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Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School22 hours ago
THE GREATEST GIFT: A MONTESSORI EDUCATION...

By: KATIE KRAWCZYK

OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS, I HAVE HAD A NUMBER OF ENCOUNTERS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE ASKED ABOUT MY EDUCATION. WHENEVER I HAVE THIS CONVERSATION ABOUT MY EDUCATION, IT USUALLY GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

Where do you go to school?

I go to Madonna University.

And what are you studying there?

I’m studying math. I want to teach high school math after I graduate.

That’s wonderful. Where did you go before Madonna?

I went to a private high school and before that I attended a Montessori.

This is where the conversation always gets interesting.

Oh. Montessori… What was that like?

Well. Let me tell you!

Growing up Montessori is an experience. I learned, right from the start, that it is my responsibility to take control of my learning. The teachers gave me direction, but what I worked on, how I got that work done, and when I got that work done was totally up to me. There was no one standing over my shoulder saying from 10:05-10:20 we will do math and then from 10:20 – 11:00 we will do science, and then at 11 we will work on writing. In my world, I could work on whatever assignment I wanted, whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted. I was never forced to work faster or to slow down because other students in the class needed to work at a different pace. There was no such thing as one size fits all. Everyone was viewed as an individual learner with individual needs.

At the beginning of each week, every person in my class received a work plan. Some assignments were universal, in that everyone in the class had to complete them. However, most, like math or Wordly Wise, were individualized for each student. Having these work plans and learning how to make decisions about when these assignments got done over the course of the week is one of the most valuable aspects of my Montessori experience. I have noticed this immensely since I began taking college classes. At the beginning of each semester, I receive a syllabus with the assignments for each week and it is my responsibility to get them done. Just like in Montessori, I have to plan my weeks to get all of my assignments done. Being a college student can be overwhelming at times, but since I learned how to make choices independently right from the start, I feel that my college years, thus far, have been slightly less stressful and therefore, more enjoyable.

Another highlight, is definitely not having to sit in a chair, in a desk, in the same spot, all day long. First off, there were no desks. I worked at tables with my classmates and did not have to sit in the same seat or with the same people every day. Second, if I was in the mood to work on the floor, that’s what I did. There was something special about having the freedom to move around the classroom and choose a work space that fit my mood for the day. I was not only much more productive this way, but also never felt confined in my work environment.

To this day, one of the most vivid memories I have of learning at a Montessori is the feeling that my teachers actually cared about me as more than just a student. Having the same teachers for two or three years at a time was definitely an invaluable opportunity. Over the course of my time in any classroom, I got to know my teachers and my teachers got to know me. They knew what I was capable of, and pushed me to become better. They not only gave me challenges academically, but they also challenged my character. On some days, they knew me better than I knew myself. They inspired me to push my boundaries both, academically and as a person. This is definitely the experience I miss the most.

Now that I am older, I have come to recognize what an amazing gift my parents provided by enrolling me in a school that provided a Montessori education. I received an education that was more than just a series of facts and numbers. It was a series of experiences that have guided my life ever since.

To learn more about Montessori Education visit us at clms.org!
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School2 days ago
BUILDING INDEPENDENCE FOR OUR LITTLE LEARNERS...

By: LANA HENRICKSON-RITTER

AS A PARENT, WHENEVER SOMEONE ASKS YOU WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOUR CHILD, YOU USUALLY HAVE A LIST OF THE USUAL ANSWERS: HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND SMARTS. IT WASN’T UNTIL OUR BABY BECAME FOUR YEARS OLD THAT I REALIZED THE WORD INDEPENDENT WAS MISSING FROM OUR LIST!

For the longest time, I think we just assumed our child would be independent – that it is was more of a given rather than a learned trait. It is interesting to see the different cultures and lifestyles of children and how independence is developed depending on those variables. For our family, we do everything together. We go grocery shopping together, to the library, to work functions, to practice, to the moon – okay, I think you get the point. Our family literally does everything together!

There are two main reasons for this: 1. We love being together and 2. We live such busy lives that if we didn’t do everything together then we would rarely see each other.

As parents, the one thing we always discuss is how to enable our daughter to be independent since we are always around. We often joke that our daughter would likely run into something if we let go of her hand while walking because she trusts that we are watching and guiding her every move. So while she has the comfort of knowing we are there, is she still able to function independently?

In the past year, we realized we need to ensure she is comfortable making her own decisions and gaining independence – especially since she will soon be a big sister and will have more opportunities to learn and do things on her own!

