Montessori learning

National conference looks at local schools


Want to learn how a pickle can prepare a baby for science? Ever wonder what playtime teaches children or how gender affects the classroom? Or maybe you just want to learn if a Montessori school is right for your child.

Then it’s time to visit the American Montessori Society’s National Conference, March 31 to April 3 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown. Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to attend a number of presentations, workshops and tours of Chicago-area Montessori schools. Last year, the society estimates 2,000 attended.

“This is a really wonderful conference where parents can get some of their questions about Montessori education answered,” says Deborah Kelley, the principal of Brickton Montessori School in Chicago.

Some of the sessions are:

Play: The Children’s Choice. 2-3:30 p.m. March 31. Mary L.Vertuca, director of elementary education at Xavier University in Cincinnati, looks at the history of playtime and how to encourage children to learn through play.

Science for Babies. 5-6:30 p.m. April 1. Darla Ferris Miller, author of Positive Child Guidance and First Steps Toward Cultural Difference: Socialization in Infant/Toddler Day Care, gives tips on how everyday events can prepare infants and toddlers for a lifetime of learning in science. For example, giving a toddler a pickle under close supervision can give them a chance to enhance their exploration and curiosity by examining its texture, taste and temperature.

“Everyday experiences can have a huge impact on how babies interact with the world,” Miller says.

Gender Matters. 9:15-10:45 a.m. April 3. Paul Epstein, head of Chiaravalle Montessori Evanston, will lead a workshop looking at how gender can impact education, if there are developmental differences between boys and girls, and if gender bias shapes the classroom.

Tours of Chicago-area Montessori schools starting at 7:30 a.m. March 31. Get a chance to see Montessori schools in action. Five separate tours are offered for $40-$50 per person.

Online registration begins March 1. For more information visit

Meg Shreve


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