Montessori Primer – Technology at Home

Studies show that students do not enjoy working at home on the same things that they are doing at school, and that students who do a lot of paperwork for homework are not as efficient in class. Technology can be a great way for children to practice skills they are learning at school in a format that engages their mind and interest in a different way.

Students are increasingly engaging with technology through smart phone and tablet apps, and a growing number of these activities are Montessori-themed. But are “Montessori apps” effective? Bobby and June George, owners of Baan Dek Montessori in Souix Falls, South Dakota, and of Montessorium, a company devoted to creating “self-guided learning experiences for children,” maintain that they are. In their interview with blogger Lori Bourne of Montessori for Everyone, the Georges give a brief overview of their products, how they got started, and why they consider their products to be true to traditional Montessori ideology.

“If Maria Montessori were alive today, we think that she would be at the Apple store, playing with an iPad, thinking hard about these complicated issues… In our opinion, Maria Montessori would be trying to open up and discover new ways to think about how we learn.” – Bobby and June George

Montessori Primer – What Are Typical Uses of Technology In a Montessori Classroom?

“What purpose would education serve in our days unless it helped humans to a knowledge of the environment to which they have to adapt themselves?”- Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori saw children as global citizens who need to learn real-world concepts, and in a Montessori classroom, children are actively engaged in real-world learning. Technology has the potential to play an important role in this dynamic approach when computers are used as a tool to reinforce skills – to be relatable to the life skills children are developing – rather than as the focus of a specific computer education class taught within a one hour period in isolation. Currently in our classrooms, there are iPads and desktop computers. The students use these tools to enhance research and presentation, and to reinforce skills learned within the classroom. At the elementary level, students learn to create PowerPoint presentations and videos to support the communication of their research. An example at the primary level may include using the computer to watch an educational video showing how seeds grow, reinforcing scientific concepts and inspiring the children on gardening day.

In her article Integrating Technology into the Montessori Elementary Classroom, former Montessori educator and current education advocate Elizabet Hubbell describes in detail a full school day of a lower elementary Montessori student and how technology plays a major role in her educational journey. The beginning of the article is a brief overview of a staple in a Lower Elementary classroom – the work plan. The work plan is used as an organizational tool for both student and teacher. Although the work plan varies from classroom to classroom, the essential part is usually present; subjects/areas to be practiced throughout a specific week. The students are responsible for completing tasks and the teacher uses it to notate areas of focus for each child as well as a record keeping tool.

The article then follows the child from one work to the other and demonstrates how technology is incorporated in several aspects of the classroom. First, the child works on creating “Famous Places” cards to add to the classroom collection. She uses the computer to research, create, add pictures, and resize the card to match the ones already in place. The article then touches on other sections of the classroom where technology has been and continues to play a major role, including a plethora of ways to incorporate technology to help children manipulate math in a high tech way.

Although this article does not specifically measure student learning outcomes, it does provide a good base for usage of technology in many facets of the Lower Elementary classroom. It also provides many specific examples, including work created by students through the use of classroom technology. Hubbell also addresses the negative outlook some Montessorians might have of integrating the “new” with the “old school” way of teaching Montessori by validating positive learning experiences provided by the use of technology.

Please join us for our next post as we look at the use of technology in the home!

Montessori Primer – Where Does Technology Fit in a Montessori Environment?

The incorporation of technology into the Montessori classroom is a choice that must be considered in each Montessori school. Some Montessori schools embrace technology; other Montessori schools prohibit its use. One might wonder, What would Maria Montessori have thought?

In studying Dr. Montessori’s life, it is evident that her scientific and educational ideas were revolutionary in the early 1900’s. In observing and encouraging change based on the needs of the children, she created a methodology for teaching that was very progressive for the Industrial Age. The following chart, based on information shared on former Montessori educator and current education advocate Elizabeth Hubbell’s blog, illustrates that – though Montessori worked in the Industrial Age – her approach to education and child development were ahead of their time, and are perfectly suited to learning in the Information Age.

 

Industrial Age

 

Information Age

 Books are primary tools Technology is primary tool
 Grade levels based on age Learning in a community of various ages
 Focus on covering specific content Focus on meeting learners’ needs
 Learning “just in case” – information which may not be currently relevant Learning “just in time” – learning that is developmentally appropriate
 Testing to a normalized standard Assessment based on individual performance
 Classroom as the world World as the classroom
 Focus on rote memorization Focus on problem solving
 Competition with fellow students Collaboration with fellow students
 Teacher-centered Learner-centered
 Teacher as knowledge-giver Teacher as coach

Please join us throughout the coming week as we examine the integration of technology into the Montessori classroom and the home!

