North Shore Blog

Open House at North Shore Montessori School

Kaity Creasy - Friday, February 12, 2016

On Sunday, February 21st from 11:00AM - 2:00PM, North Shore Montessori School is opening the school to prospective parents for an Open House!

Come tour our classrooms and care room, explore our natural outdoor playscape, learn what makes Montessori different, and meet our teachers and staff. Parents will be able to participate in various Montessori lessons given by the teachers.

Remember, students are eligible for North Shore Montessori School as soon as they are potty-trained, so be sure to explore your schooling options now! 

For further questions, simply call the front desk at 414-906-8900. 

How do I get my kids to talk about their school day?

Tracy Theisen - Thursday, September 24, 2015

As kids are back in school and family schedules are hectic as ever, it is hard to find out what kids do exactly during their school days. This frequently asked question "what did you do today?" usually results in a simple "nothing" or "I don't know"–though that is hardly the case, especially here at North Shore Montessori.  Though parents know their kids very well, we may need to build a deeper connection with them so that kids feel comfortable sharing their deep thoughts and feelings.  With a Doctorate in Sociology, Christine Carter, has insight into attaining that bond with individual "special time".  As it is hard to take 10 minutes to focus on one child every day, it could help earn trust and security with your children. You may have no interest whatsoever in doing the activities your kids enjoy doing, but this way children get to show you what they like and it creates the opportunity for them to be more open and trusting, knowing they are your top priority.

Another point to understand is why you want to know about their day.  Parents of course want to know because they raised them, but looking deeper, knowing about their school days means you are a significant part of their lives and hence you feel needed and fulfilled.  Although we want to feel needed and are, we must act curiously, yet neutral so it is easy for children when telling us about their lives and so that they never dread our reactions. 

Though maybe not what you would like to ask, it can be advantageous to ask kids about the stressful part of their day.  Before you ask, be prepared to accept what they say and do not rapidly try to solve their problems or judge anyone. The goal is to help them understand what they are feeling (sad, lonely, angry), know that emotions influence behavior, and the behavior that's influenced by emotions may not benefit them. Bringing this up in a relaxed environment ;maybe not in the car, with other siblings, or right when they get home, helps them understand that both positive and negative emotions should be felt.

With all of this, our kids can know that we love them, we are a safe place they can unload their stresses, and that we want them to enjoy life. We encourage you to read the full article, please follow the link below. "How to Get Your Kid to Talk about What Happened at School" by Christine Carter.

Conflict Resolution and Emotional Development in the Elementary Classroom

Tracy Theisen - Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Conflict Resolution and Emotional Development in the Elementary Child
by Amanda Riley, Elementary Teacher, North Shore Montessori School, Glendale, Wisconsin

Dr. Montessori observed children through her medical practice and through her work in schools. She noticed that development in children did not occur evenly. Certain areas of development were prevalent at certain ages. Dr Montessori found that development could be understood in six-year increments. In the first six years, children approach the world in a certain way and go through a particular set of all-consuming interests. In the second six years, the child has an entirely different way of thinking about the world. Dr. Montessori called these time periods “planes of development”. Each plane has characteristics that typify children at that age. The elementary aged child is in the midst of his/her second plane of development. Today I'd like to look at one of the characteristics that elementary aged children generally share. It is related to the “gregario” or group instinct. 

Dr. Montessori observed that the elementary aged child experiences a birth of his social personality. While the child has always worked in a social environment, the developmentally identified period in which the social personality can become refined is the second plane. Here the child becomes aware of herself as a member of society. She notices the people around her and understands that they have feelings. Previous to reaching the second plane, the child has been respectful of others out of a wish to comply with social norms. In the second plane he does so because he notices the feelings of others. This social awareness is brand new for the child. The social personality is designed to create an awareness of the other and this is part of the teacher's guidance for the child along with lessons in the various academic subjects.

As adults, we know that there are many aspects to social learning just as there are many to the learning of written language, or scientific thinking, or musical understanding. Just as in any of the academic subject areas, here children require lessons followed by practice. Their practice is with their peers in the classroom setting. Our classroom structure allows children to converse freely, to choose their own work spaces and their own work partners. This means they develop social and intellectual skills at the same time. Children work together constantly, so they can see the real need for compromise and social harmony. When children are not getting along, I provide opportunities for them to talk through their frustrations and state their opinions. However, the true solution to conflict in a Montessori classroom is interesting work. Children develop self control and compassion for each other through the work they do in the classroom. Connection to work and a feeling of growth disposes children to be naturally forgiving of each other and hardy in the face of setbacks.

