msb guidepost newsletter - feb/march 2013

THE MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF THE BERKSHIRES – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013 Have you ever stumbled upon your child acting out an imaginary scene? Perhaps you’ve found her “playing school” or witnessed him use a Lego person to boss a Beanie Baby around a bit. Play is a way for children to process and make sense of their lives. They need play, and as Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, so eloquently explains in his book, Playful Parenting, children need the adults in their lives to play too. Let’s be honest, though. Between feeling sapped from work, or drained from the hustle and bustle of getting our kids from here to there, we don’t often default to “let’s romp around and have some fun.” Instead we’re likely to feel a little annoyed when our children’s play gets a little too rowdy or they don’t want to stop in order to come to dinner. Yet by engaging playfully, we can actually create more closeness, cooperation, and conJidence in our children. On March 6, we’re inviting Bill Corbett, a national parenting educator, to give a Cooperative Kids workshop at MSB. One of the many things I’ve learned from Cooperative Kids is that we all have emotional bank accounts. We can make deposits to those accounts, much as we do when we put money into our Jinancial accounts. Those deposits can take the form of hugs, appreciations, reading together, and really whatever strengthens the connection. Withdraws are those actions that weaken the emotional connection: sarcastic comments, failure to remember a promise, acting maliciously, and so forth. When our emotional bank accounts are full, a little withdraw here and there doesn’t feel so bad because there’s plenty of cushion in our emotional bank account. But when those emotional bank accounts feel drained, a small withdraw will feel even more hurtful. Cohen has a similar description in terms of establishing our connection with children. He describes how children (and really adults, too) need their cups Jilled. A child’s need for attachment is like a cup that gets emptied by being tired, hungry, hurt, or lonely, and then reJilled by being loved, cuddled, encouraged, and even fed. Cohen suggests looking at children’s behavior and thinking about these “cups.” Is a child running around desperately trying to get a reJill? Is she bouncing off the walls in the process and even spilling what little is in her cup? Does a child have a leaky cup, always needing more attention but never feeling satisJied? Is the child who really needs a reJill blocking others from giving him just what he needs to feel better? Montessori GUIDEPOST Playfulness: Why it Matters to Kids (and Adults) by Meagan Ledendecker Continued on page 3...

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MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013


Page 1: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013


Have  you  ever  stumbled  upon  your  child  acting  out  an  imaginary  scene?    Perhaps  you’ve  found  her  “playing  school”  or  witnessed  him  use  a  Lego  person  to  boss  a  Beanie  Baby  around  a  bit.    

Play  is  a  way  for  children  to  process  and  make  sense  of  their  lives.    They  need  play,  and  as  Lawrence  J.  Cohen,  PhD,  so  eloquently  explains  in  his  book,  Playful  Parenting,  children  need  the  adults  in  their  lives  to  play  too.

Let’s  be  honest,  though.    Between  feeling  sapped  from  work,  or  drained  from  the  hustle  and  bustle  of  getting  our  kids  from  here  to  there,  we  don’t  often  default  to  “let’s  romp  around  and  have  some  fun.”    Instead  we’re  likely  to  feel  a  little  annoyed  when  our  children’s  play  gets  a  little  too  rowdy  or  they  don’t  want  to  stop  in  order  to  come  to  dinner.

Yet  by  engaging  playfully,  we  can  actually  create  more  closeness,  cooperation,  and  conJidence  in  our  children.    

On  March  6,  we’re  inviting  Bill  Corbett,  a  national  parenting  educator,  to  give  a  Cooperative  

Kids  workshop  at  MSB.    One  of  the  many  things  I’ve  learned  from  Cooperative  Kids  is  that  we  all  have  emotional  bank  accounts.    

We  can  make  deposits  to  those  accounts,  much  as  we  do  when  we  put  money  into  our  Jinancial  accounts.    Those  deposits  can  take  the  form  of  hugs,  appreciations,  reading  together,  and  really  whatever  strengthens  the  connection.    Withdraws  are  those  actions  that  weaken  the  emotional  connection:  sarcastic  comments,  failure  to  remember  a  promise,  acting  maliciously,  and  so  forth.    

When  our  emotional  bank  accounts  are  full,  a  little  withdraw  here  and  there  doesn’t  feel  so  bad  because  there’s  plenty  of  cushion  in  our  emotional  bank  account.    But  when  those  emotional  bank  accounts  feel  drained,  a  small  withdraw  will  feel  even  more  hurtful.

