Angeline Stoll Lillard Series: Part 1: Movement and Basic Developmental Processes

This is the first of the series we plan to post on “The Science Behind the Genius”, the ground breaking book written by Angeline Stoll Lillard and published by Oxford University Press. (Let’s hope time permits me to do it!)
It is our quest as a school to get more parents out on October 14th to a special evening to hear Angeline speak about her research.

In her book she breaks down Montessori education into 8 principles. The first being “that movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning”.


“Until now, almost all educators have thought of movement and the muscular system as aids to respiration, or to circulation, or as a means for building up physical strength. But in our new conception the view is taken that movement has great importance in mental development itself, provided that the action which occurs is connected with the mental activity going on…Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes about through movements…Mind and movement are parts of the same entity. - Maria Montessori, as quoted in Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard

Upon observing in a Montessori classroom it is quickly noted that movement is all around you. I will never forget my first year of teaching, and the discussion I had with a parent following an observation she had. Her daughter was in my class. She said “Jody, it was like I was sitting in a bee hive and the bees were buzzing all around me!” That is it! Parents often find it hard to know what to look at or look for when observing their child’s class but this parent had done it! She had hit the nail right on the head. She had sat in the classroom, as still as a statue and observed the entire class. She had not just watched her child. She had not tried to interact or engage the children. She let herself be immersed into the room and blend in and she had seen it! She had seen what we as trained educators, trained in observation, do each and every day. She had seen the movement, the purposeful movement.
Movement is at the core of Montessori education. She observed over and over again that children need to use their hands. For example, the Practical Life exercises in the classroom. These exercises were developed on the basis that children are motivated and capable of caring for their environment if they are given the means necessary to do so. Montessori also believed that young children are motivated by precision. They can see a sequence of steps and take pride in using that sequence. But there has to be a logical purpose to the action. “…the action that occurs must be connected with the mental activity going on. Only real goals truly engage the mind in the movement.” – Maria Montessori, as quoted in Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard. “When one moves with a purpose, there is a sense in which one’s body is aligned with one’s thoughts.” Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
There it is. That movement. That purposeful movement. That concentration that comes with it. Then the cognition and the concrete embodiment of abstract concepts. That bee hive analogy!

To find out more about movement and basic developmental processes please join us on October 14th, where Angeline Lillard will talk about her research and her book. And, get the book! For information on the talk please contact the school office.

And the next time your child comes home telling you that they washed chairs, be happy they did, because they are happy!

Stay tuned for principle number two and three, “that learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives” and “that people learn better when they are interested in what they are learning”.

October 4, 2010. Parent Events. No Comments.

Coffee Friday’s at Westside - All Welcome!


May 3, 2010. Parent Events. No Comments.

How could I not want this for my child?


“I have been a montessori parent for the past 5 years, ever since the birth of my first child Chloe. I am grateful for the those wonderfül years that she spent with Liz Girvan who taught her to be the passionate, respectful, caring, problem solver that she is today. It is because of the ways of Montessori that she has strived this far with all her hurdles in public school. Montessori, I find teaches the individual to be their own problem solver whether it is an exercise they are shown or an issue they may have with other peers. The children are not forced to do things they have no interest in and this approach helps build their confidence with almost anything. After hearing Trevor Eissler I have come to realize that this approach to learning makes so much sense in the upbringing of children in our educational system. We have made the right decision.”

Winlai Wong - Montessori Parent


As I write this posting today I find myself thinking deeply about Montessori, as I often do. Last week the Montessori community within our city had the unique opportunity to hear first hand a Montessori parent talk about Montessori education and its benefits. The quote above is from a parent who is part of our school community who, after upon hearing Trevor Eissler talk could not stop talking about the experience. In the words of her husband, “It really solidified for us the entire complete circle and how it all comes together.” That is it, the complete circle! Keep this in mind when reading further.

Just a little background about the speaker, Trevor Eissler.

Trevor has written a book that challenges the direction chosen by traditional schools and supports the choice of a Montessori education with passion and understanding. He is a father of three Montessori students, a pilot, a flight instructor, an author, a storyteller, a juggler, an unicyclist, a Toastmaster, a pianist, a triathlete, and a husband. Trevor wants to be a Montessori student when he grows up.

I had the unique opportunity to hear Trevor talk to a group of school Directors and Administrators. Trevor has a son who is 6, completing his final year in a Casa program. He spoke of the three year cycle and the importance of it, how the benefits of a child being part of one community, with generally the same peers, for 3 or 3.5 years cannot be equated to anything else.

