Category Archives: Inly Parents Group

Why Summer Homework? Parent education talk at Inly presents a compelling case

Summer is right around the corner. Our family can feel it. After a busy year packed with school, homework, music lessons, sports, and never ending trips to the hockey rink, we are ready for a break. I can already hear the collective sigh we will make on the last day of school when we can finally drop into the hammock together, eat popsicles endlessly, and do nothing else.

Or will we this summer? After attending Tuesday’s Parent Insight Event, “Why Summer Work?” I think our family might be doing things differently this year.

Some interesting facts on reading and academic skills

Did you know that on average, all students regardless of socio-economic status, lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation over the summer months?

… that students who read at least six books during the summer maintain or improve their reading skills, while kids who don’t read can see their skills slip by as much as an entire grade level?

… or that students who consistently make time during each of the summer weeks to focus on learning show greater gains come fall than those who save everything to the last week of summer or do nothing at all?

These facts, presented by Julie Kelly-Detwiler and Shelley Sommer, were news to me. Fortunately, Inly has a plan to prevent students’ academic skills from sliding backwards during the summer months.

Reading, writing, math and… PLAY!

As part of Tuesday’s informal conversation, we learned about the importance of summer work and Inly’s plan for reading and projects for each of the different grade levels.  While summer time should be about play, it can also be a time of continuous learning.  As Julie explained, children need to exercise their reading, writing, and math muscles over summer break. At the upcoming parent/teacher conferences, teachers will present parents with Inly’s suggestions for age-appropriate summer work. Additional information about reading, writing, and math activities will also be posted on the Inly School website.

As Julie pointed out, we are our children’s first and best teachers, and teachable moments are happening all the time. Our children will do what they see us modeling for them. So read together, journal together, tell stories together, and laugh together. Find math opportunities on your car rides, trips to the grocery store and in the rest of your daily routine. Summer always goes by too quickly so savor each and every day with your children. And, of course, remember to eat lots of popsicles.

— Erin Hull

Thanks to Inly parent Erin Hull for writing this blog post. Erin has a child in the Children’s House preschool and kindergarten program at Inly School.

This Parent Insight Event was presented by Julie Kelly-Detwiler, Assistant Head of School and Curriculum Director, and Shelley Sommer, Library Director and Middle School Literature Teacher.

Here are links to articles recommended by Shelley Sommer, Inly library director and literature teacher, during Tuesday’s event:

Montessori Kids at Home: Inly Parent Insight Event Wrap-Up

As part of our ongoing Montessori Education series, here’s a re-post of an article written in Fall 2011 by Jill Baxter, Parenting Learning Co-Coordinator of Inly’s Parent Steering Committee:

Practical life skills and Montessori principles—for preschool and beyond

Lauren Vitali, Children's House preschool and kindergarten teacher

At last week’s Parent Insight Event, Children’s House preschool and kindergarten teacher and Inly parent Lauren Vitali and Assistant Head of School and Inly alumni parent Julie Kelly-Detweiler led a conversation about implementing Montessori principles in the home. Parents from many different grade levels participated in a discussion that related topics including lunch choices, tantrums and chores to Montessori principles such as independence, responsibility, and the “prepared environment.”

Changing our mindset in connection with independence and responsibility is a tough one—whether it is setting the table, making a bed, or preparing part of a meal.  Often, it is easiest and most expedient for a parent to get it done alone. It takes time and thought to decide when it is appropriate and, then, allow children to undertake tasks, prepare the environment to help ensure their success (allowing for imperfection). Building extra time into your day to allow children to take on meaningful, age-appropriate tasks will pay dividends, however.

Montessori principles at home and at school

Many parents will be happy to learn that chores such as setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, or doing laundry actually bolster Montessori principles! As students in a Montessori classroom, all Inly students have weekly jobs they perform at school to help keep their community environment neat, safe, and healthy. Cutting fruit, cleaning tables, feeding classroom pets, recording attendance, or organizing snack are all jobs which encourage independence and help build and maintain a sense of community in the classroom. As Julie pointed out, giving children meaningful responsibility in their home also encourages them to think of themselves as part of a whole, and, in turn, identify the work they are doing as meaningful for themselves and others.

The link between independence and the Montessori “prepared environment”

Lauren offered sage advice on the link between independence and a prepared environment. While it may involve some extra time and thought in the short-term, a prepared environment can make giving your child responsibility and independence easier in the long run. Making your home a “prepared environment” can be as easy as moving the cereal bowls within reach, having a snack basket, or designating a work area with materials available for homework or book projects. Organizing clothes in a way your child understands can ease battles before school and allow you to more easily set boundaries for what is appropriate and what is not.

Montessori practical life materials

Montessori practical life materials for toddlers and preschool (source: montessori-n-such.com)

Of course, many of us know that encouraging our kids to take on additional responsibilities (even with a prepared environment) doesn’t rule out conflict. When there is conflict, using language that children are familiar with from school may help. Talk to your child’s teachers about language used in the classroom that you could implement at home, and ask about the jobs your child performs in the classroom to get ideas for age appropriate tasks your Montessori kid can take on at home.

