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Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School17 hours ago
Sharing is Caring, Except...
By: Catherine McTamaney

“Share with your friends!”
“Remember to share!”
"Give your friend some!"

Children who share are seen as more generous, more kind, more social. Children who share are empathetic. Shouldn’t we insist on children sharing until they know how do to it themselves? Yes… it’s just a matter of how.

When we chose to share, we demonstrate empathy. We prioritize equity over selfishness. We tend to others’ needs. We trust that our own will be met. When we chose to share, we enact those qualities of self that our parents so dearly wanted to instill in us. The critical piece, however, is the choice. When we are forced to share, we concede. We give up what we want because someone else has insisted on it. We relinquish what we value and we lose more than just that share we gave up.

Will children learn to share, though, if they’re never forced to? Of course. In fact, they may share better by never being forced to, by experiencing instead supportive environments within which they learn the balance of self and community that earnest sharing requires.

In the Montessori classroom, for example, only one example of any material or lesson is available at a time. Children who want to use the same material must wait their turn. Likewise, children are responsible for returning the material to the shelf prepared for the next person to use. While the children don’t share the material simultaneously, they share a community within which everyone’s needs are met. They are assured by their repeated interactions in the environment that they will not go hungry. They will be safe. Their motivation to work with a material, or read a particular book, or paint at the easel, will be met, even if it’s not met right now. By learning that delayed gratification doesn’t mean denied gratification, children are assured that there is nothing to which they need to cleave too fiercely. Their natural empathy is protected. Their natural concern for each other and for their community is preserved. With these qualities intact, their ability to share earnestly can blossom. The generosity that sharing reflects requires the confidence that you have something you can give up. Insisting that children give up what they enjoy before they understand that they will have enough may inadvertently undermine exactly what we’re trying to teach them to do. That understanding doesn’t come from a single interaction, but from the repeated experiences of a reliable environment within which everyone’s needs are met without competition or coercion.

Coercion erodes the natural tendencies of the child. Believing that children are good, we look for the ways in which we can protect that goodness. Believing that children’s goodness is inherent, we look for opportunities for it to be demonstrated authentically. If the environment offers both, the child’s nature perseveres.
Want to learn more? Visit us at clms.org.
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School2 days ago
It’s Okay to Just Stay Home and Play!
By Jane M. Jacobs, MA

Remember the carefree days of childhood when you could just play until it was time for dinner?
Many of us have fond memories of exploring the neighborhood with our friends or playing at home with siblings. In this era of goal-oriented and scheduled activities, we sometimes forget the value of allowing time for simple, non-parent directed play.

Parents Aren’t Needed All the Time:
Creating times and places for your children to be independent from you will help you relax while they play. Just as Montessori teachers carefully prepare the classroom, as parents, you can provide a safe home environment, inside and outside, so that your child can explore and play for periods of time on his own, without your help or direction.

Keep in mind your child’s age and abilities as you create these spaces. You may:
• Provide items to encourage movement as well as imagination: push toys, blocks, a dollhouse, toy vehicles, puzzles, boxes of many sizes, scarves and hats, child-safe kitchen and work tools, garden tools, and a variety of art supplies.
• Display the items in an organized and attractive way within easy reach. A jumble of toys in a toy box can be frustrating. Alternate toys from time to time rather than having everything out at once. For the young child, arrange a few toys on a low shelf for easy access and return. “A place for everything” helps children learn to keep things tidy.
• Show your children how to use new toys and tools without using wordy instructions. (Older children may need even fewer directions.) Then leave them free to make original discoveries and creations.

Programmed to Learn:
Unstructured play is a time of discovery without self-consciousness. While playing and exploring, your child is learning so much without being directly taught. Understanding how children naturally absorb knowledge, Maria Montessori respected children’s need to investigate and study without adult interruption.
Intelligence and creativity develop as children explore the world, figuring out on their own how things work. Older children will be more social than younger ones, sometimes seeking playmates for a game or project. This type of play allows children to learn self regulation.
Listen for the “rules” they create during their play—they are often similar to the ideas they have internalized from adults at home or school. Your child will flourish when there is time and space to follow an impulse and create something unique. Don’t interrupt or try to improve the project. A child will unconsciously feel judged and stop trying for fear of doing it wrong. A young child’s castle built of blocks will never be as elaborate or realistic as yours. An older child’s fort may have a precarious foundation with less than square corners.

Different Play at Different Stages:
The young toddler may be feeding his doll or loading blocks on the dump truck. A 3 year-old may play alongside a friend, happy with the company but not interacting a lot. And, as described earlier, older children will seek out playmates. Cooperative play will happen spontaneously as children mature, so there is no need to force it. Let your child take the lead.

When you do play with your children, make it fun! Sometimes conscientious parents believe that they must provide learning opportunities no matter the situation, forgetting that intelligence can develop without adult input. Let your child choose the activity and invent the parameters. Games that require following the rules are appropriate for children over the age of 4 or 5. Play in a non-competitive way where everyone feels like a winner.

