Tag Archives: Montessori Morristown

Prepping for Preschool Revisited

By: Alex Chiu, Hannah Ferris, and Jax Pisciotto

As we turned the calendar page to August, we realize that the beginning of another school year is right around the corner. Last year, we shared with our families some helpful hints in preparing for the first day of school, and we thought it might be important to share this information once again for our new families and as a reminder to our returning families. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation, and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Your child’s first day of school is a major milestone for your family. It is undoubtedly a very exciting time and likely will be marked by new clothes, a new backpack and lunchbox, and many adorable “First Day of School” photos. While the anticipation of a new school year is very exciting, it can also be stressful, for you and your child alike. Many years of experience have provided the staff of The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) with special insights into some simple things parents can do to prepare their children, and themselves, for preschool. We hope you find that these tried and true methods will help alleviate any stress that may be surfacing as the new school year approaches and that they will allow your family to truly enjoy the excitement of your child’s first school experience

1. Don’t miss “Meet the Teachers Day”

The first day of school at MCA is a bit different than what one might expect. We call this special day “Meet the Teachers Day”, and it’s coming up very soon! Parents and children come to MCA together to visit their new classrooms and meet their teachers face-to-face.

Meet the Teachers Day is followed by a “Phase-In” period that is aimed at helping to alleviate any separation anxiety and provide the children with a smooth transition into their new school environment. Meet the Teachers Day is just one piece of the school orientation that allows the children to acclimate both socially and emotionally to being apart from their parents and begin to take part in all aspects of their classroom community.

2. Take your child shopping for school supplies

Allow your child to get excited about going to school by bringing him or her with you when you go shopping for school supplies. Giving your child the freedom to pick out his or her backpack and lunchbox will also create a sense of ownership of these items, which will inherently point your child in the direction of being responsible for his or her belongings.

3. Begin evening and morning routines before school starts

Many of our teachers at MCA have already begun to re-adjust their internal clocks, which have been set to summer mode for the past two months. During the summer, we often stay up later, knowing that we can sleep in a bit. However, as we approach the start of a new school year, it is helpful to get back into a ‘school day rhythm’.

We know that it’s not always the simplest task to settle your little ones down for bed, especially when the sun is still shining, but it is important to establish a healthy bedtime for the school year. School days at MCA start early, at 8:30 or 8:45AM. If an early bedtime is proving to be tricky, you may consider implementing family “quiet time” in the evenings. This can involve quiet play, or you could engage in the time-honored tradition of reading before bedtime. Have your child pick out 3 or 4 favorite books to settle down with if he or she isn’t quite ready to sleep. As your quiet routine continues in the days leading up to the first day of school, cut back to 2 – 3 books until your child is prepared to settle down a little earlier.

In the morning, try the lure of a favorite breakfast to help rouse your little one while your family’s bodies adjust to school mode. Perhaps even do a practice run, where you and your child have breakfast and leave the house together to drive past the school. This will also allow you to assess how much time it takes to actually get out the door.

4. Differentiate your anxieties about separation from your child’s

Whether this is your first child heading off to preschool or your fourth, it is normal for parents to have some hesitation about leaving their children in the care of others. In order to assist children in making a smooth transition, it is important for parents to display a positive attitude and send children off with a big smile, a brief hug, and the assurance that you are looking forward to sharing stories about each of your days when school and work are done. Your positive attitude helps your child sense that you believe he or she will be able to manage the school day just fine, and that positive attitude just might be contagious!

To help you maintain a smile before you say goodbye, take some time to reflect on the successes your child has exhibited in playgroups or at other times when you were not by his or her side. Be confident that should your child need some extra support, the teachers at MCA will help you both through this transition until everyone is comfortable with a new school routine.

5. Talk about school at home using the names of teachers and classmates

After Meet the Teachers Day, and then throughout the school year, invite your child to share stories about the events of his or her school day. Keep a class list handy to help you both remember the names of new teachers and friends until they become familiar. Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to share details, and be patient if it takes some time to remember events from the day. You might ask, “What story did you listen to during circle time?”, “Who did you eat snack with today?”, or “What did you do on the playground?” Gradually, you may find that your child will initiate and guide the conversations about school.

