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The Hands-On Approach to Learning

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Hands-on learning is one of the attributes that distinguishes a Montessori classroom from a classical educational environment. Students are encouraged to learn by touching, feeling, and doing rather than typical mundane worksheets. Dr. Maria Montessori said; “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” Useful information can be better committed to permanent memory by learning hands-on than in any other way. Repetition and manipulation is key!

The Traditional Approach

In a traditional learning environment, children sit in rows of desks and listen to the direction of their teacher. They are given very little choice as the mindset is collective – what is best for the group as a whole. They are told what to complete and when, making learning a dull and forced experience. When it comes time to take a test, students dump what they have recently learned onto a piece of paper and forget much of it soon after. But education is not “one size fits all.” Each child learns differently and develops on a unique spectrum. A Montessori classroom provides the apparatus for this to take place.

The Montessori Approach

There are no desks in a Montessori classroom. In this learning environment, children are encouraged to move around the room and choose from the vast array of activities available to them. Once they choose an activity, they bring it to a floor mat or child size furniture and complete their work comfortably. They are free to explore their materials and make discoveries for themselves.

When children work with their hands, information becomes concrete and difficult to forget. Learning is designed to be an enjoyable experience instead of something children dread. Instead of relief when a lesson is completed, students find excitement in moving on to the next level.

Hands-on Materials

While any subject can be learned with a pencil and paper, the Montessori classroom presents educational subjects through colorful, engaging materials. Examples include:

  • Math. Rods, beads, and sandpaper numbers are used to learn basic counting and arithmetic. Students use their hands to manipulate materials and work out problems in a sensory way.
  • Reading. A moveable alphabet allows children to move letters around and learn their sounds. They can choose what words they would like to learn and gradually evolve their reading ability.
  • Writing. Montessori classrooms use painting and tracing exercises to fine tune the pincer grasp and integrate reading and writing.
  • Science. Challenging hands-on experiments allow children to learn about the world around them in a beautiful and sensory way.

When it comes to a rich education, a hands-on approach is the way to go. This is the most effective as well as enjoyable way for children to learn. When a student moves up in their education they will remember what they learned through their experiences and apply those lessons throughout their life.

April 20th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

How to stop kids from hitting and biting

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You are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the playground when suddenly you hear a loud wail. Imagining it is your toddler, you rush to the area where children are playing and are horrified to find your child’s playmate sporting a teeth-imprinted arm while the mother of the victim gives you (and your kid) cold stares.

As much as you want to sink into the ground with embarrassment, you remain (somewhat) calm, apologize, and remove your child from the scene.

Surprisingly, biting and hitting are normal parts of childhood development. By the time children are in preschool, most of them have bitten or hit at least once and have also been on the receiving end of an unfriendly blow.

Why Children Bite And Hit?

Children become aggressive for a number of reasons.

  • Expressing emotions: Since young children can’t talk, they use biting and hitting to express anger, fear, frustration, or even love.
  • To seek attention: When children feel ignored, they use biting, hitting, or other aggressive measures to get noticed – even if the attention they receive is negative instead of positive.
  • Coping with change: Has another sibling entered the family? Are you moving or have you started a new job? Children become frustrated when they are coping with change and ultimately resort to hitting and biting as a way to express their fear over the changes happening around them.
  • For defense: Young children hit and bite for defense. If another child is hitting or biting them continuously, you can’t expect your toddler to stay quiet, right?
  • Teething: If your baby is teething, then it’s likely that he or she is biting to get that irritable itch out from their gums.

How To Stop Biting and Hitting?

In all instances, don’t throw a tantrum or spank children when they behave negatively. Using the retaliation protocol can teach children that violence causes violence. But of course, don’t leave the issue as it is – children should know that their behavior is wrong and should not be repeated.

  • Remain calm: We know it may be difficult but don’t lose your temper. Take a deep breath, make sure the other child is okay, and take your children away from the scene. No blaming or punishing during the first phase!
  • Talk it out: When you feel that your child has simmered down, ask about the cause behind the biting. Explain that it hurts their friend and we don’t hit/bite when upset.
  • Teach them problem-solving methods: Use imaginary play to teach children how they can resolve issues. You may pretend to be a friend with your child’s favorite toy. Teach them to express their emotions with words like, “This is my toy” and “Please give it back.”
  • Give attention: If you feel that your children are acting out due to lack of time with you, give them plenty of love and attention throughout the day. If you are a working parent, set aside an hour or two each evening for uninterrupted one-on-one with them.
  • Talk to the teachers: Make sure that the behavior is not being repeated at your child’s preschool. Talk with the teacher and find out about the preschool’s environment and whether or not some other children are biting, hitting, or teasing your toddler.

