News – Casa di Mir Montessori


Community Update for May 3

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

As spring winds its way towards summer, we have a clearer vision for what school will look like in August! While there are still some unknowns, our hope is that we are nearing the last step towards returning to the operational systems we’ve come to trust in years past. With this Community Update, our hope is to provide general information around the protocols, capacities, and offerings we are able to put into place, come next fall.

The full-return to on-site education next year will look similar to the present, with respect to protocols – with some ideal shifts behind the scenes. Certain protocols and key strategies will remain for either safety or to comply with state mandates:

  • Classrooms will maintain individual work stations for each child. They can utilize their cubbies, and share materials, as typical in a Montessori classroom.
  • All staff and students will continue to wear masks, classrooms will remain stable (they won’t mix during our school day programming), and physical distancing will be sustained at 3 ft.
  • Specialists, mentors, and administrators will be able to visit classrooms, and we’ll once again be utilizing available rooms for specialty work, such as Spanish, etc.
  • We’ll continue to clean frequently touched surfaces, schedule deeper cleaning of shared materials, and maximize our use of outside spaces. The frequency of sanitizing and cleaning is no longer needed to be maintained with the same intensity.

As a result, we’re able to get close to returning to our programming and staffing models of pre-COVID! Our classrooms will consist of more students in the fall, as we inch closer to our previous capacity.

  • Our faculty will once again be able to co-teach, with two teachers per class! This model has countless advantages for both students and teachers, including added support, collaboration, and the spontaneity we strive for as we “follow the child.”
  • Classrooms will include P1, P2, Kinder, LE1, LE2, UE1, UE2, and MS. The Lower and Upper Elementary will return to full-time on-site learning.
  • We will still be in an “interim capacity phase.”
  • This is likely the final step before unfolding back to our normal sizes. These students do miss having more friends in the classroom!
  • Extended Care will be offered, but with limitations on capacity. At the moment, we’ll be limited to 14 per LE and 14 per UE, but we anticipate that to change.

Finally, Casa is thrilled to host an on-site celebration with our students for our Promotion Ceremonies! Many logistics are being worked out still, but here are a few updates:

  • All the events will be held outside on June 11th.
  • Protocols and distancing will still be in place.
  • Kinders will be having their own special Promotion at Lower Campus in the play area.
  • The events for the older age groups will be at the Upper Campus fields, in two ceremonies.

As an organization of teachers, staff, students, and parents, we’re all forming our individual comforts and readiness together. I would like to offer that these Promotion Ceremonies are particularly special for the school this year, as it marks the first attempt to collect our larger groups safely to celebrate the students as a community, which we all hold dear. There are limitations and regulations to put in place with each event, but please put it on your calendars!

Take care,
Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
asa di Mir Montessori

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Community Update for April 2

Image symbolizing the Casa di Mir Community

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

In grappling with enormous challenges, holding a balanced perspective on the whole of a situation is difficult, to say the least! The current pandemic is no different, and many of you may find yourselves desiring a stronger footing for this moment- especially as Santa Clara’s stepped into the Orange Tier. While this is representative of progress and increased health, such shifting requires frequent reframing and reassessment of how we feel about the changes involved – for ourselves and our families, as well as our school wide community!

After a recent long hike, my left foot was throbbing a bit, and a lightbulb appeared above my head. I’d broken that foot in recent years, and with the throbbing came memories of the physical therapy needed to rehabilitate one of my two favorite feet. Although the therapy was minimal, it took leaning into a difficult situation, pushing through some discomfort, and phase-by-phase learning to operate again, moving towards normalcy. While COVID wreaks suffering and havoc immeasurably more than broken bones, the idea of society entering into ‘physical therapy’ can help frame each step forward through this crisis. As we constantly decipher new guidelines and clarify how our families and school navigate shifting tiers, physical therapy is less of an abstraction. With safety in mind, we’re all very slowly leaning into a return to more normal times.

