March Letter from Head of School

The Call for Courage and Confidence

Dear Parents,

At my last coffee with parents for the topic Courage and Confidence, we had a small gathering but a huge discussion. Because it was of such importance and brought forth thought provoking questions, I decided to continue the topic and reach those of you who could not make the coffee.

When we think of courage and our children, we often think of our children as being brave, however, there is a difference between courage and bravery.  According to a 2011 article in the International Journal of Leadership Studies, “Bravery is the willingness to take risks, while courage is the ability to make the right decision when it isn’t easy.”

As parents and educators, we are pretty good at encouraging our children to try something new when there is fear, for example not to be afraid to go down a slide, or try their new bike, or jump in the pool for the first time.  We give words of encouragement, praise for the effort and are there to help them up if they fall or fail, with supportive words like, “well done,” “don’t give up” and “try again.” 

When it comes to our children making the right decision in difficult situations, it is not so straightforward. How do we help our children stand up to someone who is not being kind to them or to another child? How can we support the development of moral courage in our children so that they can choose to do what is right when others are doing ”wrong?”  For our children to exhibit this type of courage we must work on building their self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience.  

“The courage to start comes from the confidence within.” I love this quote by Montessorian, Charlotte Snyder; I believe it speaks volumes and supports what we strive for every day at Westmont.  When children in our classes are given opportunities to be independent, to do for themselves, to make acceptable choices, to be held responsible for their actions, to have freedom within limits, to learn from their mistakes, to problem solve, to use conflict resolution skills with peers, to work with others as a team member, and to help others by giving lessons, they are developing a strong sense of self.  Along the way, we act as role models, we are there to support, to discuss questions, frustrations, fears. We are there to guide through failure, highlight the positives, while being mindful not to over-praise at every step.  Healthy self-esteem is our goal.

Our “coffee’ discussion took a detour into bullying.  This topic certainly deserves its own article and coffee time. Parents are concerned about bullying; it is constantly in the news. Unfortunately, with the introduction of technology and social media, bullying has taken on new forms.  It can be dark and hidden and not face to face, creating greater issues and complications for our young people. Therefore, confidence is key and the above-mentioned ways to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience are vital to each child’s successful path to standing up for what is right in the face of adversity. 

It is comforting to know that together in partnership we are preparing our children to be solid and upright confident citizens. 



Westmont’s Mission Statement

The Westmont Montessori School provides an environment that fosters independence, self-esteem, integrity, and personal responsibility. Our Montessori philosophy empowers each child by providing the foundation to excel academically, to develop respect for self and others, and to value the world in which we live.  The Westmont graduate is a capable young person who is inspired to learn.

Westmont’s Vision

The Westmont Montessori School inspires each child, parent, and staff member to reach his or her potential.