6. Take the time to meet other parents

 Chances are you won’t be the only parent who is nervous about leaving your child at school for the first time. Some veteran parents may feel the very same way! We can guarantee that there will be friendly and sympathetic faces willing to lend advice to a first-time preschool parent. Take the first step and introduce yourself to another parent after drop-off, and set up time to meet over coffee to share your experiences. The other parents in your child’s class will be wonderful resources at the beginning of the school year, and in time, you may find that they become good friends as well. Just as your child will be experiencing new things and making new friends during his or her school experience, so will you.

We can’t believe that the summer is almost over, but we are anticipating a wonderful school year ahead! Our teachers are busy preparing their classrooms, just as your family is preparing for the school year in your own way. Everyone at MCA is excited to welcome you in September!

Montessori Elementary

Moving on from Montessori

The Montessori Early Childhood model promotes children joining the classroom at age three (or younger in some schools) and staying through the end of the kindergarten year (or age six). There are many benefits to following this course, as children become part of a school-family community, build on and develop new skills each year with the Montessori materials that grow with them, and gradually take on leadership roles in the culminating third year, all in a familiar, safe, nurturing environment. But what happens to these Montessori children after the kindergarten year? Ideally, these students will continue on in Montessori Lower and Upper Elementary, and hopefully even Montessori Middle School – all of which are available at our MCA Short Hills campus. However, if they are not able to continue with Montessori after kindergarten, how do they fare in local public or private schools? The majority of Montessori alums and their parents would answer that question very quickly and easily by saying, “We fare very well, thank you!”

You see, the skills gained in a Montessori Early Childhood Program help these children wherever they go. By having the opportunity to make choices about what work to do during the school day, children learn decision-making skills. After having been given the time to focus on their chosen work during the course of the school day, the children develop concentration and become persistent in completing tasks. They take ownership of their work and are held accountable, learning responsibility at a very early age. The cross-curricular connections throughout the academic disciplines ignite a fire within students to discover more, boosting their growth as eager, enthusiastic learners right from the start of their school experiences.

We reached out to a few Montessori alums to inquire about their Montessori and post-Montessori experiences. Meet Emily, a Montessori graduate of Early Childhood, as well as Lower and Upper Elementary programs (or preschool through 6th grade), in the Midwest who is the mother of 2 soon-to-be Montessori children, and Victoria, Jamie, and Evan, three Montessori Early Childhood (3-6-year-old program) graduates from the east coast who are now high school and college students.  Here are some of their reflections:

MCA: Can you describe what you remember and value most about your Montessori experience?

Emily: I started in Montessori at age three and continued in Montessori through 6th grade. I remember my Montessori school feeling like an extension of home. What stands out the most is the collaborative learning that took place. We never really paid attention to how old our classmates were—students worked in groups together formed by their interests and abilities.

I struggled early on with math, but I was never made to feel like I couldn’t achieve success in this academic area. I simply worked at my own pace, and eventually succeeded in completing my math studies all the way through Calculus. Math was never something to fear. Even though it was difficult, I had the materials and adult support to work through my lessons until I understood the concepts.  I think that’s what helped me when I left Montessori for public school.  I wasn’t afraid if a subject was hard because I knew that I was able to overcome difficult things in school before.

MCA: How has a Montessori foundation helped you in all of your other educational environments beyond Montessori?                                                                                                                             
Victoria:
  Starting in a Montessori preschool really helped me when my family had to relocate.  First, we moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  While I was sad to leave my preschool classroom, my teachers, and my friends, it was very easy to transition to my new school because it was another Montessori school.  The materials were the same, and it felt very much like home.  Of course, the people were different, but having a familiar environment made the switch much, much easier.  I also was able to pick up from where I left off in my math, language, and map studies.  I knew the work cycle routine, and it made this transfer to a new school almost seamless.

Later, when my family moved overseas after my Montessori Kindergarten year, I went to an international school.  I think the way I learned how to ask questions and follow my interests in Montessori classrooms helped me with this move, too.  I had a strong foundation in math, language, geography, and science, so  I found it easy to add to this strong academic base. Montessori really fostered a love of learning about everything.

Also, in Montessori, we all had the opportunity for leadership roles, especially in our Kindergarten year.  That made it easier for me to work with others, help others, and take on responsibility and feel confident in my abilities especially when I had to get used to being in a new school with new people.

MCA: What was difficult about your transition from Montessori to a non-Montessori school setting?