Even with the best prevention methods, incidents will happen until children grow out of the phase, which most children do after a certain age.  So stay firm and keep teaching children empathy. Give your kids the tools to deal with conflict constructively.

 

 

 

 

April 17th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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Bringing the Montessori Method Home

The Montessori method encourages order, independence, self-respect, and overall learning. Montessori classrooms are carefully designed to train young minds to care for themselves and learn from their environment. Students gain an “I did it myself!” attitude that pushes them to excel in all aspects of their lives. The Montessori experience doesn’t have to stop at the end of a school day. There are many ways that you as a parent can instill the Montessori method in your own home!

Provide an Organized Environment

Children generally respond positively to order and structure. Make sure there is a place for everything on a child friendly scale. Your children can find what they need and know exactly where to look for it. They also know where to put an object once they are finished. This promotes self-discipline and independence. An organized environment also gives fewer opportunities for distractions, allowing the child to focus on tasks. A few ways you can provide an ordered environment are:

  • Low shelves. Make your children’s belongings accessible to them. Low, child-height shelves and a lower curtain rod, for example, show children they can do things on their own.
  • Step stool in the bathroom and kitchen. This encourages children to use the bathroom by themselves as well as wash their hands.
  • Keep toys in low, open shelves. Organize all toys and learning activities so each item or type of toy has its own place. This makes cleanup time less of a hassle and your child will need less help from you.
  • Access to food. Keep healthy snacks and drinks on a low shelf so your children can help themselves make healthy choices.

Teach Practical Real-Life Skills

Never underestimate what your children are capable of doing on their own. Basic chores teach children to help others as well as care for themselves when they are older. Responsibilities make kids feel like they are valued members of a family and community. Washing tables, doing laundry, helping younger children, and preparing simple meals are perfect examples of ways your child can learn basic life skills.

Children are most willing to work and learn when they feel that their work has value. Bringing the Montessori method home builds pride and confidence from within a child. A parent can help nurture children’s inner enthusiasm by expressing encouragement and appreciation for their work. Children who take pride in their actions will learn to continue to produce work that brings even more pride.

April 13th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

Summer Matters – The Importance of Learning All Summer Long

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Summer is just around the corner and we all know what this means – warm sunshine, outdoor activities, maybe a vacation, and best of all – freedom from SCHOOL! Undoubtedly, kids get up early to work hard at school approximately nine months a year, so they deserve a fun-filled break to recharge their batteries. They should be able to enjoy their summers, just as adults do.

But where do academics fit in? Should we press “pause” on all learning materials and expect children to just pick up where they left off when the new school year starts in the fall?  Is summer vacation all about sleeping until late morning, watching TV, playing video games, and hanging with friends?

According to education experts, children are in constant learning mode when they are in school. But as soon as the final bell rings, their focus changes and the academic skills they acquired throughout the year simply slip into the background. This results in an academic loss that hurts them when they return to school. To make matters worse, teachers must then spend countless days reviewing previously learned material, time that could be better spent learning new concepts.

This is why it is important for parents to stay involved with children during summer holidays and set aside a specific time each day when they can review and enforce what they learned throughout the school year. Summer months are also a great opportunity for students to strengthen the areas in which they are weak.

The same goes for preschoolers. Since they are just developing various social, mental, and emotional skills, the summer months are a great time to polish and strengthen these skills so children don’t forget their newly acquired abilities.

Learning is a lifelong process and should not be pushed aside for TV shows, video games, and long slumbers. The beauty of the summer months is that they give children a chance to have fun while learning.

Summer Learning Tips:

Read, Read, Read

The summer holidays are a great time to catch up on reading material with children. Plan to visit the library and allow children to select books of interest. Consider participating in a library reading program that rewards children for reading.

At home, set a designated reading hour every day where each family member can enjoy a quite reading time.

You can also put together a summer reading list for each member of the family and celebrate the completion of each book with rewards.

Encourage Art Activities

Provide children with space and materials that encourage creativity and imagination. This can be anything from paper and art supplies to Legos and building blocks and even sculpting materials for older children.

