Teaching Kids how to be Internet Safe & Savvy

The internet is full of information that kids can use to write reports and to learn new things. It can also be very dangerous. If your children don’t know how to use the internet safely, you cannot be sure who they are really talking to. Predators often pose as children to gain a child’s trust to commit a crime. Also, curious children will often visit sites that are not appropriate for children. As a parent, it is up to you to make sure that your children know how to be safe when they are online.

Set Up Parental Controls

The most important thing that you can do to keep your children safe online is to set up parental controls. This safety feature will block your child if they try to enter any website that is not age appropriate. When setting up the parental controls, be sure to use a password that you children won’t be able to easily guess.

Insist On Having Their Passwords

The best way to know who your children are communicating with online is to insist that they give you their email password and their passwords for social media. As they get older, you can change this rule. However, if your child is young and they insist on using email and social media, you should have access to their accounts so that you can check up on them.

Teach Your Child to Only Communicate With People They Know

Predators will often send children friend requests on social media. You should explain the dangers of befriending strangers to your children. Remind your children that people online are not always who they say they are. Let them know that if they don’t know the person in the real world, they should not accept their friend request. Even if the person has a few mutual friends with your child, they still should not accept the friend request. The friends that the person has in common with your child could be children who haven’t been taught the dangers of befriending strangers.

Teach Your Child to Speak Up

You should teach your child that if they see something on the internet that makes them uncomfortable or that they feel is wrong, they should walk away from the computer and tell you. This could be messages and emails from strangers or classmates bullying another child. Remind your child that it is their responsibility to help and speak up whenever possible.

Remind Your Child That Posts and Photos Are There Forever

Many children are naive when it comes to the internet. They believe that if they post something and then delete it, that it is gone forever. It is important to remind your children that everything they put online is saved somewhere and it can come back to cause them serious problems in the future. This is not just photos, but also written words.

It is very important to teach your child how to use the internet safely. It could potentially save their life.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus, children will learn how to make smart and informed decisions throughout their Montessori education.  Contact us today to schedule a tour and learn about the Montessori difference.

Parent Volunteers – Observing in the Classroom

Every parent wants the best learning opportunities for their children. An early love for knowledge builds a foundation for a lifetime of learning. Observing and volunteering in your child’s Montessori classroom may help you to better understand the diverse learning environment.

Volunteering is different than simply observing. Asking to be a volunteer is usually the role of the teacher to a parent. Being an observer is generally a task where parents ask teachers if they can come into the classroom. Each one plays a vital role in your child’s education. Understanding the classroom environment allows parents the opportunity to incorporate learning into regular home routines. Most educators welcome the opportunity to show concerned parents the daily routine of the classroom.

Right to Observe In the Classroom

Volunteering and observing in a classroom allow you to learn about your child’s day. Failing to take an active part in your child’s education may result in problem areas in the future. In the Montessori school setting, parents are welcome to visit. Trying to accommodate parent observation requests, some classrooms actually come equipped with an adult sized chair just for parent guests.

If you are a parent who is denied the opportunity to observe the classroom, you must stand up for your rights. Ask why access to your child’s classroom was denied. Explain the reasons for wanting to observe the classroom. As a parent, you must take into consideration that your presence will be a disturbance in the classroom. Many teachers want to plan your visit to allow for the maximum exposure to the daily classroom environment.

Guidelines to Observing in Your Child’s Classroom

Every teacher has a specific time frame for the length of the classroom observation. Prior to entering the classroom, you may want to ask the teacher or educator the time allowed for observing. In order to understand the Montessori environment, try to observe for at least one hour. Remember to ask the teacher or staff about the other guidelines to follow.

  • Remember your role in the classroom is to observe. Carefully watching the interaction of your child and other children in the classroom will help you in understanding the Montessori learning environment.
  • Enter and exit the classroom quietly. Some Montessori teachers will introduce parent observers.
  • Montessori classrooms are busy with various learning opportunities happening at the same time. As a parent, you may want to just focus on your child. In order to fully understand the learning environment, you should also watch other areas.
  • Do not interrupt the teacher; simply take notes to ask questions later.
  • After observing, ask the teacher or administration staff for a follow-up conference to discuss any questions or concerns.