Cohen  has  a  similar  description  in  terms  of  establishing  our  connection  with  children.    He  describes  how  children  (and  really  adults,  too)  need  their  

cups  Jilled.    A  child’s  need  for  attachment  is  like  a  cup  that  gets  emptied  by  being  tired,  hungry,  hurt,  or  lonely,  and  then  reJilled  by  being  loved,  cuddled,  encouraged,  and  even  fed.    Cohen  suggests  looking  at  children’s  behavior  and  thinking  about  these  “cups.”    Is  a  child  running  around  desperately  trying  to  get  a  reJill?    Is  she  bouncing  off  the  walls  in  the  process  and  even  spilling  what  little  is  in  her  cup?    Does  a  child  have  a  leaky  cup,  always  needing  more  attention  but  never  feeling  satisJied?    Is  the  child  who  really  needs  a  reJill  blocking  others  from  giving  him  just  what  he  needs  to  feel  better?

Montessori G U I D E P O S T

Playfulness: Why it Matters to Kids (and Adults)by Meagan Ledendecker

Continued on page 3...

Page 2: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013

I  hope  this  edition  of  the  Guidepost  Jinds  Montessori  families  healthy  and  well  as  the  daylight  extends  and  spring  approaches.

As  this  winter  wanes,  the  MSB  Trustees  are  continuing  to  examine  our  school’s  Jinancial  well  being,  so  as  to  improve  the  educational  experience  for  our  children.  

We  are  always  working  to  earn  the  trust  you  have  

placed  in  us  by  your  decision  to  enroll  your  children  at  MSB.

The  decision  to  invest  your  resources  in  Montessori  education  is  an  investment  that  will  never  depreciate;  what  your  child  learns  from  this  curriculum  and  in  this  environment  will  continue  to  blossom  for  their  entire  lifetime.  I  can’t  think  of  another  investment  that  makes  that  promise.

Finally,  at  the  risk  of  rankling  my  daughter,  Bryn,  (what  are  parents  for  but  to  forever  embarrass  their  children?),  I’d  like  to  welcome  Craig  and  Bryn’s  newborn  baby  girl,  Tuula,  born  this  past  Valentine’s  Day.    That  puts  her  in  the  class  of  2026,  correct?

With  warm  best  wishes,

Church DavisChairman,  Board  of  Trustees

Dear MSB Parents & Friends,


A  Montessori  environment  works  to  instill  a  sense  of  independence,  creativity,  and  resourcefulness  within  each  child.    This  is  accomplished  through  a  carefully  prepared  environment  that  allows  them  access  to  speciJically  designed  lessons  that  promote  a  sense  of  focus  and  interest.    

In  line  with  the  child’s  experience  in  their  environment,  our  school  community  works  to  create  resources  and  opportunities  for  families  and  community  members  to  participate  more  in  and  learn  more  about  their  child’s  experience  as  well  as  Montessori  in  general.    

This  spring,  we  have  a  number  of  events  and  activities  that  work  toward  this  goal  including,  Bill  Corbett’s  Cooperative  Kids  workshop,  pinning  ceremonies  for  

kindergarten,  3rd  grade,  6th  grade,  as  well  as  8th  grade  graduation,  the  Silent  Journey  night,  family  sharing,  in-­‐school  open  houses,  Toddler  and  Children’s  House  playgroups,  afterschool  enrichment,  parent  conferences,  the  robotics  competition,  Grandparents/Grandfriends  Day,    our  May  Pole  dance,  the  Great  Brain  Fair,  and  the  Moving  Up  Ceremony.    And  we  can’t  forget  about  our  Springtime  in  Paris  auction  event!

We  are  excited  about  these  resources  and  hope  that  you  are  able  to  take  advantage  of  at  least  some  of  them…see  you  in  Paris!


Todd Covert


“The child, making use of all that he finds around him shapes himself for the future.” –Dr. Maria Montessori

Page 3: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013

When  our  children  need  their  cups  reJilled,  or  deposits  in  their  emotional  bank  accounts,  it’s  time  for  us  to  re-­‐establish  connection.    And  a  very  effective  way  to  rekindle  that  connection  is  through  play.  

The  play  doesn’t  have  to  be  elaborate,  although  Cohen  does  advocate  for  how  working  toward  extended  play  times  with  our  children  will  create  healthier  family  environments  for  all  of  us.    Really,  though,  the  playfulness  can  be  as  simple  as  acting  a  little  silly.    Cohen’s  tenant  is  to  “follow  the  giggles.”

