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Ask the Patch Pro: Local Montessorian Answers Questions about Education and Parenting

Patch is teaming up with Paul Gutting, executive director at Campbell Montessori School, to get your questions answered this Wednesday.

Patch Pro Paul Gutting has been the Executive Director at Campbell Montessori School since 2011.
Patch Pro Paul Gutting has been the Executive Director at Campbell Montessori School since 2011.

It's time for another edition of Ask the Patch Pro, where each week readers interact with professionals by asking questions on a wide variety of topics. Our team of experts stop in to help you out and answer your questions.

This week, Patch is teaming up with Paul Gutting, executive director at Campbell Montessori School. 

Have a question? Ask below in the comments section! Our expert will tune in to answer on Wednesday! 

More about Paul Gutting: 

Paul Gutting has been the Executive Director at Campbell Montessori School since 2011.  Prior to that, he served as Campbell’s Associate Director for two years.  His career in education began at Campbell in 1992, and he has worked in both public and private schools since that time. Paul has served as teacher, assistant, and drama specialist, including service as Dean of Academic Affairs at The Fulton School at St. Albans.  As a child he attended a Montessori school run by his mother, Miriam Gutting.  He is a graduate of Truman State University (B.A. English/Theatre 1999), Washington University (A.M. Drama 2004), and the AMI Orientation Programme to Adolescent Studies (2011).  Paul has three children seven and under, all of whom will be attending Campbell Montessori School this fall.

Paul Gutting August 07, 2013 at 09:26 AM
Kalen - That's a great question. The first things to come quickly to mind when thinking of infants are the routine, the environment, language development, and movement. Young children are very sensitive to routine, and find a great deal of comfort in a consistent schedule of activity and consistent care from the adults in their lives. Many temper tantrums can be explained by changes in routine. An orderly and simple environment also provides comfort to the child. A few appropriate objects of interest for exploring the space and exercising the senses are valuable, but infants do not need a big pile of electronic gadgets in order properly develop or be amused. A pan of water on the floor with an unbreakable cup for dipping and pouring can provide a lot of activity for a very young child. Do not be afraid to have your young child help you wipe up spills – learning about consequences is very important, and to independently complete an activity is a joy to the child, not a punishment. Speaking to infants with real words and looking at their faces encourages good language development. Infants can be entertained for long periods of time by being held in your lap while you slowly say just a few words. Children are very interested in the names for things, so naming objects as they appear in the environment (plate, cup, bed, etc.) is a great thing to do. As the children get older, they may also find interest in hearing you narrate your activity. Safe space for movement is very important. Young children should be allowed to exercise their natural curiosity, so it is important to prepare your home so that what is in the child's reach is appropriate for the child to have. And be sure to get outside with your children. Walking on grass is great exercise, and even just a little green space at the park provides a lot to look at and explore.
Paul Gutting August 07, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Jordan - Dr. Maria Montessori opened her first school in 1907 using methods and materials she developed by observing and working with young children. She eventually went on to devise or describe methods and materials for working with children from birth through eighteen years. Her work is very expansive, so it is difficult to describe briefly. What I think is essential to know is that the classroom environments are tuned to the developmental stage of the children in them, that learning comes through activity and experience in the environment, and that support is given to the whole child, not just the academic mind. Our students move independently in the classrooms, selecting their own work, completing it, and returning the material to its place. We have mixed-age classrooms based on developmental stage. Young children enter the environment with a host of experienced peer role models, while the older children are called to service and leadership in the classroom. That classroom model is used from the toddler room up through the middle school. There is much more to say, but the best way to understand the classroom is to visit. Some people don’t believe me when I say that we put 25-30 independently moving children aged 3-6 in a room with two adults and it is quiet, peaceful, and orderly. All I can say is come in and see it. It is what happens every day.
Paul Gutting August 07, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Rockwood 25 - I am glad to hear it! 'The Absorbent Mind' is a great book. If you haven't already, you may want to look into 'Montessori Madness' by Trevor Eissler or 'Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius' by Angleline Lillard.
jlward August 07, 2013 at 01:25 PM
I would like to know how a school district can get so bad that they have to close it down. Is it because of incompetent teachers??? Please explain to me how 2 school districts in St. Louis could go that far as to not do anything about the childrens learning and test grades.
Paul Gutting August 07, 2013 at 06:29 PM
jlward – you are asking a very big question that may have as much of a socio-political answer as an educational answer. I do think, though, that this is a great time to have a broad conversation about the nature of education, and what we want as a community for our children. We should be talking about the nature and value of testing, looking at various educational models to understand how and why they work, asking about the role of the community in education, and making sure that we know what our options really are. It’s a big conversation, and it will require a lot from us, but it is good and necessary. The stakes are high.

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