The Importance of Free Play This Summer

The Importance of Free Play This Summer

Written by Betsy Wimbrow, Director of Education

Ah, summertime! There is nothing like long, languid days that stretch slowly into the evening, running barefoot in the cool grass while chasing fireflies, and biting into cold crispy watermelon, the juice dripping down your chin. Summer is a time to relax, to play, to spend time with family and friends, to explore, daydream, and wonder.

There is a growing body of evidence that these same activities are key to developing important executive functioning skills. In the article “Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School“, Jessica Lahey states;

“Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health.”

This is great news for parents and children alike! No need to fill our children’s days with structured activities or for entertaining our children all summer long. The more unstructured “free” time we give our children the greater their chances of developing critical problem-solving skills, confidence in taking risks, and essential self-regulating skills. If you worry about loss of academic progress, relax! A recent study failed to prove such a slide exists for most children. You can read the details of the study, ”New Research Casts Doubt on the ‘Summer Slide’” Youki Terada at

So, sit back with a cold glass of lemonade and let yourself – and your children – just be. Dr. Montessori said it best,

“Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.” (The Discovery of the Child)

I look forward to seeing you as the summer comes to a close, whether it be at an orientation for new parents or parents new to the next level, at one of our community picnics, or on your child’s first day of school. You needn’t wait until then to be in touch. I welcome your ideas, questions, and conversation at any time.


2019 Adolescent Graduation

2019 Adolescent Graduation

Last Wednesday, we hosted the 2019 Adolescent Graduation at Greenspring Montessori School. Each graduate gave a touching speech about how their time here at Greenspring has affected them and what they are looking forward to in the next chapter – high school! We wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.

You can watch the full video of graduation below and take a look through our gallery of photos.

Class Notes from Recent Alumni

Class Notes from Recent Alumni

In our 2019 Community Connection Magazine, we feature a section on class notes from recent graduates and former students of Greenspring Montessori School. Read more about what our graduates have been up to in high school, college, and beyond.

If you are an alumni of Greenspring Montessori School (formerly known as The Montessori School and Emerson Farm Middle School), please visit the Alumni section of our website to learn more and connect with classmates.

Spencer Herrin

Attended from 2005 to 2015

Spencer is currently a senior at Dulaney High School and he will be attending Towson University’s UTeach program for Secondary Mathematics Education next year. In a recent interview, Spencer shared, “I always wanted to be a teacher. A lot of the people throughout my Montessori career have helped form who I am.” Spencer seeks to bring Montessori education to students in public schools.

You can hear more from Spencer in his recent video interview here.

Lexi Shofer

Attended from 2008 to 2014

Lexi is currently a high school senior at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. She has applied to Boston University, Tulane University, and Occidental College. Lexi is interested in majoring in psychology and she would eventually like to get her doctorate degree. At Mercersburg, she is the head of Jewish Club, a photo editor for the school’s newspaper, and she has been in four different theater productions throughout her two years there. Lexi is currently working on her capstone project leading a workshop on self-confidence and body image for middle school-aged girls in the area.

Rachel Morrison

Attended from 2006 to 2012

Rachel is currently an EMT and is attending Harford Community College to become a licensed paramedic. Her mother, Carol Morrison, rejoined the Greenspring community last year as our Accounting Manager.

Samantha Little

Attended from 2001 to 2012

After graduating from Greenspring, Samantha attended the Institute of Notre Dame. She later attended CCBC Essex to obtain her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. Now in her last semester, she plans to continue on to either Notre Dame University or Towson University to get her Bachelor’s degree in teaching. She shared, “the reason I actually chose this field was because of my Lower Elementary teacher, Ms. Mandy. The way she helped her students as well as making sure everyone was successful inspired me to do the same thing.”

Aaron Brown

Attended from 2000 to 2008

Aaron is currently in his senior year at Brown University studying mechanical engineering, and he is applying to graduate school for a PhD in mechanical engineering, where he plans to research energy and environmental sustainability. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi at Brown University and in his spare time, he enjoys playing baseball, piano, and running.

Joseph Hornig

Attended from 1993 to 2000

Joseph and his brother Timothy both attended Greenspring as children. Joseph is a graduate of American University in DC and now lives in Southern California. He works at the University of California at Irvine. He is currently enrolled in UCI’s Master in Human/Computer Interaction and Design program.

Graham Wimbrow

Attended from 1992 to 1997

Graham leads a software development squad for a financial investments research firm, working to define the systems architecture for a new technology group. He attributes his spirit of unwavering curiosity and his drive to learn from experimentation in part to his days in a Montessori classroom.

Jocelyn Durkay

Attended from 1989 to 1998

Jocelyn attended Vassar College and double majored in Art History and Italian, then went on to receive a Master of Social Work degree, which led her to work in public policy. She is currently a policy analyst at the Colorado Energy Office, where she works on renewable energy and energy efficiency policies for low-income customers. In her free time, she volunteers to build trails and she is excited to be planning for her wedding.