It’s  actually  pretty  amazing  how  effective  following  the  giggles  can  be,  even  for  those  of  us  who  have  a  hard  time  letting  ourselves  go  in  the  playful  department.    After  reading  the  book,  I  tried  one  of  Cohen’s  suggestions  to  reverse  the  roles  we  typically  play.    Instead  of  being  the  one  who  dolled  out  reminders  about  what  needed  to  happen,  I  stomped  my  foot  and  whined  that  I  didn’t  want  to  clean  up  my  things.    Sure,  I  felt  a  little  goofy  right  after  I  did  it,  but  I  heard  my  kids  start  to  giggle  and  knew  I  was  on  the  right  track.

I  also  used  the  experience  to  try  one  of  Cohen’s  other  suggestions,  which  is  to  weave  in  alternatives  to  how  a  particular  situation  can  play  out  (no  pun  intended!).    In  my  case,  after  I  whined  and  moaned  about  cleaning  up,  and  my  daughter  –  playing  along  of  course  –  told  me  that  I  absolutely  had  to  clean  up,  I  pouted  a  little  but  then  shifted  

gears,  “Okay,  okay.    I’ll  pick  up  my  things.”    Reversing  the  roles  offered  me  an  opportunity  to  suggest,  without  having  to  lecture  or  be  didactic,  a  new  storyline  to  how  my  daughter  could  respond  to  a  clean-­‐up  reminder.

Cohen’s  work  on  playful  relationships  with  children  really  extends  how  we  can  approach  discipline.    First,  the  playfulness  is  proactive.    We’re  Jilling  cups  so  children  don’t  resort  to  unpleasant  behavior  to  get  our  attention.    But  there’s  more  to  the  playful  approach.    

One  of  my  favorite  suggestions  is  having  a  “meeting  on  the  couch.”    Rather  than  launch  into  a  reactive,  habitual  response,  we  can  call  for  a  couch  meeting.    I  did  this  over  break  when  sibling  rivalry  had  erupted  for  the  umpteenth  time.    At  Jirst  my  kids  didn’t  know  how  to  respond.    Even  the  mention  of  couch-­‐time,  though,  diffused  the  intensity  of  the  moment.

The  couch  symbolizes  snuggles  and  comfort,  not  harsh  discipline.    And  that’s  the  point.    Being  together  on  the  couch  worked  for  them  and  me.    We  all  relaxed.      I  found  myself  better  able  to  sit  back  and  listen.    They  were  able  to  share  

ideas.    The  next  thing  I  knew  they  were  playing  again,  both  happy  with  the  arrangement  they  negotiated.

Cohen’s  book,  Playful  Parenting,  is  full  of  these  kinds  of  valuable  tools.    

I  should  mention,  though,  that  in  the  last  paragraph  of  the  book,  Cohen  takes  a  Montessori  quote  out  of  context.    In  a  recent  email  exchange,  Cohen  graciously  admitted  that  he  wished  he  hadn’t  used  Dr.  Maria  Montessori’s  words  about  work  and  play,  as  the  line  was  certainly  out  of  context.    

In  fact,  Dr.  Montessori’s  writings  about  work  and  play  have  many  subtleties.    She  wanted  to  emphasize  how  children  are  drawn  to  meaningful  activities,  and  using  the  terminology  of  “work”  rather  than  “play”  helped  validate  what  children  were  choosing.    

Despite  Cohen’s  misuse  of  Montessori’s  words,  his  book  is  incredibly  applicable  for  Montessori  families.    The  essence  of  Montessori  philosophy  is  about  respecting  our  children,  recognizing  what  they  need  from  their  environment,  and  following  their  lead.    

This  is  exactly  what  Cohen  advocates,  too.    His  insight  into  how  we  can  approach  interactions  and  connections  with  lighthearted,  yet  meaningful,  play  is  something  that  can  beneJit  us  all.    

For  more  information  about  Cohen’s  work  visit:

Page 4: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1) Bonny working with Athan on reading three-letter phonetic words. 2) Jamie at Kimball Farms starting a scrapbook with her resident partner. 3) Jackson ready to explore his bag of Valentines. 4) Flora reading her Writer’s Workshop book (which Patricia is holding). 5) Joshua and Kade after the Author’s Celebration. 6) Natalie enjoying lunch with Audie and Ben in the background.

Page 5: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013

PARENT GROUP NEWSThe  Parent  Group  is  pleased  to  announce  tremendous  success  for  our  Winter  Oasis  dinner  parties.    We'd  like  to  extend  a  heartfelt  thank  you  to  our  gracious  hosts,  Ursula  and  Enore  Ceola,  Giovanna  Fessenden  and  Chris  Hennessey,  Ailsa  Colbert  and  Adrian  Elliot,  and  Rachel  and  Andrew  Beckwith.    This  year's  attendance  surpassed  last  year’s  and  over  $1,000  was  raised  for  the  Parent  Group.    

