Most people have heard the basic information that exercise and physical activity has many important benefits. But what many don’t realize is the benefits of physical activity also apply to children. In fact, there are some unique benefits for children. Here are some of those important benefits to encourage you to have an active child.
The most obvious benefit of physical activity is the physical health benefits. Children who are active at least 60 minutes a day, demonstrate lower rates of obesity. They also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, strengthens bones and builds up muscles.
An extensive review of 14 different studies, ranging from as few as 50 to as many as 12,000 participants found that the more physically active children are, the better they do academically. The strong belief is that regular participation in physical activity enhances brain function and cognition which thereby improves academic performance. Although it has not been proven, there are several most commonly held beliefs as to how this occurs. The first theory is that increased activity causes increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain heightening cognition. Another theory is that increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins that result from the activity act to decrease stress, improve mood, and thereby inherently lead better academic performance. That improved academic performance translates into higher reading and math test scores.
Many studies have proven that physical activity in children improves sleep patterns and a lack of physical activity has the opposite effect. For example, a research study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood reports that every hour of inactivity adds three minutes to the time it takes children to fall asleep. Additionally, it also reported that children who fall asleep quicker also sleep for longer. Another study analyzed level of physical activity and its correlation to time it took for the child to fall asleep. The study found that children who had higher levels of physical activity fell asleep faster than their inactive counterparts.
With many health benefits, improved academic performance, as well as improved sleep patterns, physical activity has a plethora of clear benefits for children.
Admn June 18th, 2018
Posted In: Uncategorized
One of the main differences between a Montessori education and a traditional one is that the Montessori method focuses on individual learning at a child’s individual pace. Although it may seem as if that would slow the child down, it actually does the opposite. Because students are permitted to explore areas that they are most interested in, they are naturally encouraged to explore more challenging areas and dig deeper into a topic. The measures of achievement look at individual progress and development rather than traditional methods like grades and tests. A study conducted by the University of Virginia found that Montessori students had significantly better scores when tested against non Montessori students in mental performance, academic abilities and social and behavioral skills. The study further showed that the Montessori students were better equipped to adapt to changing and complex problems. This ability is often treated as a predictor of future success, another indicator that a Montessori education better prepares students for future success.
Another key value of a Montessori education is its emphasis on fostering independence among the students. In her book The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori writes, “The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’, labeling independence as one of the key aspects of development. It is vital to begin fostering independence at a young age and Montessori allows that to occur.
The Montessori Method, especially when paired with Reggio Emilia enrichment, also serves to grow a child’s creativity. With Montessori, children are encouraged to follow their interests, leading to an inherent growth in creativity as they are doing tasks that they want to rather than to prepare for an exam or because they are told to do so. This allows children to enjoy the process of learning rather than just the end result allowing for a creative process to occur and for a child’s love of learning to grow. In an environment where students are forced to learn “for the test” or because the “curriculum says so” a student’s natural love of learning is often extinguished and along with it the ability for creative expression. A Montessori education avoids those issues by working for the opposite goals: fueling a child’s love of learning and allowing a child to explore his or her passions. When a Montessori education is also paired with the Reggio Emilia designated creative art space, creativity increases even more.
A Montessori education has many unique benefits that are vital to lifelong success and are not accessible with a traditional education.
Admn May 2nd, 2018
Posted In: Uncategorized
Watching your child grow up is bittersweet and we often think it goes by too fast. One day they can’t sit up by themselves and then at the blink of an eye they are ready for preschool. It’s hard, but every parent, without a doubt, wants the best for their child. Unfortunately that shock that your child is getting older, combined with the ability for a parent to stay home a few days of the week, often leaves parents opting for a part time program. Although it is better than not attending preschool at all, there are many benefits that your child receives at a full-time program that they will be missing by attending part-time.
The Journal of the American Medical Association found that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschools than in part-time programs. The article explains that students in full-day programs showed higher scores in social development, language, math and physical education than their part-time peers. Additionally, a study conducted by Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and his colleagues discovered that full-time preschool programs yield students better prepared for school than those who attended a part-time program. The children who attended the full-time program had higher scores on measures of school readiness skills, increased attendance and reduced chronic absences, when compared to those who attended a part-time program.
Although full-time attendance is important for all preschool students, it is even more critical for those in a Montessori program. A large aspect of the Montessori curriculum is consistency and constancy. Simply put, that means that students receive the full benefit of the Montessori program only through attendance of five days a week with three hour work cycles. There is no other way to achieve the full benefit of a Montessori education if not for consistent attendance. Part of a Montessori education and an aspect that we focus on in our classrooms is independent learning and student driven studies. We allow our students to choose what to focus on as well as learn at their own pace. A large part of that is if a student is learning something very interesting but time runs out, they know that their materials and everything else they need to continue will be there waiting for them the next day. This allows the student to continue thinking about a subject and the short wait time can often make them even more excited to continue. The issue arises, however, when a constant routine is not established. If a student doesn’t attend every day of the week, they often will have forgotten what captivated their mind the last time they were in school and have to get re-inspired to learn a topic. Having a part-time schedule leads to students not being able to truly be independent and the leaders of their own learning. Children flourish with routine and the best way to get a consistent routine is to get into the rhythm of school for five days a week and the weekend for anything else.
