When Children and Culture Collide: An Interview with P. Donohue Shortridge

P. Donohue Shortridge works with schools and families as a consultant, helping them implement Montessori ideals in their practice and in their lives. I thought it would be good to talk to her about the topic of children and culture, and she was kind enough to answer my questions. Let’s jump right in!

Continue Reading When Children and Culture Collide: An Interview with P. Donohue Shortridge

9 Great Places to Find Educational Gifts for the Holidays

This is the time of year for gift-giving, and it's not a surprise that I like to give my children educational gifts mixed in with the toys. The great thing is there are lots of fantastic places offering educational games, activities, books, kits, and crafts for every age group. Here are some of my favorites!

Continue Reading 9 Great Places to Find Educational Gifts for the Holidays

Montessori and the Child with Special Needs

Recently I have received quite a few questions about children with special needs (autism, ADHD, and others) and how they can fit into the Montessori environment. Since many of the questions were similar, it seemed like a good idea to jot down some thoughts about this topic. There are several things about the Montessori philosophy and materials that make it a wonderful option for special needs children, and several things that can cause some difficulty also. Please note that I am speaking in generalities; every school is different so there’s a lot of variation out there.

Continue Reading Montessori and the Child with Special Needs

Is It Okay for Children to Think They’re Special?

"Oh sweetie, you're so special." I found myself saying this to my 6-year-old daughter the other day and afterward, began to think about the implications of that statement. This MSN Mental Health article warns us that the results of a 24-year-long survey of college students indicate a serious rise in a narcissistic approach to living.

Continue Reading Is It Okay for Children to Think They’re Special?

Looking Beneath the Surface

Recently, my children and I stopped to take a walk around a small lake. As we were walking, we found a circular abandoned garden with large hedges around it, shielding it from view. The garden had been divided into sections, but there was nothing growing.

Continue Reading Looking Beneath the Surface

Taking a Look at Santa Again

It's that time again - time for family, friends, festivities, and traditions. What would Christmas be without Santa? And what would Santa be without another fun Montessori discussion? Well, it's a topic that seems to need some re-visiting. As many of you might remember, a few years ago I addressed the burning question about whether or not parents should tell their children the truth about Santa. Maria Montessori thought that telling kids about Santa and letting them believe he really exists was wrong, and would lead to doubt later on when they found out the truth. I personally feel somewhat similar, and have not told my kids that Santa is real or that gifts come from Santa.

Continue Reading Taking a Look at Santa Again

Following the Child

Recently I’ve seen or heard a few questions about what it means to “follow the child”. It’s one of those Montessori phrases we throw around, but what does it really mean? Since Maria Montessori divides ages into 6-year cycles, it’s helpful to do so for this topic as well. In the 0-6 age group, following the child typically means observing the child in the classroom and using their interests and level of ability as a guide.

Continue Reading Following the Child

Are Kids Punished by Rewards?

I recently read the book "Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, ‘A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes" by Alfie Kohn, a noted author and outspoken critic of traditional education, including grades, test scores, and homework. Much of what he says is in agreement with the Montessori approach to education. As I read, I thought about this question: In Montessori, we often talk about the harm of external rewards, but are we using them without realizing it?

Continue Reading Are Kids Punished by Rewards?