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Montessori and Making Mistakes

In the Montessori method of learning, mistakes are viewed as an important part of the learning process. Children are people, and people make mistakes. The experience of childhood is filled with small errors like spilling water or dropping food. The Montessori approach cherishes children’s freedom to make – and correct – their own mistakes. This process is called “control of error,” and it is built into all Montessori work.

Instead of raising our voices or scolding a student who makes a mistake, Montessori teachers use these moments as lessons. They identify the mistake and then go about resolving it with the child. For instance, a teacher might say, “It looks like you spilled water on the floor. Let’s clean it up together. Do you remember where the mop is?”

Traditional education tends to reward perfection. This can lead to children being afraid to err, to raise their hand to share an answer, or even to try at all.

Montessori guides will even share their own mistakes to model the fact that even adults are not perfect, and to show that “messing up” can be a learning moment. In that our ultimate goal is always building independence in our students, we want the children to recognize their errors and then to go about fixing them on their own.

A young child who is learning to drink from a cup and tilts the cup back too far, spilling water on himself, will learn the mistake right away. There’s no need to point it out to the child; he can feel the water he spilled. Similarly, if a child mispronounces a word, the teacher will simply pronounce the word correctly. The child will hear her mistake and learn from the moment, without any need for calling out the error in a negative way.

None of us like messing up. Oftentimes it leaves us feeling inadequate, less than, frustrated or worse. But there is some evidence to suggest that making mistakes can offer benefits:

1. It’s how we learn

We’ve all heard the old saying ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…’. It turns out that trial and error really is a significant part of how our brains develop. Toddlers learning to walk, gymnasts perfecting a routine, or a baking contestant making the same cake 20 times in preparation for a competition, all require one thing – perseverance. In Montessori we repeat and repeat and repeat, hopefully, with improved ability slowly over time.

Psychologists have shown that in order to learn from our mistakes, it helps to have a ‘growth mindset’ – or a belief that intelligence is something we can work on and develop. In a study of 123 children, researchers at Michigan State observed that those who thought intelligence was not fixed paid more attention to their mistakes, and so learned more.

2. It can have unexpected positive consequences

Not all mistakes have a silver lining, but many do – errors made by inventors have led to even greater discoveries, including the microwave and the pacemaker.

In 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic penicillin after a petri dish he had left out while on holiday became contaminated with the mould penicillium notatum. Since then, the infection-fighting drug has helped save millions of lives. And it happened accidentally!

3. It teaches us about who we are

Oscar Wilde wrote that “experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes”, in other words, messing things up is a crucial part of learning about ourselves and our lives.

Sometimes it takes failing a big exam to find out how we deal with real disappointment. Knocking over a treasured family heirloom teaches us how to handle awkward and difficult conversations. Even if we didn’t “mean to do it” we are accountable and making the mistake opens the door for healing and restorative conversation.

4. It can free us up to pursue our goals

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” Accepting mistakes as a part of life can free us up to pursue our goals without limitation. Montessori teachers

5. It can help us clarify our priorities

In her 2008 speech to graduating students at Harvard University, author JK Rowling described how feeling that she had failed ‘on an epic scale’ in her mid-twenties – when her marriage broke down and she and her daughter were living in poverty – was what ultimately helped her succeed as a writer. She says: “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me… I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.”

Understandably, we as parents want to protect our children from harm. But we also need to strike a balance between providing a protective shell and giving reins to our child. Being too protective can instil fear in a child, preventing them from experimenting and experiencing things. It can also hurt a child’s psychology so that they grow up fearing everything.

Let your child make mistakes. Let them be kids and allow them to learn at their own pace. From a parent’s perspective, this can be scary. However, we can’t shield our children from the realities of this world forever. Children need to comprehend how the world works through their own experiences. They will make mistakes along the way, but it shouldn’t lead to a panic attack. In their classrooms, they just course correct and move forward.

