Educationally, Nothing Compares to a Friend

We were two chapters into our second volume of Pippi Longstocking when Isabella entered our classroom for the first time.  “Don’t worry about it,” she said.  “I know who she is.”  Apologetic but reassured, we resumed reading where we had left off the day before. Pippi and her two best friends, along with Pippi’s monkeyContinue reading “Educationally, Nothing Compares to a Friend”

Building a Pond

A few summers ago, we built a pond. Our sons were then 16 and 12, and our daughter was 10. They grew up in Montessori classrooms that were beautiful, carefully prepared communities where they learned to concentrate, read, collaborate, and master difficult tasks. Their teachers instilled a deep reverence for the natural world. They wereContinue reading “Building a Pond”

Compassionate Education

Several years ago, in the hurried hour before a young family in our community left for school, a parent accidentally tipped her large, scalding mug of green tea down her four-year-old daughter’s back.  They spent the next two days in the hospital, treating a painful third degree burn that would eventually heal without scarring. WhenContinue reading “Compassionate Education”

There is Always Time

Our neighbor Joe used to visit several times a week. Joe was eight years old, polite and respectful, happy, bright-eyed, a popular kid in our neighborhood.  When he stepped onto our front porch, he was usually looking for someone to play with.  Sometimes, his mother sent him to fetch his sister. Joe knew how toContinue reading “There is Always Time”

Concentration: A Montessori Life Lesson

Ari was one of our best students.  He was very smart, but not precocious; athletic but not the star of his soccer team.  Ari had several good buddies, but he was not the most popular boy in the elementary class.  His area of greatest strength was his ability to concentrate.  Almost every day, Ari fullyContinue reading “Concentration: A Montessori Life Lesson”

Why Teach?

Five-year-old Mindy and I had many opportunities to talk each day, because she was usually by my side, always within arm’s reach.  Preciously intelligent, she was enthusiastic, energetic, and lovingly connected to her peers and to our environment. She was also impulsive, easily distracted, disruptive, and prone to flights of fancy and aggressive imaginative play. Continue reading “Why Teach?”

Consider The Audience

The benefits of reading aloud to young children are well documented.  The only controversial question on the topic is boring. Teachers usually ask the question in the shrill, exasperated voice that unfortunately fits our stereotype:  Why are there still so many parents who don’t read to their children? Many parents do, of course, carve outContinue reading “Consider The Audience”

Reading Aloud, through a Crisis

In the early weeks of COVID social distancing, we re-evaluated our family priorities.  It was a sad but open dialogue, one that lasted too long and finally became irritating.  We could not decide when to huddle and when to scatter, how to keep our minds and hearts engaged, or how to mourn when we hadContinue reading “Reading Aloud, through a Crisis”