THESE ARE THE TOP 5 WAYS WE INCORPORATE INDEPENDENCE INTO OUR DAUGHTER’S ENVIRONMENT
EVEN WHILE BEING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY:

1. Do things TOGETHER, but NOT FOR one another —Are you confused? Don’t worry! This concept was the most difficult for me to grasp. While doing something with my daughter I would always just want to “do it for her.” Then, it would be done correctly, quickly and she might learn from watching. However, that only creates a child who asks you to do everything for them. So, do things together, but allow your child to try things on their own. Going to the park together? Swing together… but don’t lift your child onto the swing. Show them how, help them if they are truly trying or struggling, but allow them the INDEPENDENCE to try on their own. Once they master jumping into the swing seat, they will be naturally proud of themselves and will probably continue practicing swing-seat-jumping over and over again.

2. Do things TOGETHER, but do them DIFFERENTLY – Another confusing one. Basically, this is nothing more than a learning opportunity. Let’s say you are painting and your child is curious about what you’re doing. Allow them to paint what they want. Paint together, but allow your child to do it their way. You’re painting a sunset, but your child paints a rainbow… PERFECT!

3. Do things TOGETHER, but give SPACE – Okay, I think you can figure this one out! Sometimes the things kids love most are just sitting next to you or doing the same thing as you. So, when you’re in need of that space, but still want to be close, do the same thing but a few seats from each other. For instance, everyone can take five minutes to read a book. Everyone chooses a place to sit away from someone else, and quietly reads a book. This has many benefits! It allows for quiet time and space apart – yet still together, and of course – INDEPENDENCE! Your child can choose their own story, their own seat, and read however they want.

4. Do things TOGETHER, but OPPOSITE –This is another learning opportunity. When I say learning opportunity, I mean your child will be learning independently. Play a game of kickball in the yard. You be the pitcher and your child can be the kicker. In this instance, you are on opposite teams. Your goal is to get your child out, and their goal is to score a run. Your child has to learn, on their own, how to score a run without you getting them out. Independent learning at its finest! All in all, remember they are children. It’s okay to turn down your athletic gears to match your child. No, they don’t need to score every run as that is not a real-life example, but a couple runs won’t hurt!

5. Do things TOGETHER, but LEARN from each other – As parents, we usually feel as though we are always doing the teaching. But, have you ever stepped back and watched your child? Yes, they may do things differently than you, but why? Do an activity that allows your child to TEACH you something. This helps foster their independence by allowing them to feel proud of themselves. Is there a new song they are learning in class? Let them teach it to you! Turn on some tunes and have your kiddo teach you in a dance class-type activity. Hey, even yoga! My little one loves to do yoga stretches and loves to be the yoga instructor.

There are MANY, MANY, MANY ways to incorporate independence into all activities you do. However, for our family, sending our 4-year old outside and saying “go play” doesn’t intrigue her. She learns no independence from that. Not to mention, it’s a bit sad because we’ve spent all day apart, so I want to play outside with her, too! But even when we are outside together, when we are able to utilize a few of the tips listed above, we are helping our child learn to be more independent, while still being able to watch her grow in our time together!

Visit us at clms.org to learn more!
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School3 days ago
************HAPPY MOTHERS DAY***********

WHY BEING A MONTESSORI MOM CHANGED MY LIFE...

BY: BRANDI RACZ

I will never forget the moment I heard about the Montessori school near my home. I can still picture where I was and who told me. I’m not sure why it sticks out in my memory, but my education as a Montessori parent began at that very moment. I read all the books and tried to incorporate the methods into my parenting as much as I could. In the age of the “Tiger Mom” or “Elephant Mom,” I am proud to have a name that identifies my style. Even though my children are older now and attend a traditional school, I am most definitely still a “Montessori Mom.”

WHAT DOES BEING A “MONTESSORI MOM” MEAN?

I’m not sure I have a specific, definitive answer. It’s more of a feeling. I try to listen. I encourage them to ask questions and talk to the adults in their lives. I help them understand instead of just doling out punishment for a mistake. Perhaps most importantly, I convey that I am imperfect, and so are they. If I make a mistake- I own it, and want them to do the same. I hope that through this method I have conveyed that I accept them exactly as they are and that it is okay to make mistakes as long as necessary steps are taken to correct them. I hope that I can do that should it ever be called in to question.

NOT ONLY WAS MONTESSORI A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR MY CHILDREN, IT WAS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR ME AS WELL. I CAN DISTINCTLY REMEMBER THREE MOMENTS WHEN MONTESSORI BECAME VERY REAL TO ME:

1. The 2nd Great Lesson: The Coming of Life
I now know a lot about the timeline of life and I can even picture what it looks like drawn by a classroom full of happy students. I learned about cephalopods and arthropods and I know way more about trilobites than I ever dreamed I could know, which comes in handy during trivia! I’m here to tell you, the conversations you have with your kids will interest you and sometimes make you Google stuff! Did you know that dragonflies once had wingspans that could exceed two feet? Neither did I, until my children told me following a particularly rousing Montessori lesson.

