Category Archives: News & Events

Bubble Wrapped

Can I just be real here for a moment?  Can I just be brutally honest, and lay it all on the table?  I’m kind of fired up, and ready to fight.

Back in December I received an email from the Colorado Office of Early Childhood (COEC) stating that the updated child care center rules had been reviewed and were passed and would go into effect Feb 1.  The message from the Director of the OEC goes on to say,

“I am thankful for everyone who took time to participate in this process: the Child Care Rules Re-write Committee for providing leadership and guidance; early childhood professionals for submitting recommendations; parents and stakeholders for pushing for higher standards and quality care; and Division of Early Care and Learning staff for their commitment to making sure child care providers are supported during the implementation period.”

My heart sank, I felt a little noxious, and I quickly “starred” my email to be read at a later date.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of reading about all the things we were going to have to change in order to keep doing what we are doing.

Let me go back a bit.  Every year we are inspected by the COEC.  Every year we are written up for some rule violation – usually something small like leaving the hammer out (from the pumpkin hammering work that the children most definitely do NOT do because it is waaaaaay to dangerous for them), missing some paperwork in a child’s file – small infractions.  Back in 2012 we were cited for the use of “chokeables” in our classroom, and were told that we needed to remove all objects small enough to be swallowed from the classroom.  What this entailed was about 60 % of our classroom – not an option.  So we prepared for battle; it was a long and costly battle that included lawyers, negotiations, tears, money, time and stress.  I’m happy to say we won that battle and were granted a waiver that allowed us to move forward with what we do, chokeables included.

Let’s move forward to last September.  We were inspected as expected, and cited for exceeding maximum group size (20) during line time.  We’ve been exceeding group size for almost 10 years and were just this year cited?  The consistency in regulation is amazing let me tell you.  Anyway, long story short – we appealed, our appeal was denied, we hired a lawyer and were headed down the path to once again battle it out in court with the OEC about this rule being applied to stringently.  We were going to look awesome in our pant suits!  As luck would have it the new Rules and Regs came out just in time and the very rule we were cited for violating had been amended and no longer posed an problem for us.  Yay!

So where does this leave us?  Well, we can still have line time, and give group lessons, practice grace and courtesy, and celebrate birthdays has an entire class, however; there are mountains of other rules that we need to find our way through.  Some of those rules, depending on how they are interpreted, could pose a real threat to the authentic Montessori Classroom.  This is the part that infuriates me.  There are people making sweeping decisions (supposedly with public input) about what is safest, what is too dangerous, what is risky, what is quality.  There are people (who may or may not have ever been in the classroom with children) making rules about how many paint brushes need to be available to children, and how many photographs representing nature, and how many dolls representing different ethnicities need to be present in the classroom.  There are rules about annual training requirements for teachers (cpr, first aide, universal precautions, child abuse, immunization records, etc) and countless areas of overlap within these trainings.  Despite having all these trainings about how to safely care for children, in the eyes of the State we are too incompetent  to teach children to safely work with small materials like the Golden Beads so that they can tangibly learn about the difference between 1 and 1000?  And given all the research on cancer causing chemicals in plastic we are not allowed to drink from glass cups?  How is it that a 15-year-old life guard with far less annual training can safely watch your young children in the swimming pool yet early childhood teachers with 10, 20, 30 + years of experience in the trenches cannot safely teach a child how to handle a chicken or cut a carrot?

Regulation is getting tighter, and that which is acceptable is getting narrower.  Schools are closing, teachers are becoming deflated, uninspired, and tired of fighting the fight.  In an industry where the financial reward for the work that is done is minimal, this type of regulation poses a huge risk the quality of care and environments that will be available in the future.  Parents will no longer have choices in their child’s early childhood learning experience – it will all be same.  They may have a say in how far they want to drive their child, and to what building, but it will all be the same.  I fear that if things keep going the way they are going – preschool will end up being an opportunity to play with plastic toys, in a bubble wrapped room.

The good news?  I’m fired up!  We are going to fight the good fight.   We passionately believe that we’ve got a good thing going on at Blue Mountain.  We are going to find our way through all these rules, challenge them when necessary (we may call on you for support), and still do what we do best – offering young children an opportunity to experience a rich hands-on environment to learn about their world in which they live, and discover their potentials.