Art plays a vital role in children’s development and enhances fine motor skills, problem-solving capabilities, concentration, and even confidence. So give children different art supplies and watch their imagination unfold.

Stay Active

Children not only suffer from lack of academic activities but they also become couch potatoes due to lack of participation in scheduled physical activities. Encourage them to stay active by enrolling them in a team sport, going swimming, taking walks together, and bicycling in the park.

Remember playing outdoors for several hours a day leads to improved concentration and better academic performance.

Take the Learning Outside Your Home

Use the summer holidays as an opportunity to visit all your city has to offer such as the museum, zoo, and the science center. If you are planning a vacation out of the city or state, make a point to tour historical landmarks and teach your kids what makes each area so special.

Plant a Garden

Learning can also happen in your own backyard or in pots on your balcony. Select some seeds and plant a vegetable garden. Take turns watering them daily. Extend the activity by having children decorate or paint the pots to personalize them.

Apart from all the above-mentioned activities, don’t forget to enjoy your fair share of carnival rides, movies, and lazy pool days. A balance of learning and fun will be the perfect combination for the perfect summer.

March 27th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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What’s your child’s learning style?

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Five toddlers are in a playgroup. Within the group, Emily learns to say the names of the shapes first. Jeff is the first to climb the monkey bars while his twin sister Kim watches cautiously from the sidelines before diving into any new adventure. The fourth child, Steve, can usually be found studying board books in the corner of the room while Jaclyn delights in hands-on play with mud, sand, and water.

Kids of all age groups pick up information in different ways. Educators have long proclaimed that children have their own distinct learning style and the “one-size-fits-all” theory can’t be applied to children in a typical classroom setting.

Researchers have agreed that there are three primary learning styles: auditory, tactile/kinesthetic, and visual. Most children (and adults) utilize a combination of these learning styles while a handful follow mostly one. Understanding your child’s learning style at an early age can help them become better learners and reduce frustrations as they progress to an advanced classroom.

Learning Styles Explained

Auditory: These types of learners prefer listening to explanations rather than reading. They are also more likely to:

  • Have difficulty with written material
  • Remember information by reading aloud
  • Enjoy group discussions
  • Require explanations orally

Tactile/Kinesthetic: The tactile and kinesthetic learners process information through touch and move method. They usually prefer to move around while learning and often “talk” with their hands. They also like to touch objects to learn more about them.

A note to remember: These types of learners are often referred to as “troublemakers” because they are unable to sit still and are often found fidgeting when asked to sit for long periods of time. In the right environment, however, these learners thrive and often become the innovators of the future.

Visual: Just like the name suggests, visual learners pick up information by watching. One of the most dominant learning styles, the visual learning method is the most used in traditional classrooms. Children who are visual learners are more likely to understand new learning material by:

  • Looking at pictures about what they are being taught
  • Drawing what they are learning
  • Writing down instructions

Children who are visual learners are less able to perform well when they are just given instructions and would rather be shown how to do something practically.

Is there a fourth type of learner?

Experts have also discovered a fourth learning style, the logical or analytical learner. These types of learners explore and understand the concept before indulging further. Similar to Kim in playgroup, logical learners ask a lot of questions and are more able to grasp information from a young age.

Discover your child’s learning style.

We sometimes assume that there is only one right way to teach children a particular skill. But if we adapt the learning methods to make them more appropriate to the style children prefer, there is no skill the child cannot learn.

 

March 10th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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A Look Inside a Montessori Classroom

To understand the nature of Montessori education, all you need is to take a look inside their classrooms. Montessori classrooms are enticing and thoughtfully organized in a way that captivates young minds. Every detail that goes into these classrooms is designed to give your child the absolute best educational experience.

Classroom Design

A Montessori classroom has a natural flow that allows learning to be centered on choice. These spacious rooms have many exciting features such as:

  • Learning areas divided by subject. Subjects like math, science, reading, and language-arts are all given their own space in a Montessori classroom. This prevents boredom and gives the children the ability to move freely around the room, effectively absorbing information as they go.
  • The atmosphere is inviting. Natural lighting and soft colors provide a soothing environment. Children in this type of setting tend to be more relaxed and focused, giving them the best chance at an enriched education.
  • There are no desks. The Montessori classroom is anything but traditional. Tables and child size couches are some of the furniture pieces you will find in these rooms. Students also work on mats and rugs on the floor. This adds to the variety of ways Montessori students can learn.
  • Everything is elegantly organized. One of the most striking details of the Montessori classroom is organization. Everything is stored neatly, and all materials have a designated place. Students quickly learn where to go to find what they need for any activity.