We all know how to visit stores, create playdates, and simply meet for coffee. Yet, in our community there is a spectrum of comfort, where we each have our own readiness to ‘put pressure on our ankle,’ so to speak. I wish to acknowledge the diversity of where each of us lives on this spectrum, and to highlight some movement that tightens our community bonds! After drop-offs, some parents whose children are within a singular Pod have met for coffee off-site. Other groups of within-the-Podparents have created playdates at parks for afterschool connecting and even hosted creek clean-up events! While each of us arrives at our readiness uniquely, I am particularly grateful for those of you helping to move forward with ‘new muscles,’ safely and respectfully. The energy and support of our parent groups shine light on the strong, connected Casa community we all love.

At this time, the administration is still regularly checking in with our ‘physical therapists’ as we make plans towards possible on-site promotion ceremonies in June. Additionally, we’re beginning to find clarity around the possibilities for extended care in 2021-2022. We know things will continue to look different for a while still, yet our collective efforts and muscle memory are helping us remember what we value and how to walk in that direction.

Thank you in advance for mitigating risks and keeping safe next week, all of which helps the community we’re all a part of. On behalf of all staff at Casa, have a fabulous, safe, and well-deserved Spring Break!

Take care,

Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Community Update – 21-22 School Year

Q&As About the 21-22 School Year

Dear Casa Families,

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve submitted questions about next year! Below, you will find a series of videos addressing some of the questions we’ve received so far. 

As continue to receive questions from you, we will keep sharing our answers, and if your query isn’t directly connected to those addressed here, please trust that we’ll get to it soon! To submit your questions send an email to

Take Care,
Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

Question #1 – What are likely scenarios for the fall? 

Click here to view our written responses

Question #2 – Will Elementary continue with a hybrid program?

Click here to view our written responses

Question #3 – Are restrictions being relaxed, given the availability of vaccines?

Click here to view our written responses

Question #4 – What criteria are used to establish our ability to offer Mon.-Fri. on-site programming for students?

Click here to view our written responses

Question #5 – Will our Kinder-aged program continue to be a unique, separated grouping?

Click here to view our written responses

Question #6 – Will current protocols continue into next year?

Click here to view our written responses

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Empathy and Conversations With Our Children

Mother and daughter in natureThis blog post was prompted by many observations I have made and comments parents have shared with me about conversations they have with their children. How do we encourage the conversations we wish to have? How do we receive what our child shares with us? How do you handle the conversations in which your child shares something that was painful during the day?

It is important to point out that the parent’s style of connection through conversation may not be the same as the child’s. The child may want physical closeness, sharing a snack, a story, or music. The child may feel the questions puts him/her on the spot to remember details not recalled easily, thus threatening the connection or making the child feel obligated to produce some answer, true or not. It is good to consider other ways that we can connect with our children when we spend time with them. The conversation that follows this initial connection flows much more easily.

Greetings are very important at pick-up time. They allow for transition. Let your child settle into the car with words of joy in seeing him/her. Stay quiet for a time, see what gets volunteered. You would do well to put away the cell phone, turn off the radio, and have no access to any screen devices during this reconnecting time.

As parents, we want to hear all about our child’s day.  We look forward to connecting with him/her. What did s/he do in school? What did s/he enjoy? How did the social interactions go? Did s/he eat her/his lunch? One of the great challenges to actually having these conversations is the way children store their experiences and retrieve their memories. Our youngest children are so in the moment and have not yet mastered a sense of time that remembering even the morning activities can be very difficult. Our older children may be a little more guarded about what they want to share. Offer something positive and appropriate from your day and see what response you get. Knowing your child and his/her interests might be a guide into further questions. Vary these questions each day so a routine pattern of question/response doesn’t develop. Avoid yes/no questions. Try: “What did your teacher do today that caught your attention?”  “What activity was new on the shelf?” “Who did you play with today?” “Who did you eat with today?” Avoid questions like, “How many jobs did you do today?” That type of question usually connects to a child’s sense of should and probably won’t yield much more than a number. Instead try, “What job did you do today that you were especially proud or particularly happy with?” Wait at least 10 seconds for an answer. This is critical.  Research shows that we tend to stop the person’s answer with more of our own talking. Give most of your conversation time to nurturing the positives. Let your child know you are interested in him/her.

