The Pillar The Four Agreements

The Pillar
...of our Community
Raritan Valley Montessori/The Cherry Blossom
Volume VIII Issue 1I
The Four Agreements
 Do you have difficulty saying what you mean
because of discomfort with the way another
person might receive it?
 Do you go home at night discouraged because
of a conflict or misunderstanding with another
person during the day?
 Do you ever proceed on a project just to find
out your initial assumptions were incorrect and
you are working on the wrong thing?
 Do you always second guess what you did, and
feel you could have done better if you weren’t
tired, stressed, it was on a different day, with a
different person, etc .?
Concepts transform your thinking and decision
making, actually changing your very being from
whom to who you are and what you believe. All
of our actions originate from our beliefs, therefore
the expression “Change your mind and you will
change your life”.
Inside this issue:
The Four Agreements
Montessori Education
Lying in Children
Fickle Friendships
Power of 100
Ways to say
“Good for You!”
I found the work entitled The Four Agreements by
don Miguel Ruiz to be a transforming experience.
The author states that this work “provides a simple yet powerful code of conduct for attaining
personal freedom and true happiness”. I have
been astounded by the power of these simple concepts in influencing my life and freeing me from
some of our expectations.
The Four Agreements are as follows:
1. Be impeccable with your word;
2. Don’t take anything personally;
3. Don’t make assumptions; and
4. Always do your best.
We have all heard these statement a million times
before, from our parents, our teachers, our friends
and coworkers. We all strive to do this every day,
and have so many reasons why it’s not possible this
time or in this situation. So why now should there
be so much power in these agreements.
Fall 2012
Leslie S. Meldrum
Head of Schools
The author’s definitions of each agreement is
transformative in nature and in practice. Instead
of these agreements being one more place to fail
or to make us feel wrong, they become a source
of inspiration, empowerment and freedom. Of
course you can read the book on your own, and
gain an incredible amount. I find it to be much
more energizing and thorough to explore these
concepts in the company of others and to share
in their journey toward these agreements. Come
and join us and find some freedom in your everyday life!
The Four Agreements
Wednesday, November 7
Raritan Valley Montessori
120 Finderne Ave
Bridgewater, NJ 08807
The cost of this course per
individual is $30.
course fee includes
 The Four Agreements book
 Pizza and beverage
Childcare available for extra fee of $10
Montessori Education
By Heidi Walters
Montessori Initiative
One of the many beauties of Montessori is that it provides the student a foundation that evolves into a life-long love of learning. What many parents do not
know is that for a teacher, Montessori is a life-long learning experience.
Through Professional Development programs and seminars at conferences
Montessori teachers are continuously expanding their knowledge, honing best
practices and even learning new ways of guiding the students in their classroom.
One of the other beauties of Montessori is that it is a dynamic, organic educational philosophy. Montessorians are constantly reviewing new research in all
arenas from brain development to behavioral characteristics and discoveries of
science so that they can better communicate with their students, their parent
community and with one another.
What teachers learn in Professional Development sessions and at conference
seminars they bring back to the classroom and share with their colleagues.
Through the process of sharing, they perfect their understanding of this new
knowledge or the new technique and they are able to apply it, always within a
Montessori context to the students in their classroom.
It is this openness to new information that creates the wonderfully supportive
atmosphere in a Montessori classroom, where teachers are guides and observers who recognize that the classroom is a scientific laboratory filled with love
for the child and for learning coupled with respect for new information as well
as old, proven facts. In the spirit of science, the teachers are constantly blending their new knowledge and skills with the life-time of learning they have acquired as Montessorians. Each day in the classroom the beneficiaries of this
knowledge are the students. And as they mature, because of their Montessori
experience, they too will be open to learning new information. Equally important, they will be able, like a Montessori teacher, to weigh that information
with an open mind and to determine whether it is fact or fancy. And after
making that determination, they will know how to blend it into their current
mix of acquired knowledge and share it with others. In doing so, they will be
doing their part to better themselves and also to help better the world.
The goal to better the world by educating the child is an underlying foundation
of Montessori. It was a good goal 100 years ago when Dr. Montessori first
stated it, and it continues to be a valid goal for today. Every Montessori
teacher and every Montessori student is playing their part in helping to achieve
that goal.
Lying in Children
Have you ever listened to your preschooler weave a tall tale or deny
something you know to be true? Lying may be difficult for parents to
accept, but it is part of growing up. Parents often ask us how they
should handle lying situations. It is dependent on the age of the child, the
specific situation and the family’s rules.
At the preschool age, children are learning and practicing how to separate fantasy from reality. They aren’t necessarily intending to outright
deceive you but instead believe that it is their wishes or thoughts that
can cause things to happen a certain way. Preschoolers don’t really
grasp what truth is yet. Developmental theorist, Jean Piaget tells us that
children are close to age seven, elementary age, before they really understand what a lie is and that it is bad.