Learning Styles

Montessori classrooms offer a variety of learning experiences, so each child’s personal learning style is accepted and nurtured. In a typical day, you will observe:

  • Group learning. Students have the option of learning alongside other children. This hones their sense of friendship and social skills. There is a variety of activities suited for multiple students to participate in at the same time.
  • Independent learning. Montessori students are encouraged to learn independently. Learning on their own builds confidence and gives them the skills to work out problems with a little help. Many Montessori style learning activities are designed to provide opportunities to self-correct and teach themselves.
  • Teacher instruction. Though Montessori students are taught independence, teachers still play a big role in their education. Montessori educators nurture and gently guide students through activities in both group and independent settings.

The Montessori classroom is a learning environment unlike any other. When you take a look inside our rooms, it is not hard to see why Montessori-style learning is so effective and unique.

February 13th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

How to spark creativity in children

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Creativity is all about expressing oneself. It is all about being imaginative and trying new things. There is a misconception that creativity is limited to arts, crafts, music, dance, and writing. But creativity has no bounds and can be expressed in other areas of life as well.

It is sometimes assumed that children are more creative while others lack the talent. However, that is not the case and each one of us (including children) is capable of expressing ourselves in a unique way.

Of course, some children do get lost in the wonders of their imagination easily while others require more prompting. It is up to the parents, teachers, and other caregivers to encourage children and use real life experiences to spark their creativity which makes them more confident and competent learners in the future.

Here are some ideas to spark kids’ creativity:

Ask questions.

Children are born curious. They ask a lot of questions. Listen to them and inspire their imagination by asking them more questions. Make them wonder, “What if” and “What would have happened if we had a dinosaur for a pet?”

Don’t hover.

As much as we want to interfere, it is sometimes better to stand back and watch from afar. Let children play their own games without trying to manage them.

Limit TV and computer games.

TV programs and computer games are enjoyable for some time but children should not be allowed to zone in on the screen for long periods of time. Screen time should always be limited for young children.

Create art pieces with children.

Foremost, parents should keep an abundant supply of art materials in their home. From simple items such as papers and crayons to adornments like rhinestones, gems, and beads, children should have access to all and encouraged often to create pieces of art with them. It is also a good idea to sit down with children once in a while and make crafts together.

Encourage pretend play.

Young children love to play pretend with dolls, costumes, and accessories. Stock up on old dresses, Halloween costumes, hats, jewelry, and any other items that can help children jump into a new role. Keep them all accessible for children so they can enter the world of make believe whenever they like.

Read to children.

Books open a gateway for children to unlock their creative and imaginative potential. Read as often as you can. Make reading fun by changing your tone of voice or dressing up as the character in the book. Ask them to draw characters from their favorite book or allow them to act out the scenes from the story.

Most importantly, be a positive role model for children and enjoy the fun, creative, and imaginative life. If your children seeing you living life, they will do the same!

February 10th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Multi-Age Grouping in a Montessori Classroom

Multi-Age Grouping in a Montessori Classroom
In a traditional school setting, classrooms are divided by a single age group. Montessori educators believe that multi-age grouping is more beneficial for students, a concept that makes a lot of sense once fully understood. Montessori children are almost always placed in classes of a 3-year age group. This practice is tried and true, designed to bring the best educational experience possible to your child.

Multi-Age Groups and Small Children

Small children are often eager to learn from other children. It is common to see children play “school” during recess or pretend time. Younger kids tend to learn best when their education is disguised as play. Montessori Classrooms take this “game” and use structured activities to allow children to “teach themselves.”

Students are given direct lessons from their teachers but also benefit when learning from their peers. The younger students learn from the older, and the older students learn through teaching and example. Small children can watch the older kids take on more advanced lessons and learn through observation. This way, it is easy for Montessori educators to get a feel for where each child stands in their development.

Multi-Age Groups and Older Children

The same concept applies to older children, but in a more advanced way. Teaching someone else is an extremely effective way to reinforce your own knowledge. Children in Montessori classrooms teach each other real lessons that are often assigned by a teacher. A younger student enjoys being taught by an older student, and the older student can easily pinpoint what they do and do not know. This inspires them to go and seek the information that they are missing.