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From The Banner

Montessori Education: A Multicultural Treasure Trove

Montessori Classrooms are full of materials which encourage children to explore learning about other customs, cultures, and peoples of the world. The Preschool classrooms first introduce the Montessori globe which helps the child to understand the existence of land masses and water. When this concept is solidified, the globes are then offered in color, highlighting each of the continents depicted in a different color. At this point, the children learn the names of Africa, Asia, Australia, North America… most often around the age of 3. Then they find puzzle maps and flags of the world, inviting the exploration of countries, capitals and flags of the different nations of the world. As they get a bit older, especially in Lower Primary, discussion begins into the culture of a country: the languages that are spoken, the clothing that is worn, the customs and holidays celebrated, the foods that are eaten.

Montessori education came about at the time of the Cold War; Montessori’s vision was that children would be the key to a peaceful planet. That is why she created a peace curriculum as well as an exploration of the Needs of Humans. Beginning in the Lower Primary/Elementary ages of 6-9, children begin to explore and learn that people all over the planet have the same basic needs for survival: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and beauty. Montessori students at this age are very ready to dive deep into cultural study to explore costumes and traditions, music, customs and beliefs of groups of people. This is done in a culturally sensitive way that teaches the children to celebrate the similarities that we all have: everyone in the world (who is fortunate enough to do so!) lives in a home, for instance… the type of house we inhabit looks different based on the materials we have available in our part of the world, but we all live in some kind of house. So, we celebrate the sameness of peoples, while simultaneously honoring the differences.

I remember one year when my class studied Australia. We went back to ancient Aboriginals who were the first inhabitants, and looked at their tribes and traditions, at cave paintings, and Dreamtime. The children wrote their own dreamtime stories and then illustrated their stories using pictographs like those found in the caves in the Outback. Then we turned those pictographs into batik images for an art project, and those finally became a decorative quilt! We also explored and tried foods that were eaten by these ancient people, had someone come to the school to play the digeridoo, and read books by Australian children’s authors to bring all of it to life. This is what Montessori does so beautifully. A deep age-appropriate “dive” into another world culture, and then another…

Multicultural education “is the ability to celebrate with the other in a manner that transcends all barriers and brings about a unity in diversity”. For that, we must find all sorts of ways to expand the children’s view of the world, to help them to think without prejudices about themes like gender (girls can become astronauts); religion (none is the “right”), race or culture (every child can become anything he or she wishes), income (difficult economic situations are only cycles in life), language (bilingual and multilingual students have a tremendous asset). Dr. Maria Montessori said about childhood:

If during this period of social interest and mental acuteness all possibilities of culture are offered to the child, to widen his outlook and ideas of the world, this organization will be formed and will develop; the amount of light a child has acquired in the moral field, and the lofty ideals he has formed, will be used for purposes of social organization at a later stage.” (To Educate the Human Potential).

At Montessori School Bali, the students are quite blessed to be surrounded by others who speak different languages, who have emigrated here from all over the world. Our students are also lucky to be steeped in local Balinese traditions; from seeing the temples being blessed in local homes, in shops and restaurants, to seeing the beautiful people who are in front of us on scooters going to a ceremony in their Adat Bali, to the smell of incense in classrooms or the neighborhood. Our students get to have weekly Bahasa lessons from the age of 6, and participate in ceremonies right here on campus, hearing the priest chant at our own school temple. And around every public holiday, an exploration of the symbols, the characters and the traditions of this magical place we call home.

As parents, our task is to teach our children to see view with respect and admiration. Learning to coexist is one of the most basic goals of an education. Understanding multicultural differences helps us to create more peaceful, just society. In the classroom, students work side by side every day, learning to understand the perspectives of others. This is creating a mutual respect. It is good to reflect on Dr. Montessori’s words as they relate to multiculturalism:

“… the child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it.  The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.  He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.” (The Absorbent Mind)

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From The Banner

MSB Dress Code

As you know, our school has a dress code that is articulated in the Parent Handbook. It’s about promoting a clean, comfortable and modest look that supports your child in worktime and playtime. We know it can be challenging sometimes when your child wants to express their fashion sense while you are trying as the parent to balance that with what is appropriate for their age and development. We hope that referring back to the school policies for dress will help you to help your child make decisions that are in good taste and deemed appropriate for school! It’s hot here in Bali, and it’s always worth a reminder so that we can all be mindful and help the children to be successful in their clothing choices.

