What Should You Consider When Selecting a School for your Child? 

  • By Ocean State Montessori School
  • 08 Jan, 2018
There are few decisions you will make in life as impactful as where your children go to school. Not to put more pressure on yourself, but determining where your children will receive a quality education is a decision that will influence them through the rest of their lives. It really is a domino effect. Choosing the proper school at the preschool level leads to your choice for elementary school, which then impacts your decision on high school. Their performance and extracurricular activity participation in high school will open a door to their college decision, which will then lead to the career path that will make them happy and successful throughout the rest of their lives.

Every child is unique—deciding on your children’s education path is certainly not a “one size fits all” solution. On the contrary, you are their parent, and know your child better than anyone else. You know your children’s strengths, where they can grow, and what kind of educational environment will be best suited for them. But no matter how much you know and love your children, deciding on a school can still be an overwhelming prospect.

Here are a few things you as a parent should consider when selecting a school for your child.

Do Your Homework Before You Visit Any School
It’s important that you read about each of your possible schools carefully before scheduling an in-person visit. We recommend you examine each school’s profiles on review websites, such as GreatSchools.org , Yelp.com and the school’s Facebook page . However, reviews only get you so far—speaking to other parents, checking your local newspaper for articles about area schools, and carefully reviewing promotional materials published by each school will also help you to find out if a school is potentially a good fit for your child. Only when you get a good impression on a school’s academic offerings and reputation should you book a tour of the school.

Ask the Right Questions and Get the Right Answers
Choosing the right school for your child is all about getting proper answers to your top questions. We recommend you have a firm understanding of a school’s mission, their pedagogy and teaching philosophy, average classroom size, approach to disciple, parent community, and their options for extended day programs and enrichment activities.

Pay Attention to the School’s Features
How do the classrooms feel—do they give off a friendly or stern vibe? Are students allowed to move freely around the classrooms or do they sit still at desks? Do the teachers seem engaged and knowledgeable? What credentials do the teachers hold? Are the facilities clean and well maintained? Although you should never judge a book by its cover—the outside of a school may look dreary or dim, but the classrooms inside could be bright and vibrant—you must pay attention to all of these aspects when visiting a potential school for your child. There is no one right way of doing it—only you can determine the correct impressions to these observations.

As a parent, you want your child to have the very best. Part of that means giving them an exceptional education that they will carry with them forever. If you think Ocean State Montessori School would be a good fit for your child, please consider attending our upcoming Open House on January 18th from 9 am-11 am or scheduling a tour. Call 401-434-6913 or email office@oceanstatemontessori.org for more information.

By Ocean State Montessori School 08 Jan, 2018
There are few decisions you will make in life as impactful as where your children go to school. Not to put more pressure on yourself, but determining where your children will receive a quality education is a decision that will influence them through the rest of their lives. It really is a domino effect. Choosing the proper school at the preschool level leads to your choice for elementary school, which then impacts your decision on high school. Their performance and extracurricular activity participation in high school will open a door to their college decision, which will then lead to the career path that will make them happy and successful throughout the rest of their lives.

Every child is unique—deciding on your children’s education path is certainly not a “one size fits all” solution. On the contrary, you are their parent, and know your child better than anyone else. You know your children’s strengths, where they can grow, and what kind of educational environment will be best suited for them. But no matter how much you know and love your children, deciding on a school can still be an overwhelming prospect.

Here are a few things you as a parent should consider when selecting a school for your child.

Do Your Homework Before You Visit Any School
It’s important that you read about each of your possible schools carefully before scheduling an in-person visit. We recommend you examine each school’s profiles on review websites, such as GreatSchools.org , Yelp.com and the school’s Facebook page . However, reviews only get you so far—speaking to other parents, checking your local newspaper for articles about area schools, and carefully reviewing promotional materials published by each school will also help you to find out if a school is potentially a good fit for your child. Only when you get a good impression on a school’s academic offerings and reputation should you book a tour of the school.

Ask the Right Questions and Get the Right Answers
Choosing the right school for your child is all about getting proper answers to your top questions. We recommend you have a firm understanding of a school’s mission, their pedagogy and teaching philosophy, average classroom size, approach to disciple, parent community, and their options for extended day programs and enrichment activities.

Pay Attention to the School’s Features
How do the classrooms feel—do they give off a friendly or stern vibe? Are students allowed to move freely around the classrooms or do they sit still at desks? Do the teachers seem engaged and knowledgeable? What credentials do the teachers hold? Are the facilities clean and well maintained? Although you should never judge a book by its cover—the outside of a school may look dreary or dim, but the classrooms inside could be bright and vibrant—you must pay attention to all of these aspects when visiting a potential school for your child. There is no one right way of doing it—only you can determine the correct impressions to these observations.

