stories of discovery

Welcome to North Star Montessori’s blog.  Stories of Discovery is a place where faculty, students and parents share knowledge, experiences and things that motivate and inspire us.

85% of Brain Formed By 3: What Are You Doing To Support Your Child?

Categories: Faculty insight, Learning through discovery, Student life
Authored by:
Date posted: March 15, 2019

Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the annual AMI-USA Montessori Refresher Course in New Orleans. Being that Montessori for under 3 year olds is fairly ‘new’ to Canada (limited number of schools offer this here) it was very important for me to attend this conference and be immersed in a very vibrant and large Montessori Infant & Toddler community from the US.

There were over 1,200 Montessori educators at the Refresher, ranging from Assistants to Infancy all the way through Adolescent trained teachers. My weekend was spent learning from the highly experienced trainer Sharlyn Smith and collaborating with 120 other Assistants to Infancy trained Montessori teachers.

Our topic for the Refresher was “Adaptation and the Spiritual Preparation of our Work”. Here are some key ‘takeaways’ that impressed upon me the importance of our work with children under three years old:

  • Adaptation is an unquestionable necessity for all human beings and begins at birth. Adapting to one’s place and time is a human tendency and it is through the child’s absorbent mind that she is able to take in everything from her environment in its totality, without any judgement. As the child takes this in, she becomes that environment.
  • 85% of the brain is formed by 3 years old! This neurological construction is done through the child’s experience in the environment, which is driven by her interests. If the child is not interested, she will not be drawn towards those particular things. We know that the child’s greatest task is to become and belong to her environment so we must allow her to participate in everyday life.
  • The child’s experience in her particular environment will teach her many things. This comes with a responsibility from the adults. We must allow for this exploration to occur, while keeping the child safe and healthy.
  • The child must be allowed to experience the natural consequences of her actions. Without this, there is no way for the child to learn, “If I do this, what happens?” This teaches the child how the world works.
  • We should not think of limits as a punishment to the child. Limits help a child to understand what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, and ultimately helps the child feel secure, calm, responsible, and confident.
  • One huge component of this ‘experiential learning comes through involving your child in Practical Life activities around the home. Having the child participate in cleaning, cooking, dressing, and other household tasks will allow her to gain an immense sense of positive self-esteem that she will internalize and carry with her for her entire life!

Tips for home:

  • Allow for time. This might not be first thing in the morning when you are trying to rush out the door but plan a time in the evening or on the weekend to involve your child. Have her help load the laundry into the washer, fold the socks together, set the table, carry the plates to the kitchen, sweep the floor, spray and wipe the table, hang up her jacket, put her clothes on/take her clothes off, brush her hair and teeth, spread butter on toast, pour her own milk….the list goes on! Do these activities in collaboration until your child feels confident.


  • Supply some child-size materials. A kitchen learning tower is a fabulous (and safe) way for your child to participate in helping at the kitchen counter. Have some small items for your child to use like a child-size broom, mop, dustpan, brush, spreader, plates, cutlery, cups, etc. Have them accessible to your child in a low cabinet or cupboard.


  • Do not expect perfection. If we learn a new skill, nobody expects us to master it the first (or even hundredth) time so we cannot expect this from the child. She needs to repeat and repeat in order to perfect her movements. By allowing this repetition to occur, you will allow your child the opportunity to practice concentrating, which is setting her up for success for years to come!

Allowing your child to be a part of your everyday life, to participate, practice, repeat, and perfect, will teach her “I am able”. This positive self-esteem and self-confidence will stick with your child so that when faced with challenge in the future, deep down your child will know, “I can do this.”


Communication Skill Building: Easy Steps For Children To Hold Others Accountable

Categories: Faculty insight, Student life, Uncategorized
Authored by:
Date posted: March 13, 2019

While taking a course in Crucial Accountability, I realized how much easier my life would have been if I had been taught this skill at a younger age. Learning the skill to successfully hold others accountable when faced with a broken promise has had significant positive impacts on both my personal and professional life. After speaking with the Head of School and adapting the formal steps to learning Crucial Accountability to match the developmental level of the students in my care, I began modelling this skill for the children, while holding them accountable. We have regular discussions about accountability as a skill since situations of social conflict do arise in the after-school program. I practice it with the students whenever possible and encourage them to try to follow the steps independently.


This skill is already being practiced in the classrooms at North Star everyday. It seemed a natural progression to ensure consistency in the After-School program, too. I wanted to share this clearly defined outline I created with parents to help further support this effective practice and life-skill into the home-life of the students, as well.


When someone has…

Broken a promise or Done something you think is wrong


Before You Talk

  1. If you are angry wait until you are calm.
  2. Ask yourself what it is you want to talk about?


Reasons To Talk                 

*I want to have a strong friendship.

*I want to help.

*I want to find the truth.

* I want to feel Safe.


Reasons To Think Again Before We Talk

*I want to win.

*I want to blame someone.

*I want to punish someone.


During The Conversation

  1. Ask the person if it is a good time to talk?

It Is Time To Wait And Give The Person Some Space when…

*They say not right now.

*The person looks very angry.


When You Talk

  1. Be aware of your body language and tone.

* To be able to successfully hold the other person accountable you need to use respectful language.

*You need to be calm and kind.


  1. Tell the person your intention. This could sound like…

* I want us to be good friends, so I want to talk to you about this.

*I am not blaming you, I just want to understand what is happening.

*I am your friend and I would like to help.


  1. Talk about what you saw happen

What not to talk about

* What you think the person’s intentions are.

* What you think happened


  1. Ask your friend what you can do to help so that such problems do not happen again.
  • Listen to your friend without interrupting them.
  • Try to put yourself in that person’s shoes when listening.
  1. Decide what each one of you will commit to doing next time.


After The Conversation

  • Touch base to see how things are going
  • If the person is still repeating the same pattern, describe the gap and talk about natural consequences they might not be aware of.


Patterson, K., Grenny, J., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Crucial accountability: Tools for resolving violated expectations, broken commitments, and bad behavior (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.



Older entries »