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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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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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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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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

How to Make Preschool Writing Fun

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When it comes to teaching a child to write, the earlier you start the better. Montessori classrooms teach early writing skills to small children starting in preschool. One of the most important aspects of teaching a toddler to write is making sure that it is a fun experience. Young children are more prone to frustration and discouragement which can have negative effects on their learning. Here are a few ways that preschool writing is made fun in a Montessori classroom.

Start With Tracing

The great thing about tracing activities is that there is a virtually unlimited supply of ideas of what a child can trace. Beginning with simple straight and squiggly lines help children to hone their fine motor skills and their pincer grasp. Being able to trace simple lines pave the way for actual writing and build confidence in a student’s ability with a pencil. Once a child can trace straight and squiggly lines, they can move forward to more complex shapes, letters, and words.

Use a Variety of Materials

Preschool children get bored easily. It can be very difficult if not impossible to make a preschooler do an activity that they are not interested in. Using paint brushes, for example, is a great way to change it up when your child gets tired of the pencil. The skill it takes to use a paintbrush is very similar to using a pencil. Tracing shapes, lines, and letters with a small paintbrush works very well to strengthen hand muscles and fine tune that crucial pincer grasp.

Chalk, crayons, and colored pencils are also wonderful tools when it comes to prewriting skills. Start with boring white paper and pencil and gradually move up to more colorful papers and writing utensils. This will keep the activity going for as long as possible and help to ingrain the skills into their minds.

At this young age, it is best to disguise learning as play. Using a variety of materials can transform a mundane writing activity into a work of art that most any toddler will love to create. Starting prewriting skills early promotes the fundamental motor skills that all children need to advance in their education. Preschool writing activities also pave the way for real writing skills as well as reading comprehension.

March 24th, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method

What to Expect in a Montessori Classroom

Naturally lit, comfortable, and relaxed. These are the first things you are likely to notice when walking into a Montessori classroom. These classrooms are designed in a way that makes a child feel welcome and free. Montessori classrooms are not just cozy and laid back. They are also enticing and pleasing to the eye.  Young minds are generally more eager to learn in an environment that is as interesting as it is comfortable.

Non-Traditional but Effective

Just as the Montessori approach to learning is non-traditional and unique; so are their classrooms. There are many staggering differences you will find in a Montessori classroom versus a traditional classroom setting. A few of these differences are:

  • No Desks. Instead of seeing row upon row of desks, you will see all different types of child sized furniture and various workstations. Montessori students are not bound to one spot in the room. These children move about the room freely, absorbing information as they go. Highly organized workstations that focus on different subjects give children the freedom to choose their work and figure out problems for themselves. A vast selection of work materials, assignments, and activities ensure that each student has access to all the information they could possibly need.
  • Teachers are Guides. You will not see a Montessori educator standing at the front of a classroom giving orders. Alternatively, you will see our teachers guiding students rather than leading. When a teacher steps back to watch their students, they can easily get a grasp on where each student stands in their development. Instead of staying at the front of the room, Montessori educators move about with their students, giving instruction and aid when needed.
  • Mixed Age Groups. Montessori classrooms seldom lump children with students of only one age group. The age range for these classrooms is generally three years. The benefits of mixed age grouping are undeniable. The older teach the younger and the younger learn by example. Younger students are eager to learn from their older peers and older students can recognize gaps in their knowledge when teaching others. This also instills a sense of community. Adults will never find themselves in a community with people of only their age group. Montessori classrooms are no different.

The goal of a Montessori classroom is to foster independence and ensure that each child is given the richest education possible. This is hard to achieve in a cookie-cutter environment that is the traditional classroom. Each child is unique in their gifts and development. These classrooms are designed to open the door to each child to learn they way that works best for them as an individual.

February 27th, 2017

Posted In: About The Montessori Method