Evan: Overall, I think my transition went smoothly after I left Montessori.  However, I know that I really missed having some control over my education.  In Montessori, I had the freedom to choose the work I wanted to do. That didn’t mean that my teachers didn’t move me to all of the different areas—they did. However, I was allowed to make my own work choices, and I learned how to choose and complete my work myself. I gained a lot of independence through my Montessori experience. I really missed that when I went to public school first grade. Everyone was doing everything together at the same time. And if I was interested in something we were doing, I had to stop and switch gears if the teacher said it was time for a new subject. I found that frustrating, especially when I was doing something I really liked. I didn’t have that opportunity—instead, I had to move on to the next thing with everyone else.

Jamie (Evan’s sister):  Yes, I agree. It was a little bit difficult to lose that long work cycle where we could do things at our own pace.  In my new school, I very quickly came to dislike the bell that rang between classes.  Still, the one thing I carried with me from Montessori was that drive to discover more, so at least I knew that when I came home, I could ask my parents to help me get more information about whatever subject it was that we’d started in school but didn’t get to finish.

MCA:  How did Montessori contribute to who you are today?

Evan:  I think one of the greatest benefits of my Montessori education was how I learned to work as part of a community. When I became the older student in the class, I had a leadership role, and I remember taking that very seriously.  I was proud to be able to help the younger kids in my class with their lessons, and it felt great to give them lessons on things I had mastered. This trickled into my home life, especially since I am the oldest of four children. This leadership role also taught me the importance of passing on skills, not just orders. Because I enjoyed learning, I think I helped the younger children by being an example of that for them. Montessori taught me independence, confidence, and leadership skills. I learned that learning is enjoyable and that I have the power to further my learning myself.

Jamie: I remember that my Montessori years were fun. And even when school is hard now, I remember that when you can get past having to memorize things for a test, you can find ways to participate in real, deep learning. Montessori gave me a great outlook on education because I know I have some control over my own education, and that education is more than taking tests and memorizing things. Montessori opened up my interests and showed me how the things that I learn are connected to so many different parts of life and the world.

Victoria: My Montessori years helped me see the value in being part of a community and see that each of us has a role to play, not just in the classroom but in society. I learned from both the younger and older kids in my class.  I know that it’s important to participate in the things I think are important and things that contribute to my community, and that began when I was in Montessori at an early age.

Emily: I think what I took away from my 10 years in Montessori is that learning is not a race, and it’s not about grades and tests. Instead, learning is about discovering new ideas, finding answers to questions, and using knowledge to better the world. That’s what I want to instill in my own children as they begin their Montessori experiences, and I think that’s what has helped to shape me as a student and now as a parent.

While not everyone is able to complete the full 3-year cycle like Victoria, Jamie or Evan, or continue in Montessori throughout the elementary years and beyond like Emily, it is clear that Montessori makes a positive difference that is long lasting. Moving on from Montessori may be necessary for some children, but the lessons and skills gleaned from being a part of a Montessori environment remain. For these alums, they may have left the Montessori environment, but Montessori remains forever a part of them.

For those interested in further exploring Montessori education after kindergarten, please call 973-258-1400 to schedule a tour of the MCA Elementary Program at our Short Hills campus, where we currently serve students in 1st through 8th grades.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and Other Good Reads for Empowering Young Women

During the month of March, MCA celebrated Women’s History Month with a special series of Facebook posts that shared different stories of women who have left their marks on history, both in America and around the world. As we were researching these amazing women, we happened upon the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. One of our Elementary teachers discovered a video about the origin of this wonderful book, which we’d like to share with you:

After viewing this video, we realized that Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo, the authors of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, were right. There was a lack of literature for young readers that featured strong female characters.  It was at that point that we decided to take action. We began researching books that would empower the girls that populate MCA’s classrooms, and our greater community. For families who are looking to open this door for their own children, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a perfect place to begin to introduce your children to the many important contributions made by women.

A Short Review of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Favilli and Cavallo are rebels in their own right, having taken a leap of faith in moving from Italy to Silicon Valley, California, to start their media company, Timbuktu Labs. They have put together an anthology of 100 stories of remarkable women who challenged gender stereotypes and made a positive impact on human history. I first heard about Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls in August 2016, when the authors were raising funds to publish the book online. A former classmate who works on women’s issues in Washington, D.C. shared the crowdsourcing page with me in an email. She wrote, “Maria Montessori’s story is in the book. You have to buy this book for your school!”  When I found out that this book was already on MCA’s radar, I was ecstatic. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow it from our Elementary Program’s library in Short Hills.

