Why Montessori?

whyMontessori

Montessori’s education program is unique. Children are encouraged to make decisions and play an active role in the classroom. A solid foundation at each level promotes strong academic skills and a true love of learning. An authentic Montessori program is based on self-direction, builds a strong sense of self, sustained concentration and development of independence.

What sets Montessori apart from other programs?

• Emphasis on the whole child
• Mainly individual and small group instruction
• Child works at his/her pace
• Children are encouraged to collaborate, teach, share ideas and help each other
• Environment and method encourage self-discipline
• Develop leadership skills
• Mixed age groups

Montessori grows a child’s love of learning by providing an excellent foundation, creating a well-rounded individual that leads the way to a more advanced education.

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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: Inviting Your Children to Help Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner

As we’ve discussed in our previous posts exploring nutrition, a vital element in educating children about food and healthy choices and encouraging independence is having your children participate in the preparation of meals. What better time than this week, with Thanksgiving only a few days away, to develop the habit of your children helping in the kitchen?

My Kids’ Adventures, an excellent blog dedicated to equipping parents to make the most of moments with their children, offers suggestions for 12 classic Thanksgiving sides that are perfect for children to make alongside their parents. They also remind readers of the value involving the whole family in the planning of the meal – which not only increases enthusiasm for the dishes presented, but offers great hands-on experience in the practical steps needed to put a meal together.

We hope you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Montessori Primer: New Ideas for the Lunchbox

Today, we return to our Montessori Primer and our exploration of nutrition in the Montessori classroom.

As we discussed in our previous post, lunch can be the most challenging meal for a parent to prepare. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of sandwich after sandwich, or to lean on pre-packaged, processed food in fear that healthier options will be thrown away.

Finding helpful resources and developing a plan are key to keeping lunches stress-free for parents and successful with little eaters. Lisa Leake, author of the excellent blog 100 Days of Real Food, offers fantastic tips for parents on mixing up the usual lunchbox routine with everything from smoothies to kabobs, all with nutritious ingredients that are easy and quick to prepare. She also offers tips for streamlining the prep of lunches, a multitude of great snack ideas (which can also be used to round out a lunchbox meal, or to keep mom and dad going throughout the day!), and a wealth of other recipes, meal plans, and general nutrition resources – including tips on dealing with “picky” eaters!

Please join us later in the week as we continue our Montessori Primer look at nutrition!

Montessori Primer: We Are What We Eat

Welcome, new readers! We are so glad you’ve taken a moment to visit our blog, where we regularly share rich, easily digestible info for families about Montessori both in the classroom and in the home. Today, we continue our Montessori Primer with an exploration of the importance of nutritious foods and the role they play in your child’s readiness to learn. Please join us on Monday when we’ll take a brief break from our Primer to roll out the welcome mat to our blog, highlighting the content we’ve shared and helping new readers get acquainted.

No discussion regarding lunch is complete without looking at nutrition. It is easy to trade convenience in lieu of food value. For dinners, we put together meals that are balanced nutritionally for our family, but sometimes approach lunch by trading home cooked meals for pre-packaged options. Most parents fear that nutritionally rich items will simply go uneaten and be thrown away.

Dr. Montessori was one of the first to recognize the link between nutrition and the brain. Maria Montessori believed that as guardians of children, we need to prepare the child for school by preparing their bodies with nutritionally rich foods. “You are what you eat,” should be kept in mind. Children who are prepared for their day with proper breakfast are better prepared to learn in the classroom. Lunch serves the same purpose. Children need a balanced meal to help them focus during the rest of their day. In Dr. Montessori’s book The Secret of Childhood she states,

“One of the most striking things about our normalizing [Montessori] schools is the fact that children who have been freed from their psychic deviations and have acquired a normal state lose their greedy craving for food. They became interested in eating correctly and with the proper gestures.”

Children should be involved in preparing their food. Let your child help you pick out the fruits and vegetables they choose to eat. Set up a station to help them prepare their meals easily. Teach them about how food fuels their bodies, and always teach them the importance of grace and courtesy.

For more ideas on packing healthy lunches that children enjoy eating, visit Laptop Lunches, the makers of a bento-style lunchbox kit, who provide many useful tips on creating attractive and nutritious meals.

Montessori Primer: Developing Mealtime Independence and Skills

On Monday, we began discussing nutrition and mealtime with an introduction to lunch time in the Montessori classroom. Today, we’ll examine steps you can take at home to help your child develop independence and master the skills required to meet his own fundamental need.

Make lunch together

Developing independence relies upon seizing teachable moments. Just as in the classroom, parents need to provide opportunities to teach their children how to care for themselves. Making lunches is one of those moments. It is a moment to improve your child’s vocabulary, teaching the nutritional value of what they eat, and food handling safety. Most importantly, children who prepare their own food are more likely to eat what they prepare.

Pack lunch Montessori-style

When considering your child’s lunch, there are two key things to keep in mind: your child’s taste buds and the small size of their tummies. Provide a variety of single foods rather than an adult-sized meal. Children are more apt to eat items in small portions (half a chicken breast cut into small pieces) than larger items (an entire chicken breast). We find that students will first partake of their crackers because they can be eaten individually without aid from a teacher. Children will not sit down and eat an entire apple at lunch, but they will eat a 2 slices. Small, separate portions let children combine foods in different ways.

Children also love to dip their foods. Simple veggie dip with carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli can be a delicious treat for your child to eat on his own. Bread sliced into cracker size pieces with similarly sized pieces of meat and cheese or spreadable peanut butter and jelly allow your child to create her own sandwich combinations.

Involving your child in the preparation of lunch ensures that lunch time will be more successful.

‘Only man is guilty of the vice of gluttony, which blindly leads him to eat not only more than he should but also what is actually harmful.’ Maria Montessori

Join us Friday as we continue our discussion of nutrition by exploring the idea of “We Are What We Eat.”

Montessori Primer: Nutrition and Meals in the Montessori Classroom

Today, we move into a new area of our Montessori Primer: Nutrition and meals in the Montessori classroom.

What makes Montessori lunch time different?

Maria Montessori believed that meal time is also an opportunity for children to learn. From infanthood when children learn to sit independently, Montessori children are given child sized tables and chairs and are taught to feed themselves. They learn hands-on experience by using real glasses and plates. They practice signing please and thank you, as well as serving themselves and others.

Recently we held a parent education evening addressing Montessori lunch time. Parents were able to gain insight from the teachers as to what is an appropriate lunch and what are the distractions children face during lunch time.

See the Powerpoint presentation from our Parent Education night!

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Join us Wednesday as we continue our discussion of nutrition by exploring how you can help your child develop mealtime independence and skills.

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