Sometimes children share about a situation that was hard or painful for him/her. The best response would be to listen, gently guide your child to understanding their role in the situation and toward problem-solving. If you think it necessary, prompt your child to bring the concern to his/her teacher. Empower your children to self-advocate as much as possible. There are, of course, times when you need to step in to help your child. Even then, give him/her as much support as you can to speak for him/herself.

I find a section of the book, “Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children” by Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill Grace a great resource for putting some things into perspective. Thompson and Grace explore one scenario I have seen happen frequently.  Speaking directly to parents they say, “When children share an experience of something painful in their interactions, we empathetically experience it with them.” That empathy is very important. We feel for them, and sometimes more than they do… sometimes too much. “There are four reasons we feel the pain more. First, children get over it sooner. They bounce back faster from insults and injuries, the same way they heal faster from a cut hand or a broken leg. Second, they are highly motivated to work things out and reconcile with their friends and their peer groups. Third, they deliberately hand over their pain to us so we can carry it for a while.  They know we’ll take it on. Fourth, and most significantly, we suffer from excesses of empathy because we carry around all our own old memories of how we were treated as children and how we felt about it.”

The child’s standard of justice is “forgive and forget.”  We hang onto our child’s hurts much longer than they do and can easily and unintentionally undermine the friendship between our child and the other child by imposing our adult anger and judgment. Your child has most likely moved on and can’t wait to play with her friend again, while you still harbor your upset for your child. Larry Cohen calls this an emotional game of Hot Potato. Our child hands off their upset with a friend and we are the last ones left holding the hot potato.

With this sort of distorted “empathy,” you might mistakenly start the conversation about school the next afternoon by checking in to see if the issue between your child and the other one continued. You might unwittingly show your concern or disdain in the tone of your voice. Your child might realize that you are very wrapped up in this topic and indulge in a little “spin” on things to keep your attention.  (Children are very astute in this regard.) The spin often avoids looking at the part your child played in the problem in the first place AND will usually take a “victim” tone.  Having you as an advocate can be very desirable. Making an enemy of the other child might be a small price to pay. Your child might confirm exactly what you expected to hear. This type of conversation is known as “interviewing for pain.” It can take on a life of its own and can be a consuming pitfall.  Much of the time the child will “feed” this conversation and will likely spin the information to keep you captivated. This is where objectivity is lost, and the situation generates unhealthy thinking, negating real problem-solving for your child. Be on the alert for this kind of cycle.

As parents, we want to learn what our child is doing and thinking while away from us.  The time together at the end of the day is an important time for reconnection. A quick internet search will yield many helpful websites with suggestions for positive and fun conversation starters. If problems come up, encourage your child to bring their concerns to the teacher, and if necessary, send an email to prompt the conversation and avoid speaking for your child.  Let your child know that you know he/she is capable of working things out.

Here’s to wonderful conversations with your child!

Wanda Whitehead
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Growth Mindset and How To Nurture It

Primary student working with Montessori materialsIn “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs”, author, Ellen Galinsky, identifies the ability to take on challenges as one of the seven essential life skills children need for success. In discussing this particular skill, she refers to Carol Dweck’s work at Stanford University on how children cope with challenges and setbacks, resilience, and success. It is there that she has researched and formulated the theory of mindset.

“Carol Dweck of Stanford University has found that children who avoid challenges have a fixed mindset meaning that they see their intelligence as a fixed trait and therefore are reluctant to undertake challenges that “stretch” them.  Children who are willing to take on challenges have a growth mindset, seeing their abilities as something they can develop. She has shown that children with a growth mindset do better in school.”[1] And not just better in school. The world is full of daily life challenges, intellectual, physical, and emotional.  People with a growth mindset do better in life!  They are more willing to try the next new thing that might look more difficult than what they have been successful doing in the past.  They explore different strategies and are certain they can become more capable through hard work. They are willing to see their experiences as opportunities to grow.