Relax and Keep Playing:
Free time gives everyone time to refuel, think, and figure things out. The truth is that your child will grow, learn, and thrive without the constant organized frenzy of always being on the go. Set aside at least one or two days a week for free time; this may mean you have to eliminate one or two scheduled lessons or practices. But think about this: If you don’t have to spend every day chauffeuring or cheering for your children at the latest event or game, there might be less stress for your whole family and you’ll find yourself with more time to relax and play.
You need not write the script for your children’s lives. They have within themselves remarkable individual talents, and they will likely surprise you as they become masters of playful learning. As Maria Montessori said “In fact, our little ones have the impression of continually ‘making discoveries’ in the world about them; and in this they find the greatest joy.”
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School3 days ago
By: P. Donohue Shortridge

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.”
This quote, often attributed to children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, came to mind recently. Walking toward my local market, I could hear the jovial banter between a father and son, who were about ten steps behind me—something about a birthday later that day and their mission to get the cake. Listening to his vocabulary and articulation, I estimated the boy to be 4 years old. Just as I reached the front door, the boy rushed past me, yanked the door open, and was halfway into the store when Dad called him back. “Let’s hold the door open for this lady, son.”
I looked at them both as I entered, said “thank you,” and then we were all off, each into our separate worlds—they to the bakery department and I to the produce section.
Dad managed the episode with grace because he didn’t react as though his child should know better; he understood that the boy’s rushing was due to 4-year-old exuberance (it would be different if the boy were 10). At the same time, the father did not let the opportunity pass to demonstrate to his son what to do.
That is the secret. We teach our children manners in the million moments we have with them. The episodes often come up without warning and can catch us off guard. What should we keep in mind so that when an opportunity presents itself to show our child what to do, we too will handle it with grace?
Our children adore us.
They love us with their entire being. Whatever we do, they want to do. They want to be close to us; they want to watch us, hear us, learn from us, and be loved by us. They want to be just like us. So instilling manners, aka “social competence,” is simple and natural in these early years, from the age of 3 or 4 on.
Now is the time.
Young children want to know—actually, crave knowing—the right thing to do. Their bodies and minds have grown beyond the toddler stage. Now that they are sturdy on their feet and language can be employed in meaningful communication, they are ready for the next phase of self- construction: socialization. They encounter the world as if asking, “What am I to do here? And would someone please show me how?”
Correcting is not the same as modeling.
Like the rest of us, children are easily shamed. If the father at the market had said, “Watch out, son, you’re in that lady’s way,” the boy would have felt judgment, rather than learning what he should have done. Thus, even if we are
annoyed or embarrassed by our young child’s behavior, our exasperation is not the lesson, there is another way. Trust that the conduct is not malicious but likely stems from the child not knowing what to do. Then demonstrate what we want our child to learn. Dad didn’t need to say anything further to his 4-year-old son; the boy absorbed the lesson. And if Dad does the same thing the next time and the next, the lesson will be reinforced.
Parents are the most potent teachers of social norms.
What we show our children, they will do. Even so, for our lessons to adhere, we must be consistent and positive. And most important, we must model the behavior we want to instill in our children.

As Maria Montessori said, “What is social life if not the solving of social problems, behaving properly, and pursuing aims acceptable to all?”
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School4 days ago
The Continent Maps
Catherine McTamaney

There are some parts of the Montessori classroom that seem to get all the attention: the beautiful Practical Life materials, the engaged constructions in the Sensorial area, the precise Math lessons or the carefully sequenced Language materials. But there's another area of the classroom that's often overlooked: the Cultural Materials.

The Cultural materials introduce the child to his or her place in the world, offering the child opportunities to learn about place and community, to compare our experiences here with the lives of children abroad, and to understand all the factors that contribute to those experiences: art, music, dance, fashion, food, topography, climate, and more.

One of the first materials in the Cultural sequence is the Continent Map. A large scale map, this initial puzzle map is often heavy for the smallest children to navigate, requiring great care and caution as it's moved through the classroom. At once, the children know this is a special lesson that demands their attention.

Set on a floor mat, the pieces of the Continent Map are removed individually, as the teacher introduces the name for each continent. The child can feel the shape of the continent, compare the sizes between them, and ultimately rebuild the map outside of its puzzle frame. They might place all the pieces in a mystery bag to identify while blindfolded. They might place continents on one side of the room to invite a friend to remember their names and retrieve them back to the map. Later, children might trace the continent shapes and punch them out with a pushpin, ultimately creating their own paper map to match the large puzzle map.

The color of each continent differs, and becomes the code for materials pertaining to that continent. In later lessons, for example, the child might be introduced to a red pouch containing pictures of children in Europe. The child can compare those pictures to pictures from the green pouch, Africa, or the brown pouch, Australia. These packets will be offered for all sorts of classifications: food, children, clothing, major landmarks, natural features, political buildings, and the like. The child comes to learn how much we have in common with each other around the world, and simultaneously comes to understand the vastness of our earth and the diversity of life it bears.

The Cultural materials, beginning with the Continent Map, bring the world to the children. Want to learn more? Visit us at clms.org.
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School4 days ago

Sandpaper Letters introduce the child to sound-symbol association and proper letter formation. The child traces the outlines of letters made of sandpaper, experiencing each letter through touch while repeating the sound that the letter makes. Consonants in pink and vowels in blue draw the child’s attention to this important distinction.
Crystal Lake Montessori School
Crystal Lake Montessori School4 days ago
“As we observe children, we see the vitality of their spirit, the maximum effort put forth in all they do, the intuition, attention and focus they bring to all life’s events, and the sheer joy they experience in living.”
Maria Montessori

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Crystal Lake Montessori School

3013 S. Country Club Rd

Woodstock, IL 60098

(815) 338-0013