In the Montessori elementary classroom, we do not experience conflict between students as a negative event. It is a normal part of social development, as well as an opportunity for children to learn from each other. Dr. Montessori considered the elementary aged child to be at a sensitive period for moral development. Right and wrong, good and evil are prevalent in the child's mind. This is the age at which the first deeper emotions begin to arise. A child might manifest loss, grief, and dissatisfaction over friendships or school projects. It is important not to over-react. The adult should remain a calm and solid center. Rather than seeking solutions to conflict as quickly as possible, the Montessori teacher seeks to utilize moments of conflict as a means to helping children develop strong character traits. This past week, our class discussed a problem we have been having at lunch time. Children are having conflicts over seating at the lunch tables. Some feel that they want to sit next to a certain friend, but perhaps that friend wants to sit next to someone else. Others feel that their tables are too crowded and loud. We discussed the issue during a class meeting and brainstormed solutions. However, I must emphasize that the purpose of class meetings and other conflict negotiation techniques is not really to solve the problem at hand. Instead, the purpose is for children to practice expressing themselves assertively yet respectfully, at the same time listening to the perspectives of their classmates and entertaining ideas that had not previously occurred to them.  

These skills are vital to any relationship, be it professional or personal. These skills are both practical and economic. The process of learning to work with others will not feel smooth to the elementary aged child, but it is important that we allow him to work through the frustrations that arise. The development of social skills is a prerequisite to the delicate, highly charged years of adolescence. We can strive to provide good emotional models for children, and we can have patience with them as they acquire social and emotional skills. We can offer some vocabulary to them and identify emotions we think they might be feeling. “Are you worried that someone else might take the seat you wanted? Are you afraid she might not like you anymore if she doesn't sit next to you at lunch?” This is helpful to children. Offering solutions for problems is less helpful. Ultimately, children will find the solutions that best work for themselves and for the group of which they are a part. 

The Elementary Child's Group Instinct

Tracy Theisen - Wednesday, January 29, 2014
The Elementary Child's Group Instinct
by Amanda Riley, North Shore Montessori School Elementary Teacher, Glendale, Wisconsin 

I'd like to share with you a little snippet of Montessori philosophy.  It's relevant to the social life of our classroom, and is at times all consuming for some of our students.  I'm talking about a concept Dr. Maria Montessori called the "gregario" or "group instinct". 
Dr. Montessori noticed that small children in the primary classrooms play together somewhat, but still identify closely with their parents and family members.  They seek out the emotional safety and comfort of home.  On the other hand, she noticed that elementary children shifted their interest more toward their classmates.  They often rejected activities they had once enjoyed or belongings that seemed "babyish" to them and were too connected with home life.  Instead, elementary children tried to copy their classmates.  They wanted to be alike: play the same games, dress alike, have jokes among themselves.  Elementary children create a sort of mini-society in the classroom.  They are interested in how groups are formed and are willing to try new things, sometimes things that previously were frightening, in order to feel a part of the group. 
This is a natural step in the child's separation from his/her parents.  The child moves toward independence by identifying with a larger group and trying out new roles and activities.  In many ways, the gregario instinct is very positive for the child.  It can cause him/her to take on challenges that he/she wouldn't otherwise attempt, or to stay with a difficult activity because his/her friends are still working at it.  This process results in the development of new skills and confidence. 
As a teacher, I call upon the gregario instinct  when creating lesson groups.  Group work contributes to academic success in a number of ways.  There is the benefit of "extra teachers" as children help each other complete work, or explain concepts to each other as they work.  They share their different background knowledge of the subject, enriching each other's experience.  Reluctant children who fear academic failure can be distracted from their anxieties by the presence of the group.  They are so interested in their relationships that they think less about their fears and are more likely to attempt the task at hand. 
Often children inspire each other with ideas on how to express their understanding of concepts.  In a Montessori classroom, children can develop their own project based on lessons given.  For example, last week I gave a lesson on building three dimensional solids.  Children traced all six faces of a cube onto cardstock, then cut out, scored, folded, and taped the shape into a replica cube of their own.  The process can be repeated for other geometric solids, such as prisms and pyramids, even cylinders and cones with some practice.  The children who received the lesson are now free to repeat the work, and already they have created some interesting house and robot constructions.  Other children are drawn to the work as well, and have learned how to build cubes from the original group of children.  I can help as needed, but I anticipate that the draw of the group and the activity itself will be strong enough that children will work independently, and the work will spread to other classmates.  Some of the children may not even recognize me as the source of the work.  It will just be part of their group culture for a while, until a new interest captures their imaginations.
Sometimes the group instinct can be stressful to children, and it's good to be aware of this as well.  For example, a child may want to be part of the group, but feel intimidation or genuine disagreement with some aspects of the group culture.  This can happen a lot with playground games.  Many children enjoy battle games with good guys and bad guys, but others find them too loud and stressful.  These are the kinds of conflicts we address at school through class meetings.  It's a time to make children aware of different realities, and of how the group can help support individual members of the community.  It's also good to talk through things like this at home with your child.  It helps to understand that the desire to be a part of the group is very strong and may contribute to your child's emotional response.  Elementary children can become very emotional if they think their friends are angry with them or reject them in some way.  If this kind of thing comes up at home, please let me know so that I can help bring the group back together in some productive activity that renews their bond.
One way that I help the class develop a positive culture is through singing and rhythmic exercises.  When we sing or create rhythms, the children feel that they fit into the larger whole.  It is easy to put aside individual differences or fears because clapping and singing are relatively accessible skills.  Additionally, when children know the same songs, they can sing together at any time, creating opportunities to heal rifts in the group.
I hope I was able to share with you one aspect of the elementary Montessori classroom.  When we recognize that children have different realities and different values from adults, it helps us to better support them in their learning.  It helps us be more effective teachers and parents.  

