a Montessori morning with Max

I was honored to attend a morning session at the Khalsa Montessori Camden Campus to see a day in the life of Maxwell at school.  Let me preface this post by admitting that when Max was enrolled here for Kindergarten, I was not fond of the idea.  This is an older building.  There is a garden area that different people maintain and some climbing things and sandbox, etc in the play yard.  I had a school in mind on the east side that had a fancy playground, state of the art signage and a huge paved parking lot.  Mind you, I had never been inside of either school, so I really was judging a book by it’s cover.  That turned out to be a huge error in judgement on my part.

Walking into the classroom, the difference between Montessori and the “regular” 2nd grade classroom is startlingly evident.  There are no long rows of desks lined up.  Desks are scattered here and there for individual students.  There are tables and chairs – some that seat 4 or 5 students and Max’s table that seats 3.

Class begins in a very calm semi-circle in the middle of the room.  Laura, (the kids call her by her name) read a story about how Nome, Alaska got its name.  The children all speak in quiet voices.  One child has brought something to share.  He described his item and then asked if anyone had questions.  Immediately, Cristian (Max’s best buddy) raised his hand and when called on by the student, he inquired “how much did it cost?”  I had to stifle a laugh while his mother turned around and apologized to the mother of the sharer.  After the sharing time in half circle, the teacher stands  and that is the student’s queue to find a partner in the room and sit down on the floor to solve some math problems and then grade each other’s work.  The teacher doesn’t have to tell them what to do because they know their daily routine.  There are timers (2 or 3 students with watches) and they  calmly give the time according to their watch, when asked.

After this exercise, they are handed their own notebook with their weekly assignment sheet in the front.  It is amazing to watch these kids make their way through their assignments – one right after another and then check the boxes to note their progress.  I was there a bit less than 2 hours and in the time left after the group setting, Maxwell completed a math board for addition, subtraction, division and multiplication; finished an assignment in adding fractions;Image result for Montessori fraction tools

read a story and had me ask the test questions; pulled out a money drawer and counted the money and had me check his answer (there is a hardware cabinet and each drawer has a different amount of money); drew a clock with the hands at 10:45; completed a “tower” worksheet where he had to distinguish the prefix from the root word; Image result for montessori tower teaching tool for prefixes and root wordsand then had permission to work with the bead board that teaches the decimal system.  After each assignment was completed, he would fill in the box and have me initial his page.  The one and only time he interacted with the teacher was to ask permission to work with the beads

..Bead chains for Montessori math; number sense, place values, skip counting.

On the drive home, I marveled at this concept of teaching.  2nd graders and 3rd graders are in the same class with different assignments,  The idea is that the older kids can offer assistance to the youngers.  While this class time was going on, kids were allowed to move about the room quietly and to even strike up conversations with each other.  Not once did I hear a loud voice or a teacher reprimand.

And I wonder how more kids would have done in school without the chaos and rigidity.  A calm and quiet environment giving the 8 and 9 year olds the decisions of which assignment to complete first and allowing them to move about to deter all the fidgeting that I remember in school – what a nurturing setting to make your way through a day at school.

Color me impressed.


a teenager grandson

Grandma's Bebes

And now he is in his second year of teenager-dom.

This smart, funny, sensitive little boy – is no longer so little.  He is grandma’s boy and I tell him that every time I see him.  Even though, now, when he runs through the airport to greet me, he almost knocks me over; he will forever be grandma’s boy.

I was at the Virginia house when he came home from the hospital.  A preemie at 3 pounds and 5 ounces, you would never know it today.  At fourteen, he stands over his dad and takes much satisfaction in resting his forearm on his father’s shoulder.  He has a tender heart and a sensitive soul.  He also has a sly sense of humor and enjoys making me laugh when we should be serious; lovingly taunts his younger sister by flipping her hair or poking her side when dad isn’t looking.

When he was a toddler in Tucson, he was my Target buddy at least once a week.  And he kept me in check, removing items from the cart when he was of the opinion that “we don’t need this, Grandma”.  Later on in his tween years, he would accompany me to the Wegman’s, and it was my turn to keep him in check.

And now he is heading toward the middle of his teens.  Still Grandma’s boy.  Still his sister’s biggest fan and her steadfast gentle tormentor.  Still a loving, sensitive, smart, talented and handsome boy  er, young man.

But in my eyes, he is still the toddler stacking soup cans in my pantry or running down the sidewalk to my open arms and appearing out of the bedroom where I thought I had cleverly hidden his birthday gift, on the seat of his brand new red tricycle.  So much for that surprise.

I love this child.  This toddler turned teen.  This handsome young man.

This forever grandma’s boy.

Happy Birthday, Mateo.  Grandma loves you.

2017 11 25 VA Gardner Wall Photo


Happy Birthday, dear Abby …

Oh – this child.  She made her debut on November 8, 2012.  She had not been breathing the sweet air for even one hour before mommy and daddy wanted her brother to meet her.  Poppa and I took a very composed toddler boy (with a custom made big brother name tag) to the birthing center to assume his new duties.

After that, the ride began that we have come to know as the many faces of Abigail Anne.  And oh, what a ride it has been.  I have no idea what my life would be without her.  I never even want to imagine such a life.

Together, we have crafted and cooked.  Made messes and cleaned up.  Shopped and purchased (boy, have we EVER purchased).  She has made me smile and laugh out loud and sometimes even brought me to tears with her reflections.  I watch her sleep and I see her impish grin before she attacks her brother.  I listen to her with a vocabulary far beyond her years.  I am her audience for her made up songs and dances.  I am her cheerleader and her biggest and most loyal fan of all her endeavors.  This kid knows how to make an entrance and make her presence known.  And I am so much the better for meeting her and taking her into my heart five years ago today.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.   Nana loves you very much.