Dweck did many studies to explore further how mindset affected outcomes. In one study, she created a questionnaire to assess children’s theories about their own intelligence:

“We asked them questions like this: Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t really change—agree or disagree. We call that a fixed view of intelligence. Another question (that) measures the growth mindset is: No matter who you are, you can always become a great deal smarter.”

Then to test whether the children’s mindset or view of their capacities affected their response to setbacks, Dweck and her colleagues gave them increasingly difficult problems to solve, such as puzzles from a nonverbal IQ test.

“We give them a few trials where they do pretty well; then we give them more difficult problems. We see what happens to their strategies, what happens to their enjoyment of the task, what happens to their persistence.

We found that (when) the students who endorsed the fixed view of their intelligence hit difficult, (they) started blaming their ability for failure; they started not liking the task anymore, and their performance plummeted. The students who thought their intelligence was something they could increase or develop saw the challenge as exciting. They thought, ‘I just (need) more effort or different strategies’; they maintained their enjoyment; they maintained their performance.” [2]

Finding such clear results, “Dweck turned her attention to the question: How do children develop a fixed versus growth mindset, and can their mindsets be changed? Dweck turned to the way people talked with children.”[3] Basically, the result of her studies in this area is that when we praise a product or label a child as highly intelligent or smart, we set them up for a fixed mindset and the likelihood that they will wilt in the face of challenge.  When we acknowledge effort, support strategizing, and demonstrate that mistakes are opportunities to learn, students will take away a growth mindset.

The findings don’t apply just to academics, but to every aspect of life including those in the social/emotional domains.  Children with a growth mindset, see themselves as individuals who can grow and change.  This practice is at the heart of Montessori education.  Knowing that the child is always in the process of becoming the adult he/she can be is a reflection of a growth mindset. We, adults, need to bring this perspective to the child when working out challenges in both academic and social areas.

When faced with a social challenge, we don’t label the child, but we identify the needs and strengths so that strategies can be designed to overcome the challenges and experience the successes.

Labeling a child whether with “gifted”, “learning disabled”, “annoying”, “bully” or “victim” we place a fixed mindset on the child and diminish their ability to develop that essential skill named, “Taking on Challenges.” This is especially true for children who may have their own unique challenges in academic or social learning.  No matter how frustrating the challenge is or how slow growth happens, “we can and will grow”, needs to be the mantra. A fixed mindset is a disservice to our children. A growth mindset empowers our children to overcome obstacles and become who they want to be.

What can we do as parents to nurture a growth mindset?

  • Adults can model a growth mindset to our children in just the way we handle our own challenges.
  • Sharing with your child your inner joy of hard work and the exhilarating feeling of taking on a challenge is powerful.
  • Approaching mistakes from the perspective of opportunity rather than failure is essential to this communication of mindset. Let your child hear your own thinking process.
  • Recognizing when a child takes on a “challenge” as defined by their own sense and acknowledging the effort is also helpful. Resilience is born in the experience of success just beyond the comfortable.
  • We can empathize with our children, and at the same time let them know that we know they can handle the feelings they are having.
  • We can encourage them in problem-solving again conveying that we know they have what they need to come up with several solutions or actions they can take.
  • We can avoid labeling or putting people “in a box,” especially the child’s peers. Continually reflecting the potential for growth and change is key, even if it happens in baby steps.
  • Focus on the areas where growth is clearly taking place, usually in the areas of strength and support perseverance, effort, and patience in the areas where growth is tougher.

As educators and as parents, understanding and acknowledging the importance of a growth mindset will offer our children the freedom and encouragement to boldly deal with the challenges that they will inevitably face.

Wanda Whitehead
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori

[1] Galinsky, Ellen. Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs. Harper Studio, NY, 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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Casa di Mir’s Distance Learning Program Has Evolved!

Distance learning student working on his science fair projectThe 2019/2020 school year presented us with some of the most trying conditions ever, with the pandemic ramping up in March, lockdowns, and a lot of uncertainty. Our family had to decide between on-campus pods or the continuation of Distance Learning (DL) for the 2020/2021 school year. Since some family members are at higher risk for COVID-related complications, we decided another year of DL was best for us.

