Archive for September, 2013

Why Teach Cooking?

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Cooking at Evergreen SchoolThe 5 words your child uses to assure you that he is growing up confident, capable, and secure: I can do it myself.

Of all the skills your child needs to be independent and responsible, being able to prepare and enjoy nourishing food is near the top.  Cooking is one of Montessori’s most important practical life skills.  Thanks to Camilla’s mom, Carla, I now know that research shows that children who help their parents cook make better food choices.

With our Parent Association support, Evergreen will be able to expand its cooking program this year.  We will be able to add new Ikea cooking utensils and bakeware, as well as a new oven and refrigerator to the third floor gastronomy lab.  In the next few weeks, afternoon students, Extended Day students, Toddlers and more will be able to make homemade apple sauce, baked pumpkin seeds, granola, and other delicious snacks.

Bon appetit!


The Human Spirit

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment


Evergreen Stump

Whenever I see a child working with such intensity and purpose, I  am reminded of the power of the human spirit.

This stump will be moved!



How to fall in love with your spouse again

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Parent EncouragementThere are so many romantic things you can do to improve your relationship with your spouse.  Taking a parenting course is not romantic– but it’s more effective than a dinner and a movie.  Of the three courses I have taken with my wife, Jane– a premarital one in Cincinnati; a prenatal one in Hong Kong; and a parenting one in Kensington– the life-changing one was  the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP).    PEP classes helped us get to the root of our parenting styles and philosophies.  Our children benefited the most.

PEP often has notable speaker series.  Recent speakers have included Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes and Masterminds & Wingmen spoke on the topic of the New Rules of Boy World: Helping our Boys Cope.

PEP classes are staring this week. You can learn more here.

The Education Issue

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Evergreen School Washington FamilyThere are so many ways to organize a classroom or school.  I prefer one that respects children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn.  That’s why our program is designed around a simple principle: if learning isn’t joyful, something’s wrong.

I also love telling parents about our school, Montessori education and why we do things the way we do.  Of course I was thrilled to be a guest writer in this month’s Washington Family Magazine Education Issue. What a great opportunity to let parents know what’s possible for their children.

You can see a pdf copy of my article by clicking Washington Family.

Teaching Resilience

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Teaching Resilience The following are my remarks from this year’s Back-to-School Night.

Recently, I heard about a new business management book called Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak. I immediately thought of Evergreen teachers. If you’ve spend time with them like I have, you will see in them traits like selflessness, devotion and authenticity that make all the difference for the children in their care.

Our teachers are the stars of Back-to-School Night.  But before you move on to your child’s classroom, I want to prepare you for some wonderful moments to look forward to.  While at Evergreen, your children are going to experience hundreds of firsts: their first loose tooth, first time tying shoe laces, for toddlers: first time using the toilet, multiplying, performing in a play, reading a book, and more and more.

These moments are unbelievably precious. I can’t tell you what a joy it is for us to be part of your son or daughter’s childhood—and to share them with you.  These firsts are why Evergreen is such a magical place.

I also know, down the line, there will be other kinds of firsts in your child’s life.  There will be set backs and hurdles.   Things go wrong, like the Back-to-School Night two years ago when the fire alarm went off… right about now… and we had to evacuate the building for 50 minutes.  Things go wrong, you know this.  Did you only receive “A’s”?  I didn’t. Did you get into your first college choice? I didn’t.  Your child might not either.

That’s why our mission is to help children build resilience.  Resilience is far more important that grades. Here is how we develop resilience: At Evergreen, we know that adversity does not lead to despair when children believe they have control in their lives.  We strive to help children recognize that they have agency in the world.  That is why our students have so much choice in their day.  Challenges are individualized so every child is working at an appropriate level.

Speaking of resilience, if you saw Alma, one of our Primary students, stoically getting a bandage after a fall on the pavement on Monday, you would well understand the wisdom of Wendy Mogul’s book, Blessings of a Skinned KneeAdversity gives us the chance to know what we truly can do.

At Evergreen, we explicitly work to develop independent, confident children—not just successful test takers. So tonight, in your child’s classroom, you will learn how our teachers, like Trappist monks, work with patience, love and wisdom to bring out the potential in your child.  Enjoy your classroom time. And welcome Back to School.

In the Moment

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Evergreen first dayBeing September, I am inclined, by nature,  to write about all the joys that await us this school year. We are at the beginning of a great adventure together. What comes next? I am eager to share my excitement about upcoming field trips, festivals, playdates, class curriculum, projects and more. There is so much good stuff ahead.

It takes effort to be in the moment.  It can be tough to appreciate today just for today’s sake.  But more than anyone, Evergreen students are in the here and now.  Their joys are immediate.  As I write, they are learning and discovering, exploring and creating. At this precise instant, they are doing what comes naturally—they are growing and becoming. Even our new toddlers are relaxed and engaged. We can learn a great deal from our children.

I look forward (there I go again) to seeing parents at Back-to-School Night. It will be a great opportunity to meet your child’s teachers and learn about what is coming in the months ahead (again).  See you soon.

Until then… find peace, breathe deep and smile.

Cheers, John

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