Monday After School Enrichment classes end March 12.
Tuesday and Wednesday classes are over.
Thursday classes are over, with the exception of Art, which has a make-up class on March 8.
Classes will start again after Spring Break. Be on the lookout for sign-ups!
This week we celebrate Montessori Education!
Montessori has said that parents are the first educators. We count on parents to partner with us at school by learning more about Montessori via coffees and parent education nights, observing their child, and attending conferences. Children count on their parents to continue the Montessori philosophy at home, which can be done in very simple ways*:
1.) Encourage Independence
2.) Establish Order
3.) Help children to be helpful
4.) Develop concentration
5.) Introduce Nature
6.) Provide Opportunities
7.) Enable Self Discovery
8.) Encourage choice
9.) Use appropriate language
Congrats to you, the parent, for choosing Montessori! Here are more blogs about Montessori at home!
The GTS Board has voted unanimously to begin a pilot All Day Montessori program opening a new 5th classroom at the Primary level for the 2012-13 year. This 12 month program with the camp experience will highlight the ADM schedule allowing for fewer transitions and pacing the day for the longer schedule. We are excited to tell you more about these plans and additional information will be forthcoming. Helena, Erika and Nicole will be setting up meetings over the next few weeks to answer any questions and speak more about this program.
In addition, the GTS Board is very happy to announce that a new lease has been signed with the owner of the Westminster Building where the Toddler House is located. With a twenty year term, this lease will allow for additional space which will give us the opportunity for larger rooms and a new Toddler activity room to be open in September 2012. Also, under this contract GTS has the option to move into the remainder of the first floor using this space for offices, classrooms and programs and releasing the Primary building from some current uses. Over this coming year with all the GTS community work through the strategic planning process in hand, we will be finalizing all aspects of this plan and keeping you informed through meetings and announcements.
Congratulations to all the new big sisters and brothers at Greene Towne School.
In honor of your new baby brothers and sisters, we are dedicating this week’s posting to infants and focusing on infant development.
“We should not look at newborn infants as small, helpless human beings, but as persons who are small in size, but with an immense mental capacity, and many physical abilities that cannot be witnessed unless the environment assists in the expression of life.”
~Dr. Silvana Montanaro
The Development of Movement
Myelinization is defined as "the development of a myelin sheath around a nerve fiber." This fatty coating serves as insulation protecting the messages from the brain to various muscles in the body, resulting in purposeful or coordinated movement. The newborn is only able to control the muscles of the mouth and the throat, eating and communicating. By the end of the first year a miracle has occurred and the child can control the movements of the whole body; he has learned to grasp and release objects, to kick, to slither and crawl, to sit up freeing the hands for even more development, and is usually well on the way to standing and walking!
This is a two-way process; myelinization creates movement, but movement also increases the formation of myelin, so the more we allow our child to move the more we are supporting optimum development. A child is naturally driven to this important work and is happy carrying it out. Often it is the frustration of not being able to move that causes unhappiness and crying. There are many modern inventions that get in the way of the natural development of movement so we must make sure that our child spends as much time as possible in situations where she can move every part of the body.
When the infant, who has been looking at a toy hanging above him and intuitively reaching for it, finally reaches it and makes it move, this is an exhilarating moment. Instead of just being cared for and acted upon, the infant has reached out and intentionally acted upon her environment. She has literally "changed the world."
"Shared with permission of The Joyful Child Montessori Company: www.thejoyfulchild.us"
Please spend a few minutes watching these young infants “change the world”:
In your Friday Folder a few weeks ago you received a Summer Camp Brochure and Registration form!
Current GTS families have priority registration until Friday, April 6 - after that, registration opens up to the greater community. Spaces are first come, first served!
You can see the links for information below or on the Summer Programs tab above!
New this year: We are adding Swim Lessons to camp! Check out the dates, and add with your registration.
The observation and conferences calendar is open as of 2/21/12 to make appointments!
What are observations?
An observation is an opportunity to watch your child in action in the classroom. (Please turn off cell phones or silence them, and save pictures/video for another time.) We ask parents to sign in at the front desk, and someone will escort you to the observation area.
