Teaching Character Development in Early Childhood: Part 4 (Cooperation and Respect)

This is the fourth post in a monthly series that will be devoted to practical tips for using the Virtues language when teaching character development in early childhood. We’ll explain how we use this program in our classrooms, what it sounds like in conversation, and how you can use it at home in a variety of examples. We’ll be highlighting two Virtues each month, so be sure to subscribe to our blog for monthly Virtues tips that you can use at home!

If you missed the first posts in the series, you can catch up here:

And, if you haven’t already downloaded our mini guide — Virtues 101: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the Virtues at CHMS, you’re going to want to do that now.

The Virtues Project™: Cooperation

Cooperation is working together and sharing the load. When we cooperate, we join with others to do things that cannot be done alone. We are willing to follow the rules which keep everyone safe and happy. Together we can accomplish great things.

Two children work together. Teaching Character Development in Early Childhood
Two friends working together and using cooperation to complete a Bank Game operation.

Cooperation is a big one. It encompasses everything needed to maintain a safe, happy learning environment at school and it is something that we talk about often.

As with all of the Virtues, cooperation is a tool we use, it is not something we are. A child is not cooperative or uncooperative, they are simply a child learning to respond to different situations. By teaching them to use cooperation in specific circumstances, we teach them that they are in control of their actions and this allows them to see that their choices affect others, for better or worse.

Here’s what it sounds like when we talk about Cooperation at school:

Acknowledgement: “I saw you using cooperation when I rang the playground bell! It makes it so much easier for us to all get inside for lunch quickly when we cooperate and line up as soon as we hear the bell!”

Guidance: “You boys have chosen to do this work together. Please remember to use cooperation and work together from beginning to end to make sure the work gets put away properly when you’re finished.”

Correction: “Please use cooperation and remember to walk inside the classroom. Using cooperation and following our classroom rules, like using walking feet when we’re inside, helps keep everyone safe.”

The Virtues Project™: Respect

We show respect by speaking and acting with courtesy. We treat others with dignity and honor the rules of our family, school, and nation. Respect yourself and others will respect you.

A child rolls a work rug. Teaching character development in early childhood.
We show respect for our classroom environment by rolling up our work rugs and keeping our classroom neat and clean!

Respect and Cooperation go hand in hand. When we cooperate by working together and following the rules, we demonstrate respect for ourselves, our peers, our teachers, and our school. BUT — here’s the part that most adults forget: Respect is a two-way street.

In order to gain a child’s respect, we have to first show respect for the child. The success of the Montessori method of teaching is due, in large part, to the respect that Montessori teachers have for the children in their care. We don’t just teach and expect cooperation and respect, we respect our students as people first and earn their respect and cooperation by leading by example.

Here’s what it sounds like when we talk about Respect at school:

Acknowledgement: “Thank you for being so careful with this new work; it shows me that you respect our classroom and the materials we share.”

Guidance: “Please remember to raise your hand during circle time and wait to speak until the other person is finished talking. It is respectful to wait your turn.”

Correction: “The next time you get upset, please remember that use respectful language at our school. That means we use polite words with our friends and teachers and we don’t use words that will hurt someone else’s feelings.”

Using Cooperation and Respect at Home

What goes around, comes around! If you make a conscious choice to respect your child’s thoughts, needs, and feelings, he or she will feel valued and seen and will, in return, be much more likely to cooperate! Is it a magical formula? Of course not, but it’s a pretty good start.

We all want to feel validated, seen, and appreciated and that goes for kids as well! Respect them, and they will respect you. Cooperate with the rules you’ve set for your household and they will learn that we all follow the rules!

Some things to consider:

  • Do you follow your own rules at home? Do you do what you’re asking your children to do? They’re going to follow your lead, so make sure you’re leading them in the right direction. Take off your shoes, make your bed, and eat your veggies! Put down your phone, make eye contact, and engage in polite conversation around the dinner table. Be the example you wish to see reflected.
  • How respectful is your language? Modeling good manners is important, if you want your child to pick up on good habits and practices. This includes while driving, so watch yourself! Say “please” and “thank you” to your children, your spouse, the grocery store clerk, and anyone else you encounter. Monkey-see, monkey-do.
  • Remember that in this day and age, social media- and the anonymity it often allows – has changed how we interact online; don’t let it change how you interact in life! Be polite, show respect, model courtesy, and cooperate, if you want your child to do the same!