I left that morning meeting resolved to figure out ways my boys can help around the house more and also with an “Independence Guide” handout that gave concrete examples of responsibility and independence at each stage of development. I think I can sort out some new responsibilities for my Montessori kids. I also walked away with a greater sense of community, happy my kids are in a school with a profound respect for children and family.

Montessori Links

Recommended resources on Montessori education and Montessori in the home:

Classroom Structure: The Prepared Environment and Mixed-Age Classes at Inly School

Montessori at Home: Practical Tips for Toddlers, Preschool Children and Parents (Inside Inly Blog)

Montessori Terminology: AMS Guide
All the Montessori terms you need to know—from Prepared Environment and Practical Life to Sensorial Exercises and Sensitive Periods

Parent Meeting About Anti-Bullying Policy Generates Good Feedback

This event was sponsored by the Inly Parents Group

By Jill Baxter, Inly Parent

Bullying is not something I have worried about much since my kids moved to Inly. I feel that the community of mutual respect at Inly makes the pitch and tenor of social interaction manageable, even when it is not perfect. However, something happened recently that caused me to start to worry again. A lot.

What was this event that tipped off my concerns, you ask? Let me first tell you that I am no Luddite. I use my phone to email, text, Facebook, and play Scrabble with my Denver-dwelling sister. I once drew whistles from a construction worker…because he feared I would smack into a streetlight as I strode by, head down, texting.

Knowing this, you may be surprised what caused my anxiety: my fourth grader got his own email address. Suddenly, I’m faced with a host of new things to fret about. There’s the danger of chain emails, links and attachments. The fear of the misinterpreted comment, the inappropriate forwarded joke or the mistaken “reply all.”  But mostly, it’s that my 10-year-old is entering a cyber age fraught with pitfalls I don’t even know about yet.

The anti-bullying workshop last month, sponsored by the Parents Group and hosted by Debbie Martin, proved a great opportunity to learn about the amorphous threat of cyber-bullying and more importantly, to hear ideas about keeping our kids safe, healthy and happy. Social networking, mobile devices with cameras, gaming communities, emailing, instant messaging, and texting have combined to make the social landscape unfamiliar to many parents.

The proliferation of ways children can interact without face-to-face feedback to temper their actions and reactions is troubling, largely because it is so difficult to teach a child not to internalize an errant, perhaps anonymous comment. Encouraging older children to recognize and contemplate the differences between cyber and face-to-face interaction will help them understand that words can hurt, and that privacy and trust are easily (and not necessarily intentionally) compromised in a cyber setting.

Parents at the workshop listed a variety of tactics to help safeguard against cyber-bullying, including several ideas very easy to implement. For example, you can simply limit the number of online devices in your home (and your child’s room!), turn off wi-fi during certain times of the day, and face computer screens outward. Following is a list of suggestions from Inly parents:

  • Limit the number of computers in your home
  • Shut off wi-fi during certain times of day
  • Have the computer screen facing into the room
  • Do not put computers in childrens’ rooms
  • Model safe computer behavior
  • Listen in the car to conversations of children related to their use of technology
  • Ask questions about behavior of their peers on the internet and cell-phones
  • Be attentive to the amount of “media” the students use
  • Share with your children your thoughts on “good” media and worrisome sites
  • Manage the use of cell phones for appropriateness and quantity of use
  • Purchase and use spyware

As required by the Phoebe Prince Anti-Bullying law, Inly has developed a written anti-bullying policy. The policy notes Inly’s mission to utilize the Montessori curriculum of Grace and Courtesy to create a learning environment where students are prepared to speak articulately, to accept difference, and to step in to defend others. The policy also directly addresses cyber-bullying. You can check out Inly’s Anti-Bullying Policy on the Inly web site.

Community Service Day at Inly was About Making Connections

The Parents Group Steering Committee, in coordination with the Community Service After School Program, sponsored an all-school Community Service Day for Inly families in honor of Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11, 2010. Although there was no school that day, Inly families were invited to participate in any of these projects:

  • Campus clean-up
  • Card making for veterans
  • Coin collection for veterans
  • Collections for soldiers
  • Singing at Sunrise Assisted Living in Cohasset

The day was very successful as families joined together to work, meet new friends in different grades, and collaborate in their thinking about veterans. Following is a personal account of the day from an Inly parent.

A Parent’s Thoughts on Community Service Day at Inly

By Shannon Harper-Bison, Inly Parent

Community Service Day at Inly is about creating connection for our kids. It’s not about feeding their sweet little egos about how good they are or what a difference they made. Sure our kids will feel good when they do good, but at their age it’s not about saving the world or giving back or making a difference or  building character or self-sacrifice.