YOUNG CHILDREN

Ease of movement and use are key. The child needs to be able to manage their clothes in the bathroom, or be able to change if they get dirty or wet. Elasticised waists and loose-fitting clothing are best. Avoid difficult-to-use buttons or buckles. Children’s clothes need to allow freedom of movement. This help prevent unnecessary toilet accidents and promotes the child’s independence. Please have all clothing clearly labelled with the child’s name.

SHOES

Footwear needs to be sensible. For school this means flat shoes or sport sandals. Slip-on shoes can be a hazard so are not suitable. Primary students can store a pair in their cubbies to be used for short trips, for example, to and from yoga or music classes. Children wearing closed shoes are advised to wear socks with them to absorb sweat and reduce the odor from bare feet in the classroom. Children playing sports need to wear appropriate footwear, such as trainers/sneakers.

JEWELRY

Jewellery should not be worn to school as it is easily lost or broken. Jewellery items can also be a safety hazard if caught while playing on outdoor equipment. Only small studs or sleepers for children with pierced ears are acceptable. Primary children may wear a small functioning watch. Costume jewellery is not permitted.

APPROPRIATE FOR SCHOOL

*Short-or long-sleeved tops or shirts with shorts, pants or leggings;
*Mid-thigh length (or just above the knee) shorts, dresses or skirts (no short shorts or skirts). A good rule of thumb is to have shorts, skirts or dresses coming down to the bottom of the child’s fingertips; and
*Dresses and tops may be sleeveless but must have covered shoulders
* Straps should be three of the child’s fingers in width.

NOT APPROPRIATE FOR SCHOOL

* Backless dresses are not suitable.
* Low-cut, transparent, halter, singlet, racer-back or spaghetti-strapped tops/dresses are not permitted.
* Short shorts are not suitable. Again: A good rule of thumb is to have shorts, skirts or dresses coming down to the bottom of the child’s fingertips

SUN PROTECTION

Children spend at least half an hour outside in the sun. For this reason, it is important that every child has a hat to shield their face and neck, and that their clothing covers them well. Our current policy is: “No hat, no play.” Hats may not be worn in the classroom. Student’s bodies should be covered from shoulder to mid-thigh, with no bare skin in between. Please apply sunscreen upon/prior to arrival in the morning.

It is always a good idea to limit your child’s clothing choices to 2-3 maximum. It also helps when you choose those 2-3 items, and then the options are already things that you deem acceptable. Then you can offer the choice: “Would you like to wear this, this, or this tomorrow?”

Thank you for helping us make sure students come to school in clothing that helps to create a calm, uncluttered, peaceful and safe atmosphere for everyone at MSB.

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From The Banner

MSB Featured Employee: Winayanti (Teacher Assistant – Preschool Outdoor Classroom)

Introducing Wina, the force behind the Preschool Outdoor Program at Montessori School Bali.

Let’s find out more about Wina and her time here at MSB:

Q : Can you share your experience working at MSB?  What drew you to this educational approach, and how has your role evolved over the years? 

A : I joined Montessori School Bali in 2004 as an Assistant Teacher for 3-6 year-olds. I love Montessori philosophy and I love working with children.

Q : You received training as a Montessori Assistant Teacher at the Primary level. What was that like, and what excited you most about the training?

A : After working as an Assistant Teacher for more than 15 years, it was a great way to refresh my mind and it also allowed me to meet other Montessori teachers from around the world and to share my experiences with the other participants.

Q : Tell us about your work as a Teacher Assistant for Preschool Outdoor Classroom at MSB?

A : It is a great experience for me as a Coordinator of the Outdoor Program. I can learn more about nature, zoology, botany and also Balinese culture and then I get to share all that I learn with my students. We also work in the area of gross motor skill development in the Outdoor environment. 

Q : How do you believe incorporating outdoor activities into the daily routine enriches the overall Montessori experience for preschool children?

A : This program links the work that the children do inside the classroom with their ability to move freely into the outdoors, still making mindful choices, selecting work that is interesting to them, and then returning work to the shelf for the next person. It also keeps them in contact with nature here at the school. 

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From The Banner

Montessori Adolescent Program

As many of you may be aware, Montessori School Bali had an Adolescent Program for students ages 12-15, before COVID struck Bali. We are contemplating the possibility of bringing an Adolescent Program back to MSB. This takes a lot of time, thought, planning and preparation to be executed at a very high level of quality, which is the only reason we would entertain the notion.

