As International Day of Peace approaches, I think of my classroom, my students as individuals, and even myself and wonder, “Is there enough focus on Peace Education as much as I teach math and language?” To be honest, I, as a teacher, sometimes find it hard to find a good balance. Schools, administration, parents, and even teachers themselves can get hung up on the academics part and forget the true purpose of this education and what makes it special and important.
For Montessori, peace was on the forefront of her mind when she created this model of education. Montessori said, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.” (Education and Peace, p viii, Foreword)
Child development is not a competition. It is a gradual unfolding of the human potential. Just as each child’s timetable for physical growth is unique, so is the timetable for emotional, social, and academic growth.
I was sitting next to Natalie (age 4) at a rug. We had just finished a lesson on the Montessori Continent Map. She was deciding whether or not she wanted to make a book of the continents, a pin-pushed map, or a painting. After much contemplation, Natalie decided on a book. She gathered the supplies she would need: a floor table, an art mat, paper, and her pencil box.
As your child develops, her brain is rapidly forming. Children require lots of sleep to process the immense amount of information the brain has absorbed. The midline is an invisible line that begins between the two hemispheres of the brain. When educators and physicians discuss “Crossing the Midline,” they are referring to any tasks that require bilateral movement- from reading across a page to swimming, alternating arms, and legs while moving through the water.
Former West Side student Adrienne (Sack) Gallagher was thrilled and honored to receive a Sports Emmy in the Outstanding Short Feature Category. Her winning piece was a 12-minute video, detailing the life of former Southern Methodist University men’s golf coach Jason Enloe as he dealt with losing his wife to cancer and his team’s subsequent run toward an NCAA Division I National Championship.
As I was back to school shopping this year for face masks, I reflected on just how different this school year will be. As a school counselor, how can I best support students? In what ways can I support school staff? What can I do to help parents? So many questions and I do not have all the answers. So I started researching. What I discovered was that a lot of other mental health professionals are also trying to figure out the answers to these and so many other questions. And while there are many unknowns that we must cope with daily, here is what we do know...
Montessori classrooms have big feelings and even bigger outcomes!
Fact: Emotional intelligence (EQ) is like IQ in the way that we are all born with an innate starting point, and it can be strengthened or diminished with nourishment or neglect. EQ is often described as the ability to recognize, understand, cope with, and express our emotions in appropriate ways.
As I have reflected on the recent police killings and subsequent unrest in our community and across the globe, it is with utter heartache that I write this message. The tragedies reflect patterns of structural and institutional racism in our country. The West Side community stands on the side of social justice and condemns racism and violence.
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary school and middle school). We are one of the leading private schools in Toledo, and the nation.