Your preschool child’s lies may stem from:
Forgetfulness. Preschoolers have short attention spans as well as short
memories. They may not remember taking a friend’s toy.
Wishful thinking. Preschool children may wish that something did or did
not happen. They may wish that the glass bowl did not break.
Active imagination. Creativity is at a peak for this age. Many lies are
from active daydreaming. Your child may enjoy telling you an outrageous
story about an adventure that occurred on the playground while at
school. Did you ever read And to Think I saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr.
Need for Attention. Your child may feel important when they have your
attention and they get a response from you—good or bad.
How can you deal with this frustrating behavior? Help your preschooler
to sort out reality from wish, or what is in their head. In fact, you could
point out their creativity, “That story you made up was very entertaining!” rather than “Stop lying!”. However, don’t get caught up with reinforcing the lie by asking them to repeat the story for grandma.
Kindergarteners generally tell two kinds of lies: lies to get something or
to avoid something. When you hear your kindergartener telling lies, do
not overreact but point out that it is wrong and that it is important to
tell the truth. The fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf or the Chinese fable
The Empty Pot (by Demi) are two of my favorite tales to tell that illustrate the impact of lying.
Usually, by the time a child enters Elementary, however the knowledge
that lying is wrong is fully understood. This age child generally lies to
stay out of trouble and avoid punishment, impress their peers, boost
their self-esteem or protect others. Children of this age also lie because
they may hear their parents or other adults lie. Remember to be a role
model as a parent and avoid the common custom of ‘white lies’ being
Handling lying at this age is a bit different. It takes a great deal of time
and patience. As soon as you suspect your child has lied, tell him that
you suspect that he is lying. Comment, “That doesn’t sound like the
By Diane Dodds
Director of Admissions & Primary Master Teacher
truth. Tell me details.” Try to avoid focusing on the solution
and asking leading questions in a disappointed way. Your child
will pick up on your tone and on the sound of your voice.
Comment, “I know that you did it and I am disappointed that
you did it.” Once you have stated the facts, encourage the
truth to bring closure to the matter. Avoid the trap of instant
forgiveness that causes your child to believe, “I told the truth
so I will not get punished or have consequences.” It is important for everyone to note that something has been done and
that there is a consequence.
Meeting with the Teacher
Conferences are scheduled for November 14 & 15. You can
use this fall ritual as an opportunity to learn more about
what skills your child has revealed as well as what could
use your support at home. Conferences help both teachers
and parents to gain insight into a student’s ability and progress.
I feel my child is doing well in …
Come prepared with a few strengths of your child to discuss. By discussing strengths first, it sets the tone for the
conversation to be positive, constructive and geared toward
solving problems. Perhaps your child has demonstrated
qualities in the classroom that you have not seen at home.
I feel my child needs work on…
Suppress the instinct to defend your child. This is an opportunity to ask what specific steps both you and your child
can take at home to make improvements. Younger children
may be encouraged to participate in practical life skills
oriented toward family responsibility. Older children may
make a commitment to have their homework done each day
by a specific time or reading a certain number of minutes
per day.
At school, my child enjoys…
It is valuable for your child’s teacher to hear about what
has been expressed to you at home. It gives us an idea of
your child’s interests.
I would like to see my child pursue…
This can open up a goal-oriented discussion. Be realisitic
and specific but also be flexible and open to Montessori’s
“sensitive periods”.
Here is what I expect of you and the school…
This is an opportunity to share the wishes that you have for
your child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.
Topics I would like to discuss…
Have these written down in advance. Sometimes time constraints may prevent you from discussing all the issues you
feel are important. You can always follow-up with a meeting at another date or consider using e-mail to supplement
in-person meetings.
Nicole Bokat
Parents Magazine
Fickle Friendships
Does your child’s life seem like a soap opera sometimes? Here’s why
5– and 6-year-olds are constantly breaking up and making up. During
my son’s first two years in school, it seemed as though he were riding
a social seesaw. If I asked, “How was your day” He would frequently
sigh and say, “Henry isn’t my friend again.” When I asked why, he’s
say matter-of-factly, “He’s friends with Joseph now. They ran races
on the playground without me.” He complained all the time about
being excluded, so I finally broached the subject with his teacher.
She, however, was nonplussed; My son was happy and well liked, she
said, and he and Henry were inseparable.
Finding good friends makes school much more fun for 5- and 6-yearolds, but their relationships tend to be rocky because they don’t yet
realize that it’s normal to disagree sometimes. “When they fight with
their friends, it feels catastrophic, “ says psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., coauthor of Mom, They’re Teasing Me (Ballantine, 2002).
