Saturday, October 22, 2011

School lunch.

When I first envisioned our school, one of the aspects that gave me feelings of most happy anticipation was the idea of school made lunches. Our first year, when we had 12 children, I would make lunch every day with 3 different children. Now that our school has grown, we have an assistant who works specifically in the kitchen and in the garden with the children.

We rotate our three lunch chefs every week, and at 10:15 every morning, they wash their hands and head into the kitchen. We've arranged it so that every week one five year old, a four year old, and a three year old work together. This way, the oldest child has the most opportunity to help the others.

They first set the tables with tablecloths, plates, forks and spoons, cups, and then set up the dish washing station. Then they put on their aprons and help make lunch. Their tasks are given depending on their level of skill- cutting, peeling, grating, washing, tearing, spreading, measuring, taking out refuse to the compost bins, sticking fruit cores on the tree for the lizards and birds. What I love about the kitchen work is that it is real life practical life work.

My dream would be to have a community supported agriculture system to get our produce from, but living on a dry and windy island makes that kind of implausible. Our menu incorporates lots of fresh vegetables and fruit for dessert every day, and we try to vary it from week to week and include input from our parent community which includes a lot of international families.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chop wood and carry water.

I got my hands on this wonderful article by Angeline Lillard comparing Montessori education to mindfulness. It is my favorite Montessori research paper that I've read in a long time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living in the present.

One of the things that I am grateful for in my work with children is that children keep me in the present moment.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The greatest gift.

"If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate all the suffering in the world,
then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self transformation."

Lao Tzu

Friday, October 14, 2011

Children teaching children.

Here is one of our five year olds leading a game of "sound bingo". I love how she caters to both the level of skill of the different children and to their energy level. That little high five is priceless!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Loving it.

We live in the world when we love it. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Conscious Discipline

Living on a rock in the middle of the ocean, it's a rare opportunity to find something that speaks to me personally and at the same time is functional in my work as a Montessori educator. A few years ago I attended a parent education session on a method of classroom management called Conscious Discipline and I was delighted to find that it melded perfectly with Dr. Montessori's vision of the prepared environment. I've written about it on this blog before, but wanted to share some of the great stuff that was shared during the seminar this week.

It is especially useful in these initial months of school when much of the work with new children involves developing a connection with them, and among them.

From a 2 day Conscious Discipline seminar with Jill Molli:

"Discipline is not something you do to children, it is something that develops within them."

"Fear based discipline techniques don't work because they don't teach children the skills they are lacking. They simply damage your relationship with them."

"Our thoughts and beliefs influence our feelings and behavior. What you believe about a child influences your feelings and actions towards them. They listen to the message you give them. If you choose to see a child in a negative light, you give them no option but to follow. In order for a child to change, we have to see the child differently first."

"Eye contact, touch, presence, in a playful manner are necessary to build a connection with a child. Cooperation from them is not possible without there first being a connection."

"Shift from controlling others to connecting with others."

"The brain functions best when we feel safe."

"The way that you talk to yourself is the way that you will talk with the children in your care."

"Stop and honor kindness."

"The way we talk to our children TODAY is the way they will talk to themselves in 30 years."

"It is important to teach children how to handle disappointment and failure."