How long does it last?
Depending on the classroom, 15-20 minutes at the most. When the observation is over, staff will remind you of the time, or you can keep track yourself.
Can I go in the classroom to observe?
Toddler parents: Outside the classroom observation only.
First year Primary parents: Outside the classroom observation only.
Second year and above Primary parents observe outside the classroom for 10 minutes, then inside for 10 minutes.
When can I observe?
Monday, March 5 through Thursday, April 19, depending on your child’s Movement/Playdeck schedule.
Days NOT Available: Wednesdays, Conference days, Half-school days
What times can I sign up for?
Toddler parents: 9:15-9:30am OR 9:40-9:55am
Primary parents: 9:30-9:50 OR 10-10:20 OR 10:30-10:50
(Parents with more than one child can arrange back to back observations.)
Can my partner and I observe together?
Of course! We encourage you to observe together. We ask that other family members or friends visit in May for Grandparent and Special Friends Day.
Can I schedule an observation the same day I want to observe?
It is highly unlikely that a time will be available for you to observe at the last minute. The classrooms often schedule special projects, circle times, etc. around observations to make sure you can see your child in action.
How do I schedule an observation?
Call, stop by, or email Nicole/Tychelle at the front desk!
Please have a couple of dates/times in mind – this will make scheduling a much simpler process.
When are conferences?
Conferences are on Fridays, April 13 and April 20.
How long are conferences?
Conferences last 25 minutes.
What times can I sign up for?
Primary conferences start at 8am and are scheduled on the half hour until 3pm, depending on the teacher’s break schedule.
Toddler conferences start at 8am and are scheduled on the half hour until 11:30am.
Is there a cut-off to schedule my conference?
In order for the classroom teacher to properly prepare for your conference, you must sign up by noon, Friday, March 23 for the 4/13 conference day and noon, Friday, April 6 for the 4/20 conference day.
“The objects surrounding the child should look solid and attractive to him, and the ‘house of the child’ should be lovely and pleasant in all its particulars…It is almost possible to say that there is a mathematical relationship between the beauty of his surroundings and the activity of the child; he will make discoveries rather more voluntarily in a gracious setting than an ugly one.” Maria Montessori
Montessori believed that a child comes to internal order through external order and that this internal order is prerequisite to intellectual expansion. When children come into the world, it must appear to them chaotic. They must learn to classify, categorize all the objects they see, learn the names and uses of these objects. We can help by making their home environment as orderly as possible, not constantly shifting things about, and by giving them an opportunity to keep their own possessions in order. There should not be so many toys that children cannot possibly arrange them or care for them. The toy box is not very helpful along this line because it encourages children to throw in the doll on top of the truck and the stuffed rabbit on top of both of them and the ball on top of all that, with out regard for the preservation of their individual beauty and repair. Low shelves can be constructed and a place designated for each toy. Clothes rods can be set down where children can reach them to put away their clothes. A place can be set aside where they may work with crayons or paints. It should be possible for children to keep their space in order by themselves if we provide tools that fit their small hands and they are capable of using without help.
If all these needs are met in the environment of children from birth to three – that is, movement, language, independence, love and security, discipline, and order – and they arrive in the Montessori class at the proper age near 3, they will be ready for expanded development in the prepared environment of the Montessori class. They will have here the opportunity for social development, for living in a community with older children and younger children. They will have the materials and the equipment they need to classify their impressions and the keys to learning in mathematics and language. They will have the opportunity to further their development in independence and the control of their movements. They will have the opportunity to work with materials leading to precision and concentration.
THE LOVE OF ORDER
One can watch a small child in a Montessori class taking out a mat and unrolling it on the floor, ready to start to work. She observes a fleck of dust, gets a broom, and sweeps it off. Then, with increased satisfaction and enjoyment, she proceeds to lay out her material. This orderliness is jealously guarded and carefully promoted in the class room. Montessori teachers are told, “All the apparatus must be meticulously in order, beautiful and shiny, in perfect condition. Nothing must be missing, so that to the child it always seems new, complete, and ready for use.” To show you what lengths we go to in aiding the construction of children’s minds and helping their ability to classify, a shoe polishing set might have a red ribbon, a red apron, a red applicator, a red brush, and a red buffer. It will be obvious that these things belong together. The silver polishing set has a pink basket with a pink mat, a pink sponge and so on.