Observing in the classroom provides parents with opportunities to understand the interaction between children and educators. The Montessori learning environment is not like the traditional classroom. Observing the class in motion will help a parent understand the learning strategies of the Montessori model.  To visit a Montessori classroom in person, contact Montessori School in Newark today.  Schedule a tour and see how Montessori education is firsthand. 

Our Favorite Books for the Season

Holiday books are a perfect way to celebrate a season filled with various traditions. Getting children interested in books at an early age may result in a lifelong love of reading. Seasonal books add to the excitement of the holidays. Finding the right type of book for your child depends on your personal seasonal preferences. As you begin to search for seasonal stories, keep in mind the best way to peak your child’s interest is finding an age appropriate book.

Books for Age Two and Above

  • Christmastime by Alison Jay (2012) is a delightful tale of the different aspects of the wonderful Christmas season.
  • Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle (2014) is a novelty book with lights. The book tells the story of the Little Blue Truck spreading Christmas cheer to various animal friends.
  • Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden (2000) is a fun die-cut window book guiding children to a surprise ending.

Books for Age Three and Above

  • The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood (2012) focuses on the quiet times of the holiday season.
  • The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (2015) inspires the reader to realize true gifts only come from the heart.
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert (2013) shares the story of Anja who wants to be one of Santa’s elves.

Books for Age Four and Above

  • A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel (2011) tells a funny story on how a bad kitty finds the true meaning of the holiday season.
  • Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko (2012) shares the delights representing two seasonal traditions in one household.
  • The Little Elf by Brandi Dougherty (2012) tells the story of Oliver, a small elf with the desire to do the best job in Santa’s workshop.

Books for Age Five and Above

  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien (2013) shares the magical tales surrounding the adventures of North Pole living.
  • Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1986) unfolds the magical tale of being welcomed aboard a train on Christmas Eve.
  • How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan (2015) invites the reader to enjoy the different tips for catching Santa on Christmas Eve.

Books for Age Six and Above

  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett (2012) tells a funny tale of a boy trying to capture Santa.
  • Barbara Parks’ tale of Junie B., First Grader in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) (2009) tells the story of finding out your secret Santa pick is the class tattletale.
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tee: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (1996) shares the story of Ruthie who wants to find the perfect Christmas tree for the little town.

Every book has a way to invite the reader into a season filled with joy and laughter. Deciding on just one book may be a difficult decision. For extra fun, you can always go with the classic tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The ending always makes you smile.

Montessori School of Newark can help your child excel in reading through Montessori education, where children are encouraged to work at their own pace and collaborate with others.  Call us today to schedule a tour and learn how Montessori education can be a fit for your family.

Five Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

Exploration activities are a great way to help your child gain confidence while exploring the world around them. We are lucky that here in Pleasanton, we have plenty to do year round. Here are five activities you might want to check out that can help your child explore and grow.

5 Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

  1. Augustine Bernal Park – When the weather is nice, head out to Augustine Bernal Community Park. This is a great place to take the kids to get some energy out and to learn as they explore the outdoors. There are many different trails out there, some as small as half a mile, making it perfect for all ages. Children can explore different plants, get a little dirty, and be out in the fresh air.
  2. Mission Hills Park – If you are looking for a more confined space where you can let the kids roam and explore at their own will, Mission Hills Park on Junipero Street is just the place. Kids will love running, swinging and going as fast as they can down the big slide. Play is such a great way for kids to explore and learn and this park with 2 playgrounds, walking trails, and a creek provides the perfect spot.
  3. Play Well – This activity center for kids in kindergarten through grade eight allows children to explore and build using their favorite Lego pieces. Kids will learn about physics, engineering and creativity as they create and collaborate in these confidence building activities.
  4. Grow Canyon Community Gardens – If you are looking for a way where your child can learn how things grow, dig in the dirt, and explore the growing cycle, Grow Canyon Gardens in San Ramon is worth checking out. This large community garden has 54 plots that you can rent out year round to grow fruits, flowers, and vegetables. This can be a great daily or bi-weekly activities for the kids.
  5. Museum on Main – This museum is Pleasanton’s very own home of history but don’t let that scare you away. There are interactive exhibits and family activities to keep everyone happy. Once a month, the museum holds a special reading time program where your preschoolers can enjoy stories and crafts. The museum is located at 603 Main Street and worth checking out.