We  heard  lots  of  positive  feedback  from  attendees.    Ursula  and  Enore  offered  a  Mine  dining  experience  and  Enore  was  complimented  for  his  instruction  on  wine  pairing.    Giovanna  and  Chris  made  fabulous  margaritas.    Ailsa  and  Adrian  served  an  impressively  wide  variety  of  delicious  foods.    Others  commented  on  how  gracious  Rachel  and  Andrew  were  and  how  fun  it  was  to  marvel  at  their    beautiful  Victorian  home.    

Words  describing  the  parties  ranged  from  "elegant"  to    "spirited"  and  everyone  had  fun  mingling  with  others  in  the  parent  community!    Thanks  to  all  of  you  who  

attended  and  took  this  opportunity  to  enjoy  the  company  of  new  friends.    We  look  forward  to  creating  more  dinner  parties  in  the  future.In  January  we  kicked  off  our  Coffee,  Cut,  &  Chat  and  are  excited  to  say  that  it  has  been  a  huge  success!    The  group  has  had  so  much  fun  chatting  while  making  classroom  materials  and  the  time  just  Mlies  by.    We  have  helped  cut,  glue,  and  organize  many  materials  and  have  learned  a  lot  along  the  way!    While  we  worked  on  labeling  maps,  all  

of  us  expanded  our  knowledge  of  geography.    What  an  unexpected  perk!    We  meet  every  Tuesday  morning  at  8:00  am,  and  welcome  any  new  volunteers.    Contact  Becky  Cachat  at  <[email protected]>  if  you  are  interested  in  joining  us  or  feel  free  to  peek  in  on  Tuesday  morning  to  see  what  we’re  doing.

We'd  like  to  express  our  gratitude  to  everyone  who  has  generously  signed  up  for  volunteering  within  the  Parent  Group  teams.    It  is  only  through  your  time  and  commitment,  that  we  can  make  the  Parent  Group  a  thriving  entity  within  our  school  community.    

We  are  currently  still  looking  for  assistance  with  our  school  yearbook  planning,  planning  family  outings  and  our  Spring  Auction  Committee.    If  anyone  is  interested  in  these  particular  areas  please  email:  <[email protected]>.

Plans  are  underway  for  a  school-­‐wide  Parent  Group  meeting  in  the  spring,  as  is  the  development  of  our  after  school  enrichment  program.    Look  for  future  surveys  from  the  Parent  Group  to  help  us  determine  how  best  to  meet  everyone's  needs  and  interests.

The Parent Group exists to foster community among parents and to help parents channel their support for the school and its staff.


Lori, Jan, & Becky put together CH birthday books and prepare Scholastic book orders

Page 6: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013

 After  a  child  Jinishes  working  with  any  activity,  he  or  she  is  responsible  for  returning  it  to  good  order  and  replacing  the  materials  to  their  spots.  Part  of  the  clean  up  activity  is  to  look  around  your  work  area  and  make  sure  that  your  friends  won't  sit  on  a  wet  chair  that  you  might  have  Jinished  washing,  or  place  their  papers  on  a  table  that  might  have  splatters  of  paint,  

while  checking  for  any  object  you  might  have  missed.      Every  activity  is  left  ready  for  the  next  person.  The  teacher  helps  guide  the  child  to  return  his  or  her  work  to  serviceable  order,  clean  and  restocked  with  the  necessary  materials.  For  example,  a  watercolor  lesson  would  have  clean  paints,  brushes  and  fresh  paper  on  a  dry  tray.      Perhaps  if  we  can,  from  the  start,  teach  our  children  at  home,  at  school,  and  in  our  larger  communities  to  think  and  take  the  time  to  leave  things  ready  for  the  next  person,  we'll  create  a  sustainable  world.

