The other Mountainside….

by Stephanie Senecal - May 8th, 2014

 

We are excited to have officially cut the red ribbon! Our second location in Marlborough is now fully functioning with three classrooms open and many new little footsteps in the hallways!
Our job now is to make Mountainside in Marlborough run as smoothly and with the same philosophy as our Framingham location. As anyone knows, it’s always a difficult task to replicate a great model! Think of all those mediocre sequels you have seen that are not “as good” as the original, or how you’re willing to drive a mile further to the Dunkin Dounts that you know will get your order correct! We had our work cut out for us, but with our strong foundation we are confident that we have created a sister Mountainside that is just as fantastic as the original name! We have the same FAMILY values, child driven curriculum, and excellent teachers –Marlborough will be the place for Early Childhood Education in the Borough’s!

Take a look:

 

Toddlers toddler

 

Preschool

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Infants

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Indoor Gross Motor Room

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Infant Classroom

 MS pic

 

A Baby’s Life

by Laura Gordon - July 29th, 2013

Babies do not stress about time management.  Hush your haughty derision and let me continue.  I realize they don’t have conventional deadlines and appointments but they certainly have an internal clock that helps them regulate their own wants and needs over the course of a day.  Without filling a Daytimer with countless reminders and flags, and without ever asking Siri for reminder pings, they accomplish everything they need to get done. Every single day.  In the land of productivity and task completion, babies are leading the pack. No, time management is strictly an adult concept and the truth is, we might be better off if we followed a baby’s schedule.

Without the aid of an alarm clock, and five subsequent snooze alarms, babies wake up.  Why?  Because they are all done sleeping and need to get on with the next item on the agenda, breakfast.  No reservations are needed for a visit to the high chair.  They simply eat when their tummies and brains sync up and demand food.  Looking for an early bird special or a great Groupon doesn’t factor one bit. When they need their diaper changed, they don’t fret about when to schedule a trip to the changing table, they simple let their needs be known and presto, a clean bottom is achieved.  The lesson here is if we get our work done when we need to, there is nothing to stress over.

Babies don’t procrastinate, nor do they postpone joy.  If they want to stack the blocks up and then knock them down, they do it.  They don’t stress over keeping the tower intact so that everyone can look at their accomplishments and tell them how pretty it is.  That need for adulation comes much later in life when their Daytimers are so full that not even Siri knows where they are supposed to be.  Lesson learned here is that if you want to have that double ice-cream cone, go for it.  And don’t let societal pressures make you think otherwise.  Babies certainly don’t.

Babies know when they have had enough and they lie down and go to sleep, wherever they may be.  They don’t stay up late to flip through another book and they certainly don’t forgo sleep in order to meet deadlines.  No, that block tower will still be there waiting to be knocked over the very next day.  And the next.  Sleep is really important and when they are big people, they will have many opportunities to burn the midnight oil.

I fully understand that as adults, we cannot simply live like babies.  Nothing would ever get done, right?  Perhaps.  But think of an alternative where we engage in pursuits that challenge our minds while not stressing over how to incorporate these into the minutia that really weighs us down.  Think of how amazing life would be without alarm clocks and deadlines. Could we sustain our society without stress, or would we all flourish without the constraints of stress?

Will you play with me?

by Laura Gordon - July 22nd, 2013

The previously documented The Virtues of Dirt needs a follow up.  How did all the kids get so dirty in the first place? I will tell you how. They played.

Children are born to play.  Their brains are wired for curiosity and exploration and they satisfy these needs through play.  In fact, play is the single most important endeavor a child can engage in throughout the day.  Yes, of course, nourishment and sleep are important too. But there is something specific about play that allows a child to develop their minds and bodies like nothing else.  And the sad trend is, kids are playing less.

Why is it that play is taking a back seat to other outlets when it is so important, no vital, to a child’s development?  Why has the very nature of play itself changed?  Why are children no longer let loose in nature only to return when the street lights come on at dusk?  Are children spending too much time indoors because their parents are afraid for their safety (we all managed to grow up eating berries in the woods while wandering in and out of streams playing with frogs and the occasional garter snake)? Or are children simply more enamored with technology than trees?  The short answer is, yes.