It’s fun to rake leaves on the Arts Barn lawn, make a card for a veteran, sing for the appreciative people at Sunrise Assisted Living;  it’s easy to donate Beanie Babies, cast-off phones, couch-caught-coins for a worthy cause. Truly, these efforts are small and easy to do, and granted they probably did brighten someone’s day just a little.  That’s nice, but the real gain is in getting our kids to connect with something outside their norm—an idea, a person, a piece of history—and cultivate an awareness that not much separates us from each other.

I was struck on Thursday by a few things.  I heard no complaints, from my own children or any other, about being at school on our day off. I was humbled to watch one of Inly’s own staff members take a moment to collect his thoughts before speaking briefly about being a Vietnam Veteran. I was impressed by the earnest care and concentration the littlest Inly kids gave towards making thank-you cards for veterans. My heart was warmed at the enthusiasm and patriotism shared by Sunrise residents, so many of whom are veterans, and their hospitality in letting us chat with them long after the singing had ended.

And finally, I was struck by how easily kids can connect, effortlessly bringing intrinsic joy to what they do. I’m not sure they knew it was “service”;  perhaps we should call it Community Connection Day.

Making connections—how Inly!

Photos by Muffy Antico, Inly Parent

Race To Nowhere Screening at Inly School

The Inly School Parents Group will host a screening of the documentary “Race to Nowhere” from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November, 10, 2010 in the Meehan Family Artsbarn.

The showing of the documentary, directed by Vicki Abeles, will be free to the public, and older students and parents of children of all ages are encouraged to attend.

Abeles’ documentary takes a deeper look into “the dark side of America’s achievement culture,” and offers “a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.”

Inly School is located at 46 Watch Hill Drive (off of Rte. 123 and near Rt. 3A, in Scituate, MA). For directions or more information on the school go to www.inlyschool.org/directions.

Hor d’oeuvres and beverages will follow the screening. For more information on the film, or to view the trailer, visit www.racetonowhere.com.

All-School Family Gathering: Sunday, September 12 @ 3:00 pm

gather ‘ga-ther   transitive verb
1 : to bring together : collect <to gather a crowd>

Every September, the Inly Parents Group sponsors an all-school gathering of some kind to celebrate being back together for a new school year. Back in the day, it was an international potluck in the old gym (which is now the library). Last year, we were treated to sundaes and stories.

This year, every Inly family is invited to the Meehan Family Artsbarn on Sunday, September 12, from 3:00-5:00 pm to eat some ice cream (yummm) and hear some great music by the local band called, conveniently enough, The Gathering.

Photo from The Gathering's web site.

According to their web site, “The Gathering is an eight piece band that plays dance music for anyone who wants to have fun. The band is led by Steve Chase and his wife Stephanie (Mamasteph for you in the know) accompanied by their sons Matt on lead guitar/vox and Sam on drums/vox.”

The event is appropriate for children of all ages. The band plays great tunes that will get the kids dancin’ and the feet tappin.’ We’ll start in the barn with the concert, and then move to the upper field for ice cream and Italian ice. At that time, the children can play on the playground or soccer field.

Come for the whole time, or stop by for a little bit—whatever fits into your family life. We’d love to see everybody!

Authors of I Brake for Meltdowns Visit Inly School

I Brake for Meltdowns

“My son says he doesn’t want to brush his teeth. What now?”
“What happens when I’m arguing with my child and all of a sudden I realize she’s right?”

These were some of the questions posed to Michelle Nicholasen and Barbara O’Neal at the Inly Parents Group INSIGHT event this week. They are the co-authors of the book, I Brake for Meltdowns: How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of Your 2-5 Year Old. They talked a little bit about how they came to write the book, and then got down to the business of fielding questions from parents about meltdowns and more.

About I Brake for Meltdowns:

From “Public Meltdowns” to “In Search of Sleep” to “Dinner Disasters,” this book covers every bugaboo by category—including biting, teeth-brushing, refusal to wear a coat, and what to do when your youngster won’t hug Aunt Marge. Handy action points, suggested language, and “Been There” sidebars point the way to resolution.

Amazon.com

Michelle gave Inly parents some background on how the book was born. At the time, she was the mother of five children under the age of five and dealing with her share of parenting challenges. She found solid advice on the developmental stages of children in the parenting books, but she felt there weren’t good resources on the “nuts and bolts of the daily hurdles.” She was impressed by the way Barbara (her children’s preschool director) spoke to children and the words she used to diffuse potential meltdowns, so she pitched the idea of writing a how-to book that had real answers for real situations.

The Q&A was a lively discussion of general questions about power struggles with children (how to avoid them and how to get out of them); questions about whether offering rewards is a good idea; questions about whether “time outs” work; and questions about establishing boundaries for your family.

Recommended reading from Inly

Following are some titles pulled from the Inly Parenting Reading List that address many of the topics brought up today.

And a great picture book to read to your child who refuses to do the thing you ask them to do: