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Why Montessori Teachers Don’t Assign Homework

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.

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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.

Spend Time with Family and Relax

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.

Explore Interests and Extracurricular Activities

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.

Make Everyday Tasks Learning Opportunities

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.

February 8th, 2018

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

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The Role of Social Interaction in a Child’s Development

Human beings are naturally social creatures, and children are no exception to that. Though they may be wary of others at the start, getting your child comfortable with social interaction offers a huge benefit to their development. They will develop greater self-esteem, improve their social and language skills, and learn to understand concepts better.

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No classroom better prepares your child for their future than a Montessori classroom. In these classrooms, children are encouraged to work together with their peers. This involves group tables and sitting areas where children can talk or interact with learning materials and each other. They can tell stories, show off their creations or knowledge, and make friends as a way to develop their skills.

Develop Language and Social Skills

When it comes to learning a language, repetition is key. As children are learning their native languages from scratch, the more often they can use their speech the better it will be! By encouraging social interaction, children are more likely to talk to each other and practice their communication. As they get more comfortable talking, they are able to express themselves better and have conversations with peers. This helps to improve their social skills and encourages them to make friends.

Reinforce Information by Repeating It

Children gain a better understanding of information as they form more or greater connections with it. Through their senses of hearing and speech, they can articulate concepts aloud. This allows for them to hear the information they or their peer are sharing and talk about it, utilizing 2 additional senses as compared to just reading it. Thanks to the hands-on emphasis Montessori classrooms encourage, they can also enlist “touch” by interacting with any of the learning materials related to the lesson.

Friendships Increase Self-Esteem

More social interaction leads to better social skills, which leads to more friends. Children with more friends are likely to develop greater self-esteem because they feel accepted and more comfortable around familiar faces. Children can also relate better to people their age, which makes social interaction easier with friends than others. They learn from their friends, and by learning they gain confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Parents often worry about unconventional schooling leading to social issues like anxiety and a lack of social skills. However, a Montessori education is not home schooling! Montessori classrooms actually encourage social interaction and help children develop better social skills than standard classrooms, making them a great option for raising a well rounded child.

January 9th, 2018

Posted In: About MKU Katy

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Celebrating the Holidays in the Montessori Classroom

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.

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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.

December 19th, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

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Effective Teacher-Parent Communication in the Montessori Preschool

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.

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Build Trust

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.

Be Honest

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

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.

Technology

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.

December 6th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU Katy

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The Benefits of Caring for an Animal

“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.
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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.

Pets Offer Comfort and Security

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.

Pets Teach Empathy and Responsibility

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.

Pets Enhance Social and Motor Skills

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.

November 15th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU Katy

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The Life of a Montessori Student

Montessori Primary ChildMontessori education facilitates personalized growth and development for children. Development happens differently for each child, so the goal of Montessori-style learning is to provide as many opportunities for learning and growth as possible, while focusing primarily on the interests and abilities of each child.

A typical day at a Montessori school differs depending on the needs of the child and the age-related program they participate in, but all are nurtured fully so he or she can thrive academically and beyond. Programs offered vary from school to school, but here we’ll take a look at the life of Montessori infants, toddlers, pre-primary and primary children.

The Life of a Montessori Infant

Montessori infants are given a safe place to develop movement and independence. What we call the Nido (Italian for “nest”), is designed with materials for infants including a quiet sleep area, eating area, and a safe place for changing. Infants are in a nurturing environment while they grow into the next phase of Montessori education.

The Life of a Montessori Toddler

Once toddlers begin to walk comfortably, they leave the Nido and move to a space that encourages growth and independence. Toddlers enjoy a safe environment with minimal furniture, low-hanging art work, activities to promote coordination and early learning, as well as bathroom independence training. Toddlers are also encouraged to interact with other children for development of language and social skills. The goal is to provide an “I can do it” mindset that prepares the child for Pre-Primary class.

The Life of a Montessori Pre-Primary Child

Pre-Primary is for children 2-3 years of age. The environment is geared towards children with high energy levels who are transitioning from toddler to preschooler. The focus is to learn self-care, self-discipline, and the ability to make good choices. Pre-Primary children enjoy a variety of activities for learning things like numbers, counting, and basic skills for writing and reading.