For more information on the Virtues and for lots of examples you can use at home: Virtues 101: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the Virtues at CHMS. Next month we’ll talk about Excellence and Creativity, so be sure to subscribe to our blog  to stay in the loop!

Additional Resources:

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Potty Training Facts to Put Your Mind at Ease

Going to the bathroom part of life, but learning how to do it doesn’t have to be stressful, drawn out, or complicated. Sometimes, just knowing a few potty training facts can put parents’ minds at ease when it comes time to toilet train. So, before you stress out and start to question whether your child will ever ditch the diapers, take some advice from us and expert and author, Elizabeth Pantley, on this topic.

In our experience, many parents sign the enrollment papers for their child’s first preschool experience several months in advance. At the time the decision is made, the first day of school may seem far off in the future.

“We haven’t started potty training yet, but we still have plenty of time.”

Sound familiar?

Well, the day is looming and, most preschools, including Children’s House, have expectations for a certain level of independence in the bathroom. Our formal policy is that children be toilet-trained before they start school, but the reality is unique for each family.

Different Needs

Some children are almost independent in the bathroom, they just need to be reminded and taken to the bathroom at regular intervals to ensure success in the first few weeks. They are learning a new routine and there’s so many fun things to do in the classroom that they are distracted and not aware of their body’s needs.

Other children are overwhelmed by their new schedule, new classmates, new teachers, and school and might regress in their behaviors. Accidents are common in the first few days of school as we adjust. Our teachers handle bathroom accidents calmly. There is no shame in accidents. We help the child change into clean clothes, wash their hands, and return to the classroom as quickly as possible.

There are also children who are still in the transition phase from diapers to underwear. Perhaps they had a busy summer with travel and lots of excitement. It was easier for their parents to rely on diapers rather than create a whole new routine around multiple trips to the bathroom. The first day of school is around the corner and suddenly, the pressure to complete the process is upon them.

Whatever the reason, these quick facts about potty training will help you put this process into perspective.

potty training facts
Sometimes making new friends is more fun than going to the bathroom!

Quick Facts About Potty Training

by Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Potty Training Solution

Potty training can be natural, easy, and peaceful. The first step is to know the facts.

  • The perfect age to begin potty training is different for every child. Your child’s best starting age could be anywhere from eighteen to thirty-two months. Pre-potty training preparation can begin when a child is as young as ten months.
  • You can begin training at any age, but your child’s biology, skills, and readiness will determine when he can take over his own toileting.
  • Teaching your child how to use the toilet can, and should, be as natural as teaching him to build a block tower or use a spoon.
  • No matter the age that toilet training begins, most children become physically capable of independent toileting between ages two and a half and four.
  • It takes three to twelve months from the start of training to daytime toilet independence. The more readiness skills that a child possesses, the quicker the process will be.
  • The age that a child masters toileting has absolutely no correlation to future abilities or intelligence.
  • There isn’t only one right way to potty train – any approach you use can work – if you are pleasant, positive and patient. 
  • Nighttime dryness is achieved only when a child’s physiology supports this–you can’t rush it.
  • A parent’s readiness to train is just as important as a child’s readiness to learn.
  • Potty training need not be expensive. A potty chair, a dozen pairs of training pants and a relaxed and pleasant attitude are all that you really need. Anything else is truly optional. 
  • Most toddlers urinate four to eight times each day, usually about every two hours or so.
  • Most toddlers have one or two bowel movements each day, some have three, and others skip a day or two in between movements. In general, each child has a regular pattern.
  • More than 80 percent of children experience setbacks in toilet training. This means that what we call “setbacks” are really just the usual path to mastery of toileting.
  • Ninety-eight percent of children are completely daytime independent by age four.

This article is an excerpt from The No-Cry Potty Training Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Child Say Good-Bye to Diapers by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)  

Open Communication

Wherever you are in the potty training process, communication with your child’s teachers is of utmost importance. We are a team, working together to create a positive school experience for your child and your family. Open communication about your child’s bathroom needs is a big part of that.