As a parent, you want your child to have the very best. Part of that means giving them an exceptional education that they will carry with them forever. If you think Ocean State Montessori School would be a good fit for your child, please consider attending our upcoming Open House on January 18th from 9 am-11 am or scheduling a tour. Call 401-434-6913 or email office@oceanstatemontessori.org for more information.

By Brooke Wyman, Primary Lead Teacher 02 Jan, 2018
Snack is typically a favorite activity in the primary classroom. Everyone loves a good snack, but just as appealing is the independence that happens at snack time. First, the children get to decide when they are ready to eat and if the snack is something they like. Then they get to decipher a menu and serve themselves. After eating, (and doing dishes another favorite) not only is their physical need of hunger met, but their internal need for independence is satisfied.

Below are some ways to encourage independence through snack time at home.
  • Your turn for snack? Enlist the help of your child in preparing snack for their friends. Primary students are great at peeling cucumbers and carrots, using an apple cutter, or slicing strawberries.
  • Be creative! There are endless possibilities to create kid friendly snacks, that your child can prepare (I must warn you that Pinterest can be rather addictive). Have your child put fruit on a kabob, turn those apple slices into a race car by adding cut grapes with toothpicks for wheels. Use a small cookie cutter to make shapes out of bread and cheese. 
  • No time to make a snack? Adding steps for independence can make snack time more rewarding. Include cream cheese with bagels so children get to practice using a butter knife. Add granola with yogurt, giving children the option of making a parfait.
  • At home keep portioned snacks in an area that your child can reach. Keep milk or water in a child sized pitcher so they can serve themselves a drink. 
There are plenty of great ideas online to make snack time fun and rewarding. Try searching the following phrases on Pinterest for some excellent snack inspirations: "Snacks kids can make, Kid friendly snacks, and Child food preparation ideas - Montessori"
By Ocean State Montessori School 20 Dec, 2017
While having your kids home for the holidays can be fun, it can also be hard to find things that will keep them occupied for the duration of their vacation. Most parents will go into vacation with confidence when it comes to keeping their kids busy, but kids can burn through activities faster than you think. Below you’ll find a few activities to do to keep your kids busy during their holiday vacation!

Find Activities in Your Community
During the holidays, there are usually many different things going on in your community that you and your family can take part of. If you’re looking for activities to take your kids to, you can check your local papers or community centers to check out all the fun events going on. Kidoinfo.com and Hulafrog.com are excellent resources for parents in the Providence area as well!

Public libraries can also be a great source of entertainment. Not only can you use the library as a resource to find events, there are also many events that happen at the library itself, along with computers and small reading areas. Libraries also often have storytimes for toddlers and young children, which can give parents a breather.

Staying at Home
If it’s logistically easier for you to stay at home with your kids and find fun ways to entertain them that way, here are a few ideas you could try out:
  • Read, Read, Read : Reading is an adventure! Pick their favorite book out from the bookshelf and cuddle up with some blankets the fireplace or windowsill. Better yet, make some hot cocoa or tea to enjoy while you read. 
  • Get Cooking : find a recipe that all the kids will like and agree on, and make it with them! You can buy the ingredients beforehand (or take them shopping with you) and have them help you make the meal with you! This can inspire them to eat new things, and will also get them helping you in the kitchen. 
  • Play Dress Up : this is also a great way to clean out any old and unwanted clothes you don’t wear anymore. Your kids look up to you, and will enjoy getting to dress up in your clothes, even if you don’t want them anymore. 
  • Put on a Puppet Show : create your own puppets out of socks and write their own play, and they can even dress up and use props from around the house. If you have a camera, you can even record it for memories that will last a lifetime. 

All of us here at Ocean State Montessori School hope you have a wonderful holiday!
By Robert "Mr. Bob" Short, Upper Elementary Lead Teacher 12 Dec, 2017
 Imagine a child alone in a home with bowls of fresh fruit and vegetables on the table which are mysteriously replenished each morning. At first the child is quite satisfied with their meals, and knowing a bit about nutrition and fitness from health class, they even feel a measure of satisfaction from their lifestyle. One day while exploring the space, however, the child opens a door into a room filled with boxes of candy.

 Eating five Snickers bars is inadvisable and will probably make you feel a bit ill. Perhaps child regrets their ill-advised spree and go back to the fruits and vegetables the next time they are hungry. The child eats a lime and discovers that it isn’t as pleasantly sour as that apple flavored lollipop. What was once the subtle flavor of the banana doesn’t seem to taste like anything at all. Nor does the apple taste sweet. The effort of opening up a pomegranate or pineapple which once piqued their curiosity and whetted their appetite now seems numbingly inconvenient.