The Life of a Montessori Primary Child

Primary class is for children aged 3 to 6, where each child learns in a hands-on environment. Primary classroom children thrive in a calm, structured space where they can experience a variety of activities for social, physical, and intellectual development. The main goal is to lay a foundation for positive attitudes towards self, interaction with others, and learning. These mindsets continue to help the child thrive throughout their lives.

The Montessori method of education is loved by children of all ages. Each child is given individualized attention and tools for reaching his or her full potential while growing self-esteem, independence, strong social skills, and a positive “I can succeed” attitude.

October 25th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU Katy, About The Montessori Method

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Montessori Classroom Setup

Everyone is familiar with the standard image of an average classroom. A teacher stands at a board facing the students and goes over the lesson while the students try their best to understand. Unfortunately, not all the kids understand the information the way it is taught. Early education is where the future of a child’s interest in learning is molded, so it’s important to make sure that everyone can keep up and are given equal opportunities to learn. This starts with creating a learning environment that aids the learning process. One of the best ways to achieve the ideal learning environment is by using the Montessori Method in the classroom.

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Montessori classrooms are arranged in a way that allows for a different, unique, and better learning environment. Instead of the standard rows and columns in other classrooms, they utilize an open design that allows students to explore and choose how they work either in quiet independence or with others. There are usually designated areas for different subjects that contain different ways that the student can interact with the information. This can be something like a number line on a rug for counting, a collection of blocks used to spell, or a dinosaur chair next to a shelf of books about dinosaurs.

Another unique aspect of Montessori classrooms are group tables where different students can come together and share their work. This collaborative approach is fundamental to Montessori classrooms and can help students better understand what they or a classmate are doing. They also heavily emphasize “hands-on” learning and “learning by doing”, so the content and option rich environment lets them learn the way they want to and the way that works best for them. These features allow for more connections with the content and better understanding overall.

Not only is the classroom arranged to aid learning, it is also created with a familiar and welcoming tone in mind. Classrooms can often mimic homes including features like carpeting, soft furniture, and shelves with books throughout the room. Because these things are familiar to the students, it allows them to stay relaxed while they learn and makes them more comfortable with exploring on their own.

All of these features equate to probably the most important part of a Montessori classroom which is that the students aren’t taught the information, they learn it while being guided by the teacher. Instead of teaching the class as a whole, each student is treated as an individual and thanks to the resources available in the classroom, everyone can learn their own way.

October 11th, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

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Montessori Math and Why Children Love it

It is true, children can love math. However, there are a few reasons why a child may dislike it. A boring math class where repetition is key tends to not be appealing. Tedious math textbooks can put a strain on young minds with questionable results. Worst of all? Busy work. Work sheets, worksheets, and more worksheets can make a child feel burnt out and eager to be done with their “lesson.” Let’s take a look at the reasons why Montessori children love math!

Counting

Starting Young

One of the best ways to instill the love of math in a child is to get started early. Montessori students begin basic math activities in preschool. This way, children can become familiarized with simple math techniques and not be intimidated by them later. Many preschool math activities have the look and feel of a game. When work is disguised as play, children are bound to love it and come back for more.

Enticing and Entertaining Math Materials

What exactly makes Montessori math materials so different from traditional activities? The main distinction between the two is that Montessori materials are hands-on and tangible. They are beautifully simple, taking complex mathematic concepts and turning them into easy-to-understand fragments of information. Children are given the tools to put the pieces together in their minds, forming a deep and long-lasting understanding of math.

Opportunity to Self-Correct

Traditional students fill out mundane worksheets and wait anxiously for the teacher to give their work a verdict. Montessori children are given access to learning materials that allow them to learn on their own and correct their own mistakes. This is a wonderful and highly effective concept that is unique to the Montessori learning environment. Students learning math the Montessori way can hold materials in their hands and easily spot mistakes in their work. Different color cubes and rods teach number values and patterns and beads can be used to learn simple addition and subtraction.