Montessori – it’s not just for children

As a Montessorians we follow the children; we observe them closely, see what excites them and motivates them, and offer meaningful experiences as next steps in their learning journey.   We guide each child on their own path and help them discover their potentials and find their passion.  Every now and again we get the honor of helping a parent find a new passion of theirs as well.   This year we will be guiding Lauren Davis on her journey to become a Montessorian.
Lauren spent her summer at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR) learning all about the Montessori philosophy, and materials.  She will spend this year with us as an intern learning with the children as well as teaching them.  Before she started training this summer she had to submit a statement to MECR about why she wanted to become a Montessori teacher.  We thought it was so beautiful it needed to be shared.
Without Further Adieu…
I had heard of “Montessori Schools”, but didn’t know what they were, or who Maria Montessori was, until we began the search to find a preschool that would be a good fit for our second son.  My oldest had gone to a very traditional preschool, and while we thought it was fine, we didn’t necessarily feel that the “one size fits all” approach and the curriculum supported the long-term development of our son.  We didn’t even realize what we were looking for until we walked into Blue Mountain Montessori.  Immediately, my husband and I realized we’d found “it”.  Seeing an entire school built just for early childhood age children, learning about how the different works in the classroom would support all aspects of my son’s development, and hearing the passion in the teacher’s voices as they spoke about the Montessori method, made our decision to enroll our son a very easy one.
Over the last year-and-a-half, I have continued to learn about the Montessori method, and of course, the best part is to see it come to life, as my son has blossomed from a timid pre-schooler into a motivated and confidant classroom leader.  I truly believe that he has learned skills over the last two school years that will shape the way he learns and interacts with the world from now on.
Most of my early work experience was with children.  From being a sought-after babysitter with a box of projects and materials I would haul from house to house, to completing an elementary education internship in my senior year of high school, and teaching a tumbling class to preschoolers while in college, I have long sought to get back into education in some way.  As my kids started to get a little older, and I thought about a long-term career, I knew I wanted to work with children, but was a little hesitant about entering the world of public school teaching.  One day, while volunteering at Blue Mountain Montessori, it hit me… I couldn’t wait to find out more about becoming a Montessori teacher.  I am so impressed at how the teachers engage with the children at their level.  Rather than reciting directions to a room-full of disengaged kids, the teachers are on the floor, demonstrating works and supporting the children as they are able to manipulate activities.  Each child is met with a work that is appropriate for them, and once they have mastered it, they can move on.  I can’t remember a time that I’ve been more excited to embark on a new journey and challenge, and am thrilled at the prospect of working with kids again on a daily basis in the safe and warm environment of a Montessori school.
The Montessori approach to educating the whole child is something I feel passionately about.  Watching the children master things like pouring and buttoning, which enables them to take care of themselves and contribute around the house seems so simple, but is critical in boosting a child’s confidence and sense of self.  Learning to show grace and courtesy with peers and solve problems in an effective way, without the intervention of an adult, is so important in a culture that increasingly seems to have parents jumping in at moment’s notice.  The Montessori Method lays the foundation for self-reliant and independent young citizens.
In the Montessori classroom, I will be able to connect with the children to ensure that the right materials are at their disposal to engage them in their work.  I am naturally curious and excited to learn as much about the Montessori Method and it’s implementation as possible.  I am looking forward to integrating my love of art and creativity in the classroom, as well as my appreciation of nature and the outdoors.  I am eager to build relationships with the parents in the school community, in order to help them reinforce their children’s experiences in their own home, which is something that as a parent, I have enjoyed as well.  I have years of experience working on productive teams, and look forward to contributing to a group of like minded individuals.  I am kind, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with people and learning about them and their life experiences.
In “The Absorbent Mind”, Maria Montessori shares that education is something that develops naturally, not something that is taught.  I really connected with her example of children learning their first language; they learn to speak on their own, by absorbing everything around them, and even if they attempt to learn another language later in life, it is never as easy or fluid as the language that they learned in their first years.  I have realized that so much of a child’s education is making sure they have the right environment to encourage exploration, and then observing their progress.  I look forward to becoming part of the community at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and realizing my goal of having a meaningful job that allows me to make an impact as a successful teacher.
We think she’s going to be amazing, and we know we are lucky to be part of her journey.

 

Come See the Magic

We describe it as magic, because what else do you call something that seems unbelievable?  40 young children in a classroom that is all their own, happily engaged, socializing with peers, concentrating on work, making decisions, following directions, practicing, and learning.  Don’t you want to come see?  Beginning November 1st, we invite you to come observe.  Please, slow down, carve out some time from you busy day; sit in our chair and see what we see, hear what we hear, and feel what we feel.  Our guess is you’ll want to come back for more.

Teach Less and Observe Much

When you are ready, please give us a call to schedule your observation – we’ll be sure to put it in pen on our calendar.