This Banner article examines what an Adolescent Program is, and how it is advantageous to students at this age. As you read about Montessori for students ages 12-15, consider your own interest for your MSB student.

“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding on that certification from the secondary school to the university, but of individuals from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.”

– Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori is perhaps best known for its educational offerings for children aged three to six. Programs for infants, toddlers, and elementary-aged children are also fairly popular and easy to find in many areas, but programs for adolescents remain relatively scarce.

Many Montessori families approaching the final years of elementary find themselves asking, “What’s next?” While Montessori-educated children have overwhelmingly positive transitions when they graduate to other conventional schools, it’s only natural to wonder how we might extend the experience for our children a bit longer. 

What did Dr. Montessori envision for adolescents, and what options are available for them today?

Montessori’s work centered on the developmental needs of children at the various ages. In the adolescent phase, students’ needs change drastically from those of the elementary child. The Adolescent Program addresses the 12–15-year-old:

1. Physically

Adolescents experience a period of tremendous physical and neurological growth. An adolescent program guides and supports students in going out into the community to engage in service learning. Service is taught as a way to care for the school community and the world outside the school. Through service, students learn the value of hard work, are exposed to lives and cultures different from their own, and develop a sense of empathy. Powerful, successful service projects of their creation and implementation teach students that they have agency in the world—they can identify things that need to change, and help to make those changes. This is a skill that will serve them well as adults.                    

2. Emotionally

Adolescents experience self-awareness and self-criticism, emotional ups and downs, and egocentrism. Their bodies are changing and they begin to feel awkward and uncomfortable. They feel an increased desire for autonomy, along with a susceptibility to peer pressure. It is a time characterized by a tendency toward courage and creativity. Students can be seen, heard, and find their unique voices through learning compassion, empathy, and developing their emotional IQs.

3. Socially

Adolescents seek solidarity with peers while craving even greater independence from adults as they establish their own identity. They are concerned with human welfare and dignity, and may exhibit novelty-seeking and risk-taking behaviours as a response to a tendency to express courage and creativity. A community within the classroom allows opportunities to participate in classroom government and other leadership experiences.  Another important aspect of the environment is that it should put the adolescents in close contact with nature in order to instill an appreciation and understanding of the responsibility of the planet on which we live and are a part of. 

4. Cognitively

Students who are 12-15 are critical thinkers who persistently ask “why.” They are creative, and have the ability to reason and debate. Your adolescent may have an opportunity to start a business, complete with developing a business plan and securing funding, or work as an apprentice to an expert in a field she loves. The Montessori Secondary program also includes advanced courses in language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies that are academically challenging. Students take specialized courses including world languages, visual and performing arts, health and fitness, and participate in field studies. Students also learn responsible and ethical use of technology, with the majority of the school day spent in learning activities and practices that require peer-to-peer and student-teacher interaction.

When you have some time, listen to this fascinating interview with Paula Lillard Preschlack, a longtime Montessori teacher, author, and Montessori guru on the Adolescent Ages in Montessori:

Additionally, a link to an interview with adolescent-aged Montessori students, their parents and their teachers about their experiences: https://amshq.org/About-Montessori/Inside-the-Montessori-Classroom/Secondary#

Montessori programs for adolescents offer thoughtful environments and experienced teachers attuned to these needs, safeguarding the young learners’ well-being while preparing them for adulthood.

If you are the parent of an MSB student who is currently primary-aged (6-12) watch for a survey in the coming weeks about your interest in having your MSB student continue their schooling here from the ages of 12-15.

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From The Banner

MSB Featured Employee: Pak Wayan Sudana (Gardener)

Enjoy this recent interview with Pak Wayan Sudana, just one of the many grounds staff who make MSB a lush haven of greenery and beauty every day. 

Q: Pak Wayan, how long have you been part of the Gardening team at this school?
A: I’ve been working at Montessori School Bali from August 2011. So it’s been 13 years.