 One of my favorite pleasures as an educator is to impart an idea to children of what it was like to live in different times or places. In a recent discussion in the Upper Elementary room, some students were shocked to learn that sugar was not a common foodstuff until the 19th century. “So their food wasn’t ever sweet?” a student asked. I explained that they thought their food was sweet when they had honey or fruit. They simply didn’t know what they were missing.

 Many times while studying history with elementary students a student will bring up previous generations’ lack of television or video games. It is an understandable reaction; screen time has become as integral part of their live just as cane sugar has, and with similarly complicated consequences.

 As the rate of technological and social change quickens, the truth is that gadgets and their use are changing faster than scientists and sociologists can study their effect.

 It is clear, however, that screen time has measurable effect on the social, physical, academic, and emotional lives of children. In the new guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the hard limits are as follows: No screen time for children under two. For children 2 to 5, less than one hour. It gets more complicated for older children. “Children today are growing up in an era of highly personalized media use experiences,” they write, “so parents must develop personalized media use plans for their children.”

 As adults, our thoughts and reactions are to a degree determined by the neural pathways we’ve reinforced by repeated use. It is for this reason why frequent complaining leads to a more negative mindset. It is why our negative reactions to stress are so difficult to root out. Conversely, it is for this reason why practitioners of silent contemplation, meditation, and prayer report a great inner calm.

 Now, imagine the mind of a child, incredibly plastic and still under construction. The pathways they use now are already developing into what will become the most well-worn and easily travelled paths in their mind. If the child’s entertainment diet is passive and of low quality, that may contribute to certain problematic attitudes in the classroom. Foremost is the idea that fun is effortless and gratifies instantly. Difficult tasks are not seen as opportunities for growth but as unpleasant obstacles to be avoided.

 The Mayo Clinic notes that, “it's crucial to monitor the shows your child is watching and the games or apps he or she is playing to make sure they are appropriate. Avoid fast-paced programming, which young children have a hard time understanding, apps with a lot of distracting content, and violent media. Eliminate advertising on apps, since young children have trouble telling the difference between ads and factual information.”

 Just as we humans love fatty, salty food due to our primordial craving for those two rare nutritional needs, we love distraction, gossip, and vicarious violence. Our interest in novelty and the lives of others were once the advantages of our long ago ancestors that allowed them to excel as humanity raced out of the horn of Africa to explore the world. Those same qualities, deep and dormant in our brains, are what keeps us and our children glued to screens until we turn off the blue light late in the evening and wonder why we can’t sleep.

 This is no accident. The companies that make apps and video games are using this knowledge of neuroscience to design addictive programming. For children, that means making things faster, brighter, and louder. It means replacing humor based on language and context with non-sequiturs and silly voices. It replaces the metaphorical and the analogical with the literal. In short it replaces engagement with frontal brain function with tickling our basest instincts.

 It is this kind of programming a child was thinking about when they told me recently that they didn’t like movies because they were too long. If a movie is too long, what will they think of a novel?

 From a teacher’s perspective, the three things that screen time largely replaces is reading, sports, or unstructured play. The importance of the first two is beyond question, but first a word on unstructured play: it is the fancy scholarly term for what happens when you are consumed with some task and you look out the window to see your child playing with the cat, the neighbor, two rocks, and a stick. Whether or not there is supervision it is child-driven, child-planned, and child-centered. There are no rules, or if they are rules they are made up on the fly as two or more children learn about collaboration, communication, and compromise in real time. It is a child’s social education. For a child of 2-5 years old, it is at least as important as reading.

 For the older children at our school, the most important task is that they develop a love of reading and the practice of it. Reading builds the knowledge of vocabulary and spelling which frees up time for that student to focus on other interests during the school day. It improves memory and analytical thinking skills. It assists the child’s development of focus and concentration. In the Montessori classroom this is called “normalization”. The normalized student is not bored or overwhelmed but can assert their own will to learn on their own terms. In the home this could simply be a child who is comfortable with silence.

 How does one reduce and control screen time in their own home? There are as many answers to that question as there are students at the school. What is essential, though, is for the child’s parents to agree on a plan for their child’s diet of screen time and to cooperate in firmly enforcing the limits which are set. The child may be bored at first, and that is okay. The cultivation of the ability to endure boredom is linked to the practices of patience and tolerance. They may devour a book or go turn over rocks looking for bugs. They may count the bumps on the popcorn ceiling. It is okay. It is in that quiet that our truest natures reveal themselves. It is where we can hear the still, small voice of our conscience. Not everything good is easy. Not everything good is loud.

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