Another concept that eludes many kids is that friendship, unlike marriage, doesn’t require monogamy. If your child’s closest friend wants
to play tag with another classmate one day instead of having that
regular soccer game with your child, it seems like a betrayal, notes
Eric Buhs, Ph.D., a professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “As kids get older, they learn
that if a friend wants to play with someone else on occasion, it’s not
a personal rejection.”
Children this age may also have trouble interacting with more than
one person at a time. If two kids are together and a third comes
along, they’ll sometimes reject him—even if that child is a better
friend of one of them. “Engaging in cooperative games is challenging
for young children’s social skills, and the more kids involved, the
more coordination required, “ Dr. Buhs explains. As a result, one
friend might lash out at another, saying, “You can’t play with us,”
when what he really means is “I can’t handle so many people at
All kids will experience some rejection from their peers, but you can
help your child take social ups and downs in stride—and maintain
lasting friendships.
 Arrange playdates. The best way to nurture friendships is to
find time for kids to play one-on-one outside school. Choose
kids you think would be compatible with your child—and, ideally, whose parents you like—and invite them over to play.
However, if your child insists on getting together only with her
best friend, respect her decision.
Keep problems in perspective. If your child is fatalistic
about the end of a friendship after a rough day, don’t dwell on
his despair. Kids rebound quickly. You might offer some comforting words, such as “Remember the last time you fought with
Kyle? You thought you’d never be friends again, but then you
made up the next day. I bet that will happen tomorrow.”
 Tune in. Rather than use the time during your child’s play-
dates for housework, phone calls or preparing dinner, take
the opportunity to listen to how she communicates and
solves problems during play. Later on, when you’re alone,
you can encourage your child to empathize with how her
friends might have been feeling.
Limit electronics. Your child may have fun playing Nin-
tendo with a friend, but many experts insist that high-tech
devices actually isolate children from one another. These
include computers, Game Boys, and any video games—as well
as TVs. Instead, encourage the kids to choose more imaginative forms of play.
Don’t lecture. Listen to your child and try to be compas-
sionate, even if her problems seem trivial. Put a positive spin
on the situation by brainstorming a few responses that she
could use the next time a friend shuns her. She might simply
tell the other child, “ You know, it hurts my feelings when you
say you don’t want me to play with you.”
Be patient. Now that my son, is 7, his social life seems dramatically different. He usually comes home with only happy
stories, and he hasn’t complained once that he doesn’t have
friends. But I’m sure that having survived those first social
melodramas will serve him well when he has to deal with
inevitable rejection in the future.
What’s your child’s friendship style?
You can’t change your child’s basic temperament, but by
accepting his strengths and weaknesses, you can help him
navigate friendships. Here are 4 primary styles kids have
when it comes to making friends:
Ardent: These are the kids for whom the term “best friend”
was invented—they adore one another. Their friend is their
alter ego. It is a passionate, high risk style that can get your
heart broken.
Sociable: For most kids, friendship is about companionship.
These children just want to be a part of a crowd and don’t
yearn for any particular child. The normal ups and downs
don’t affect them quite so deeply.
Shy: These children want playmates but have trouble reaching out. They cling to their parents as safety nets, especially
at the beginning of the school day. Shy kids need a little more
help from parents and teachers to form friendships.
Awkward: These children have trouble reading social cues
and tend to be disruptive when they try to join in. They can be
bossy or angry in way that frightens other kids and often need
coaching to make friends.
Excerpts taken from INCAF 2004
Most bullies have experienced being bullied by a parent or
Bullying usually increases between the third and seventh
Punishing bullies makes them more revengeful and creates even
more bullying behavior.
It is more helpful and productive for parents & teachers to
teach skills to those bullied than to protect them.
About 1 in 7 children are a bully or victim of a bully.
Boys are more likely to bully than girls, but girls use more subtle and indirect forms such as manipulation, rumors or exclusion.
Boys tend to bully both boys and girls, whereas girls usually just
bully other girls.
Bullies identified by age 8 are six times more likely to be convicted of a crime as a young adult.
Adults should resist the temptation to bully the bully.
Bullying behavior can be changed if identified and addressed
rather than hidden, punished or ignored.
Over 70% of bullying is ignored.
Bullies usually have a group that gives them strength in number.
Most bullies lack self-esteem, using bravado to cover up a deep
sense of inadequacy.
It takes only one significant and involved adult to prevent or
reverse bullying.
Kids cite parents as the most important influence in their lives.
When your child is being bullied:
Listen to their feelings. Be empathetic
without rescuing.
Affirm and give encouragement when your
child handles a situation with courage.
Empower your child with new skills and
help them develop a plan. Role-playing
with your child to prepare him or her for
the unexpected can be very helpful.
Enroll your child in a sport or activity
where strength and confidence grows.
