Compassion: what it is and why it’s important

Compassion: what it is and why it’s important If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dali Lama When I first heard that Brooksfield’s theme this year is compassion, I was pleased, impressed and, to be honest, a little surprised. When it comes to the qualities that I believe are important to plant in young minds and hearts early, the ones that I, without a doubt, want my children to know well, compassion is definitely on the list. But it’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Gratitude, kindness, politeness, all of these sort of roll of our tongues as we guide our children through hellos and pleases and thank yous. Teaching these comes naturally as we coach social interactions every day. Compassion, however, goes several levels deeper. It’s not a quality we can easily reinforce by a social grace or quick phrase. It...
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Feel Better About Dinner

    What’s for dinner in your house tonight? If you’re not quite sure, I promise you’re in good company! Dinner: a time when we want everyone to come together to pull off a meal during the busiest hour of the day. It’s a perennial family paint point. Everyone struggles with some aspect, be it getting everyone to sit down for a meal at the same time or getting the pickier family members to give the green foods a try. We struggle with all of the above here but have picked up a few tips and tricks along our roller coaster ride with family dinner. Here are some things we do in our home that help us feel better about our nightly meals. Plan a menu I have an on-again, off-again relationship with meal planning. When the school year begins and I fall into full on nesting mode, I dutifully sit...
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Getting Back Into The School Rhythm

If you peeked into my kitchen at about 7:30am any morning last week, you would have found me lazily moving about, sipping my coffee, slowly fixing breakfasts, acting as if we had the entire long day ahead of us. If you then peeked back in at 8am, you would have found me scrambling to get shoes on feet, gathering forms and lunch boxes and, most importantly, people, and breathlessly pushing us all out the door. Somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00  it would occur to me that summer is over, school is in session, and a whole new routine needs to get moving. That’s how it is this time every year. We get so comfortable in our summer swing that adjusting to start times and end times, drop offs and pick ups, is rough. It all feels so uncomfortable and unnatural at first. Of course, we all know that by the end...
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Baking with the kids: Your Kid Can Do It Banana Bread

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Spending time with my kids in the kitchen is one of my favorite stressful activities! The potential for disaster is great when you mix messy ingredients, heating elements, and excited little people on step stools wielding blunt objects. But the potential for fantastic memories, not to mention the little self-esteem boost your little one will get from having made something? Those are most definitely greater. One of my favorite recipes to make with my kids is this banana bread recipe, adapted from one found on my all-time favorite recipe blog, Smitten Kitchen . Her recipe is just lovely and delicious so feel free to just follow it. Our adaptations below have come about through dozens upon dozens of trials and errors and ultimately aim to make it just a tad healthier. The brilliance of this recipe is that my four-year old can more or less make it with very little help...
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Montessori School Social Development in Multi-Age Groupings | Falls Church, VA

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                                     Excerpt from “What is Montessori Elementary?” by David Kahn Parents often ask whether the Montessori elementary  program, with its emphasis on small-group activity, provides enough opportunities for social development.  Moreover, they may wonder whether a multi-age class affords enough same-age peers for each child to have a wide choice of friends. Like Montessori preschool , Montessori elementary is based on three-year age groupings.  Students in the first, second, and third years are grouped together in the same classroom, just as three-, four-, and five-year-olds are together in the preschool.  At both levels, the multi-age grouping provides children with opportunities for broad social development. Friendships developed in a multi-age setting have depth.  Children make an effort to get along together because they know they will be together for three years.  Moreover, the presence of...
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Follow the Rhythm of the Child: The Montessori Method | McLean, VA

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               Excerpt from Brook’s Field of Dreams, 1996 Your child is like a seed growing into a flower.  The Montessori Method allows the child to grow at his or her own natural pace, and we should therefore try to let go and not be so concerned with instant results by digging out that “seed” to check on its daily development. This quote of Maria Montessori captures the beauty of her method.  She believed that children learn on their own and the goals of early childhood education  should be to cultivate a child’s natural desire to learn.  To her, learning to read, write, and do math should be as natural to the child as learning to walk and talk.  The Montessori  environment and equipment invite children to learn these  sk ills during their own periods of interest and readiness.  Teachers show their respect for the rhythm of...
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Bring On Spring!

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The weather is growing warmer. Really, I promise it is. For the first time in months I see nary a snowflake in the ten-day forecast. Get ready, friends, winter is fading! I love spring. It has long been my favorite season and I ache for it more this year than I ever have. Everyone creeps out of hibernation and takes to the streets. Early morning walks for coffee, playdates at the park, impromptu sidewalk parties right outside your front door… springtime is when we all come alive. Throughout the winter, my daughter and I wrote up a list of our favorite things to do in the spring. We run through the list on our rides to school, dreaming of the days when we’ll finally be able to turn dreams to reality. Here are a few of our favorites: A day at the park Swings and slides. Games of tag and hide-and-seek....
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Literary Arts Week: Learning About Margaret Wise Brown

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    “Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light and the red balloon.”   It didn’t take long after my daughter was born for the little bunny and his goodnight routine to become part of our goodnight routine. The little toy house and the kittens and the mittens. Before long we could recite it from memory, a blessing when bedtime found us with achy, tired eyes. We marked our children’s growth by its pages: the first time they reached out a chubby little hand to flip the page, the first time they engaged with the story, the first time they excitedly pointed out the red balloon. And, eventually, the day when my daughter could also recite the routine from memory.   Though her words are now solidly imprinted on my brain and in my heart, I had never taken a moment to learn more about Margaret Wise Brown....
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Let’s Talk: How To Find Out What Your Kid Did All Day

  We push through the door and she’s off. She loves to run. So she bounds around the corner and hops up the steps. Unsurprisingly, I don’t have quite that much energy reserved for the last few miles of my day, so I trail behind.  I catch up with her at the parking lot and finally have a chance to ask.     “How was your day?”     Her typical, ambivalent, “Good.” escapes as she works to catch her breath. And that’s it. Most days, nothing more comes out unprompted.     And I’ve tried all of the versions of, “Well, what did you do today?” But we all know those don’t work. That sort of open-ended question isn’t going to lead us anywhere. And it makes sense, how would you answer such a question?     So over the past couple of years, I’ve developed a few tricks to...
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Why Do We Hop?

Why we hop “Are you going to die?” Charlie Brown asked. “Good grief!” Linus shouted. “What kind of a question is that!” I read Why, Charlie Brown, Why? to the students of Brooksfield this week. Four readings to each of the four different classes. And each time I got to that part, I looked up to see how the little faces in front of me would react to that one line. My oldest is four and this territory of heavier topics in books is still somewhat new to me. I’m still the mom who skips over the piece about death in books when it isn’t relevant to the story. I’m still the mom who ducks out to buy a new fish when the old one dies. I’m still the mom who can’t quite find the words to talk about the big, scary topics. But when reading this book to our children...
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School Closing Alert

Update:  Monday, March 16, 2020:  Due to Covid-19, Brooksfield will be closed until April 10, 2020.   Classes and tours will resume on April 13, 2020.  We wish our Brooksfield Community all the best during this time.  Stay healthy! We miss you already.