We know that seeing your child grow up is hard but our desire to provide the best possible education for our child and setting them on a path to achieve whatever they desire, begins now! Setting your child up for success starts at preschool and the most effective way to do that is with a full-time program.
Admn April 11th, 2018
Posted In: Uncategorized
International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8th, is fast approaching. Many know this as the day to celebrate the many women in their lives and their contributions, but where did this day originate from?
In the United States, the first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909. It was organized by the Socialist Party to celebrate the worker’s strike in New York where women gathered to protest poor working conditions. In 1910, the Socialist International established Women’s Day, in order to honor the movement for women’s rights and to build support for universal suffrage. The proposal was unanimously approved by the conference of over 100 women, from 17 countries, however no official date to observe it was set. On March 19, 1911, International Women’s day was marked for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, when over a million men and women attended rallies. However, despite the initial support, the holiday was not recognized by most countries in the same way until decades later. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm gender equality, and since then the UN has been working to spread that message. However, it wasn’t until 1975 that International Women’s Day was celebrated by the United Nations on March 8th.
Although significant gains towards gender equality have been made, it is still important to recognize that about half of our population is still not treated completely equally. In developed nations, women still face issues of unequal pay for identical jobs, a double standard, and pressure to conform to gender roles. In less developed nations the inequality is even more severe where women still fight for the right to education, right to vote and even the right to marry who they choose.
Take the day to spread the message of equality. Teach your child about the vital role of women in society and the necessity to treat women as equal. Together, one step at a time, we CAN achieve gender equality.
Admn March 5th, 2018
Posted In: Peace Education
Homework is not something that many students, parents, or even teachers enjoy. Teachers have to grade it, parents have to help with it, and students have to worry about completing it on time. Despite its negatives, homework is still widely assigned in traditional school systems as a way of continuing the learning outside of the classroom. Because there is a lesser focus on the full understanding of topics during lessons, this homework often works as a patching together of the lesson through repetition.
In a Montessori classroom, the focus on the lessons is much more emphasized than in traditional schooling, meaning that they don’t have to rely on repetition for students to learn and understand the information being taught. By emphasizing hands-on learning and taking the time to explore concepts in-depth, these classrooms work to build greater connections with the learning materials and content. This helps children to absorb, retain, and use the information more effectively, removing the need for homework and opening the free time to be better used.
Without needing to spend the time on homework, you and your child gain free time that can be spent working to improve your child’s development overall so that they can become well-rounded. To make the most out of this time, consider the following activities to encourage development.
With so much new information being presented to them, kids can sometimes be overwhelmed by learning, and homework doesn’t help. Research has proven that taking time to relax and recharge allows children to see learning as less of a chore and more of an activity they enjoy and are motivated to do.
Spending time with family also helps to develop social skills and strengthen the bond with your child. Reading or watching TV together, talking, and other activities help children become more comfortable at home and help reinforce the importance of family, making them more likely to behave.
Far too often children have to choose between homework and after-school activities. As demonstrated by the Montessori Method, activities and hands-on learning are just as important to development as learning new information. The lack of homework allows for children to play outside, join a sports team, and explore their own interests in order to develop greater coordination and a greater interest in learning.
From collecting laundry to cracking eggs for a meal, there are tons of everyday tasks children can help with around the house. Including them in your routine can help to teach them valuable skills and encourage independence as they try new things and learn practical skills outside of the classroom.
Children of all ages dislike homework, and many would benefit from excluding it from the school curriculum entirely if it was replaced by a greater focus on learning in school. Fortunately, Montessori classrooms are ahead of the curve and already employ the best approach to help students develop into well-rounded children for years to come.
Admn February 8th, 2018
Posted In: About The Montessori Method
In the Montessori environment, celebrating holidays is a magical, exhilarating experience for the students. For adults, it is easy to become stressed over the commercialism that comes with the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of focusing on commercialism, we can encourage our children to develop healthy attitudes toward the holidays by introducing them to observances cherished by other cultures.
Holidays are important, and children want to celebrate them. Students can revel in the festive holiday season as they discover cultural observances from countries around the world. What an opportunity to embrace the Montessori principles of inclusion and peace while simultaneously learning about celebrations that have significance within varying cultures!
To celebrate multicultural inclusion, teachers may choose to focus on holidays, such as:
The winter holidays bring a sense of light and happiness to the winter months. With shorter days and longer nights, many cultures celebrate light.