Q: What changes have you noticed in the grounds over the years of working at the school?
A: As someone who has dedicated years to nurturing the grounds of our school as a member of the gardening staff, the evolution of certain aspects has been unmistakable. With the patience and consistency exhibited by our ground team, especially the dedicated garden staff, we can now fully appreciate the beautiful environment surrounding the school. The education provided by our teachers not only imparts knowledge but also inspires students to actively engage in caring for the plants and the school garden.

Q: Can you tell us about your daily routine, from when you arrive at school to work until you leave?
A: My main focus is cleaning and taking care of the school’s gardens, as well as helping other team members and staff in order to be part of a good teamwork.

Q: How do you see the importance of a well-maintained garden in creating an inspiring and comfortable learning environment for all school members?
A: A well-maintained garden serves as a captivating reflection of the school’s beauty and attention to detail. The lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and harmonious design not only enhance the aesthetics of the campus but also create a serene and inviting atmosphere for students, staff, and visitors alike.

Q: What challenges do you face in caring for a school garden, especially in the face of changes in weather or seasons?
A: We understand that MSB embraces the concept of sustainability, and we make concerted efforts to responsibly manage water usage, particularly during the dry season. We meticulously regulate water usage and prioritize areas or plants that require additional care.

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From The Banner

When Your Child Doesn’t Want To Go To School

All children experience an occasional reluctance to going to school. There are many reasons for this… after all, sometimes, we adults don’t want to go to work! It’s understandable.  

Perhaps a long school vacation has just ended, or maybe it’s just a typical Monday morning that has triggered feelings of not wanting to go to school. Your child could just be out of the rhythm of school having gotten used to the “home routine”. In cases like these, experts say it’s best to get children back into school as quickly as possible, in order to jump back into their familiar routine.  

According to Raisingchildren.net.au, a parenting website, there is an emotional condition (not a clinical diagnosis) called “school refusal” where a child will experience great upset at the idea of going to school that makes it difficult for them to leave the house, or to stay in school. And the tendency is for the upset not to go away. If it goes on for weeks or months, it may be time to take action.

Now, as a former teacher, I can tell you that nine times out of ten, an emotional meltdown about not wanting to come to school (or not wanting to enter into the classroom, if you have already arrived at school) is mostly “for your benefit”. It’s a kind of a last-minute test to see if you as the parent have the emotional stamina to handle a strong push to do something else – anything else. Often, it’s a bid for more connection, to stay together longer, or to avoid separating. But generally, five to ten minutes after you leave, your child is completely calm, being comforted by a classmate, or already starting to eat snack or initiate a work.

Recently, a parent confided that their child was resisting coming to school. Here are some things I suggested they try to help alleviate this recent development:

1. MAKE A SCRAPBOOK of the DAILY ROUTINE

Students who are ages 3-5 are very much into their routines. At this age, help your child “zoom in” and focus on each step of their daily routine. Make a small book of photos (hardcopy) that your child could enjoy flipping through. Here they can see a picture of themselves brushing their teeth, in their pajamas, being read to, sleeping, waking up, eating breakfast, on the scooter, arriving at school, outside the classroom, getting a hug from you, shaking their teacher’s hand, doing a classroom work, and finally, being picked up from school. Then each morning while eating breakfast, they can look through the book to see where they are in the process, and to identify the steps that will come next. Goal: Often this can offer a sense of control, even in the act of page turning. Where children can feel that their day is “happening to them,” this activity offers predictability.

2. CREATE and STICK TO a HANDSHAKE/KISS+HUG RITUAL

At drop-off, be consistent. Whatever your routine, STICK TO IT and do it the exact same way each day. Create a fun routine: 6 kisses and 4 hugs and a silly handshake… If you are confident and remind your child that you love him and that you will be back when he finishes his work, then separate quickly and do not hesitate, he will have an easier time too. GOAL: Make the drop-off process fun, predictable and affectionate while offering reassurance that “moms and dads always come back…”.

3. DINNER TIME STORY TELLING

In the evening, at the dinner table, go around, and when first establishing this routine, parents first take turns something you did today that was fun. When you have finished, ask your child for one thing they did that was fun. Create a habit around this ritual of sharing one good thing from your day, to invite your child to do the same. You can also discuss one thing you were proud of, one thing that made you happy, or one thing that you learned today. Goal: Focus on the good, sharing time and conversation as a family, and reshaping the narrative of school from sadness and upset to joy and accomplishment.

4. MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST

At bedtime, do a quick gratitude list – tell 1-2 things that you are grateful for. Then invite your child to do the same. Again, goal is mindfulness, positivity, and helping to create positive energy for the family. Of course, the list doesn’t have to have anything to do with school, but hopefully school will make it onto the list sooner or later…

5. PLAYDATES

Find out from your child’s teacher who their friends are. Or if they are yet to have established a close and trusted friend, whose personality may be well suited to your child’s, in that you would like to arrange a playdate. It’s very fun for children to see their peers outside of school. It feels so different for them! When they see their teachers at a restaurant, for example, it’s like a miracle: they can’t believe we exist outside of school. I think they think we live at school! Creating a bridge between home and school with a classmate helps extend friendships and creates a positive association with school. 

6. SCHEDULE A CLASSROOM OBSERVATION

Talk with your child’s classroom teacher to schedule a 15–20-minute window to come in and see the classroom. It really helps parents put their mind at ease to see what the vibe is, and how their child is getting on, first hand. It gives you lots to talk about, and be able to ask questions about.

As parents, we always want to listen to our children and validate their feelings. If there are struggles that your child is facing, you need to know what those are to help address them. Your child’s teacher will generally let you know if there is any sort of pattern of challenging behaviour, disagreements with other children, etc. But if you have not heard about anything from your child’s teacher and your child is complaining, seek out more information from school.

None of these strategies are meant to minimize sad feelings or take them away. Instead, it’s about creating a positive association with school and helping to boost self-confidence and push through something that may feel difficult. “When the going gets tough…” give your child the message that ” she’s got this..!” and that you believe in her. Once you have observed your child’s classroom, you can reinforce whatever you witnessed that is lovely and beautiful in the class, and perhaps do a little bit of a reframe with her. In life, looking on the bright side, and finding the gift and the opportunity in our daily challenges is an acquired skill that takes lots of practice.

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From The Banner

New Year’s Resolutions for Children

We all have different thoughts about New Year’s resolutions, as adults. Talking to your child about creating some resolutions can be a teachable moment about the coming of a new year being a “fresh start”. It can be a chance to focus on healthier habits; a creative opportunity to make it fun to set a goal or two, while establishing greater responsibility and accountability in your child.

When setting goals with children, it’s important to keep in mind that they must be realistic and easy enough to attain with moderate effort. A challenge, but achievable. Otherwise, they can be demotivating and cause upset. Of course, goals also need to be age-appropriate and right for your child’s stage of development.

Keep in mind that in Montessori, we don’t do stickers or rewards/incentives when students do their classroom jobs, for instance. The goal is for your child to derive self-satisfaction for a job well done, and for the students to experience and become aware of how they feel as a result of the work they did. We focus on the process as opposed to the product. This may mean a statement like: “Wow – I noticed you spent 15 minutes working to make your bed. Are you wiped out? Do you need to lay down!?” You can exaggerate this and make them laugh. The more fun they associate with their success, the more likely they are to try again. Or, “how does it feel to do it all by yourself?” Let them tell you and really listen, matter-of-factly and without judgment.

Creating a positive association with the amount of effort or time spent, asking about how they feel, as opposed to judging, correcting, fixing, etc. – this is the key. For instance, try really hard NOT to remake the bed after they give it a go, especially if it’s their first time. It may be wrinkly and obviously done by a child, but coming back in to smooth the covers out, for instance, can actually be hurtful and even devastating to a sensitive child. And of course, never say things like “you did it wrong” or “that’s not the way I showed you!” A simple whisper: “I notice you made your bed” can suffice.

If your child asks for feedback, depending on their age, you can offer things like:
“You know, I am just so impressed that you accepted this responsibility.”
“How do you feel you did, cleaning up your things?”
“What’s something you want to try differently next time you organize your drawers”?
“Are you happy with the way it came out?”