If you are looking for a school where your child can play, explore and learn on a daily basis, Montessori School of Pleasanton is a perfect choice. Come and take a tour of our school today and find out how our learning style can help encourage your child to explore the world around them.

The Toddler Tantrum – How to Approach and Diffuse

Children are famous for throwing tantrums when they reach the toddler stage. Some parents will call them the ‘troubled twos’, others refer to the ‘terrible threes’, but what we all realize is the phase does pass. What we call or recognize as a ‘tantrum’ is often just a young child being unable to express themselves verbally. Even as adults, we get frustrated when we cannot make someone understand our feelings, but we have the know-how on how to handle ourselves. A toddler frustrated can only act out as they don’t yet know how to handle their frustration.

The Toddler Tantrums – How to Approach and Diffuse

The first step in handling a tantrum is learning what the cause is. It isn’t always easy as the tantrum can result from anger, frustration, sensory overload, fear, and a number of other reasons. While it is a very loud and attention-getting form of communication, it is not always a clear form and us as adults may not be able to determine the exact cause.

Tantrums are Usually Reactions

When a child is having a tantrum, you should assume they are reacting to a situation they are not able to handle. Since they cannot talk to you and explain how they are feeling and tell you exactly what they want or expect, the toddler will become overwhelmed by emotion and unleash feelings in quite a dramatic fashion – the tantrum. This doesn’t always mean they are consciously and willfully acting out wrong – it is more that they are displaying a learned behavior. Your goal as a parent or teacher is to help the toddler unlearn this type of response.

Assess the Reaction

The first thing you will need to do is find out what is triggering your particular child’s tantrums. Looking at what has happened immediately before, during, and after the tantrum might tell you a lot about why they are happening. Most kids prone to tantrums do them at very predictable times – bedtime, time to put toys away, not being able to have a toy or some other personal situation that involves their play or comfort time.

Reacting to the Tantrum

At the Montessori Preschool, toddlers who experience situations that they feel warrant a tantrum are met with positive reinforcement. As a school that is also a community of other children their same age, it is normal they will find themselves in situations from time to time where things are not going as they want them to. When the tantrum is met with a calm demeanor, persistence, and patience, the tantrum can almost always be diffused. Montessori instructors know how to choose a strategy that is in tune with each child’s individual needs and personality.

Contact Montessori Children’s House in the Bay Area today, and schedule a tour to see how their educational program will benefit your child. Speak with the instructors and learn how they value each student as an individual, ensuring your child receives the education he or she deserves.

Fall Crafts to Make at Home

Fall is a great time for kids to get involved in craft activities. Even your youngest kids will eagerly jump on the chance to learn more about the beautiful colors of fall and what the season is about. A hands-on approach will help ensure your child gets the most out of the activities.

Nature Tray Sorting and Counting

A nature tray is an important part of Montessori activities, and even toddlers can benefit from using one. Gather up items that include leaves or flowers, pine cones, rocks, twigs, and other items you might find outside on a fall nature walk. Your child will enjoy sorting and counting these items, and the fun nature walk focus will help make the counting part more enjoyable.

Fun With Apples

Fall is the ideal time to pick apples and otherwise have fun with this favorite food. You might do these activities separately or as part of a bigger unit on the harvest as a whole. Visiting an apple farm to see how the apples are harvested is an exciting lead-up to other activities that involve apples. When you’ve brought home some apples, consider some fun snack preparation, such as making candy apples.

Fall Leaf Artwork

One of the nicest things about fall leaves and their bright colors is the fact that they are perfect for artwork, even with toddlers. Kids will want to spend time focusing on remembering the colors, and sorting through the leaves to make pictures of trees or murals. If your fall travels won’t take you near fall foliage, consider creating leaves from colorful felt that can form the basis for an art project. Making your own mural with a tree and allowing your child to help add the leaves makes the idea of fall come to life.