Comparing it to all of these ’self-help’ books that adults are looking to for guidance to learn principles that we teach children in Montessori classroom every day is the part of his talk that really struck me.

Be proactive - A child in a Montessori environment, from the moment they enter is encouraged to take care of themselves. They are guided through life lessons enabling them to become confident individuals. They are encouraged to take a situation and problem solve, use their words and sort it out.

Think win win - Wow, this is a big one. it is not who is going to get there first or who is going to do it faster or who is going to win, it is how are we all going to do this together. How am I going to help my friend, teach my friend, mentor my friend to get to the same place I am at. How are we all going to win together.

Understand others then you can be understood - I cannot count the number of times a day I hear children saying “Please listen to my words” and then expressing themselves to a friend. In dealing with a dispute children in our community are encouraged to vocalize and work it out. You listen to your friends and understand them. It is at that moment when you can listen that you are ready to also understand what is going on inside of yourself.

Find something you love to do and do that - Now this is it. The icing on the cake. If we all were able to do this as adults life would be perfect! In the Montessori classroom children are driven by their passion and curiosity. They are then guided by the teacher to master this concept that has captured their attention. Children are able to do what they love. Upon being given this opportunity they develop a love for learning and strive to be the best they can be. How could you not want that for your child?

Thank you Trevor for your inspiring words.

You can order Trevor’s book, Montessori Madness by going to


February 4, 2010. Parent Events. No Comments.

Yes, we have a few spaces for September.

Give us a call or send us an email today as we will be closed from August 24th until August 28th. We’d love to have you in for a visit and tour this week so we can finalize your child’s enrollment in time for the first day of school on Tuesday, September 8th. Call (647) 430-5321, email

August 18, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.

Yard Sale Saturday

Our yard sale is happening tomorrow, May 30th, from 8 am until 2 pm. We have an incredible assortment of baby stuff, children’s clothing and toys, women’s clothing (lots of great brand names!), stereos, bicycles, kitchen appliances, wall hangings, lights, a motorcycle tire and more… We hope to see you bright and early!

May 29, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.

Fund Raising Yard Sale May 30th at 8am

We are organizing a “Playground Revitalization” yard sale for Saturday, May 30th from 8 am until 2 pm.

Should you be doing any spring cleaning over the next few weeks, and have some items to donate, send us an email at We’ll sort out a drop off time when you can bring your unwanted items into school for the sale so we can spruce up the playground for the children!

We look forward to seeing you at our sale, at the school, 511 Richmond Street West.

May 6, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.

bon appetit

Thanks to Lulu and Lisa from Real Food for Real Kids, our catering company, for last Friday’s informative and fascinating discussion. Parents who joined us for the event had plenty of opportunity to ask questions regarding their child’s appetites, reactions to foods and behaviours towards foods and mealtimes. Lulu, the founder of RFRK, shared her expertise with us through talking about the history of her company, their mission and how they ensure the foods they purchase are safe for the children and free of preservatives, nitrites, colourants and other additives we all want our children (and ourselves) to avoid. We’re thrilled that so many of you came out for the event and we hope you learned a thing or two, we know we did!

April 20, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.

Swap-A-Rama, Saturday March 28th


Attention all Westside and neighbourhood parents:
WMS’s first annual “Swaparama” will be held on Saturday, March 28th beginning at 10am.
This is a chance for us all to get together, swap some lightly used children’s clothing, or toys for some other lightly used children’s clothing or toys, chat, nibble and have a good time!
Children are more then welcome to join us for the morning as well.
This is going to be a fun event that is open to anyone in the neighbourhood, so tell your friends and family!
Any items left over will be donated to the June Callwood Center for Women and Families.
Please check out their site for more details.

We hope to see you Saturday!
Liz and Jody

March 24, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.

“What did you do at school today?”


This is a question parents often ask their children at the end of the day. The common response is “nothing” or “work” and that is pretty much all of the information the children divulge. So what do they really do here? This week we hosted a Curriculum Evening for the parents to come in and actually see, touch and work with the Montessori materials. Everyone had a chance to witness first hand what their children do at school. Liz and Allison were on hand to not only explain what happens throughout the day, but also give lessons to parent volunteers and answer their questions. The evening was a great success. We are happy that you have now had the opportunity to have a glimpse of what happens at Westside. If you have any comments on how we could make this evening more informative next time, please feel free to email us. Thanks to all of you who came out on Wednesday night.

January 23, 2009. Parent Events. No Comments.