What Makes Our World Turn?

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


This a an email that makes my heart swell past the limits of my body! Please enjoy this acknowledgment of who we are and what we stand for! Go Counterpane!…one little school doing a very good job – inside our walls and outside our walls!

What a wonderful new family joining our Counterpane environment.

sliceofcelieDear Brenda,
Greetings from snowy, cold Alaska!  I’ve put Atlanta in my weather update every day, just to torture myself with the dream of days above freezing, and roads without ice and snow.  My husband and I can’t wait to be “too hot”!
I just wanted to touch base.  I miss Counterpane, and you, and we were only there a week!  Chase started new classes this semester and one of them is Outdoor Adventure.  He came home the first day completely disgusted.  He said he can’t wait to be at Counterpane where an Outdoor Adventure class would go outdoors!  Their class watches movies and write papers about outdoor adventures, and isn’t going to be having any actual adventures.  We long to be back at a school with roaming chickens, a garden and a courtyard where he can sit and read.  
I follow the Counterpane facebook page and your twitter feed.  I know that you are self-confident enough to not need me to say this, but a few days ago I was reading what someone was tweeting about Souns and basically saying that your program doesn’t help kids get ready to read, or something to that effect, and I just want you to know that just speaking for myself, I am so inspired by what you have done and I can’t wait to put my son in your school.   I’m struggling with myself whether to work like I’ve always done or devote time to volunteering in any way I can to help with your literacy program.  
I hope you’re doing well.  It looks like you are extremely busy, and I can’t wait to be part of the Counterpane, and possibly Souns, experience.   Thank you for working so hard to give kids a wonderful place to learn, and for devoting so much of your life to teaching babies and kids to start to read.  If you want or need to call me!
All our love from Alaska!

Playing to Learn!

January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment


Counterpane’s early literacy workshops are underway.

We have a wonderful group of young families and children for our “inaugural” group. Twelve families make up a class. At the moment we have ten, so if you have a friend, now is the time to invite their participation. The target age for the children is 0-36 months. The program is free but it does require the purchase of learning materials the parents take home for their children.

What the hand experiences, the mind remembers. These children had fun making Souns soup, a bit more helpful than alphabet soup for the developing brain trying to learn to read. The families arrived at 9:30 and the first half hour was instructional, then the scheduled activities evolved into child centered and directed activities. Parents visited, making new friends for themselves and their children. It was a successful first event, ending about 11. Each family went home with the initial Souns materials and a delightful book Born to Move by Dianne Warren and published by Oasis. For additional ideas from Dianne Warren, visit www.fitness4kidz.com. Born to Move is so unique! While one side is written in English, the reverse side is written in Spanish. We will gift another of her books at the next meeting.

The instructional component of the next meeting will include a section of a video and a discussion on how the home environment can be responsive to the needs of the young child. We will keep it short and helpful, protecting time to hear parents share their thoughts on the Souns guide booklet, offering questions and experiences from their first two weeks with the program.

Our community matters, and this is a wonderful way to engage and enrich. If you are interested in helping, participating, or beginning your own community outreach for literacy, please email souns@counterpane.org. Our next workshop is Friday, January 25th at 9:30 A.M.

Every child wants to read!


Reading Begins Here!

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Counterpane Montessori offers an early literacy program called Souns® for families of infants and toddlers through 3 years of age. Beginning January 2013, this program will support and train your family to help your child learn to read during the critical language sensitive years. Start young, play together, and watch the magic of reading unfold, naturally.

Counterpane believes every child should learn to read without stress and without video or flash cards. Timing and the right information – through a fun and engaging environment – are critical to that end. There is a cost of $300 over the duration of the program for materials used at home; however, there are no school or training fees of any kind. The materials cost is paid as the child progresses, beginning with $100 which is due at registration.