Sean Elavia

Attended from 1986 to 1988

Sean attended the school when it was located at a church in Towson. After Montessori, Sean attended St. Joseph School in Cockeysville. For college, he attended Loyola University and later completed his law degree at the University of Maryland, School of Law.
Sean currently works as a corporate attorney and offers pro bono services to various charities and religious organizations when he can. His two daughters attend Greenspring in the Toddler and Children’s House community.

Jeffrey Tannenbaum

Attended from 1973 to 1979

Jeff attended Greenspring Montessori School when it was located on Park Heights Avenue and it was known as The Montessori School. He went on to attend Washington University and now works in Accounting for Laureate Education. Jeff’s daughter is currently a student in Mr. JR’s Lower Elementary class. Jeff writes, “[It is] very fulfilling to see all of my children attend the same school that I attended as a child and be able to experience the joy of independent learning that the school facilitates. [It is ] also very pleasing to see the strong growth and health of the school for the current and future generation of Montessori students in Baltimore.”

Interviews with our 2019 Adolescent Graduates

Interviews with our 2019 Adolescent Graduates

Hear from our 2019 Adolescent graduates about their experiences at Greenspring Montessori School and mark your calendars for the 2019 Adolescent Graduation on Wednesday, June 12 at 10:00am.

To learn more about our Adolescent Community for students in 7th and 8th grades, please click here.

Spring Library Update

Spring Library Update

Weeding is an essential component of library management. It is an ongoing part of collection development, a planned and thoughtful action that will ensure library materials are current and enticing. This process ensures the removal of regularly outdated or irrelevant library resources and allows room for new materials!

We have been working all year to weed through our library. During this process, we have removed 1,400 books from our collection. All weeded materials are donated to Veterans of America. New materials are added continuously throughout the school year to meet the needs of our community. As we build our collection, we choose materials that are high quality, age appropriate, current and accurate, and a reflection of community, cultural exploration, and global understanding. Here are some great resources for you to explore:

When students walk into the library, they immediately see resources that allow them to connect to the larger world around them. Books, materials, resources, and programs that introduce cultural exploration, foster global understanding, and facilitate language learning are showcased throughout the library.

The Greenspring Montessori School Library is committed to creating an inclusive environment by promoting curiosity and inquiry in our students and the research habits needed to find great information and a love of reading. All materials are chosen to enrich and support the curriculum of Greenspring Montessori School and the educational, emotional, and recreational needs of the users.

The Library is open during school hours and families are welcome to visit during those times. Come on by and see some of our newly acquired books!

New Books in the library:

The Name Jar, Yangsook Choi
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.

Jabari Jumps, Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Over and Under the Pond, Kate Messner
In this gorgeous companion to the acclaimed Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal bring to life a secret underwater world. In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, tadpoles growing. These and many other secrets are waiting to be discovered…over and under the pond.

Don’t Touch My Hair, Sharee Miller
It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens…until, finally, Aria has had enough!

SAY SOMETHING! Peter H. Reynolds
In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!

I AM HUMAN: A Book of Empathy, Susan Verde
From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.

These Bees Count! Alison Formento
How do bees count? The bees at the Busy Bee Farm buzz through the sky as one big swarm, fly over two waving dandelions, find three wild strawberries dripping tasty nectar… As the children in Mr. Tate’s class listen, they learn how bees work to produce honey and make food and flowers grow. Bees count—they’re important to us all. Alison Formento’s gentle message is illustrated with Sarah Snow’s bright, realistic papercuts.

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring, Angela Cervantes
Paloma Marquez is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She’s hoping that spending time in Mexico will help her unlock memories of the too-brief time they spent together.
While in Mexico, Paloma meets Lizzie and Gael, who present her with an irresistible challenge: The siblings want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Finding the ring means a big reward — and the thanks of all Mexico. What better way to honor her father than returning a priceless piece of jewelry that once belonged to his favorite artist! But the brother and sister have a secret. Do they really want to return the ring, or are they after something else entirely?

The Parker Inheritance, Varian Johnson
When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

Successful Spring Grounds Day

Successful Spring Grounds Day

Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers who braved the weather to join us on Friday, April 12 for our Spring Grounds Day! We so appreciate all of the faculty, staff, parents, and children who rolled up their sleeves to help us create beautifully prepared gardens, grounds, and outdoor learning environments. With the help of over 40 volunteers, we filled raised garden beds with soil for our students to begin planting vegetables, planted flowers in our decorative gardens in front of the school, moved logs and natural elements into our classroom outdoor environments, built picnic tables and outdoor furniture for our classrooms, and removed invasive ivy from our trees.

Take a look at the photographs from the event in our gallery below.