When children have finished with any of these polishing exercises, they put soiled cloths in a laundry bag (another child will wash these later), discard any used cotton or paper, replace all these items with fresh, clean ones, and return the basket to its place on the shelf, ready for the next child’s use. This kind of order is not mere fussiness but genuine respect for the materials with which they work and a generous consideration for the other members of their small society.
Excerpted from The Normalized Child available to borrow from our parent library.
All of the lead teachers, specials teachers and administrative staff at Greene Towne School recently read Ken Robinson’s Out of our Minds, Learning to be Creative
In chapter 7, Robinson gives a shout out to Montessori Education in a comparison of those who promote educating the rational individual, and those that promote educating the natural individual (this is the Montessori camp).
Robinson distinguishes two main educational traditions, the one that emanates from the Enlightenment he calls the “rational individual” and the other, emanating from Romanticism, which he calls the “natural individual.” In the tradition of the rational individual, education follows a logical path and the primary role of the teacher is to transmit bodies of knowledge to the student.
In contrast, the tradition of the natural individual makes the assumption that “every child is by nature, a unique individual with innate talents and sensibilities. Education should draw out these qualities rather than suppress them with the values and ideas of the adult world. Education should not be knowledge-based, but child-centered. Naturalist models of Education make the following assumptions:
· Education should develop the whole child and not just their academic abilities. It should engage their feelings, physical development, moral education and creativity.
· Knowledge of the self is as important as knowledge of the external world. Exploring personal feelings and values is essential and so are opportunities to exercise imagination and self-expression.
· One of the main roles of teachers is to draw out the individual in every child. In this sense, education is a process of self-realization.”*
The cultural roots of natural individualism run deep” and are based largely on the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau from the late 18th century. Montessori was one of the educational pioneers who embraced the natural, child-centered view of education. Along with other educational pioneers, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Steiner, Orff, and Dewey, Montessori believed that it is “vital for education to encourage the development of children’s natural abilities and personalities.”**
We hope you will find some time to read this important book. All of us who care about the future of our children’s education and the world they will live in, will acquire much to contemplate.
If you don’t have time to read the whole book, check out Robinson’s TED presentation form 2006: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1067760674856532262#
*Robinson, Ken (2001) Out of Our Minds, Learning to be Creative, Capstone Publishing Ltd, West Sussex, UK. Page 179
**Robinson, Ken (2001) Out of Our Minds, Learning to be Creative, Capstone Publishing Ltd, West Sussex, UK. Page 180
Applying to First Grade: A Parent Workshop for parents of next year’s Kindergarten children and other interested parents.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 5:30-7:00 pm
Childcare available/ Dinner provided
(R.s.v.p. required in order to guarantee child care space and dinner).
Practical and philosophical advice about selecting and applying to schools
Guest speakers representing a variety of schools
Demystifying outside testing
Childcare is limited. Priority for care will be given to next year’s Kindergarten children.
Have you have a chance to go to the GTS Facebook page and click the "Like" button?
"Like" us and we will show how much we love you back by automatically entering you into a raffle for a GTS prize! We will pick a winner at random on February 14, 2012, Valentine's Day.
Make sure you "Like" us by February 14th!
By Laura Flores Shaw, Head of School, Oak Knoll Kinderhaus Montessori
Posted: 01/27/2012 4:36 pm at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-flores-shaw/montessori-education-debate_b_1237451.html
Over a century ago, Dr. Maria Montessori discovered through scientific observations of children that they are not empty vessels to be filled -- they are intrinsically motivated doers. She saw that providing a hands-on learning environment that valued choice, concentration, collaboration, community, curiosity, and real-world application produced lifelong learners who viewed "work" as something interesting and fulfilling instead of drudgery to be avoided. Now, research in psychology and neuroscience continually validates Dr. Montessori's conclusions about children and learning, and Montessori schools are flourishing -- not just preschools but, increasingly, elementary, middle and secondary schools. So as the education reform debate thunders on, with the many sides agreeing on little beyond the fact that our schools as they are currently designed are failing our children, I can't help but wonder: Where is the voice of the Montessori movement in the American school reform conversation?