So let us know what to expect and how we can help. We’ll get through this process — together!

potty training facts
A quick potty break means we can get back to enjoying our favorite activities!

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An Authentic Montessori School in the Heart of Reston

There are so many choices available to parents of young children today! A seemingly endless list of daycares, preschools, Montessori schools, and private kindergarten programs are available in the Reston-Herndon area and it can be overwhelming! Families like yours are looking for any number of things: location, class size, a program that fits your needs, but you also want a school that feels right as well! Children’s House Montessori School of Reston checks all the boxes!

Working on the pink tower at Children's House Montessori School of Reston

Children’s House opened its doors to a class of just 10 students in the fall of 2003. Since then, we have served hundreds of families and it is hard to believe, but those little children who joined our school community back then are now students in college!

We have two classes for children ages three to six and each class has approximately twenty students with two or three teachers per class. We follow the Montessori Philosophy, meaning that we adhere to the belief that children learn from their peers and do best in a mixed-age peer grouping. We also believe that the classroom environment should be a dynamic space, filled with movement and stillness, conversation and concentration.

Blog Post Recommendation: What’s the Difference Between Montessori and Traditional Preschool?

Circle time at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Children begin at the age of three and remain in the same class, with the same peers and teachers, for three years. A sense of “family” is quickly formed in this safe and nurturing environment.

As children progress through the three-year cycle, younger children aspire to imitate the older ones in their work and play, while older children have the opportunity to teach their well-learned skills to the younger ones. The third year, the kindergarten year, brings together all that the children have learned in this unique cycle of learning. Click here to learn more about our kindergarten program.

Language work at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Our dynamic learning environment addresses all your child’s developmental needs: social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Children participate in “group time” activities each day, which foster a feeling of community and encourage cooperation. They receive individual instruction on the materials in the classroom throughout the extended work period.

They spend time outside each day, and younger children spend part of their afternoon in peaceful rest. We create a non-competitive environment where children are always encouraged to do their best. Each child is measured only against his own progress. We encourage children to complete their activities rather than compete with others.

Blog Post Recommendation: What to Look For in a Montessori Preschool

Sorting and classifying at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Children’s House Montessori School of Reston is conveniently located just minutes from Reston Town Center and the Reston-Wiehle Metro station. Schedule a tour with us and see what sets us apart!

Where the Love of Nature meets the Love of Learning

We love the outdoors and teaching the children all about nature throughout our curriculum and our environment. Our efforts to help children learn to love nature began with our gardening, hiking, and certified Schoolyard Habitat.  Over the past few years, we’ve thoughtfully created an outdoor environment where children can discover, relax, and learn through their interactions with the natural playscape features on our playground.

We have created spaces for the children to explore, dig, build, climb, be quiet and peaceful, and also care for the area where they play. The children love our playground. The benefits of natural spaces for play are numerous, including:

  • Children use their imagination more during play.
  • Children are more active during play when there are natural spaces to explore.
  • Because of the activities they choose to engage in, they tend to work on their fine motor skills during play in addition to the gross motor skills used on play equipment.

Weather-permitting, the children spend lots of time outdoors every day! We go outside before and after lunch and again in the later afternoon for the children who stay for our full-day program. When it snows, we put on snow gear and head outside, and when it’s raining, we’ve been known to get outdoors for a quick run through the drizzle to burn off some energy and get some fresh air!

We understand the importance of time outside, engaging with nature — it is something that we take seriously and have a lot of fun with!

The Hidden Gem of Reston

Northern Virginia – and especially Reston – has grown so rapidly over recent years! It can be hard to feel connected when we all live such busy lives. Having a small school community can be the bridge for many families who are looking to build relationships and establish connections with others in a similar stage of life.

Children’s House Montessori School of Reston was founded in 2003 by Keturah Collins. We are about to start our 17th year serving the Reston community and its families and are looking forward to another wonderful year together! As a Children’s House family you, too, can experience the sense of connection that comes from being part of a small community of like-minded individuals:

  • We are teachers and parents who believe that childhood is a precious time of curiosity and growth.
  • We respect nature and understand the value of spending time outside exploring our natural surroundings.
  • We understand that digital media can not replace hands-on learning in the early childhood classroom.
  • We value smaller class sizes, low student to teacher ratios, and the cozy atmosphere of a small school.
  • We adhere to the Montessori philosophy by respecting the individuality of our students, encouraging independence, and providing a classroom environment that is focused on personalized growth.
Child using a magnifying glass Montessori school reston
Hands on experience with real objects is a key component of the Montessori classroom.

