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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

Handling Temper Tantrums

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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How to Make Preschool Writing Fun

Kids-do-Homework

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

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