Montessori math lessons allow children to set their own pace and learn in a way that is enjoyable to them. That really is the secret! They are given the ability to choose how and when they will learn. The Montessori math materials are the tools they use to accomplish their mathematical goals.

August 23rd, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

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Handling Temper Tantrums in Preschoolers

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Temper tantrums are a very tricky and stressful subject for most parents of preschool age children. The fact is, temper tantrums are a relatively normal part of life for children around age one through five. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease the strain of this time in a child’s development.

Coping with Tantrums

At the age between one and five, children are beginning to learn how to express themselves and that everything doesn’t always go their way. As parents and teachers, it is our job to help them learn how to handle their emotions and show them a more positive way to deal with them. It can be terribly upsetting to see a child scream and whine for what seems to be the littlest thing. It is important to recognize the normality of this and how much your child needs help during this time. They are overwhelmed and rely on us as adults to keep calm. Children learn to deal with emotions peacefully through positive example.

Avoiding Tantrums

It is preferable to prevent a tantrum from happening in the first place than to deal with it when it hits. There are ways to ward of a tantrum when your child sends the telltale signals of a meltdown.

  • Be prepared for the fit. Having distractions at the ready can be very helpful. Small snacks, games, or activities can make a child forget their tantrum quickly if caught early. Though it is important to not give food as a comfort mechanism or to simply “give them what they want” to make them stop crying. The idea is to distract them before the tantrum is thrown.
  • Teach them to label emotions. Putting a name to what they are feeling can be very helpful to a small child. Oftentimes, children throw a fit from lack of ability to express themselves. Teach them how to say they are mad, tired, or sad, etc. Then they can use their words instead of screaming aimlessly.
  • Let them show you what is upsetting them. Instead of loudly demanding they stop their negative behavior, give a child the opportunity to “show” what is making them upset. This will encourage language skills and shorten the length of a temper tantrum.
  • Give choices. For example, “would you like to put on your socks or jacket first”? This gives kids an opportunity to think about what they want to do rather than focus on their frustration.
  • Maintain a Routine. Children thrive on structure. If they know what to expect, they are more able to keep calm throughout the day.

In order to quell the dreaded tantrums of a preschooler, it is important to think like a child. They need constant support and guidance to learn how to handle emotions as well as developing expression skills. We can be there to help them gain control of themselves and live a calmer life as a result.

May 29th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU Katy

Building Self Esteem the Montessori Way

Self Esteem Sign

Self esteem is not an innate skill that each child is born with. Confidence and self respect are characteristics that need to be nurtured and encouraged in a Montessori environment. Feeling good about oneself is one of the key ingredients to a healthy and productive life. Those with lower self esteem tend to miss out on more opportunities and be generally more unhappy than those with a healthy level of confidence.

Learning Through Teachers

Montessori educators are not your run-of-the-mill teachers. They are nurturing guides that help push each child to reach their full potential in the most natural way possible. Instead of lecturing and stating orders from the front of the room, Montessori teachers move with the children and are fully focused on each child’s needs. A Montessori teacher understands where each child stands in their development. This ensures that each child’s emotional and educational needs are met and they are encouraged to reach the next level.

Montessori teachers also teach independence though self correction. They do not hover but allow children to discover things for themselves and step in when they are needed. This way, students feel confident in their decisions while simultaneously feeling the support of the teacher backing them up.

Learning Through Peers

In any community, you will not find people of only one age group. This concept is also applied to a Montessori classroom. There is generally a three year age range in any given Montessori class. Older children mentor the younger and the younger learn through example. Older children easily identify gaps in their own knowledge when teaching younger kids. This encourages them to go and seek info they are missing. Younger children look up to their older peers and become determined to reach their level. This brother and sister type environment is an extremely effective and natural way to instill a strong self esteem and build the foundation for independence.

Learning to be sure of oneself and independent is best done in a natural and unforced environment. The Montessori classroom is designed to do just that. Everything is a well thought out system designed to give each child the absolute best chance of reaching their potential without any unnecessary stress or pressure. This makes the Montessori environment much more like a high functioning community rather than a strict traditional classroom.

April 13th, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

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