There are 24 meetings per year – 6 per quarter – beginning Friday, January 11, 2013. Each meeting begins at 9:30 A.M. and concludes by 11:00 A.M. Besides Souns training, these meetings include resources for parenting. For instance, at the first meeting we will share a video on how to create a positive toddler environment.

Families are expected to attend at least 3 times a quarter to stay in the program. Since the training is free of charge, early registration is recommended. This series is limited to twenty-five families.  For information and registration, please call:  770-461-2304.

Just an orange rind…

October 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was walking out of a follow-up training session for Souns at a Mamelodi primary school in Pretoria, South Africa. It was raining. A young student, probably 9 years of age, walked by with the characteristic smile so freely granted by township children. I smiled back and waited under the eave for my co-Rotarian who was still inside saying his farewells to the headmaster of the school.

I continued observing this young person walking slowly under the eave, sometimes avoiding the rainfall and sometimes not. He had an orange rind in his hand, sucked empty through the hole carefully formed in the top.

He paused, preoccupied with something about the rain. He considered his little empty vessel and then the broken stream of rain dripping from the roof. All his movements were slow and contemplative. The brain was at work, unhampered by any adult directing him to hurry to class or to stop “messing around.” There was no messing around to be seen. This very serious young mind was designing. He moved his carefully reshaped orange rind under one of the chains of drips falling from the roof. He watched with great concentration, making not a single move, as his little natural cup was filling with water. The moment was timeless.

I had to leave, as my host had already reached the car. I imagine the child drank the water out of the little tool of a cup. Perhaps he had something else in mind. I do know that uninterrupted moments like this one are vital for a young creative mind to develop. Too often our adult deadlines, schedules, and pressures leave no space for children just to be who they are – young developing human beings who need to explore, think, consider, weigh, observe, try, fail, and create in child time. Adult footsteps do not fit a child’s stride.

The image will likely be with me for a while, the thin little body on a very gray and rainy day catching drips of water with the bright orange vessel in his hand… the entire world seemed to stop for this child at that moment.

Out of the Mouths of Children

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Do something, says a fifteen year old!

“We are all like money.  Money is like possibility, just sitting there in your wallet, money doesn’t “go bad,” if it did I think we would be more thoughtful.  That ten could be a meal, 40 gum balls from the machine, just enough gas to get you home etc. The larger the printed number on that little green slip, is more possibility.  Looking at people, 20’s 40’s 50’s and so on, we have potential, lots of it; until we deposit ourselves we are just pieces of paper like everyone else. It would be a shame if there was a million dollar check just clipped to the fridge; empty potential.  So get out there and circulate!”

Now for a smile:

A conversation between a mom and her four year old as they were looking under the sofa for a lost puzzle piece:

Child: “I see a cough ball.”

Mom: “What do you see?”

Child: ” A cough ball.”

Mom: [Thinking she means a cough drop.] “Really? Under the sofa?”

Child: “Yes, back there.”

Mom looks again and sees a golf ball.

Child: “Yes, a cough ball. Like for coughing. Grandpa plays cough. He practices his coughing!”





Through Meehan’s Eyes

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thank you Meehan! We so enjoyed you and your keen powers of observation. You are going to be an extraordinary teacher. We are better for your time in our classrooms. Please stay in touch. Thank you for the video and the hand-wrtitten note…so special.

A Child Was Here!

August 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Do you remember how time disappears when you get lost in your work? Watch children on a playground – digging, building, drawing in the dirt. They are lost in the moment, following their imagination, building a creative base for their tomorrows.

The little stick in just the right place today becomes the I-beam exactly placed in the future. The trail scratched into the sand promises a future road builder. Words carved into the soil with a stick hints of a philosopher (in this case, a researcher). The hand builds the brain through engagement with the world.

There is so much power in a spot of dirt, sand, rocks, or debris for a child. It is as large a space for their minds as the world is to ours. How free they are to explore, manipulate, design, and build impacts their developing brain.  It is their moment, their learning, their tomorrow they are building.

Give them space to become who they are!