Montessori Primer: How to Reach Joyful Obedience

Maria Montessori believed obedience develops naturally in the child’s character. The word “obey” is derived from the Latin word audire, which means “to hear.” Obedience begins with hearing a request and ends with an action in response. Humans learns skills in stages. We tend to move between the stages, repeating the activity, gaining new skills, until we can do it with no further instructions.

First Stage: We are introduced to a new activity and have assistance to complete the activity correctly.
Second Stage: We choose do an activity but do not always take the initiative to do it (needs reminders).
Third Stage: We know what we need to do and do it without asking.

Does this sound familiar? Or have these words ever come out of your mouth: “How many times do I have to remind you to…?” Sounds like Stage 2, doesn’t it? Children will move through these levels back and forth until they have internalized the rule, and it becomes a natural pattern of behavior for them.

Maria Montessori’s Levels of Obedience

First Stage of Obedience (Children under 3 years):
Montessori believed that before children could learn obedience, they needed to be able to control their urges. As she stated, “If he cannot obey even his own will, he cannot obey the will of someone else.” At this stage, the child will be both obedient and disobedient to parent commands. For parents, this is the first time they hear, “No!” from their child.
Parents can help support this stage of development by encouraging their child to be independent (walking by themselves instead of being carried, putting himself to sleep/self-soothing, and using their words to express their needs are all examples).

Second Stage of Obedience (Over Three Years of Age):
Montessori believed that at this stage the child can always obey, because he is now in control of his body. He can now take directions by his own will or that of another. Children at this stage of development will be seen by adults in their world as being very compliant. The child is helpful and does not want to disappoint. Although at this stage many parents feel a sense of accomplishment, children will move back to stage one and up to stage two a few times. Parents who have heard these words, “I forgot how to tie my shoes,” know how frustrating this process can be. Be patient. They will move back to this stage and into stage three. The most important thing to remember is to encourage the child to keep moving forward in his development. Responses such as, “I believe in you. Try again,” will do wonders to keep development moving forward.

Third Stage of Obedience:
Joyful obedience is the term Montessori used to describe this stage. The child at this stage is obedient not because of external forces, but because he has developed a high level of self respect. He makes appropriate choices in the absence of adult presence. At this stage parents are encouraged to support relationship and observe how the child handles himself.

An example of the Three Stages of Obedience in a four-year-old:

First Stage:
A parent and child are at a park. It is time to leave. Child begins crying. Parent reiterates it is time to leave and a tantrum follows. Parent picks up the child to leave. (Child has not learned to self-regulate feelings. No explanations will work at this stage.)

Second Stage:
A parent and child are at a park. It is time to leave. Child begins crying. Parent reiterates it is time to leave and explains they will come back again soon. Child stops themselves from crying, and they go home.

Third Stage:
A parent and child are at the park. It is time to leave. Child says, “Okay. Can I carry the bag back to the car?”

Encouraging this type of development may seem like a daunting task, but it is a very important one. Learning how to self-regulate and to become obedient to themselves is important to raising healthy, independent adults.

Obedience is seen as something which develops in the child in much the same way as other aspects of his character. At first it is dictated purely by the vital impulses, then it rises to the level of consciousness, and thereafter it goes on developing, stage by stage, till it comes under the control of the conscious will. – Maria Montessori

Recognizing Developmental Milestones

No one knows a child better than his parent. How your child behaves and the manner in which he communicates offer important information regarding your child’s development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends develomental screenings at 9, 18, 24 and/or 30 months. They recommend autism screenings at 18 and 24 months. If you have a concern it is your right to ask for a screening or further evaluation.

Child Find is a free evaluation offered at the state level for early childhood students. This evaluation does not require a doctor or specialist referral. Contact your child’s teacher if you feel further evaluation may be needed. Early intervention leads to better developmental results.

To assist you in assessing your child’s development, please refer to the CDC’s guidelines on milestones at 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years.

Feeding Your Preschooler: What’s a Normal Daily Menu?

“My child isn’t eating,” is a common statement from parents of three-year-olds. At the end of a school day, parents are often surprised that the lunch they so lovingly prepared is barely touched. When teachers are asked, they often say they encouraged the child to eat but the chip simply was not hungry. So, what’s a parent to do?

One thing to consider is the amount of water the child has consumed during the day. Water is readily available in the classroom and on the playground. Children are encouraged especially on hot days to drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration. This high water consumption keeps them hydrated but also decreases their appetite.