2. For the love of Science!
I knew a lot less about the supercontinent, Pangaea, before I had Montessori kids. I used to carpool a group of little Montessorians and we were marveling at the size of the sun one day when a child piped up from the backseat and said “It’s actually not the size of the sun- it’s the perspective given by the horizon that makes it look large!” I thought, “I’m going to pass that off as my own when I need to sound smart!”

3. Math. I’m talking ALL Montessori Math!
This is what really sold me on Montessori. The way math is taught had me in awe! I went to a teacher demonstration where I was taught about square rooting with Montessori materials. The beautiful simplicity literally brought me to tears. It was so easy and it made so much sense! More than anything, I wanted that revelation for my children and for all children. I wanted that for me as a child. I learned that math could be fun and EASY at the same time.
The fact was, my children were learning and teaching me along the way, too. What did my children learn? They picked up fossils, held them and looked at them. They picked up the alphabet. They could see a number laid out in front of them with beads and they could touch it. My children could work on the floor with a rug. If they had trouble sitting all day, it wasn’t pointed out and scrutinized. They were allowed to be kids. They played. They moved around the room. They built volcanoes out of baking soda and vinegar! They got dirty. They planted vegetables in the Earth and watched them grow. They even harvested those vegetables and ate them proudly. They were expected to clean up their spot after they had a meal. They washed their own dishes by hand and wiped up the table. They were taught to love and honor their classroom and each other. My children learned that there are many different cultures and religions in the world and they all have value. If there was a disagreement, they were taught to talk it out and work on it together. They were taught how to live.

It’s difficult to express everything I’ve learned as a parent and as a human through being a Montessori Mom. The closest I can come to sum it up is through the Peace Prayer by Mahatma Gandhi, which I heard for the first time at a Montessori event:

“I offer you peace.

I offer you love.

I offer you friendship.

I see your beauty.

I hear your need.

I feel your feelings.

My wisdom flows form the Highest Source.

I salute that Source in you.

Let us work together for unity and love.”

Not only is Montessori an exciting and tactile way to learn, it encourages children to love learning. Montessori is peace education, which is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment. I think that’s the most important education of all!

Visit us at clms.org!
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School4 days ago
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU JUST CAN’T LEARN FROM GOOGLE...

By: KATIE KRAWCZYK

SERVICE

Service is a seven-letter word that can probably be defined in 700 different ways. If I went outside right now and asked everyone I passed to define service, I have a strong feeling that not one of their definitions would be exactly the same. However, there are probably a few elements that people would agree on. For me, one part of the definition is that service is meaningful. If I am participating in an activity during which I am learning more about myself, the community, or the world, those lessons are going to stick.

LEARNING

Similar to service, how we learn can be defined in just as many ways. While most people may agree that learning is the transfer of information, many will argue that the manner by which that information is transferred from one place to another happens in a vast number of ways. One of these ways is through participating in meaningful experiences.

SO, IF SERVICE AND LEARNING BOTH INVOLVE MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES,
WHY NOT PUT THE TWO TOGETHER AND CARRY THEM INTO THE CLASSROOM?

SERVICE + LEARNING = SERVICE LEARNING

Over the course of my education, I have participated in a number of service learning classes and projects. The first one I can remember, occurred when I was in 7th grade. Down the street from the school I attended, there was a small creek. One day, myself along with a group of my classmates, took a trip down to the creek to perform a series of tests. We tested the water quality, identified different types of animals in and around the creek, and calculated statistics regarding our field research. After the project was completed, we returned to our classrooms to discuss our findings. We talked about both, the healthy and the struggling parts of the ecosystem, and after tried to come up with solutions to turn the struggling elements into thriving contributors of the ecosystem.

Not only did this project give me the opportunity to explore a local aquatic community, it also allowed me to see lessons I was learning in school come to life. During an average school day, one of the phrases I hear my classmates mutter quite often is, when am I going to use this in real life? Service learning provides the answers to this question. It takes the concepts students learn in classrooms, and puts them into concrete situations. Experiencing these concepts rather than just writing them down gives learning more meaning.