As I opened the book, I was met with bright, beautiful pages. Each story is accompanied by a striking illustration, with 60 different artists contributing portraits to accompany the biographies in this collection. I randomly perused the pages, admiring the artwork and stopping to read the stories of some of my personal heroes, women whose portraits I would recognize anywhere. Simply flipping through the pages of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an experience that I am grateful that the students and teachers at MCA can have for themselves since the book is available for them to borrow from the Elementary library.

Here are a few of my favorite selections:

Intended for “Rebel girls ages 4-101,” the pages adjacent to the portraits contain one-page biographies of each of the 100 female subjects. These short biographies begin with the classic line “Once upon a time…”, indicating that the story that follows is to be cherished in a time-honored fashion. However, these stories are not fairy tales. They are the true, stirring stories of scientists, athletes, writers, and more. The collection represents women from various points in history, different parts of the globe, and across a span of ages. As a ‘bedtime story’, readers may choose to read one or several of the biographies, as they can be consumed and accessed easily in whatever amount of time is available and whenever inspiration is needed. These brief excerpts of the highlights of these women’s lives are the perfect launching pad to inspire young people to learn more details about the women and their achievements.

Empowering Reads and Where to Find Them

MCA enjoyed our Women’s History Month initiative so much, that we decided to expand the project beyond our own classrooms and our Facebook audience. We have since shared Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, as well as five other titles that celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history, with a number of local libraries. By sharing these books, we hope that all young women in the communities that MCA serves will come to understand that they can accomplish anything they dream of doing.

The five additional “Good Reads for Empowering Young Female Readers” donated by MCA include:

  1. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
  2. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History by Kate Schatz
  3. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
  4. Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz
  5. Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs

These titles now can be found in the public libraries in the towns of Chatham, Florham Park, Livingston, Madison, Maplewood, Millburn, Morristown, South Orange, and West Orange. We hope that you’ll visit your local library and share and enjoy these books with the young women and the young men in your families.

preschool open house nj

Five Questions to Ask at a Preschool Open House (Repost from October 2016)

As this is a common time of year for families to begin their preschool search for the next school year, we would like to once again share with you some pointers when attending a preschool Open House. An Open House provides parents with a firsthand impression that cannot be replicated via a website or a brochure. The opportunity for parents to establish a personal connection with the administration, the teachers, and the classroom environment is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Moreover, an Open House gives parents the opportunity to ask questions to help determine whether the school is the right fit for their family. If you’re just starting out on your family’s preschool search, begin by asking the following five questions when attending preschool Open Houses:

  1. What is the school’s educational philosophy?

Today, there are dozens of different philosophies and methods applied in preschool settings.  First, do your research. Once you know a bit about the different early education philosophies, you may be able to narrow your search based on what you believe fits in with your family’s values and educational goals.

At The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA), we believe that a Montessori education benefits children in so many ways. Montessori classrooms are designed to recognize and address various learning levels and styles. Teachers take unique roles as classroom guides and observers, providing children with the freedom and opportunity to learn at their own pace within a carefully prepared, stimulating environment.

It’s also important to determine how strictly the philosophy is adhered to at each school. This is particularly important if you are looking at Montessori schools. Many parents are unaware that the American Montessori Society (AMS) has established guidelines for adhering to Dr. Montessori’s practices. Programs that work with AMS are required to uphold high standards in areas including teacher certification, classroom preparation, and parent education regarding Montessori education. The Montessori Children’s Academy is an AMS Member School.

  1. How does learning take place at the school?

Children must have opportunities to explore how things work, to move their growing bodies, and to engage in activities that they find enjoyable. Especially with preschoolers, hands-on activities involving multiple senses often better facilitate the growth of children’s natural curiosity and their interest in learning for learning’s sake. When attending an Open House, ask what types of activities the children participate in during their school day. How much time is spent in teacher-directed activity? Do children have opportunities to make choices and move throughout the classroom? What types of learning materials are used?

The materials in Montessori classrooms are attractive, inviting, and meaningful. They also grow with the children, as the lessons move from concrete to abstract concepts. Every aspect of the Montessori classroom promotes the development of fine and gross motor skills, the expansion of new knowledge, and the joy in learning. Children have a balance of independent work time where they choose what they would like to do, small group learning lessons, and large group activities. Learning opportunities are integrated into all aspects of the Montessori classroom.