We offer a fall and spring gardening program, weekly Spanish classes, and — new this year — Musical Yoga! We can’t wait to see how much the children love this new addition to our curriculum! We are especially proud of our implementation of The Virtues Project™ and invite you to read more about this character development program and download your free copy of our parenting resource: The Virtues 101

Our authentic Montessori program runs Monday through Friday, with three program times and spaces available for preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten-aged children. Our two classrooms are both mixed-aged, meaning that three, four, and five year olds work together, learn together, and play together! In the afternoon, children are grouped by age for various activities: nap, rest / work time, and kindergarten lessons. You can read more about a typical day at Children’s House here.

Our families enjoy being involved in the school and it is not uncommon for parents to form lifelong friendships during the time that their children are in our care. Returning year after year, child after child – many parents have trusted us with 3 or more children and have been with us for 5-8 years or more. Our teachers are dedicated, educated, experienced with children, and our lead teachers are Montessori trained.

Children wearing Mongolian attire Montessori school reston
We love it when families share their cultural heritage with us!

Our family community is strong because we have wonderful families, of course, but we also believe in offering opportunities to spend time getting to know one another through events such as the Ice Cream Social, Parent Coffee, and family picnic at the beginning of each year, our fall and spring festivals, the eagerly awaited Parent Day, and an end-of-year picnic.

New this year, we are offering a monthly Playground Open House! Join us on the first Friday of each month to play on our amazing natural playground! We have a beautiful natural play space and want to share it with the community. Everyone is welcome.

Families gather for Thanksgiving lunch Montessori school reston
Enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal together at our annual Thanksgiving Pot-Luck.

If you are looking for a small community of young families, you’ve found us! But you need to act quickly! The 2019-2020 school year is starting and spaces are filling up! Send us a brief message and tell us a little about your family and then join us for a personalized tour to see what sets Children’s House apart from the other schools in the area. Meet with us and you’ll see that we truly are the hidden gem of Reston!

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Inspiring Young Artists since 2003

At CHMS we believe that all children are born artists! We first opened our doors in September of 2003 and we have been filling our hallways with art work ever since! Our art program allows even the littlest members of our community to explore and experiment. Throughout the school year we learn about different color groups (primary, secondary, complementary, etc) and offer the children a wide variety of techniques to explore. On any given day, you will find children painting at the easel, drawing at a table, gluing, cutting, experimenting with texture and shape, and reproducing the work of famous artists.

From the time our children join us at age three, they are exposed to the work of such artists as Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Horace Pippin, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O’Keeffe. We read about them, talk about them, and create art in their style. While the younger students might color a replication of “Sunflowers,” by van Gogh, the kindergarteners reproduce their own version of the famous painting with paint, markers, and even torn paper.

In our classrooms, art is a part of our daily life and the art shelves are changed out monthly to ensure that our budding artists always have fresh supplies on hand. The art area is one of the most popular spots in each classroom and we look forward to the various creations that each day brings!

Home Away From Home

We have been a proud member of the Reston community since 2003 and have welcomed many families through our doors over the years. Hear from the parents who have trusted us with their children and read the words they have shared with us:

Words from our families:

“I also need to tell you that Quinn is not the only one who benefited from her time with Children’s House. Our family will be forever grateful for the learning we did while we were a part of your family community. You helped us transition from being parents of a toddler into parents of a school-age child, and your staff always had a smile and supportive words for us.”

“I will never forget all that you have done for my family, for me, and for my children. You gave John such a great start in life and I know he will never forget you. “

“We have been so fortunate to be a part of Children’s House Montessori School. Thank you for holding Liam’s hands and guiding him through the years. He has grown to be a happy, curious, entertaining little man. You have such a special place with an amazing group of people and we thank you for sharing all of your talents and gifts with us.”

“So again I say thank you for the wonderful times, for helping our little flower grow, giving her a safe space to create that which she has inside, for guiding her, loving her, nurturing her and all the wonderful children at CHMS.”