I first learned about Dr. Maria Montessori's approach to human development while in graduate school to become a therapist. At that time, I was struck by the similarities between some of Montessori's tenets and the theories and practices of therapeutic intervention for children. Choice, a key Montessori tenet, is at the heart of child therapy. Children's emotional, social, and academic development improve when they are empowered through choice. At the same time, children, according to the psychological literature, need to have appropriate boundaries and limits to feel safe and secure. Montessori's "freedom with discipline" (where "discipline” means "to teach") for children ages 3-6 and "freedom with responsibility" for children ages 6 and up align with this literature.
My passion for Montessori, however, really ignited while I was interning as a school therapist in a suburban public school district. Taking students out of a classroom where they had very little choice and bringing them into a small office where I empowered them with choices seemed counterproductive, a short-term fix. That's when I realized I no longer wanted to provide interventions for children experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral issues. Instead, I wanted to be involved in the prevention of such issues. That, I knew, was happening in Montessori environments. So, I changed career course and became the Head of School at a growing accredited Montessori school for children ages 18 months to (soon to be) 15 years old.
Over the past five years, I've seen firsthand how powerful and effective the Montessori method is with children of varying temperaments and from varying backgrounds. I've seen children with severe developmental delays improve significantly because of how Montessori teachers are trained to interact with their students. And I've seen elementary-aged children from conventional schools who abhor learning have their love of learning reignited in a Montessori classroom.
Why is Montessori so effective? We know there is an indisputable link between movement and cognition, with the former actually enhancing the latter. We know that people of all ages need to feel a sense of control over their lives and that lack of control leads to depression and learned helplessness, which inhibits learning. We know from a huge body of research that extrinsic rewards and punishments don't work and can actually adversely affect intrinsic motivation. Research tells us all of these things, yet students at conventional schools are still confined to their desks, with rigidly scheduled days, receiving grades for every aspect of their learning and behavior. Is it any wonder that the public school district needs therapists?
In contrast, students in a Montessori classroom are free to move about the room and are provided varying types of work spaces -- tables, floor mats, and low-lying tables called "chowkies." They're given large blocks of time -- generally around three hours -- in which they choose their work and participate in one-on-one presentations (at the preschool level) or small group lessons (in elementary). There are no grades or tests. Instead, assessments are occurring daily through the teachers' keen observations of the children. (The children are taught how to test themselves or each other so they can know if they've really mastered something, such as math facts. There are some things that do need to be memorized!) Ultimately, it is expected that the children will use their time in a productive way, balancing their subjects and being responsible for their learning, and what we see daily in our classrooms is that they are. At the end of each semester, teachers provide each student and his or her parents with an overview of the student's progress, pointing out areas that need improvement.
Education reformers these days cast their nets far and wide to try to find a solution to the current malaise in our schools. They look to Finland, or to digital learning models. Why is Montessori ignored? At a recent Los Angeles public school district teachers meeting where school reform was discussed, one teacher asked, "Have we ever considered Montessori? My sister is a Montessori teacher, and it seems to work really well for kids." His question, another teacher told me, was dismissed.
Maybe it's because people are simply most comfortable with the familiar. Maybe it's because many mistakenly think Montessori education is a model only suitable for preschool-age or privileged children. I'm convinced, however, that the greatest impediment to Montessori entering this conversation is that there are so many special interests -- from textbook and test publishers to educational entrepreneurs -- who profit from the system as is.
I can tell you that the solutions we are all looking for are both simpler and more radical than the noisy debaters would have you believe. We need to do more than reform education. We need to transform it.
We need to talk about Montessori.
State Representative Babette Joseph's is hosting the Public Education Outreach Fair.
Parents are invited to attend to learn more about the public and charter schools of Philadelphia.
Wednesday, March 21st
Peirce College, 1420 Pine Street, 5th floor Philadelphia, PA