Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Maria Montessori's Words on Nature

Children at The Boyd School - Broadlands
 Maria Montessori, in an excerpt from the forthcoming Nature in Education, originally written in 1913:

"The importance of nature in the devleoplment of the physical and intellectual life is all the more significant to us in the method which I promote, because when a child has been prepared to observe the environment by means of the didactic material we give him, the intellect of that child is largely formed. And one of the aims and forms of education, as offered within the scope of the method which I expound, is that of guiding a child, indirectly, to know how to observe to the greatest possible degree, and then to wait for the subsequent spontaneous manifestations. Contrary to others who make use of nature in order to form the inner life of a child, we do not wish to teach the child too directly to observe nature. We leave children to observe by themselves and only try to give them the means and the capacity to observe, and when we see that they are not yet able to observe natural facts, we do not make them, although we do continue our work which should turn them into observers. When children succeed in being interested in and in observing the phenomena of nature of their own accord, then we may be certain that nature will have a great influence on children themselves."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Learning to Empathize

Montessori students learn to be global citizens by taking a symbolic walk to better understand the daily challenges others face in different parts of the world.

On May 24, students from The Boyd School Broadlands & Westfields Campuses joined together to bring awareness to the plight of the people of the Azawak region in Africa. Working with Amman Imman: Water is Life, the students raised funds that will go directly towards the construction of wells and boreholes so that the people in Sahel area of West Africa will have access to fresh water. In partnership with local communities, global partners and school children from around the world, Amman Imman has brought four borehole wells to Niger's Azawak region already, offering more than 100,000 people and their livestock a sustained supply of clean water. 2013 marks the seventh time the families from The Boyd School have partnered with Amman Imman raising thousands of dollars towards this effort. This year alone, students and families from The Boyd School raised over $2,100.

A Walk for Water is a fundraising event that symbolizes the 35 mile trek children living in the Azawak sometimes travel to bring water home for their families. To bring a better understanding of how difficult this trip can be, The Boyd School students, parents, and teachers hiked the trails at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly. Although the walk was only a fraction of the distance and hardly the same harsh environment that many children in Niger’s desert must journey for water, to The Boyd School students who have been learning about Niger’s water crisis in their classes, the event symbolized their solidarity with the Nigerien children. As a token of their appreciation, the Nigerian children sent handcrafted gifts to some of The Boyd School students that have been participating in the events for numerous years.

Amman Imman: Water Is Life is a Washington, D.C.-based organization. To learn more about the organization, visit

The Boyd School is one of five schools in Virginia that is fully accredited by AdvancED (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and the American Montessori Society. For more information on Montessori education and The Boyd School visit:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not Seeking a Prize...But It Does Feel Good.

I am lucky. Each day I have the opportunity to observe my 22-month-old son discovering the world around him; watching how he processes new sights and sounds. I also have the joy of seeing classes of children doing the same all day long. I am witness to children learning new concepts and developing a sense of accomplishment.  Last year I wrote the following description of standing inside of a Montessori classroom and simply observing:

Anyone who has spent time around a Montessori learning environment has witnessed the shear joy that children exhibit when they discover a new concept or complete a task purely on their own. Just last week as I was taking some photographs of children during their extended work period, I heard a cry of "I did it!" As I turned to see what caused this shout of joy, a primary student was standing by himself with his arms held high, grinning from ear to ear at his accomplishment. There was no adult working with him, no gold star on his paper, just a child thrilled with his own success. Talk about a love for learning...
During the same work period, I observed a young girl carefully at work with practical life materials. As she finished her work, she neatly placed the materials back on the shelf and began her next task - cleaning the windows of the door to the playground. I watched as she sprayed the windows, put down the spray bottle and wiped every drop off of the window (and even the couple of drops that accidentally spilled onto the floor). Her attention and focus on her task were absolutely amazing. She displayed such a deep care for the appearance of her classroom, her environment.

These children were not looking to an adult for praise. They were not seeking a prize or a “good job!” They solely enjoyed learning and were filled with a drive to succeed. That said, it still does feel good to hear that your work is appreciated, respected, and recognized. On that note...

The Boyd School is honored to have been named a finalist by the readers of I AM Modern magazine as the Best of the DC Suburbs 2013 in:

  • Best Montessori
  • Best Kindergarten
  • Best Private School (K-8)

Members of the school community can show their continued support for the school by completing the online survey here

I, personally, am grateful and humbled to have been nominated by a parent for the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International’s Bammy Awards for contributions on behalf of The Boyd School to the education community. I am greatly touched by this honor and will certainly appreciate any votes for the Bammy Awards - Educator's Voice Award (vote here). 

Mike Brown is part of The Boyd School's Support Staff. Mike has been with the school since October of 2004 and has served the school in a jack-of-all-trades capacity ranging from Art Teacher to Director of Admissions to his current role as Public Relations Coordinator.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Flower Arranging

When you enter a Montessori classroom you are presented with an environment of order. An environment that is meticulously prepared each morning before any students arrive. The beautiful learning materials are carefully arranged showing children the progression of learning. 