First, we are very thankful to Casa di Mir Montessori for offering DL as an option. Providing an alternative to in-person learning takes time, money, and resources – no small task! But Casa di Mir jumped into the first round of DL in March 2020 and ironed out many of the issues facing other school districts, such as the implementation of Zoom video conferencing and Google Classrooms. From there, the protocols for using these tools gradually improved and the students adapted quickly to make it work and finished the school year quite well, under these trying conditions.

Now that we are in our second school year of DL, we are noticing some additional positive changes in our 4th-year boy’s progress. Our son is part of Ms. Cathy’s 3rd/4th distance learning pod.  Although, in Montessori classrooms, 1st – 3rd grades are typically grouped together in Lower Elementary (LE) and 4th – 6th in Upper Elementary (UE), Ms. Cathy’s DL pod consists of 3rd and 4th graders due to the limited number of DL students. As such, we were a bit concerned that our 4th grader would be missing the experience of the “big kids” as mentors in this year’s class, but so far, we are very satisfied with how it is going.

We see our son getting more and more out of each day as the school year progresses. Sure, Zoom meetings and Google Classroom are standard fare these days, but the way these tools are being used is getting better and better. As parents at home, we have ample time to witness DL in action, and there has been a steady improvement. The on-line lessons are flowing smoothly without many distractions or interruptions. Zoom rooms are productive and efficiently utilized. Lessons are supplemented with appropriate teacher-led demonstrations and/or YouTube video presentations.  And kids are fine-tuning their scheduling skills and turning in their work with digital ease and flair!

None of this is easy, but Casa di Mir’s DL program, along with our son’s talented and engaged teacher, are making us true believers.  We are so appreciative to have this as an option for our family during this time.

Paul Rust
Board Member and parent of a 4th-year boy
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Community Update for February 12

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

Slightly over a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic turned school life upside down. We know our community has felt added stress and anxiety over this past year. I am thrilled about our school’s response to these challenging times, but I wonder if some of you desire more communication from the school regarding COVID. While it seems that we, as a staff, eat, breathe, and even dream COVID protocols (this is true!), I realize that our parents may not always see everything that goes into keeping our community safe and healthy.

As you know, we are continuously monitoring county, state, and federal public health communications and attending school-based informational webinars. We are in touch with our contacts at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department at least weekly. Enforcing our Community Care Agreement is an ongoing endeavor, especially with navigating questions about what constitutes the need to quarantine. As a school that opened our physical doors early this year, while many schools were not as fortunate, we are proud of our community’s long-standing commitment to maintaining our agreements.

We would like to share with you some of our successes in safety. For example, there have been only 3 instances where members of the community tested positive for COVID who were, around that time, on campus, and all were prior to mid-October! Please know this is absolutely, in part, thanks to your efforts to keep our teachers and students safe. Occasionally, we’ve heard questions about our notifications of exposure. In the cases previously stated, the entire community was notified, public health was contacted, and Pods were quarantined. There have also been situations where a member of the community was in “close contact” with a person with COVID, the individual’s Pod was notified, and the individual was required to quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID at the 6-7-day mark. There have only been a few such “close contacts” in the community, and this protocol was implemented immediately. Additionally, in a few instances, there have been exposures over breaks or situations where there was no risk to the school community, thus there was no need for notification, and quarantining was implemented. In some ways, we share more than required by Public Health, as we understand the need for extra transparency when appropriate.

In this moment of thinking ahead for next year, while simultaneously navigating the current weekly needs, I invite you to share any questions you may have about next year, this moment, or COVID information in general. Please share them with Rose, she will be compiling them for a school-wide outreach. I look forward to answering them together with one voice for our school, to give as much clarity as we can. Thank you in advance for reaching out!