  1. What is the school’s standard for teacher qualifications?

Some early childhood facilities, like cooperative programs run by local parents, and traditional day care centers, do not require state or nationally recognized teaching certificates for their staff. Regardless of the type of school setting, it is important that preschool teachers understand how children grow and learn. You will also want to find out whether teachers and their assistants are trained in CPR and First Aid, and if they regularly attend continuing education workshops to stay current in their field.

If you are looking exclusively at Montessori schools, check that the teachers have their Montessori teaching credentials. This will ensure that they have been trained in the Montessori Method by a qualified teacher education program. You can learn more about AMS Montessori teaching credentials from the Montessori Center for Teacher Development.

  1. How is discipline handled?

Preschools have a very important responsibility in how their teachers manage their classrooms and help children grow and develop in a healthy, safe environment. Since preschool is often a child’s very first school experience, how discipline is handled can make a difference in how children view school and how well they succeed in learning.

MCA focuses on positive discipline and conflict resolution. Teachers are keen observers in their classrooms, and they are carefully trained to manage a variety of situations before there is any escalation of improper behavior. Redirection, positive reinforcement, and logical consequences allow teachers to help children learn respect, self-control, and responsibility in the most natural of ways. Peace Education is also a significant component of the Montessori curriculum, and children are guided through conflict resolution techniques with the aid of teachers and peers. Montessori classrooms are communities, and children learn that every member of the classroom is valued and important.

Later this month, MCA will host guest speaker Teresa LaSala, a positive discipline expert and author. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please consider attending this Parent Education event, as it is open to the public. Details can be found on MCA’s website.

  1. What will a typical school day look like for my child?

This is an important question because it will help to alleviate some of the common anxieties that parents have when the first day of school arrives. Understanding how the day flows will help you to determine if your child will be comfortable in the classroom. As young children thrive on routines, it would be helpful to learn about things like what the procedures are for eating snack or lunch at school, using the restrooms, spending time on the playground, or having a resting time. It is important to know how much structure is in the school day. You might also ask what opportunities the children have for socializing with peers, spending one-on-one time with the teacher, or learning responsibility by having a classroom job.

At any Open House, it is important to get a feel for the facility and to meet the staff. Above all, you want to be able to picture your child in the classrooms. If possible, bring your child along to the Open House so that he or she can meet the teachers and interact in the school space. Watching your child explore might make your choice just a little bit easier.

The Montessori Children’s Academy is hosting Winter Open Houses at each of its campuses on the following dates:

Morristown: Saturday, January 21, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

Chatham: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

Short Hills: Saturday, February 4, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

 

Girls on the Run NJ

Seasons of Gratitude and Giving

This time of year inspires many of us to reflect on all that we are grateful for and to look for opportunities to help others.  Indeed, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays invite us to treasure what we have and to share with those in need.  Statistically, food banks receive the majority of their donated supplies during this time of year, and according to the Digital Giving Index produced by Network for Good, over 30% of annual giving occurs in the month of December (charitynavigator.org).  People are very generous during this traditional ‘season of giving’, which makes a tremendous difference to those in need.

It is commendable that people, reminded of the needs of others during the months of November and December, take action and contribute to various charities.  However, students at The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) are learning that there is something to be thankful for every day of the year and that there are ways to help those in need during every season.  As part of the Montessori Peace Curriculum, the MCA community annually takes part in supporting a charitable organization.  This year, MCA students, teachers, staff, administration, and families are working together to support the Girls on the Run of New Jersey East (GOTR) organization through a variety of efforts throughout the school year from September through June.  The season of gratitude and giving at MCA extends through all four seasons as the children learn about and take part in a variety of activities to support the organization.  As MCA students learn about respect and kindness in their everyday interactions and lessons at school, they also learn about civic responsibility and discover how everyone can play an important role in making the world a better place.