Another factor in food intake can be distraction. During the third year of life, preschoolers are very active and mobile. Often at lunchtime, they are socializing with their friends, looking around the room – seemingly focusing on everything except eating.

Their appetite also begins to fluctuate greatly. Sometimes they get stuck on one food. These “only eating chicken nuggets” moments usually don’t last long if you don’t accommodate them. We recommend that you continue to serve a wide variety of nutritious foods.

A healthy child is most important. Speak with your child’s teacher about what foods are successful with other children. Many children like items that are easy to manage: finger foods, enriched drinks, and yogurts, for example. If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, please contact your pediatrician.

Super Kids Nutrition, a nutrition education and healthy eating website for parents and kids, offers this Sample Daily Menu for the average Three-Year-Old child. This menu provides a good understanding of basic needs – often smaller in size than parents expect, though rich in nutrients – within the framework of your particular family’s preferences and appetites.

When “I don’t know” Is the Best Answer

Have you ever struggled with how to reply to your child’s curious questions when you don’t know the answer? The Value of Not Knowing, a recent insightful post at mariamontessori.com, explains why not providing an immediate answer creates a great opportunity for the child.

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the third plane, spanning from age twelve to age fifteen – the middle school years.

As Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, notes in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011), the third plane child (ages 12-15 years) is focused on society, as the adolescent is searching to find a place in the world. Hall explains that adolescents need to experience the world through work, through purposeful movements, and by using their hands.

Maria Montessori believed the concentration at this plane of development should be centered on economic pursuits so children are equipped to become productive members of society. Hall notes that this economic activity allows adolescents to gradually come to understand the role of work in the greater society. Work becomes an agent for the adolescent’s self-esteem; the objective is to contribute to the world in some meaningful way. By contributing to the community, they are fulfilling a need for themselves and for others.

Hall reports that Montessori saw the third plane as a time of rebirth and referred to adolescents as “social newborns,” and asserts that the questions of the adolescent go beyond the “what” of the very young child and the “why” of the elementary child: The adolescent asks, how I can apply what I know? How does this work relate to my life, my world? How can I save the world with my knowledge of the natural laws and the formulas I studied? Providing experiences such as internships allows opportunities to answer these reflective questions. Education focus during the third plane includes three categories: the opening up of ways of expression, fulfillment of fundamental needs, and the study of the earth and of living things.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How

The First Plane of Development: What

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the second plane, spanning from age six to age twelve – the elementary years.

As a child moves into the second plane of development (ages 6-12 years) the focus is on “why” and “how.” The child seeks intellectual independence. Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, notes in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011) that the attitude of the child from birth to age six – “let me do it myself” – is replaced in the second plane of development with “let me find out for myself.” In her book To Educate the Human Potential, Maria Montessori refers to the child’s mind as a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture. Reason and imagination are the keys to unlock learning during this phase. Logic and reasoning take hold, and a child is able to perceive complex concepts.

In addition, during this second plane of development, children have a fascination with the extraordinary. Due to this fascination, the subject of the universe appeals to the elementary child since it is vast, mysterious, and irresistible. For this reason, “cosmic education” along with the “great stories” becomes the main staple at the elementary level. As Hall describes, the goal is to fan the flame of imagination and to inspire the child into new paths of exploration. Cosmic education can best be defined as stressing the interrelatedness of everything. Examples of cosmic tasks include: coral removing calcium from the ocean, plants absorbing poisonous carbon dioxide and using it to produce oxygen, and bees pollinating plants. As Hall points out, Montessori believed that humans, as part of the universe, also must have cosmic tasks. The elementary child discovers and understands these cosmic tasks through research.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

The First Plane of Development: What

The First Plane of Development: What

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the first plane, spanning from birth to age six.

The first plane can best be described as a time of exploration. As Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, points out in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011), developmental psychologists have called the infant the “the scientist in the crib.” As a child comes closer to the primary level (2.5–6 years), the need for psychological clarity and order develops. Children at this age are natural explorers who enjoy learning what. Their primary focus is on developing and testing how the world works.

Hall notes that modern science confirms what Montessori discovered over 100 years ago: the child from birth to six has extraordinary intellectual powers given to help in the task of creation. Montessori believed children have an absorbent mind and go through sensitive periods that are optimal times for learning. During the first plane, children have a love for the natural world, refining their skills through coordination activities that aid in the development of concentration. Independence becomes a priority, and they develop a keen sense of order.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How