Art in Montessori Education

Tracy Theisen - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Art in Montessori Education

Art is integrated into all subjects in the Montessori classroom, allowing children to make meaningful connections between art and other subjects of study. For example, as part of a biology lesson, a child may draw an animal. As they do so, they must pay close attention to the muscle structure, colors, and proportions. In this way art helps learning become permanent.

The Montessori materials help children develop fine motor control, distinguish between lines and shapes, and understand spatial relationships. The optimal time for children to begin Montessori is age three, when they are open to doing work such as spooning beans from one container to the other, polishing shoes, and pouring water. These are the building blocks for the control needed to write and draw. Adults will often notice Montessori children for their fine motor skills and attention to detail.

Telling stories about artists, learning about great masterpieces, and creating unique designs, makes school exciting and interesting. Children who are engaged in school develop the love of learning, which transcends childhood and creates a framework for continually learning throughout life. A child who enjoys schools has a much higher chance of being successfully educated.

Art develops an appreciation for beauty, makes school exciting and interesting, and strengthens the creative part of the brain. There are no limits to the avenues the arts open to children. 

Worldwide Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tracy Theisen - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

North Shore Montessori School serves a diverse group of Milwaukee area families. We are within walking and biking distance for many who live in Shorewood, Glendale, and Whitefish Bay. Families from Cedarburg, Fox Point, Bayside, Brown Deer, and Mequon find the commute easy, due to our location just off of Highway 43. Many parents drop-off children on their way to work in downtown, Milwaukee.

One of the beautiful characteristics of Montessori is that it attracts people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. As children learn geography they also meet friends who come from different places around the world. Parents and grandparents are welcome to come and share their stories; real life, worldwide adventures.

Maria Montessori traveled extensively throughout her lifetime. As a result there are more than 22,000 Montessori schools around the world, located in 117 different countries. It is one of the only truly global systems of education. A Montessori school in India, Mexico, or Germany should function like the Montessori school in your local community, if the genuine Montessori approach is implemented. Families who travel or work abroad find this particularly comforting because their children are able to enter the classroom with immediate familiarity, and begin working exactly where they left off at home. Montessori education is over 100 years old and yet more relevant in the 21st century than ever before. 

Education for a New World

Tracy Theisen - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Education for a New World

Education for a New World, written by Maria Montessori, is recommended reading for anyone interested in understanding Montessori’s approach to education. North Shore Montessori School’s board of directors is reading and discussing this book, chapter by chapter this fall. Ms. Amanda Riley, North Shore’s AMI-certified elementary teacher is leading the group, and many enlightening and interesting conversations have resulted. Other recommended books include:

The Absorbent Mind

The Discovery of the Child

The Formation of Man

What You Should Know About Your Child

To Educate the Human Potential

The Child, Society and the World

The Child in the Family

The Advanced Montessori Method

Education and Peace

Education for Human Development

From Childhood to Adolescence

Basic Ideas of Montessori’s Educational Theory

The California Lectures of Maria Montessori

Quickly Learn about Montessori

Tracy Theisen - Thursday, October 03, 2013

Quickly learn about Montessori from this great video!

Preschoolers and Physical Activity

Tracy Theisan - Thursday, August 22, 2013

When assessing playground options for North Shore Montessori School, the answer became clear quickly. Research shows the benefits of a natural “playscape” far outweigh traditional playground structures.

In late spring parents, children, friends, and volunteers created a beautiful natural area on the east side of the Barnabas building where dense trees border the Milwaukee River. Flowers were planted, a teepee construted, and an outdoor classroom created.

North Shore Montessori School’s summer-school children used the playscape everyday. Teachers observed their interactions and noticed the children were very peaceful and creative.

“This is exactly what formal research also indicated”, said Rachel Upson, board member and parent.

According to Patricia Tucker, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, “nearly half of preschool-aged children do not engage in sufficient physical activity. Current recommendations suggest a minimum of 60 min of physical activity per day; only 54% of participants throughout the studies achieved this. Furthermore, as with other age groups, boys participate in considerably more physical activity than girls. It is clear from this systematic review that nearly half of children studied are not meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Therefore, effective interventions that promote and foster physical activity in children are necessary, especially in females.”

The Children and Nature Network conclude that “While the relationship between children’s experiences outdoors/in nature and their environmental knowledge and behavior is not well understood, experiencing and knowing about one’s environment is an important foundation to being able to understand various issues and act in an informed and responsible manner.

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Tracy Theisan - Thursday, August 22, 2013

North Shore Montessori School follows the principles of the Association Montessori Internationale, which means cursive writing is taught before printing. In todays world, many question the need for cursive at all. The article below explains the benefits.

Cursive First Cursive First (946 KB)