Another idea that can work nicely is to tackle a project together with your child, and perhaps break a bigger project up into smaller steps. Let’s say you want to help organize your child’s bookshelves. Sit with your child and work together to complete these steps:

  1. Ask your child to “show you” how you to carefully remove books from the shelf, and how to treat them with respect.
  2. Your child can demonstrate. Practice this together first, since you will be removing every book from the shelves.
  3. Once books are carefully removed from the shelves, suggest a “sort” of books by category. Tell your child you will help.
  4. Perhaps the first book you look at is fiction, about animals. Use a piece of paper to write FICTION – Animals, and have your child draw a quick animal on the paper. (a visual cue) Then, together, begin to find all of the books with animals and physically place them with the label, in their own pile(s).
  5. Next, identify books which are NON-FICTION about animals. Talk about the difference, and see if any of the books in FICTION pile need to be moved to NON-FICTION – Animals. (“Fiction means stories where animals might talk, or there is a lesson to learn. Non-ficiton is where there are facts and photos of real animals, like in a dictionary or encyclopedia.”)
  6. Get creative with the categories: Read Aloud Books, Holiday Books, Sports, Funny Books (Humor), etc.
  7. Once the sort is complete – now the fun part! Choose various stickers, one to represent each category. Let your child choose. Make sure you have enough stickers that match for the number of books in that category.
  8. All of the FICTION – Animal books might have a lion sticker on the spine of the book. Cover the sticker with clear tape so it stays on. Do the labeling with lion stickers and add tape to the spine of each book in the FICTION – Animal category, so when books stand on the shelf, the lion stickers are all at the same height. On that section of the shelf, place a label FICTION – Animal with a lion sticker on it, as a visual reference for your child to know where the lion books “live” on the shelf, so that the category label FICTION – Animal which has the lion sticker, sits where the books with the lion are to be placed. Now your child knows where the category is and where the books go by matching the labels (stickers).
  9. Once you have sorted and categorized and labelled every book, it’s time to neatly return them to the shelves, and see the result! Now it’s easy for your child to return books to where they belong on their shelf, and to know where books are, sorted by category. This is very satisfying, for children and adults.
  10. Depending on the amount of time you have and how old your child is, you might start with just one category one day, and come back again on another day to identify and sort the next category.

Here is a short list of resolutions that can be easy enough to manage (attainable) and age-appropriate for children who are school-aged, as well as fun:
• I will take time after playing with toys to put them back where they go. (again, the sorting and categorizing is very helpful to accomplish this!)
• I will let my parents help to remind me to brush my teeth twice a day, in the morning and after dinner, and will try to do it by myself.
• I will wash my hands after using the bathroom, after eating, and after playing outside.
• I will try new foods when I can and remember that “taste buds change!” (sometimes we don’t like a food and then we do!)
• I will help to clear my place after I eat/the whole table after my family eats a meal.
• I will learn to care for animals and ask pet owners if I can pet their animal before I do it.
• I will look both ways and hold a grown-up’s hand whenever I cross the street.
• I will take care of my skin by putting on sunscreen, wearing a hat, and sunglasses.
• I will wear a helmet whenever I ride my scooter.
• I will remember to be nice to others and if I see someone looking sad, see if I can cheer them up.

Notice how many of these are safety-related and represent healthy choices that you want your child to make. Turning these things into goal-setting can make them more of a game, and introduce a fun element to help increase buy-in and participation in your child, and even reduce your headaches and the need to remind, coax, reward, etc. Use the idea of a new year as a time to hit the “reset button” and start something new and fun, to introduce a new challenge to work toward. You may also share one of your resolutions with your child to help set the tone!

Happy New Year, and good luck!

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From The Banner

MSB Featured Employee: Pak Wayan Metra (Security)

In this interview, we’re pulling back the curtain on another person “behind the uniform”… this time we chat with Pak Wayan Metra about being a part of MSB’s safety staff for nearly two decades. Enjoy.

Q: How long have you been working as part of the security team at our Montessori school?

A: I have been part of the security staff at Montessori School Bali from August 14, 2005 until today – 19 years this August. That’s quite a long time too!

Q: Wow, that is a long time! What motivates you to continue working here?

A: My motivation for working here is definitely to earn income to support my family. The work environment is also very comfortable, especially for the Security team, which is divided into 3 work shifts.

Q: How do you collaborate with other staff members, teachers, and administrators to ensure a safe and secure learning environment?

A: I always try to collaborate and respect fellow employees in the work environment. I also work according to the applicable SOP,  and do not feel like I am the most senior,  even though I have worked here the longest.