Take Care,

Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Casa di Mir’s Middle School Recently Performed the Classic Play “Our Town”

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle SchoolThe Casa Middle School recently performed the all-time classic play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. All students acted in the play and most of us also worked behind the scenes in the staging, costumes, video, editing, and directing departments. Our Director, Miss Kristin, held auditions for the lead roles of the play: The Stage Manager, George, and Emily. Every student still got ample time onstage, because those with minor parts got to play multiple characters. While there were some obstacles on the way, the middle school worked hard to bring this vision to life. From memorizing lines to scavenging for a quiet place to film in the busy CCC, this was a full class effort.

Unfortunately, because of COVID, we couldn’t host the play live, but the camera and editing crew are working to share a recording of the play’s production with the Casa community. The recording will likely be available shortly. There were some obstacles with costuming, including limited materials, masks, and making sure that actors were comfortable in their costumes. Some slight filming issues set us back on the schedule for “Our Town”. Unsurprisingly, people forgot some costumes and lines. Our original plan was to film all three acts in a couple of weeks. However, we realized pretty early on that this goal would be unattainable and settled for a more obtainable goal of only completing Act II in the allotted time where we planned to film the entire play. The film team was unable to find a spot in the CCC where there wouldn’t be some sort of audio interference. The designated spot was in direct sunlight for most of our filming time, so actors with heavier costumes had to endure the heat. Despite all complications, we hope that everyone can take some time out of their day to enjoy some excerpts from the play.

While the actors worked wonders, we also have to deliver a big thanks to the stage, editing, camera, directing, and costume crews; as Mr. Wilder states in the play, “the real heroes that weren’t on the stage at all”. Hannah Cohen, Cassidy Oliver, and Olivia Srugis play the main characters: Emily, the Stage Manager, and George, respectively. Everyone worked to help the progress and completion of this act, and we are so excited to share it with all of you soon!

Middle School Communications Team
Casa di Mir Montessori

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle School

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle School

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle School

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle School

Filming of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder by Casa's Middle School

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Asking Questions: Critical Thinking, an Essential Life Skill

Primary teacher and student in a lessonYoung children ask the most wonderful questions! Their questions are windows into how their mind is working!  As adults, we can’t help but love the ease of agreeable, obedient children.  It is so comfortable!  At the same time, children can ask the most frustrating or confounding questions. Ultimately, we want our children to think for themselves, ask questions, reflect on their own values and needs, and make healthy choices. We want our children to grow up to be adults who can think critically and question the overwhelming input they will process in this digital age. Experiences your child has now can make a difference in their critical thinking skills.

So what is critical thinking and how do we support the development of this skill in our children?  At its core, critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide our beliefs and actions. [1] Critical thinking draws on all the other executive functioning skills including focus, self-control, making connections, perspective-taking, and communicating.  “Critical thinking is the ability to step back and look at what you’re doing, to look at the dimensions of the task, and to evaluate.”[2]

“Critical thinking is closely related to reflection: instead of accepting one’s initial characterization of a situation, subjecting that characterization to a critique, stepping outside of that characterization, refusing to take it for granted that it’s sufficient and considering it in relation to other ways of thinking about the situation.  Reflection results in and makes critical thinking possible.”[3]

All this sounds pretty challenging when you are thinking about your young child.  Maria Montessori was very keen on supporting the child’s development of critical thinking.  Her materials invite questions and reflection. Her curriculum inspires curiosity and is actually based on the typical questions that will be asked at each age level.  She advised teachers and parents to stay within the amazing wonders of the natural, real-world, allowing children to inquire into such realities.  She did not want children to be subject to gullibility or accept notions passively. She further advised adults to stick to the real and avoid fantasies when working with the young child.

“Given the world, our children are inheriting—a world that is a whirlwind of change, awash in information—how do we help them become critical thinkers?  How do we help children know when to trust their own experiences and when to dig deeper, ask more questions, and test out more possibilities? How do we help them learn to discern which sources are reliable providers of information and which are not?”[4]  Here are five of the nine suggestions from Galinsky to support the development of critical thinking.

Suggestion 1: Watch your Child Forming Theories About How Things Work

Observe your children at play and see what they’re attempting to understand.  Play is the way that children often try out ideas.  We do it, too- but we do it by playing with ideas in our minds rather than acting them out, as children do.