In a traditional classroom setting, opportunities for leadership are few and far between. What opportunities they may have are assigned by a teacher, giving little actual freedom to the student. In a Montessori classroom, these opportunities present themselves daily. Each child is free to express themselves, share knowledge, and sharpen each other’s skills.

Each child is unique in their gifts and development. Self-directed, peer-to-peer learning creates a student who is ready, willing, and excited to learn. The multi-age group concept breeds confidence in its older learners, inspires young students, and creates a unique and highly effective learning experience for everyone.

January 30th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Success through Montessori Style Learning

Success through Montessori Style Learning

The Montessori Method is a method of education that emphasizes the importance of keeping children at the center of activities and lessons. It is a set of beliefs that seeks to allow children to be themselves and act as children tend to behave. More specifically, the Montessori Method encourages the eagerness of children to explore their world and actively engage with their environment and their peers. This is much different from the more traditional method of schooling, which tends to place children in rigid classrooms that demand their attention and obedience. This can have a poor effect on children and actually work to reduce their interest in learning and observation.

The Montessori Triangle

As a highly effective educational method, the Montessori Method makes use of three separate elements. The child, the environment, and the teacher create what is sometimes known as a learning triangle. Every point is important for the overall success of the program. The environment, usually carefully prepared and organized by the teacher, is meant to stimulate interest and encourage children to engage. The teacher works to keep order while also guiding children through periods of self-teaching as well as more traditional instruction. The child, of course, is the center of the entire process and the most important point. All other points on the triangle are created to foster their intellect and ability.

Multiage Groups

Another important aspect of the Montessori Method is the use of groups of multi-age children. This is beneficial to both the younger and older children. Older children, for example, can help the younger children learn new concepts or ideas. Younger children provide older children with a means to reinforce their previous learning by helping someone new to the concept. In this way, a beneficial environment for all involved is created.

Allowing children to interact with their environment, their peers, and their teachers can have incredible effects upon their desire and ability to learn. Montessori style learning is one that can have a surprising amount of success, and help bring children to new academic heights and pursuits.

January 25th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Building literacy every day

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The ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand starts at birth. These skills are considered the key to success in school and practical life. Researchers also agree that the time frame from birth to the age of 8 years is crucial for children’s development.

Although children learn primarily from their homes, preschool teachers also play an important role in laying the foundation for early literacy development. By exposing children to expanding vocabulary, knowledge, and experiences, the teachers at Montessori Kids Universe use a variety of fun and engaging strategies to develop literacy in the classroom.

Here are some literacy activities that are favorites in our classroom:

Read aloud

Reading aloud is one of the most important activities teachers and parents can do with children. In classrooms at Montessori Kids Universe, children gather in a circle while the teacher reads from a book holding it up so children can see and discuss the illustrations. The teachers also ask the children to make future predictions which enhances their understanding about how stories are structured.

Reading aloud builds many important foundation skills including introduction to new vocabulary, provides children with a model of fluent reader, and helps children gain an interest in what reading for pleasure is all about.

Nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes provide great opportunities for children to learn early language and vocabulary skills. The repetition of rhymes teaches children how phonics work and sharpens their memory capabilities. According to experts, children who know eight nursery rhymes by heart at the age of four are usually amongst the best readers and spellers by the time they reach grade 3.

Most importantly, rhymes are fun and considered a great group activity where even the shyest students become confident as they take part in singing, dancing, and acting with their fellow classmates.

Storytelling sessions

Whether the stories are read from a book or told from the mind, children love to hear them. Good stories not only teach children new vocabulary but also enhances their emotions. Done correctly, this time should be interactive and allow children to take part by asking questions.

Usually, children talk more than they listen. However, by encouraging them to participate in storytelling sessions, they develop the habit of listening and become better listeners in the future.

Print awareness

Preschoolers at Montessori Kids Universe are surrounded by printed words. They are everywhere around the classroom – bulletin boards, cubicles, furniture, and materials are all labeled so children can learn to correspond spoken words to written ones.

Alphabet and numbers

Learning letters and numbers is crucial to the foundation of education for preschoolers. Through various activities and resources, children are taught to recognize and distinguish letters and numbers. In fact, every material found in the Montessori classroom is designed to be used in multiple ways over the months or years students spend in the classroom. Children don’t tire of the materials because the possibilities for learning are endless.

To see Montessori learning in action, check us out and schedule a tour at www. MontessoriKidsSugarLand.com.

 

January 16th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU

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