Q: Do you get to interact with the students very much? If so, do you have a favourite story? 

A: No, I do not get to interact too much with students – they are busy in the classroom!

Q: What is your favourite thing about working in a school?

A: The comfortable and conducive work environment, including a sense of family created by fellow employees.

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From The Banner Uncategorized

Gratitude: How to Practice It and Why It’s Important

Thinking about this time of year and my family and with the New Year’s just ahead got me reflecting on the idea of gratitude. Growing up, one of my family’s favorite holidays was Thanksgiving… not so much for the significance of the history of the holiday, but certainly as a coveted time to be together as a family, and to celebrate all of the things in our lives we were appreciative of. There were many ways we demonstrated our thanks over the years in my family. It was an important ritual for me.

When I think of some of the values we try to help instill in our MSB students, one that comes to mind is gratitude.

It’s so easy to float through life, especially as children and take things for granted. Here are some ideas to initiate activities and conversations with your children around the idea of being thankful, grateful, and what it means to be blessed. Enjoy.

1. The Gratitude Jar

Have your child help decorate a glass vase or jar with sparkles and hearts, glitter, etc. Next to the jar, place strips of paper with a pencil. Have each member of the family make a daily, nightly, weekly practice of thinking of something that happened for which they are grateful. Something that made you laugh, or smile, or feel good. If your child is not old enough to do the writing, ask them to tell you and you write it and read it back to them. Have them drop it in the jar. Then, on a nightly, weekly basis, collect the strips and have a family meeting to reflect on all of the things the family was grateful for today/this week. Recall ”whose was whose.”

2. Gratitude Journal

This can also be a way to help your child begin to embrace journaling, which is such a healthy outlet for expressing all sorts of feelings. Children who are artistic and highly creative also enjoy embellishing a journal with art and coloring and other decorations, which in itself, is meditative and calming – and another thing to be grateful for! And later, if your child is having an “off” moment, a tough day, or just needs some reassurance, you can have them read a page from their gratitude journal as a way to reconnect with their own joy. 😊

3. Read Stories with a Message of Gratitude

Here are some titles to get the conversation going. I can remember when I was a younger child, my mom helping me through a tough time by asking me to think of things I was grateful for. What a great way to initiate this using a book:

Thankful, by Eileen Spinelli

A brother and sister explore different ways of life and the many things different people have to be thankful for.

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart, by Jennifer Cohen Harper

This book offers a bedtime ritual of gratitude, guiding kids through the practice of giving thanks for the bodies and minds that carry them through life.

Thanks a Million, by Nikki Grimes

This collection of kid-friendly poems teaches children about the many reasons to be grateful and the power of saying “thank you.”

And here is a whole list of books on the theme of gratitude:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/childrens-books-gratitude_l_5dd5b609e4b0e29d727e690a

4. Acts of Kindness/Service

Teaching children to be thankful can also involve teaching them to give back. Help your child find a way to engage in small acts of kindness, like making cards for elderly neighbours, helping set the table for dinner, or baking someone a loaf of bread. These actions help them understand the joy of giving.

5. Volunteer Together
Consider involving your child in an age-appropriate volunteer opportunity. This hands-on experience will teach them the value of giving back and the importance of gratitude in action.

These activities not only bring the spirit of gratitude to life but also help children understand the true meaning of giving thanks for what we have and showing appreciation to the people around us. By making gratitude a part of their daily lives, children can carry the lessons of thankfulness with them throughout the year.

THE BENEFITS of GRATITUDE

However you may implement thankfulness into your family life, the scientific community reports that there are actually physiological benefits that come from practicing an attitude of gratitude:

a. Gratitude can open the door to new relationships. A 2014 study reported that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities and saying “thank you” is not just good manners; it may help us to win new friends.

b. Gratitude improves physical health. According to a study in 2012… people who expressed gratitude experience fewer aches and pains. They also are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

c. Gratitude improves psychological health. Being thankful was found to reduce a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Studies show that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

d. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend 10-15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

e. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component of optimal performance.

We all have so much to be thankful for. As teachers and parents, let’s make sure we model appreciation for all of our blessings and teach our children how to be full of thanks and mindful of all of the good things that come our way, each and every day.