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The Montessori Classroom as Artists’ Studio

Erin McKay is co-head of school at Wildflower Montessori in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first Wildflower school. Erin attended a Montessori school from age 3 to 12.

For Montessori’s art-filled classrooms, back-to-school means also going back to the studio. We view our materials and presentations less as a curriculum and more as a way to cultivate the most aesthetically pleasing space that will invite the child to tap into her innate curiosity and work with her hands. Doing so leads to discoveries that define us a civilization, as Dr. Montessori wrote in The Absorbent Mind: “If we try to think back to the dim and distant past…what is it that helps us reconstruct those times, and to picture the lives of those who lived in them? It is their art… it is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen.”

Much as an artist enters their studio, a child walks into the Montessori environment in the morning, the whole day a blank canvas. In the span of our three-hour work cycle in the morning, the children have an open-ended invitation to create, manipulate and explore the materials that have been presented to them.
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Resources for Embracing Equity

As we prepare for a new school year in the wake of the tragic and hateful events in Charlottesville, we wanted to share some resources that we’ve come across to help parents and educators dismantle racism and foster a more peaceful world. We’re sure this list is incomplete and invite you to share informative resources we’re missing so we can help tools like these spread.

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Reflecting on Charlottesville as We Prepare for the New…

Wildflower Schools stand against the racism, antisemitism, bigotry and hatred that were on display in Charlottesville.

One of the most important things we can do as a community committed to equity is to acknowledge that we live in a society full of inequity and equip ourselves with the tools and the capacity to dismantle racism – within ourselves and within our communities. Our commitment to equity calls us “to create diverse, inclusive learning environments that work for justice as the foundation for peace,” and we hold this commitment sacredly.

We understand that, as Dr. Maria Montessori once said, “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” As we enter classrooms, create new schools, or go about the daily work of bringing Montessori education to more children, we do so with the knowledge that facing inequity, naming injustice, and standing for peace – in and out of the classroom – must remain central to ensuring we remain worthy guides of the hope and promise for mankind.

Wildflower Schools’ Equity Principle

 

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Peace Beyond the Rose and Into the Roots

Peace education—supporting children to live in harmony with all living things and to become agents of peace-making in the world—is the foundation of our work as Montessorians. The peace rose is a common fixture in Montessori environments, passed back and forth during conflict resolution to practice deep listening. Too often though, we focus only on the bloom, without looking deeper to examine the roots.

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Summer Break, The Montessori Way

Kari Frentzel has been a Montessori elementary educator for the past ten years following her first career as an engineer and manager in industry and healthcare. She is co-head of school at Wild Rose Montessori, a Wildflower school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The school year is winding down. Teachers feel it as we squeeze in our final lessons and encourage students to finish projects. Students feel it as they prepare for year-end special events and make plans for getting together with friends once school is out. And certainly parents feel it as they rush to finalize plans for summer camps, vacations, lessons and babysitters.

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Want to Start a Wildflower School? Join Wildflower 101

“So, what exactly makes a Wildflower school unique?” a parent familiar with Montessori education asked recently. This is a difficult question to answer concisely, and it’s one we get a lot at Wildflower. Every day, we get inquiries from people across the United States and around the world who want to learn more about our unique approach. Read more “Want to Start a Wildflower School? Join Wildflower 101”

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The Dog-Walk That Parenting Can Be

This blog has also been cross-posted on the Today Show’s Parenting Community Page.

My dog and I took two kinds of walks. One was about taking care of business: The dog needed to walk and eliminate. I was in charge, and the goal was either to move fast and get exercise or to complete the walk as quickly as possible, because the weather was bad or I had a lot to do. The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating.

The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating when she was ready, with no pleading or commanding from me.

As a parent, many experiences with our children fall into one of these two categories. There are times when expediency and getting things done is essential to the success of the family. Getting out of the house and arriving on time at school and work is one of those experiences. Washing the car on an open Saturday afternoon can fall into the second category. For parents trying to build their child’s independence, we try to create environments and systems that allow many parts of the day to feel like the second type of walk while still getting things done.

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Freeing Wildflower Teachers’ Time to Focus on What They…

Among our most important roles at the Wildflower Foundation is to till any rocky soil that keeps schools from opening and thriving, heads of school from leading and teaching and students from exploring and learning. As anyone who works in education knows, you can easily get sidetracked or dispirited by the many operational tasks required to operate a school.

One of our goals at Wildflower is to ease the administrative tasks taken on by our dedicated Teacher Leaders by building tools and services that allow them to open and operate thriving school environments. Since teachers run Wildflower schools entirely, the tasks that administrators do in traditional school settings need to be handled especially efficiently.

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Supporting the art and science of Montessori with technology

Have you ever wished you could clone yourself, so that one “you” could carry out your work while the other “you” could just focus on carefully observing and learning? Having heard a version of this from enough Montessori teachers, we started to wonder if we could use technology to give teachers this superpower. This is one of the questions we are exploring today as part of our commitment to making Wildflower schools a platform for innovation and learning what we can share with the world. Read more “Supporting the art and science of Montessori with technology”

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Wildflower Parent: Relationships at the Heart of Montessori

Human relationships, especially deep ones, always contain mystery.  My five-year-old son is known, but unknown.  He is tethered to my heart, but utterly separate and different in temperament.  He is generous, intense, energetic, sensitive and deeply perceptive, but his patience for a classroom other than nature seems limited.  I marvel at him and sometimes worry; I question and research what is best; in the end, I always return to love, the essence of the relationship between mother and child.

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