Suggestion 2: Promote Your Child’s Curiosity

While children are born with a drive to understand – to be curious – this drive can be weakened or strengthened by what we do.  To promote children’s curiosity, be careful not to jump in too quickly to fix things they’re struggling with since working with the “confounding” situation is where critical thinking is promoted.  Instead, where possible, help them figure out how they can resolve it for themselves or ask questions about the situation that would help deepen the thinking.

Suggestion 3: Promote Your Children’s “Lemonade Stands”

“Lemonade stands” are those passions and interests your child shows you.  This pursuit of interest allows children to see how they can have many pieces of a puzzle and can take the time, focus, and reflection to put them all together in many different ways for a bigger picture.  Time to reflect on our own thinking is called “metacognition” or thinking about thinking.

Suggestion 4: Be a Good Model- Try to Provide Accurate and Valid Information to Your Children

We can model critical thinking by encouraging our children to ask questions and by responding with accurate information, always keeping in mind what they are ready to understand.  This includes looking up information through reliable sources when we don’t remember or know the answers.

Suggestion 5: Promote Critical Viewing Skills: Bring reflection into a normally passive intake of information.

When we watch television, dissect the ads, like film critics.  What is that commercial trying to sell? Why did the company choose this way of selling their product? Were they trying to use peer pressure, or sex or adventure, or humor to sell this product?  As far as the program goes, we can ask:

  • What was the content of the program? Can you remember the story, what happens, why?
  • Why is the program presented as it is?
  • How does a news channel that is liberal present a news story versus one that is more conservative?
  • How accurate or stereotypic is the presentation of the issue or a group of people?

Galinsky provides other suggestions.  Her book addresses essential skills for our children and is a great read.

Love your child’s questions. Model questioning. Use them as opportunities- windows into deeper places within your child’s thinking.  They can reflect wonder, curiosity, defiance- all necessary for the development of critical thinking!

Wanda Whitehead
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori

[1] Ellen Galinsky. Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills That Every Child Needs. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, New York. 2010.

[2] Frank Keil, Yale University

[3] Philip David Zelazo, University of Minnesota

[4] Ellen Galinsky.

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Fun Walks Are a Part of Casa Di Mir Middle School’s Physical Expression Curriculum

Middle School Student at the Municipal Rose Garden

San Jose’s Municipal Rose Garden

A few weeks ago, we went on a power walk to the municipal rose garden. We walked a total of about 8 miles in around 3 hours. Cassidy, a 7th-grade student, originally planned this walk to be a one-way trip, but Mrs. Bonnie encouraged us to challenge ourselves to the round-trip. We were also challenged to learn three new facts about our classmates. We did get a bit confused along the way because we missed a street on which we were supposed to turn, but we were able to get back on track with the help of students who were familiar with the area. Unfortunately, the roses were not in season, but we were able to enjoy a moment in the shade or next to the fountain at our halfway point. The shade was especially rejuvenating with the temperature being about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This was definitely a walk that challenged our physical endurance. Many of us came to school the next day with sore muscles.

Some of the other destinations we have walked to are Percolation Pond, Blackford Elementary, and John D. Morgan Park. In particular, a highlight for many of the students was John D. Morgan, the “school gathering” location. We were able to reminisce on our memories as we went up the play structure and swung on the swings. Some of us were even daring enough to jump off the swings and sit in the baby swings. Many of us wanted to repeat this walk, but we were unable to because we watched the inauguration ceremony LIVE, which was on the same day as the weekly PE walk. We all hope that the time will come soon when we can go there as a school again.

Middle School Communications Team
Casa di Mir Montessori

Casa di Mir Middle School Students at John D. Morgan Park

Visit to John D. Morgan Park

Casa di Mir Middle School Students at John D. Morgan Park

John D. Morgan Park

Casa di Mir Middle School Students Walking the Los Gatos Creek Trail

Los Gatos Creek Trail

Middle School Students at the Percolation Pond

Percolation Pond

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