Part of the Montessori Peace Curriculum involves teaching children how to express themselves appropriately.  At the beginning of every school year, Montessori teachers spend significant time engaging their students in “Grace and Courtesy” lessons so that children learn the polite way to greet teachers and friends, to ask for help, and to use the polite “please” and “thank you” responses that go such a long way when interacting with others.  They are taught to wait for their turn when someone else is speaking, to offer to hold the door for someone behind them in line, to return classroom materials to where they belong, and to treat everyone in the same way they would like to be treated.  They practice peaceful conflict resolution.  They learn responsibility for their belongings as well as for their words and actions.  While these things may seem small, they are significant in developing a peaceful and respectful community at school.  Learning to care for their classroom, for their classmates, and for themselves helps children gain appreciation for the people, places, and things in their lives.

Once the Grace and Courtesy lessons have become the norm in the classroom, the children are ready to discover how their actions and interactions outside of the classroom can make a positive impact.  Simple things like sharing a smile when walking down the street is one way to extend kindness to others in the simplest of ways.  Picking up a piece of trash on the playground helps protect our environment.  Setting out a bird feeder provides nourishment when it is hard for birds to find food on their own.  Little acts of kindness make a big impact. Through these actions, children become aware that there are many things that they can do to contribute to the world in a positive way.  The children then come to realize that there are many different types of needs among the people in and around their communities.  They learn about different organizations that work to help others, and the school’s annual charity event becomes incorporated into their classroom discussions and activities.

Montessori Elementary School NJ

To kick off this year’s initiative for Girls on the Run, MCA students participated in a mini fun-run at MCA’s Harvest Family Fun Picnic at Mayapple Hill in South Mountain Reservation.  In addition to taking part in other seasonal activities at the picnic, the children enjoyed donning capes and tutus and running through a small obstacle course to ‘get running for Girls on the Run’.  The school has set a goal to collect $5000 to sponsor 20 girls in the GOTR program in underserved areas.  The Montessori Children’s Academy Family of Schools and Services, MCA’s parent company, has pledged to match donated funds up to $2500, and rapidly, donations have already started coming in to support this great cause.  To view our progress, please visit our special Girls on the Run fundraising page.

Girls on the Run NJ

gotr-cta

To help the MCA students keep track of the donations, teachers designed a special bulletin board display at each campus.  Using the famous Montessori Pink Tower as a progress chart, each of the ten pink cubes represents $500 in donations.  The children will see that when the flag marker showing how much money has been raised reaches the smallest cube on the top of the tower, they have reached their ambitious goal!  In addition to accepting monetary donations for Girls on the Run, MCA is collecting new or gently used athletic wear to share with the girls in the program.  Items such as sneakers, sweatpants and sweatshirts, t-shirts, shorts, and headbands are just some of the items that are already filling the bins at each MCA campus.

Montessori preschool NJ

Students become involved in each year’s charitable cause through many avenues that reach beyond fundraising.  Students are educated about the organization in age-appropriate lessons and discussions, and a variety of activities help them gain insight and develop greater interest in each year’s chosen charity.  Just some of the upcoming projects related to this year’s Girls on the Run initiative include class presentations on health and fitness by our school nurse and local athletes, demonstrations of Girls on the Run activities by organization representatives, and creating a ‘paper sneaker marathon’ display throughout the MCA hallways.  The culminating event will take place at the Girls on the Run 5K in June where MCA students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators will have the opportunity to volunteer in a variety of capacities to support the organization.  More information about each of these activities will be forthcoming throughout the year.

It is important to note that the students’ means of contributing to the community reaches beyond taking up collections from family and friends.  MCA students gain awareness about the needs of others in their communities through class discussions and then brainstorm ways that they can help in a hands-on, meaningful way.  Student-driven projects from past years have included hosting lemonade stands, holding bake sales, washing cars, and offering to do chores in exchange for a donation, to name a few.

Just last spring, MCA students set up an information table in front of a local food establishment and created posters explaining the work that was being done to help others by one of their chosen charities for that year.  As people passed by, the children engaged them in conversations about the charity and informed them about what they could do to help.  This type of outreach provides the students with the opportunity to share their knowledge, practice public speaking skills, and connect with the people of their community.

Montessori Childrens Academy Chatham NJ

The children learn that every effort to help others, big or small, is worthwhile.  They become educated about needs within their communities and then become empowered, seeing that children can, and do, make a positive difference in their communities and throughout the world.  Through these activities, our students come to realize that when people work together, the collective efforts make an impact that can positively affect people’s lives.  Working together to better the lives of others is at the center of Montessori’s vision of peace through education, and MCA strives to keep this spirit of gratitude and giving alive throughout every season of the year.