In high school, as a part of the graduation requirement, I had to complete 30 hours of community service annually. Over the course of my high school career, I participated in a huge array of service projects. Some of the things I did included volunteering to serve meals at a homeless shelter, helping out in an assisted living community, teaching swim lessons at a local pool, and donating my time to tutoring struggling students after school. Many of the teachers I had in high school knew of the different types of activities my classmates and I completed during the school year, and for this reason, they often called on us to share our experiences with the class. Not only did this cause me to find connections between the classroom and the outside world, it also forced me to look outside of my own world to learn from the experiences of other people.

As humans, we like to live in our own little bubbles, and more often than not, forget to take our eyes off of our phones long enough to see what is happening around us. For example, if I wanted to plant a garden,

Could I watch a video about how to plant a garden?

Absolutely.

But will I remember this video in a week?

Probably not.

To truly understand the world we live in, we must go out into that world and explore. This is another idea behind service learning. After I had had the experiences of participating in activities that were outside my normal realm of life, I was able to pair information I learned in the community with information I learned in the classroom. These are the lessons I remember most vividly and also the ones that had the greatest impact on my outlook on life.

In college, the service learning did not stop. One of my first collegiate courses had a service learning element that turned out to be my favorite part of the class. In this class, I was required to work as part of a group, to prepare a presentation about the value of a college education. When my group’s presentation was complete, we went on a trip to an inner city school where we talked to middle school students about the steps they could take in high school to prepare themselves for college. After our presentation, we were able to have conversations with the students during which we learned more about their backgrounds and they learned more about ours.

In this experience, I was able to share my expertise with people who would be going through a stage of life I had just completed. In this, I found that one of the most valuable lessons I could learn was that, while I live in a diverse world with millions of people, with millions of different backgrounds, and millions of different experiences, there are still many aspects and understandings of life that we share in common.

While I could go on for pages about all of the lessons I learned by participating in service learning projects, I will take this time to simply summarize a few.

Service learning taught me:

To not only share my experiences with others, but to be willing to listen and learn from the experiences of these same people.
That there are many things that I will never be able to learn from Google.
That going out and finding answers for myself is more impactful than reading a webpage.
That material I learned in the classroom can actually be found in real life.

BUT MOST OF ALL, IT TAUGHT ME THAT THERE IS
MORE TO THE WORLD THAN JUST ME.

Visit us at clms.org!
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School5 days ago
The Season of Misgivings...

By: Catherine McTamaney

Summer is approaching quickly and parents are already enrolled for the new school year or for some still thinking about what to do. For new parents, this means time to visit lots of schools, Montessori and otherwise. For parents of experienced Montessori children, it means revisiting their commitment to this model of education and, often, questioning whether their children might need to go to "real school" next year. Especially for parents whose children are approaching typical transition times, like Kindergarten or Middle School, the question of "How Much Montessori," is likely foremost on your mind.

So, "How Much Montessori?"

Montessori is a pretty easy sell for parents of very young children. Visit the classrooms and you see children curiously engaged in a variety of activities. There's a peacefulness and a mindful calm. Children are completing lessons that are academically advanced, caring for their environment and their peers, joyfully engaged in their work. Parents of children in early childhood are generally less concerned with the trappings of traditional schools like grades and standardized tests, so an ungraded, individualized environment feels like less of a risk.

When those same children are approaching Elementary school, especially when there are quality public Kindergartens in the community or private schools that are more likely to admit new families in Kindergarten, it's easy for parents to second guess their commitment to Montessori. Maybe they need to have grades? Will my child really be prepared for (Middle School/High School/College) if I let him stay in Montessori? Could it possibly be worth the cost?

Don't children need to have grades?

It depends on what you're trying to measure. If you think learning is best understood in single-moment snapshots, if you think content is something you master in quantifiable percentages and that children all demonstrate their knowledge in the same ways, grades are appropriate. In Montessori, however, we take the long view on learning: children master content at different paces, and mastery is the goal. We don't think it's sufficient to know 84% of a subject and then to abandon it for a new unit. Rather, we offer continuous opportunities for children to engage in content in dynamic, individualized ways. If a child doesn't master content the first time it's presented, we re-present. We offer the child time to explore the material and to discover its self-correcting properties. When children master foundational content, we move them immediately into the next challenge. Meanwhile, they observe children learning more advanced skills and practicing more basic ones around them all the time, so the comparison of one learner against another become motivational instead of competitive. So, while learning a particular content may not happen in concise, three or six week "units," when that content is mastered, it sticks. It's meaningful and relevant to children because it's been mastered in a deeply authentic way, driven by the child's own readiness rather than a calendar determined by curriculum designers far far away.

Will my child be ready for (Elementary school, Middle School, College, Life) if I let her stay in Montessori?

