Week 13: 11/9 – 11/13/2020

Dear Bella Mente Families,

Happy Friday! We are heading into the holiday season with some time off. The fall and winter breaks are going to seem a little different this year. You might even feel like there is not a break at all as your scholars have been home all along. Look for safe, fun ideas to do as a family. I imagine there will be some cooking happening! Maybe pick a novel to read as a family, have a picnic outside, enjoy an art project together, or go for a walk as a family. It is all about helping our children feel safe and loved during this unprecedented time. 

Purple has always been my favorite color, but as we have moved into the Purple Tier in San Diego, it doesn’t hold the same attraction as it once did! As we move into the season that normally has lots of social gatherings, please follow the guidelines from the San Diego Public Health Department. 

Due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 in San Diego, we want to make sure to keep our office staff safe. Please email elablond@bellamentecharter.org to schedule an appointment to come to campus if needed. The exception to this is when we have free school meal distribution on Tuesdays. Our wonderful staff handed out over 100 Community Food Bags this week!!

Next week we have Cooking it up with Mr. Hank on Tuesday, November 17th at 5 pm. Reminder – Fall Break – Friday, November 20 thru November 29. Students are back to Online Learning on November 30th. 

Our Scholars and Teachers are working on our Winter Spectacular. It is going to be a little different this year, but fun nonetheless! Great time to invite family and friends to your child’s presentation via Zoom! Save the date, Wednesday, December 16th.

As always, we at Bella want to thank you for your trust, patience, and kindness as we work together to make this a great year for all!

Enjoy your weekend, and stay safe and healthy!
Dr. McQuestion

Upcoming Events

  • Board of Directors Meeting – Tuesday, December 8, 2020 @ 6:30
  • Panda Express Virtual Fundraiser – Wednesday, November 18th – Panda Express BMA Online Ordering
  • Fall Break – Friday, November 20, 2020 – Sunday,` November 29, 2020
  • Answers with McQuestion – Thursday, December 10, 2020 @ 5pm/English, 6pm/Spanish
  • Mr. Hank’s Cooking it Up – Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 @5pm English/Spanish
  • Winter Spectacular – Wednesday, December 16th, 2020.
  • Winter Break – Friday, December 18, 2020 – Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Spirit Week

  • Monday-Crazy Sock Day – Dec. 14th
  • Tuesday-Cozy Scarf Day – Dec. 15th
  • Wednesday- Wacky Hair Day – Dec. 16th
  • Thursday-Pajama Day – Dec. 17th

Upcoming Parent Workshops 5 pm English and 6 pm Spanish

  • January 27, 2021 – Time Management with Mr. Chalmers
  • February 24, 2021 – Getting the most out of Wonders with Ms. McGraw
  • March 31, 2021 – Teaching the Montessori Way with Mr. Bareno
  • April 28, 2021 – Restorative Practices with Dr. McQuestion
  • May 26, 2021 – Let’s prepare for High School with Ms. LaBlond and Ms. Marter

BMA Office Hours

By appointment only email elablond@bellamentecharter.org to set-up an appointment.

“If we are among the men of goodwill who yearn for peace, we must lay the foundation for peace ourselves, by working for the social world of the child.”   Maria Montessori

Montessori Musing – Article about Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori Challenged and Changed How Kids Are Taught, and Remains Influential Today

One hundred and fifty years after Maria Montessori’s birth, tens of thousands of teachers around the world still hail her innovations and educational philosophy. 

One of Italy’s first female doctors, Montessori applied her training as a scientist to teaching children in new ways. She upended conventional thinking about education by, among other things, letting kids freely choose from an array of classroom activities to foster their independence.

Many of Montessori’s original ideas are commonplace today, especially in preschools and kindergarten classrooms: child-sized tables, hands-on games, and other opportunities to play at school. Even the common practice of letting children sit on the floor was revolutionary when Montessori allowed it in her first school in 1906.

I’ve been a student of Montessori’s all my life. Before becoming a college professor, I was Montessori educated, a Montessori teacher and teacher trainer, and the mom of two (now-grown) Montessori kids. My experience isn’t unique. Montessori’s specific methods are still used in the nearly 20,000 schools worldwide that bear her name, including about 5,000 in the United States. And many of Montessori’s innovations are prevalent in preschools everywhere.

An Uncommon Path

Maria Montessori was born on Aug. 31, 1870, in the small Italian town of Chiaravalle. Her family soon moved to Rome, where she excelled academically.

At 16, Montessori began to study engineering in the prestigious Regio Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci. She continued on what was an uncommon path for young women at the time, becoming one of the first Italian women to earn a medical degree.

She worked in psychiatric clinics for children, where she argued that a lack of stimulation was causing many of the patients to be hospitalized for mental and emotional conditions.

In 1904, the University of Rome hired her to research and teach anthropology.

She proposed sweeping changes to how schools were designed. Montessori had an opportunity to put her ideas into action in 1906, when she opened her first classroom in a tenement in Rome. There, she taught the children of poor laborers while their parents were working.

Applying the Scientific Method

Montessori’s approach reflected her application of the scientific method – the cycle of hypothesizing an idea, testing it in action, and reflecting on the outcome to childhood development – at a time when scientists looked to young children to understand how people think and learn.

In the hospitals and clinics where she worked, Montessori observed children playing and the kinds of activities they seemed drawn to and how they experimented with games and toys to help them learn. She used these early observations to design that first school in Rome, the Casa dei Bambini or “Children’s House.”

Montessori constructed a “Children’s House,” filled with tools and furnishings designed for children, where kids prepared and served meals.

These kids learned to dress themselves by practicing buttons, ties and laces. They taught each other to read and write with cut-out letters they could move around and learned to count and do math with special glass beads they could hold in their hands.

Montessori noticed children’s interest in the kinds of activities they saw around them in their homes, like sewing clothes or washing floors. Montessori described these activities as children’s “work.” Doing these tasks helped students become more independent and became a hallmark of the Montessori philosophy that remains evident to this day.

The classrooms, with their pint-sized furniture and curious games, attracted worldwide attention. Montessori lectured widely about her observations, hosted dignitaries and professors to her new network of schools in Rome, and helped to inspire others to establish the same kind of schools.

Within six years of opening her first school, there were teacher training sites and Montessori schools on five continents, and Montessori’s first book, “The Montessori Method,” had been translated into 10 languages.

At the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, Montessori’s new way of teaching children was as mesmerizing as Henry Ford’s Model T automobile and the transcontinental telephone system.

Montessori lectured internationally for the next four decades, until her death from a cerebral hemorrhage in the Netherlands in 1952.

Early detractors suggested that Montessori’s theories were too radical for American schools, slowing the spread of her educational philosophy in the U.S. until the social and education reforms of the 1960s inspired a resurgence that continues today.

A Great Opportunity

Attractive to many parents due to a “whole child” approach and celebrity graduates that include Beyoncé Knowles and Jeff Bezos, Montessori schools are now a popular charter school model.

More than 100,000 U.S. kids attend a Montessori public school, as do almost a million children worldwide. Only 10% of American Montessori schools are in the public school system.

But as the national conversation on race and class gains new urgency, Montessori organizations and related grassroots efforts are pushing to align their influence with Maria Montessori’s original emphasis on social justice and equity.

Montessori leaders and advocates will first have to figure out how to expand access to more families. Whether they succeed may determine if Maria Montessori’s legacy remains strong in another 150 years.

by: Catherine McTamaney is an Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University.