Another staple of a Montessori environment are fresh flowers...beautiful fresh flowers in small glass vases. Each classroom has an area of the room designated to Practical Life where students develop these skills through various lessons. One of these lessons is on flower arranging. Everyday skills such as pouring, cutting, measuring, and estimating are all practiced with this activity but it also fosters ownership and pride in their classroom. One of the most beautiful sights is the pride in a child's eyes when he hands his teacher freshly picked flowers from the garden at home to donate to his class. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making a Difference

By: James Rice

Every person; big or small, can make a difference. Like no other time in history, we are an interconnected world community. We understand the importance of life and living it in a sustainable manner. However, as a singular person it becomes daunting when trying to make a difference.

One of my favorite group lessons that I have ever observed on the incredible impact that individuals can make was perhaps one of the simplest. The students were asked to sit in a giant circle. Each student was given a piece of paper and asked to hold it in their lap. They then were asked to look at the circle and see how clean it was. One student was then asked to crumble her paper and toss it into the middle of the circle. The students observed that the single crumbled paper did not have much of an impact on the cleanliness of the circle. However, as one by one each student crumbled their paper and tossed it into the circle they quickly realized that although they individually only contributed one small crumbled paper to their circle, it quickly grew into a massive pile. This simple lesson demonstrated to the students and to me, the difference we each can make.

At The Boyd School, each March for the past 4 years, we have joined in the global movement to make an impact and symbolically unite for a cause - our planet. 

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is a simple idea that quickly turned into a global phenomenon.  Hundreds of millions of people around the world turn off their lights for one hour on the same night, to focus on the one thing that unites us all - our planet.  Earth Hour is a great opportunity for schools and parents to talk to children about our planet and the importance of taking care of it. For more information, visit the World Wildlife Federation site and watch the video below:

When is Earth Hour?

Global Earth Hour will be held on Saturday, March 23rd from 8:30 - 9:30pm.  The Boyd School will host a school day Earth Hour on Friday, March 22 from 9:30 - 10:30am.  The school will turn off lights and minimize power sources to contribute to Earth Hour 2013. We encourage our families to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday evening and take the opportunity to commitment as a family to do something more for the planet that goes beyond the hour.

James Rice is the Campus Director of The Boyd School - Herndon Campus. James has been with The Boyd School since 2006 and has served as Director of Admissions and Campus Director at various Boyd locations.  He enjoys art, music, sports and giving back to the community. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is Boyd Montessori?

What does it mean to have a Boyd School Montessori education? We want to know what it means to you; our students, our families, our teachers and staff. 

Here’s the challenge though, can you to tell us in 15 seconds or less

Viddy is a great video editing and sharing app that limits the length of videos to 15 seconds. Share your Boyd School-themed Viddy with us on Twitter by using the #BoydMontessori hashtag. Or simply email your 15 second video to

As part of Montessori Education Week, we will be sharing our favorites on our social media sites. The most creative entry as voted by our Facebook followers will receive a token of appreciation from the school. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Importance of Routine

Rituals and routines provide children with security and a sense of safety. Their understanding of what comes next allows for them to prepare. Change is difficult and transitions can present challenges. By developing a routine, children know what to expect and this reduces the stress on everyone and makes for a much calmer transition.

The consistency provided by the five day a week program helps children (and parents) develop a routine and begins to help children develop a mastery of self. Throughout the course of their young lives children are presented with any number of changes that are beyond their control. Infants and toddlers are confronted with giving up breastfeeding, bottles, cribs, to name a few. They are placed in new environments surrounded by new people. All of these erode their sense of security. Predictability allows for children to develop self-discipline, to take control of their own activities and gives them the confidence to tackle new challenges. Being around the same adults and same classmates on a consistent basis helps them develop true relationships quicker and aids in their social development. Children often display signs of stress when presented with the challenge of missing a classroom event such as birthday celebration or a special lesson on a day when they were not in class. It is more difficult for children attending school on a partial week schedule to grasp concepts and often takes them longer to show academic growth.

Children from homes where belongings are not properly put away have a difficult time understanding that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In a Montessori learning environment, children are exposed to neat and orderly classrooms. They learn to care for their classroom, respect their classmates, and to properly use the learning materials. The order of the Montessori classroom allows for children to focus and concentrate on their work without worry. Children learn to prepare a work space and meticulously note the materials needed to complete their task. Because each child cares for their environment and carefully stores the learning materials when their work is done, there is no worry of a missing puzzle piece or broken materials.

The importance of establishing routines or family rituals can have an even greater impact as children grow older. Something as mundane as a family game night every Thursday has the potential to provide families with a venue for family discussions in a safe environment. Even in the most difficult of times of adolescence, children can look forward to these predetermined events.

Six Benefits of Using Routines with Your Kids

By: Dr. Laura Markham

1. Routines eliminate power struggles because you aren't bossing them around.  This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day.  The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.

2. Routines help kids cooperate by reducing stress and anxiety for everyone.  We all know what comes next, we get fair warning for transitions, and no one feels pushed around.

3.  Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.  Over time, kids learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders.  Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence.  Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional.

4. Kids learn the concept of "looking forward" to things they enjoy, which is an important part of making a happy accommodation with the demands of a schedule.  He may want to go to the playground now, but he can learn that we always go to the playground in the afternoon, and he can look forward to it then.

5. Regular routines help kids get on a schedule, so that they fall asleep more easily at night.

6. Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations. If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip brushing teeth for tonight, etc.  With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that's just the way we do things in our household.  The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!