Maren Schmidt, an AMI trained elementary teacher, is author of Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents, and writes the weekly syndicated column, Kids Talk. Sign up for Kids Talk at and visit

Sustainability  seems  to  be  one  of  this  decade's  buzzwords.  Product  labels  proclaim  sustainability.  Clothing  is  sustainable.  Tuna  is  sustainable.  New  construction  is  sustainable.      Marketing  types  seem  to  be  playing  upon  our  ecological  concerns  of  making  sure  we  don't  run  out  of  resources,  that  we  aren't  unwittingly  spending  our  grandchildren's  inheritance.      When  I  opened  my  Jirst  Montessori  classroom,  many  friends  went  through  their  schools'  storerooms  and  sent  me  materials  that  were  serviceable  but  well  loved.  With  one  set  of  wooden  puzzle  cubes  I  received  a  note:  These  are  at  least  25  years  old.  Perhaps  a  coat  of  paint  will  make  them  useful  again.      A  few  coats  of  paint  did  the  job.  One  day  a  student  came  to  me  sad-­‐eyed  to  show  me  that  someone  had  written  on  one  of  the  cubes  and  scratched  the  paint.  My  student  asked  for  me  to  call  a  class  meeting.      “This  is  our  binomial  cube  that  we  all  love  to  work  with.  It  was  given  to  me  by  a  friend  in  Philadelphia  and  was  used  by  the  children  in  her  school  for  25  years.  My  daughters  used  this  cube.  Some  of  your  older  brothers  and  sisters  used  this  cube.  I  would  like  for  

your  baby  brothers  and  sisters  to  use  this  cube.  How  are  we  going  to  make  sure  that  our  brothers  and  sisters  who  aren't  even  walking,  maybe  not  even  born  yet,  will  be  able  to  use  this  puzzle?”  Fifteen  years  later,  the  puzzles  were  still  in  service,  giving  another  generation  hands-­‐on  experience  with  algebra  formulas.      These  puzzle  cubes  represent  one  of  the  underlying  concepts  that  endear  me  to  working  in  a  Montessori  classroom;  the  idea  of  leaving  an  activity  ready  for  the  next  person.  A  Montessori  classroom  is  lined  with  shelves  full  of  hands-­‐on  learning  materials.  For  three  to  six-­‐year-­‐olds  the  materials  needed  for  each  activity  are  grouped  together  on  a  tray  or  in  a  basket,  and  activities  follow  a  left  to  right  sequence  on  the  shelves.  A  place  for  everything  and  everything  in  its  place  is  true  in  a  Montessori  classroom.    

Understanding Montessori: Leave it Ready for the Next Person by Marin Schmidt


Page 7: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013


Student Showcase: Rosa Parks by Jos Beckwith, age 6Rosa  Parks  was  born  on  February  4,  1913.  She  died  November  24,  2005.  When  Rosa  grew  up  African  Americans  did  not  have  a  lot  of  rights.  On  December  1,  1955  she  broke  the  law  by  sitting  in  the  front  of  a  bus.  Because  of  segregation  she  was  not  allowed  to  sit  in  the  front  of  the  bus.  Segregation  was  laws  that  African  American  people  and  white  people  had  to  be  separate.    She  was  arrested  and  had  to  pay  a  Jine.  After  that  she  started  a  boycott.  She  organized  her  whole  community  to  boycott  going  on  the  buses.  So  her  and  her  friends  started  to  walk  to  work.  Because  of  the  boycott  the  bus  company  lost  a  lot  of  money.  

She  also  started  working  with  Martin  Luther  King  Jr.,  who  announced  that  African  Americans  should  Jight  for  rights  but  do  it  peacefully.    The  boycott  lasted  to  1956.  After  that  in  Alabama,  African  Americans  could  sit  in  the  front  of  a  bus.  Rosa  Parks  worked  for  civil  rights,  she  was  brave  and  helped  change  the  American  South  and  is  remembered  for  that.

Grandparents/GrandfriendsGrandparents/Grandfriends  Day  invitations  are  in  the  mail!    We  look  forward  to  seeing  children  share  their  Montessori  experience  with  loved  ones:  Saturday,  March  16,  9:00–11:00  am.    

It's  re-­‐enrollment  time!Enrollment  agreements  for  current  students  are  due!  We  are  thrilled  to  be  reaching  capacity  in  many  of  our  classrooms  and  urge  you  to  return  your  enrollment  agreements  as  soon  as  possible  to  secure  your  child's  space  for  the  2013-­‐2014  school  year.  

Return  your  agreement  by  March  8  and  you'll  be  entered  to  win  a  2013  MSB  camp  session  of  your  choice!    Current  families  who  have  applied  for  Jinancial  aid  will  be  entered  in  the  drawing.

Page 8: MSB Guidepost Newsletter - Feb/March 2013

PO  Box  422Lenox  Dale,  MA  01242

SAVE THE DATECooperative Kids Workshop with Bill CorbettWednesday, March 6, 20136:00–7:30 pm 

Please RSVP to [email protected] call (413) 637-3662Childcare for MSB families provided by AE