Montessori Children's House of Nantucket

Summer 2016
There is no description, no image in any book capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them in a real forest.

-Dr. Montessori
This summer, consider the value of unstructured time (outdoors especially) and the role that it plays in early childhood development.  In the article below, published online by the Washington Post, Angela Hanscom presents her perspective on why  children need time and space to work through important life lessons independently.  

Here's a new piece from Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England...Her book,  Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children  [was] published in April 2016.
Why Adults Have to Stop Trying So Darn Hard 
to Control How Children Play  

"'Cut it out!' a little girl screams at the top of her lungs.
'Yeah!' Another girl yells. 'Back away!'

I look over in the far corner of the woods to see a small group of girls holding hands and forming what looks to be a wall in front of a tepee they just created. A little boy stands in front of them with a face that is beet red. He is shaking from head to toe.

'I will NOT!' he yells back. 'You have to let me play! That is the rules!' He gets dangerously close to them.

The adults observing the children look over at me with worried looks. I instruct them to observe but stay close and hidden among the trees. Secretly, I'm wondering if we should intervene now, but something tells me to wait. The little boy reaches up and tears down a piece of their tepee. 'Stop it!' one of the girls yells. They don't back down. A few more girls come and form a wall with them. The little boy suddenly reaches into their tepee and grabs the 'jewels' they have hidden in there and takes off running.

The girls let go of each other's hands and start chasing after him. They run around and around the trees in hot pursuit of the little boy. He finally comes to a stop and turns to face them. He holds out his hand and says, 'FINE! Have them!' He returns the stolen jewels, stomps off, and finally sits down in front of an old oak tree - sulking. The girls resume playing 'house' in their tepee.

Not even two minutes pass before one of the girls from the tepee group walks over to where the boy is sitting. She does something that surprises every adult watching. She sits down beside him. She looks him in the eye and starts talking in a quiet voice. He begins to raise his voice again. She patiently puts her hand up and waits for him to stop shouting. He becomes silent. A few minutes later, they get up. She reaches for his hand and leads him over to the group of girls at the tepee. He says something to them and they invite him to play.

What if the adults watching had intervened right away? What if we had jumped in as soon as there was a sign of conflict? We could have said, "Be nice girls. Let him play." Or told the boy to stop yelling, explaining to him that this isn't the best way to be included. But what would that have accomplished?

In minutes these children learned important life lessons- social emotional skills that are excruciatingly hard to try and teach children. Through this real life experience, they learned how to stand up for themselves, how to work through anger and frustration, and most importantly- they learned empathy.

You can't role-play empathy! Or lecture children to death on how important it is to include other children. Children need to learn these things through practice. LOTS of it! This is best done through  daily  play experiences with other children - especially outdoors, where children can roam, explore, and play away from the adult world.

Most children today are spending a majority of their time indoors  and under the direct supervision of adults. We are dictating how children spend  every  waking hour both in school and outside of school. Even their play opportunities are often regulated and controlled by well-meaning adults.  Hour-long recess sessions have been reduced to 20-minute rule-infested movement opportunities.

Children are told what they can and can't play, with many of the traditional games like tag and kickball becoming something of the past. Play dates are organized by adults to keep children entertained, safe, and happy. And what was once a tradition for the kids in the neighborhood to independently walk down to the local water source to play a game of pond hockey, has become an all-consuming hockey travel team where children are ranked and judged based on skill.

In the meantime, teachers are reporting that more and more children are having trouble regulating their emotions in school, struggling with a sense of entitlement, and constantly seeking out adult reassurance with just about any difficulty they encounter. 'They constantly tattle on each other,' a teacher reports. Another states, 'It is a rare child that does not seek constant guidance from an adult these days.'

Yet, ironically, we continue to seek out information and sign our children up for organized programs that claim to make our children smarter, nicer, more confident, and more socially adept.

The truth is that no adult-led program is perfect and most will not  give  children these skills. Children need to experience and learn firsthand how to socially interact with others; how to become confident and capable when encountering new situations; and how to develop strong character traits such as generosity and kindness. Similar to learning new motor skills, the more practice children have in child-led play experiences, the more comfortable they will be in varying social situations.

If children truly got hours of free play with friends every day both during school and outside of school, they would learn the essential skills of negotiation, trading, conflict-resolution, empathy, kindness, sharing, compassion, and so much more. All we need to do is stop trying so darn hard to control  every  outcome of  every  interaction between children. It is time we step back and let the children play- for this is how they'll learn to cope in the real world."
Montessori Parenting:

Relinquishing control and practicing patience can be a challenge, and, as one parents reports, it can also be extremely rewarding.  Click here to read more about her experiences with applying Montessori principles at home and how it has benefited her family.

This summer (if not all year round!), a simple commitment to eating one meal together as a family each day can have a significant impact on your child's development.

Take a moment to  read this article from the 
American Montessori Society's publication Montessori Life, 
which highlights  why this time together is so important.

End of Year Fun!

Congratulations to Our Graduates!

MCHN Third Year Graduation
June 9th 2016
I. Procession
II. Graduates Perform:
The "Graduation" Walk
Caps for Sale
By Esphyr Slobodkina
This Land is Your Land
By Woodie Guthrie
A Year of Memories
by Lisa McCandless
III. Presentation of Diplomas, Journals
& Art Appreciation Portfolios
IV. Refreshments

MCHN's Annual End-of-Year Potluck Picnic

Happy Summer!

Thank you to the many parents, volunteers, board members, community members and local businesses who have supported MCHN over the past year.

We are so grateful for all that you do for our special school!
Please mark your calendar with these important dates:

Find the full school calendar here & on our website:

August 30th
All Parent Meeting 6pm @ MCHN
For new & returning parents

September 6th & 7th
First Year Students Attend Half-Day Orientation
Drop-off is between 8:00 and 8:30
Pick-up is at 11:15 

September 8th
All Students Return!
For half-day students, pick-up is at 11:15 
For full-day students, pick-up is at 3:00

Friday September 9th
Potluck Meet and Greet Picnic
5:30-7:00pm @ MCHN

  Back-to-School Slipper Selection

As many of you know, at MCHN children wear slippers while inside the school building. This practice helps to keep our school clean and quiet.  Please bring your child's slippers to school on the first day of school & they will be left in his/her cubby in the coatroom throughout the year. 

We ask that you select a pair of unadorned slippers that can be put on and taken off by your child independently. For safety purposes it is also important that the slippers fit securely so that they do not present a tripping hazard when your child is walking, climbing stairs, skipping, hopping, etc.  

We suggest Acorn, as they are available in simple designs, are comfortable and durable. Also, please label to avoid confusion!  

Scroll down to purchase Acorn slippers  through our Amazon link!   

By simply using the MCHN link, Children's House families have earned
for our school since September! 
Please click the amazon button below and bookmark the page for future orders!

Thank you for your support!

Wishing all of our
MCHN families and friends
a safe & happy 4th!