It depends on the environment she's entering. While it's less likely that your child will struggle with academics, or motivation, or courtesy, she may be the first to notice the rules in traditional school settings that are arbitrary or irrelevant. If your child is transitioning to a classroom that's rigid, that requires silence or stillness to "learn," or that is highly authoritarian, you'll probably notice some transition stress. Luckily, the core character qualities that Montessori helps to protect are also the same ones that will make these transitions smoother. Montessori kids understand rules and they're generally happy to talk about issues that are important to them. You can support your child when that transition happens by acknowledging which of the "rules of school," are both arbitrary and non-negotiable. You're right, little one, there really isn't a reason why we should study Math right before lunch time every day, but that's how the schedule works at this school. Let's talk about ways you can also do the math that interests you at home.

More importantly, though, Montessori prepares children for what's coming outside of the traditional school setting. Children develop the ability to persist through challenges through the mastery of the Montessori materials. They learn self-reliance and develop their social consciousness, understanding that they are both responsible for themselves and for others. They learn peaceful resolution of conflicts and understand the commonalities that unite people across communities and cultures. They are self-directed, independent, attentive and conscientious, innovative and creative. In other words, while they may have some bumps in transitioning to environments that are less developmentally appropriate, less child-centered or more authoritarian, adulthood isn't actually that way... they'll be well prepared for life beyond school.

Could it possibly be worth the cost?

Simply, yes. While most Montessori schools are private and require tuition, the benefits of Montessori far outweigh the costs. When you pay tuition, you're not buying a product: you're supporting a community of like-minded thinkers who, together, can make some pretty wonderful things happen. You are saying, with your dollars, that you think every child should be valued for his or her unique contributions to their communities, that being a part of a community in which individuals are valued regardless of their age, in which children can be both learners and teachers, in which they are active and inquisitive, peaceful and collaborative, joyful and rigorous, matters. You are benefitting personally from the expertise and guidance of well-trained teachers who understand both child development in general and the special development of your own child, and who will use that expertise to prepare environments for learning unparalleled in their responsiveness to individual children's growth and needs. You are giving yourself the access to other parents who also want different futures for their children, to support and fellowship that encourages each other when outside pressures challenge what you believe about children and learning, to a band of adults who each is willing to sacrifice a little to be able to contribute to something priceless for their children.

When you commit to a Montessori education beyond preschool, your child gets all the academic and intellectual benefits of the Montessori materials and curriculum, but, more importantly, you and your family get the envelope of a community that believes we can do this school thing better and is willing to work together to make it happen. Priceless.

Come visit us at clms.org to learn more.
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School6 days ago
Top Ten Reasons to Be Glad You’ve Chosen Montessori for Your Child!
By: Lori Bourne

This post is dedicated to all my wonderful readers and customers who’ve taken the leap and chosen to send their child(ren) to a Montessori school. This can mean making sacrifices to afford the tuition, fielding frequent questions from skeptical family members, and driving past the public school that’s much closer to home…but you know your child is benefiting from your commitment. I salute you!

1) My child’s learning environment is based upon a choice I’ve made, rather than basing their education on what everyone else does. I love the power of having a choice!

2) I get to meet other parents who place their child’s happiness as a top priority in life.

3) My life truly changed for the better the day I first heard about Montessori. It’s the very thing I was looking for to encourage my child’s curiosity, love of learning, and zest for life.

4) Montessori isn’t just about the education of children. It gives the adult a whole new outlook on the history and path of humankind.

5) Montessori has given my family a healthy base for building a family system that hinges on respect, courtesy and mutual responsibility for keeping our home inviting, clean and pleasant.

6) I enjoy getting to “Montessori-ify” our house by purchasing child-size cooking and cleaning implements, making toys neat and accessible on low shelves, and providing engaging activities instead of endless television shows.

7) I love that our family is setting an example for our neighbors and loved ones. It’s fun to answer questions about why we’ve chosen Montessori and if this leads to other people checking out a Montessori school for their children, I feel really thrilled.

😎 My child’s teachers view my child as a miraculous, intelligent being worthy of respect, rather than just a name or number. They do not seek to keep the children quiet and still, but to give them constructive activities that engage their minds and bodies.

9) I love the fact that the Montessori emphasis on individualism combats the messages of conformity and materialism that are all too prevalent in our world today.

10) The staff at my child’s school believes that parents are the first and primary educators of the child. They are quick to offer a word of encouragement or a helpful suggestion, and do a great job of keeping me up-to-date on my child’s progress.

Come visit us at clms.org to see if Crystal Lake Montessori School is something you want for your child!

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Request more information or schedule a tour with Beth, our Director of Admissions

 

Crystal Lake Montessori School

3013 S. Country Club Rd

Woodstock, IL 60098

(815) 338-0013