. It was a great tool for him, and he would almost always emerge in a better place emotionally, and would be able to solve whatever problem caused him to be upset.

The defining moment, however, for the “Feel Better Place” came one morning while I was making coffee. Nicholas came downstairs and asked what was for breakfast. I told him cereal. He fell to the floor in tears because he had been hoping for some steaming hot pancakes! Without being prompted, he picked himself up from the floor and went to his “Feel Better Place” without being prompted. Ten minutes later he emerged, and said to me, “Dad, I feel better now. What kind of cereal do we have?”

I laughed, thinking that he had developed some EQ skills that many adults would be envious to have, and that could have saved many a career!