The longer answer is more complicated but for many reasons, the notion of play has changed and in my humble opinion, not for the better.  Children need play in order to thrive.  They need unstructured moments, both indoors and outside, to explore materials and their environment to let their imaginations wander.  I remember quite vividly the woodworking table in my kindergarten room, well equipped with real scrap wood, real hammers, and real nails.  Sure, we all hit our own hands and got splinters from time to time but you know what?  We also managed to make some exciting creations while learning through cause and effect how to properly drive a nail into wood.  Not that I grew up to be a gifted carpenter, but I did learn how to figure out logistic problems with persistence and good ole’ trial and error.  Thank you woodworking 101.

I also learned about my environment by being immersed in it.  I wasn’t kidding about noticing the street lights at dusk and thinking I had to go home for dinner; learning responsibility and accountability was as simple as show up in time for dinner or go to bed hungry.  We built forts in the woods and made rules about who could enter (read: no stinky big brothers), developed a social hierarchy of who could be in charge of kick ball games (read: not the bossy little sister), and managed to blend all age groups into sprinkler fun, chalk drawing, hopscotch, or tag.  We used our science and math skills in setting up lemonade stands and stood proudly on street corners, with no shame, as we flagged down passersby for a cool drink.  No one cared if we used knives to cut lemons, or stood too close to the street when peddling our goods.  We were trusted not to cut off limbs or jump in front of cars.  Trust goes a long way in letting children explore through play.

What can day care providers do to ensure children are getting the benefits of play during the day?  This is the simplest answer of all: let them.  Provide the materials and the environment, both in the classroom and on the playground, and let them at it.  From the youngest infants to the oldest preschoolers, everyone can benefit from play.  As long as the teachers are actively engaged with the children, modeling how to play, the materials are secondary.  An expensive brightly colored rattle holds no more benefit than a recycled water bottle filled with dry beans.  A wide open playground with little more than some balls can create the backdrop for an elaborate game comprised of child-directed play and child-created rules.  The bottom line is this: let kids play and they will create scenarios, build cities, have fun, learn to work together, navigate certain safe risks, explore, compromise, and most of all, get dirty!

The Virtues of Dirt

by Laura Gordon - July 15th, 2013

It always cracked me up when I looked at clothing labels for my children that read “dry clean only.” Not only did that item get hung back up rather quickly, but I always said the same thing to myself: who buys this stuff?  If I could not throw a particular item in the washer and dryer, it was not going home with me. Please note that I also put back clothes that required ironing.

Much like Maria from The Sound of Music, I believe children should wear play clothes to, well, play!  Not that I am hand sewing said clothes from old drapery, that would be silly. I don’t even know how to sew. My point is, children need to feel comfortable on many levels to play effectively.  Having clothing that is restrictive, ill-fitting, or “too good” to mar, will inhibit a child’s natural inclination toward discovery.  The old notion of “The Sunday Best” had its merit.  Save the dress-up (read: dry clean only and requiring an iron) for when it is most appropriate.  And just in case you aren’t sure when appropriate is, it is not at day care, school, or summer camp. Ever.

Children learn about their environment, and more importantly their place in it, through exploration and play. And guess what comes with exploration and play? Messes and dirt. Lots of messes and lots of dirt!  And paint, and glue, and glitter. Lots of glitter! My grandmother always reminded us of the “peck of dirt” we were supposed to ingest during childhood.  Among many other things, my grandmother was a wise woman. She knew that dirt happened and more importantly, to let it.  She passed these ideals on to my mom who was always so pleased when I bathed my kids at night and the water ran brown.  Dirty kids are happy kids she would say while I scrubbed layers of glue, paint, and dirt from my babies.

Now that my kids are much older, I still want them to explore their environment with the same curiosity and open-mindedness of a toddler.  However, now that they are responsible for cleaning off their own dirt, I wish they would do it more often.  Shower that it.  They have mastered play!