December embraces various cultural celebrations, including Chanukah, Pancah Ganapati, Dōngzhì, Yalda, and Bodhi Day.
And more! Wouldn’t it be fun to let students pick any country, and then learn about the significant holidays celebrated by its people? The varying cultural celebrations worldwide are endless.
Encourage children to learn about their culture(s) of choice and demonstrate it through art, song, dance, or even storytelling. They can work in groups or independently…however they choose. Children can focus on one culture, or perhaps they will choose to focus on more than one. Either way, it opens their minds to different cultures around the world, minimizing the commercialism that is tied to the American holiday season.
Holiday celebrations in America are joyous and should be appreciated and celebrated. But as parents and educators, we can also create a sense of community and provide an opportunity for children to learn about the history and culture of populations worldwide, encouraging them to appreciate differences in others.
Admn December 19th, 2017
Posted In: About The Montessori Method
If you have a young child in preschool or are employed at a preschool, you know the importance of effective communication between staff and parents. Parents and Montessori teachers are dedicated to providing the best education possible for every child, and consistent, direct communication is the key to achieving that goal.
Educators know the value of parent involvement in their child’s education, and establishing a good relationship with parents is essential to student success. So, how do we build these valuable relationships? Read on for tips to set the groundwork for effective teacher-parent communication.
Listening is crucial to gaining parent trust. It’s important to invite feedback from parents long before they have questions or concerns. Once that feedback is shared, be sure you are really hearing what the parent has to say. This builds a respectful, trusting relationship with parents that will in turn benefit the child. Parents will be more inclined to contact teachers with any concerns so they can be addressed as a parent-teacher team.
Honesty is the foundation of effective communication between parents and teachers. We all make mistakes. Hiding or altering the truth simply won’t end will. If you make a mistake…and you will…own it, learn from it, and work with the parent to move forward.
Parent-teacher conferences facilitate learning more about a child’s family. It also enables parents to discover what their child is learning at school, what their daily schedule is like, and helps them attain a sense of confidence in the school staff and program. It’s amazing what a 30-minute meeting with parents can accomplish.
With school websites and social media pages, there are ample opportunities to communicate often with parents. Teachers can even create a Facebook page for their particular class to keep parents informed.
A monthly e-newsletter that includes informative articles about Montessori education and a calendar of events would be a helpful tool for parents.
And of course, communicating via email with parents is a convenient way for both teachers and parents to stay abreast of a child’s educational needs.
At Montessori Kids Universe Katy, we strive to build lasting, trusting relationships with our parents. If you’re a parent, what is your preferred method of communicating with your child’s preschool? Please let us know so we can continue to improve our parent-teacher communication efforts.
Admn December 6th, 2017
Posted In: About MKU Katy
“Can we get a puppy?”
The words many parents fear hearing from their children. Even though they promise to walk it and feed it, you know owning a pet is a big commitment. That’s why it is important to understand the benefits a pet offers – especially for children – to help you make the decision.
Aside from being bundles of joy, pets affect many different parts of children’s development. The same way a Montessori classroom encourages learning through interaction, interacting with an animal can help build skills that will stick with them through their entire lives. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, pets can be a great addition to a child’s life.
Everyone who has seen a picture of a child sleeping on a dog knows just how comforting a pet can be. Whether it is cuddling up on the couch or standing guard for the boogeyman, animals like dogs are truly child’s best friend. They offer unconditional love and can act as a listener for your child’s secrets, allowing them to express themselves without worrying about the consequences. Studies have even shown that pets lower anxiety and can help aid special needs children cope with their problems.
You may as well take your children up on their offer of taking care of the pet! Not only does it alleviate some of your workload, but it can also help your child develop emotionally and gain confidence. By taking care of the pet, your kids will begin to learn when it is happy, sad, hungry, or needs to go outside without using words. They can then use their understanding to take care of the pet, building their confidence and learning about responsibility because the pet relies on them.
Kids love to talk to their stuffed animals, toys, and pets. While this is positively adorable, it also helps their speech and social skills develop. Similar to the philosophies of Montessori classrooms, practice makes perfect! Using their imagination, kids can have conversations with something that doesn’t talk back, letting them practice social interaction even if they are an only child. For shy children, this can be a great step towards further socializing.
Not only does an animal help socially, but physically as well. It can be hard to get a child motivated, but if their choices are to run around outside with a dog or sit on the couch, most kids would be outside before you could get their shoes on. By running and playing with an animal, your child is developing coordination and motor skills critical to their future.
A pet is not for everyone. Allergies, housing situations, and other factors can make it difficult to bring a pet into your home. However, the combination of a Montessori education and a furry friend is perhaps the best foundation a child can have during their development.
Admn November 15th, 2017
Posted In: About MKU Katy