Pumpkin Scubbing and Painting

Pumpkin scrubbing is a good activity fro toddlers, especially after having had the chance to select a pumpkin. Regardless of whether a pumpkin will be used in food or as a decoration, scubbing will help your child get used to cleaning vegetables before use. As an alternative to carving, consider getting some non-toxic paints to help your child decorate a pumpkin.

Play-Doh Fall Math Activities

Play-Doh makes a perfect tool for creating countable objects to help kids learn. Learning trays that feature full-color photos of bight apples and pumpkins, along with counters and cards, help make learning simple, and counting and math fun for you toddler or preschooler. Using objects they are seeing a lot of during the fall will help counting come more easily.

Montessori School in Newark offers the perfect environment for creative children who learn well with hands-on activities. Contact us today to schedule a tour to see how Montessori education will benefit your child.

Fall Crafts to Teach Thanks

Fall is the perfect time to teach children what it means to be thankful. At our Montessori schools, we love to teach through hands-on experiences and believe that crafts are a fun way to do this.

Fall Crafts that Teach Thanks

We put together a small list of some fun crafts you can do at home with your child to learn more about being thankful.

A Thanksgiving Tree – Colored construction paper and some tacks or tape is all you need for this craft. Cut out a tree trunk and individual leaves. Use these to create a tree on a space in your home that everyone walks by several times a day. Each day, decide on something you are thankful for. Have your toddler draw a picture on the leaves. Fill in a leaf and attach it to your tree. Each time you walk by, your family will see all the wonderful things you are thankful for.

A Thankful Book – You can use brown paper bags or create a book with sturdy card stock or paper. You will need 5 pages in addition to the cover. On each page write at the top.

  • At home I am thankful for …….
  • At school I am thankful for ……..
  • Outside I am thankful for ……….
  • In my family I am thankful for ……….
  • Other things I am thankful for ……….

Have your child fill in each page with drawings, writing or pictures cut from magazines.

A Jar of Thanks – This one is a simple craft. You will need a large glass jar, decorations and card stock. Let your child decorate the jar. Cut out small cards using the card stock. Now fill in the small cards with things you are thankful for; you can also have your toddler drawer pictures. When someone is having a bad day, they can go to the jar and remember all the things they are thankful for.

Create a Thankful Wreath – Cut out some leaf shapes in fall colors using colored paper or card stock. Have your child draw things they are thankful for on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in a wreath, securing them with glue or tape. You can have each child in your home make one of these and hang them on their bedroom doors.

These crafts are all great ways to help your child think about things they are thankful for and things they appreciate in life. It is never too early to start such a wonderful lesson.

Here at Montessori Children’s Center, we love to use arts and crafts to learn new things. If you are looking for a school for your child that includes hands on learning experiences, contact our school today to schedule a tour.

How Parents Can Support Their Montessori School

Montessori schools are a warm and friendly environment that will bring you and your child together with teachers, other families, and students into a welcoming community. Being part of this community will bring both of you many rewards. You will be able to make choices and decisions about your child’s education and your child will be allowed to learn and grow in a community that focuses on individuality. Supporting your child’s school, even if you do not have a lot of extra time, will keep you informed and help you bridge how your child learns at school with home.

Be Involved

There is always a need for an extra pair of hands and teachers welcome parents to come in and help with activities. There is also a great need for parents to come in and share with the children any special skills they have that could apply to school-age children. The teachers appreciate the help and the children, especially yours, will love the support and interest you will provide for them. You may consider sharing cultural celebrations with your child’s class or plan and supervise an outing or project. There are numerous ways to provide support that will benefit you, your child and the entire Montessori school community.

In or Out of the Home Support

If you are a working parent, the hours of the school day may not fit into your schedule for helping out during class times. Check with your school and ask about ways you can help from home. Providing in-home projects like editing the school newsletter, or helping with the school website is a fantastic way for you to support the Montessori school. There are also out-of-home positions such as serving on the school’s Board of Directors which would meet after working hours or perhaps helping prepare materials for classes that can be done during various hours. Discuss your schedule with your child’s teacher and find where he or she thinks your skills will benefit your child’s class and school best.

