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Posts Tagged ‘AMI Montessori training’

We’re All Starting School!

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 1:08 am | By Stephanie Woo

Mark, the newest Montessorian in the family

B and M are starting school! It took us six months to find a Montessori school that we like and has space to take two children. Even though Portland has a huge number of Montessori schools, it still took a very long time. This AMI-certified school has big outdoor spaces and beautiful indoor spaces. After observing the classroom, Mark and I unanimously agreed that we like our teacher.  Her classroom was busy, while orderly and beautiful. Every child was engaged in his/her own work. Her presence was calm and respectful. 

How do you decide which Montessori school to send your child to? If you’re lucky enough to have choices, there were three steps. First of all, knowing that the teacher is AMI-trained was critical. This is something you can ask the school directly. Second, I read reviews and asked around for the general reputation of the school. When that checked out, I went with my gut feelings. I liked being there myself. I liked the vibe of the adults and the space. I wouldn’t mind going there everyday myself. For those of you without AMI-trained teachers and schools, the last two points are especially important to keep in mind. 

On Tuesday, I will be starting my AMI 3-6 Montessori training at the Montessori Institute Northwest. One of my trainers, Ginni Sackett, is a legend and everyone I’ve met who has trained with her have told me that her course is transformational. I’m so ready to start and take what I know so far about 0-3 to the next level. 

But the biggest news of all is this: My husband, Mark, just started his Elementary (6-12) training at the Montessori Institute Northwest! We will be training in adjacent classrooms. This is totally unexpected and unplanned. We’ve been talking about opening a Montessori school for years, but he recently went to a meditation course for two weeks, came back committed as ever to the idea of opening a school. When you commit to something, the Universe tests your resolve immediately. He responded in kind and said YES. I’m sure we’ll be tested many times again over the years, but for now, we are happy to be going to school together. 

Just between you and me, it’s so hot to hear a man talk about Montessori. Every time I hear him use words like the ‘Absorbent Mind,’ ‘Self-construction’ and ‘Observation,’ I can’t keep my hands off him. But this blog is meant to be PG, so I’ll stop there. But you get the gist…*wink*

We Moved to Portland!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 6:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo
Our New Playroom

Our New Playroom

I haven’t written in a while. The reason is because we just did a cross-country move, from Baltimore to Portland, OR. I’ve dragged the family with me (again) to pursue my Montessori training – this time for 3-6 years old – at the Montessori mecca of Portland. We are completely enamored with this city so, hopefully, this will be our last move in a while.

When we first arrived in early March, instead of living in a hotel, we decided to do a short-term rental. We ended up in a beautiful, four-story loft with 15-ft ceilings. The rental featured designer furniture like an L-shaped white leather couch, teak coffee table and Herman Miller chair. It also had a complete, top-of-the-line kitchen with an island and bar stools. It came straight out of a home decor magazine.

And we were miserable there.

I’d forgotten how hard it is to live in a home designed for adults. Our furniture did not arrive with us, so we had to live with the design of the home as is. Everything was high-up, so B and M couldn’t reach anything. About five times a day, we had to hold them up to the sinks, press their 35-pound bodies into the cold marble and wash their hands for them as quickly as possible (with huge protests, of course). At every meal, we had to lift them up onto the bar stool and then help them get off. And they started crying at my feet while I cooked dinner – that was behavior I hadn’t seen since we bought the Learning Tower 15 months ago! Even the beds were too high up for them to reach, so we had to help them get on when they came running into our room in the middle of the night (this always happens when we are in new environments). I couldn’t wait to move out of that modern, luxurious hell.

Two weeks after we arrived, we moved into a more permanent home up in the Sylvan Heights area of Portland. Our home is nestled in the woods, but just 5 minutes away from downtown Portland! We were so happy when our POD arrived. The girls’ eyes lit up as we started to unload their furniture. They couldn’t wait to sit in their little slatted chairs, help put toys on their shelves and climb on the Learning Tower. When we finally set up their work/play space, we all breathed a sigh of relief. They could sit down and work again. They could find their things again. They could clean up and put things back again. They could wash their own hands again. They can finally eat, sleep, play, bathe and go to the bathroom by themselves again. We were all so happy! If you have children and you’re still living in a home designed for adults, it’s time to think again. From 18 months and up, children should be able to reach everything they need independently. If you’re like me, your sanity – and lower back – will experience a huge difference. 

Now that our home is set-up, we are ready to take on anything! So bring on the new adventures, Portland!

Our Montessori School in Baltimore

Monday, February 11th, 2013 10:58 am | By Stephanie Woo

B and M with their Montessori guide, Mr. Man Fai

For the last 6 months, B and M have been attending the Federal Hill Montessori School here in Baltimore. Their guide, Man Fai, and I did our AMI 0-3 training together at The Montessori Institute.  The amount of work we had to do in order to graduate was extremely intense (the six albums I created during my training totaled almost 2000 pages). It’s a life-changing experience that creates a tight bond between all the participants. Knowing the kind of rigorous training Man Fai went through, I knew my children were in good hands.

B and M attend school Monday through Friday, from 830-1130am. For me, the schedule is just right. Three hours per day is the perfect amount of time to spend outside of the home at their age – they started at 20 months – and 5 days a week gives them enough consistency. One thing particularly appealing about the school for our family is that it is a bilingual school, where the guide speaks English and the assistant speaks Mandarin.

We will be leaving Baltimore at the end of this month. Looking back, I feel Man Fai was an excellent guide for my children. Even though I’m trained, I can still get lazy at home. For example, I never taught them how to use mats while doing work on the floor. Well, one day, M took out a floor mat, unrolled it, worked on it, rolled it back up by herself and then put it away. Whoa! Things like that don’t just happen by accident. I know she was taught well at school.

They also do activities at school that I haven’t thought of or haven’t created for our home environment. For example, one night last month, M ate dinner at the record speed of 3 minutes. She then spent the next 20 minutes scrubbing down the table and chairs with a scouring sponge. From the way she was scrubbing the sides of the table, I knew Man Fai had shown her the table-washing activity, something I haven’t put together at home.

Also, a couple weeks ago, Man Fai sent me this picture of Brooke’s rubber band art creation. As Man Fai wrote, “The board was clear when she got it, and this is the way it was when she walked away.” I love the parent communication I get from this school.

In case you’re looking for a Montessori school for your child, look first to see if there is an AMI-certified school in your area. You can do a search here: http://www.amiusa.org/school-locator-2/ If there isn’t an AMI-certified school, ask if the guide (there are no ‘teachers’ in a Montessori classroom, only ‘guides’ – a job title that says it all) is AMI-trained. AMI training is the most rigorous and comprehensive Montessori training available, started by Maria Montessori herself. Start there and you can always shoot me an email if you have any other questions regarding Montessori schools for your child. If you live in the Baltimore area, I definitely recommend Man Fai’s school.

Thank you, Man Fai, for a great six months. We are going to miss you and your school very  much!