Teach your child how to connect with others. Teach your child positive, outgoing
body language, e.g., standing tall, holding
head up high, making eye contact, etc.
A Message from Leslie Meldrum
Maria Montessori lived through a Mussolini-lead Italy. There is no coincidence that her works were widely embraced by a bullied people, and
even less of a coincidence that they were heard by the free world.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bullying as treating abusively, or
to affect by means of force or coercion. There is no argument that
these are properties that do not belong in a productive learning environment. Bullying is often sparked from ignorance or jealously, and can
never co-exist with global understanding. This understanding stems
from the fact that every religion in the world contains the golden rule.
Our children have the incredible opportunity of being brought up in a
country that frowns on bullies, and at the same time maintains its
status as a super power. However, the only way to ensure the success
of this country, is to teach its future leaders this distinction early on.
Being the cause, or victim of bullying at a young age can result in detrimental, lasting decisions being made about both social relationships,
and power. Continued bullying is a problem for the learning community, other children, but most importantly, the bully. Disrespect or
abuse while using force or coercion will result in disciplinary action, a
parent-teacher conference, and possibly expulsion (see dismissal procedures pg. 11). However, long before bullying is a disciplinary matter,
it is an opportunity, and must be treated as such. Many well-developed
children do not even begin to learn empathy until approximately five
or six years of age. Most do not comprehend that someone’s feelings
can be different than their own until age eight. The opportunity presented by initial bullying will give your child’s educators the chance to
put the child in someone else’s shoes, and begin to learn how they
would feel if presented with the same actions that they just inflicted.
As parents, this subject becomes very painful to us and difficult to see
objectively and therefore to work with our children effectively. We
have the inclination to react to it as if it were happening to us. We
then cannot really see what is happening to our child. As their education in both school and life continues, these lessons become applicable
to world history, geography, and science. This enables the child to see
that there is no issue too big for them to understand. After all, “If help
and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for
the children are the makers of men.” -MM
When your child is bullying:
Find out if there are people who may be bullying them and talk to a teacher and/or minimize
Find out what the child’s goal is when bullying
and if the goal was accomplished. Brainstorm
together better ways to achieve that goal.
Create areas in the child’s life where he or she
can feel powerful in appropriate ways.
Model handling your anger in healthy ways.
Help your child find appropriate ways to safely
express his/her emotions.
Teach your child kindness and respectfulness.
Carefully monitor television viewing.
When your child is a bystander:
Teach children to intervene for younger children and set a good example.
Encourage acceptance of differences and honoring uniqueness.
Let children know how important it is to
report abusive behavior to adults.
Encourage them to befriend new classmates
and invite them into groups so no one is left
Teach children that speaking up can discourage bullying while their silence can encourage
Help children understand that they play a role
in the safety of playgrounds and classrooms.
Raritan Valley
120 Finderne Ave
Bridgewater, NJ 08807
(908) 595-2900
Main Office x201
Leslie S. Meldrum x202
Diane M. Dodds x203
Tina Paccione x204
NArmstrong Rm x208
EDickinson Rm x206
AEarhart Rm x215
RParks Rm x211
MMontessori Rm x207
MLKing Jr. Rm x210
JAudobon Rm x209
[email protected]
Cherry Blossom
P.O. Box 714
Flagtown, NJ 08821
(908) 369-4436
Main Office x201
Donna Fiumara x202
Dr. Seuss Rm x207
MGandhi Rm x205
JCousteau Rm x206
MotherTeresa Rm x204
AEinstein Rm x203
Michelangelo Rm x203
[email protected]
The Power of 100
What can happen if 100 families donate $100
Imagine the possibilities; the power of our community coming together to
further empower us to be more effective in spreading our mission, values
and goals. A voluntary tax-deductible donation of $100 means the power to
move us forward and to plant the seed for our future expansion and growth.
More information to follow in your mailboxes soon.
All donations who give $100 or more will be recognized with
an engraved leaf on our Power of 100 Tree.
Your participation in our annual fund matters!
Ways to Say “Good for You !”
How did you do that?
It got done a lot faster because you helped.
Your questions are really thought-provoking.
How did you come up with that?
That was very thoughtful of you.
I appreciate___________.
It looks like you put a lot of work into this.
What did you enjoy doing best in this project?
How does that make you feel?
You look proud of yourself.
Your politeness is very refreshing!
You are a good friend to have.
You put a lot of effort into that, didn’t you?
You make it fun to be on your team.
Teach me how you did that.
It must make you feel good that ________.
You were very encouraging to _________.
That must make you feel warm inside.
How does that make your heart feel?
You were very assertive!
You were certainly listening well.
Boy, you put your all into ________, didn’t you?
How do you want to celebrate yourself?
I am happy for you!
Thank you for being patient, listening, helping, etc.
Kathryn Kvols
Redirecting Children’s Behavior