Stay-In-The-Know

One of the best ways to support your child’s school and education is to ‘stay-in-the-know’ about what is happening. Reading the school newsletter is a great way to understand what your child has been doing and know what is coming up. Make sure you keep up with communications from your child’s teacher with emails and by attending conferences. Asking your child to talk about his or her day is a wonderful look at how beneficial a Montessori education is and a great way to ‘stay-in-the-know’.

When you enroll your child in a Montessori school you will both be entering a great community. Many schools have parent education meetings where they learn and discuss general parenting issues. Contact Montessori Children’s Center in the Bay Area today to schedule a tour. Find out how you as the parent can support your child on their incredible, educational journey.

Prepping Your Home for a Montessori Student

If you have your child in a Montessori school or are considering placing them in a Montessori school, it is a good idea to have your home environment match up with their school environment. This can allow for the transition from home to school to be a whole lot easier and can give your child a continuous learning journey.

One of the most important phrases we have in our Montessori education is “Help me to do it by myself.” This is a concept that is great to keep in mind when you are setting up your house to mirror a Montessori preschool.

How to Prep Your Home Montessori Style

Bedroom/Playroom

  • Have low shelves with different activities available in baskets. This allows your child to explore what they want when they want.
  • A toddler-size table and chair can give your child a space to sit and read or do an activity.
  • Provide soft spaces where your child can lay down and read or rest.
  • Have low shelving and drawers with clothing options.
  • Provide tools and utensils that are sized appropriately for your child.

Kitchen

  • Provide 1 or 2 lower shelves in your kitchen pantry. Have a special plate, cup, and set of utensils that are child-friendly.
  • Put healthy snacks on the lower shelves so that your child can become capable in getting their own snacks.
  • A cloth and some water or child safe cleaning spray can be added as your child learns to clean up after themselves.

Bathroom

  • Make the bathroom as comfortable as possible.
  • Provide a step stool so your child can climb up onto the toilet.
  • Have a basket of books that either you can read to them while learning to go potty or that they can read to themselves.
  • Make toilet paper accessible.

As you can see, the Montessori student style is very much about independence in both learning and everyday living. Turning your home into a space where your child can practice this independence can help them put all the things they are learning at school into practice.

If you would like to know more about the Montessori style of learning or you are looking for a great school that promotes independence and discovery, come visit us at Montessori Children’s Center and take a tour today. We want to see your child grow and learn in every area of their life.

Bay Area Haunts for Your Young Ones

Whether you have just moved to the Bay Area or you are looking for new places to take the kids, there are plenty of Bay Area haunts for the whole family to enjoy. Here are just a few you may want to check out.

Bay Area Haunts for Your Young Ones

  • Inside the Children’s Creativity Museum you will find a fun hands-on museum in Buena Gardens. Join in on the activities, run and jump in the colorful playground or visit the historic carousel that is just a few minutes away.
  • In Oakland, you will find the unique Museum of Children’s Art. This is a museum that only displays the work of children. For a small fee, your kids can join in on one of the studio sessions. The museum itself is free.
  • The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a great place to visit if you have kids that are interested in all that happens under the sea.
  • The Bay Area Children’s Theatre offers great adaptations of all your favorite children’s books.
  • Want to visit a farm and teach your children about history? Ardenwood Historic Farm is the place to visit. This is a Victorian era working farm that includes pigs, sheep, rabbits, chicken, turkey, goats, and cows.
  • Want to feed the Otters and Bobcats? CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point in San Mateo is the place to visit. Plus, they offer daily feedings.
  • The Oakland Zoo is less crowded than the San Francisco Zoo and is a great size for little ones to get around by themselves. Rides are additional but offer plenty of extra fun for the kids.
  • The Bay Area Discovery Museum is also a great place to visit. There are great playful permanent exhibits, an art studio and plenty of activities to keep the kids interested.
  • The Tech Museum in San Jose is another great place worth checking out. Social robots, exploration galleries, and a fun play zone make this a great place to spend the day. There is a cafe on site if the family gets hungry.

If your child is curious, independent and loves to explore the world, the Montessori style of education might just be a perfect fit. If you would like to learn more, come and take a tour or contact our staff at Montessori School of Fremont, who will gladly answer your questions. At our Montessori schools, we pride ourselves on helping children grow in all areas of their life, providing a safe space to grow and explore.