A few years ago while scouring for a Montessori for my son, I had the chance to visit several primary classrooms. Apart from the well-organized and attractive classroom environment, I was impressed with the different sets of materials that were being used effortlessly by the children. Another feature that appealed to me was the use of work mats. Although there were quite a few child-sized tables and chairs in the classroom, many children were utilizing the small mats for their individual activities.
At that time, I thought they were given to the children to minimize mess and make cleanup easy. However, I was wrong and cleaning had nothing to do with it. In fact, the lightweight work mats hold significant importance in the Montessori prepared environment.
The Montessori work mat is used to reinforce the primary principle of the Montessori prepared environment – freedom within limits. The mat defines a child’s personal space while other students are taught to respect the classmate’s work and privacy. The mat is considered a child’s sacred space and no one can interrupt the child unless they are willing to interact. Other children make sure to walk around the mat carefully and only join a classmate when given permission.
Another advantage of a Montessori mat is that the children can come back to their activity if they have to leave their work for any reason. For example, a child takes a bathroom break or has snack time. They can leave their belongings on the mat and return to find their work in the same place, undisturbed.
Each activity in a Montessori classroom starts with the mat. Children are trained to first unroll a mat on their desired space after which they can select an activity. Once they have completed their activity, each child rolls back his or her mat, being careful about keeping the edges even, and puts it along with the others in a basket. This not only teaches children order but also improves their practical life skills to help children become more independent and adaptable to society.
At Montessori Kids Sugarland, the work mats are the foundation of everything the children will learn. Visit us and see how the mats are integrated in every activity to create the perfect work space for each child.
manager November 16th, 2017
Parents of young children are jumping on the Montessori craze and it’s easy to see why. Incorporating Montessori practices at home to further establish the education they receive at their respective Montessori schools is quite easy.
What is Montessori?
Simply stated, a Montessori education encourages children to learn using their senses. The goal is to nurture a life-long love of learning. Children work self-sufficiently, focusing on one task at a time. In turn, they become motivated and tend to explore further into a topic that interests them.
So, how do you implement the Montessori Method at home? Try these tips to get your home Montessori practices started.
One of the most important steps in Montessori is teaching your child how to conduct themselves politely and properly. This ideal is stressed heavily within their Montessori curriculum, so it’s a good idea to implement it at home, as well.
Facilitate Real-Life Skills
The Montessori Method teaches students to take care of themselves and to help others, in hopes that they eventually view themselves as esteemed members of society.
At home, young children can care for pets, like giving the family dog his evening bowl of water or sitting with Mom as she folds laundry and matching up socks by color, thereby enhancing confidence and increasing self-worth.
Effective learning requires focus and concentration skills. You can help develop these skills by noting what interests your child and then providing the materials for her to further explore it as she pleases. For example, if your child seems interested in fish, a new goldfish to help care for along with a picture book about fish may further pique her fascination.
Nurture Inner Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is key to student learning. Montessori teachers put emphasis on nurturing each student’s individual sense of accomplishment versus using traditional extrinsic rewards. By communicating encouragement and appreciation for your child’s behavior, you are cultivating an inner motivation that she will value throughout her life.
Learn to Let Your Child Self-Correct
As a parent, you may have certain guidelines you would like your child to abide by in your home. For example, you may want to instill in your child that he should pick up his toys and return them to the proper area when finished playing with them. But after suggesting this to your child several times, he still forgets to put his toys away.
Perhaps he’s not ready. Let it go, relax, and re-introduce the concept the next day. It may take repeated requests before your child positively responds.
Remember, the motivation to complete tasks correctly is derived from an internal drive to learn, not from external consequences and rewards. Try being an unseen spectator and allow the improvement to naturally occur.
Admn November 15th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Hurricanes, like the recent life-threatening Harvey and Irma, can cause tremendous turmoil in people’s lives. It can take months or even a year or more for family members, especially children, to feel that life is back to normal.
The psychological bearing of a storm differs between people based on factors such as age, prior experiences with natural disasters, and the amount of stress that already exists prior to the storm. The effects of natural disasters on children can vary based on the extent of the disaster, maturity, age, and personality. They can also differ based on the way the parents handle the disaster and work toward restoring normal life for the family. It’s important for parents to talk with children and respond to their needs to facilitate coping and recovery mechanisms.
Read on for ways to restore order and calm to your children’s lives in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Talk it Out
Talk with your children about what they were feeling during the storm. It’s common for children to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety following a disaster. They may even have difficulty focusing in school. Talking through a crisis can help reconnect with your children and can give them a positive means of expressing their fears. Furthermore, it enables parents to identify children who may need additional help dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster so they can seek assistance from professionals or school administrators.
The most important thing you can do for your children is get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Routines instill a sense of safety in children and ensure that everything is okay. Everyone, even adults, draws strength and refuge from a structured daily routine, so it’s important to start practicing bed time, dinner time, going to church, etc., even if you are staying in a hotel or with extended family. Children respond to these rituals by feeling safe and secure, regardless of the stressful changes taking place around them
Help is Available
Keep in mind that as a parent, you can’t be expected to guess how your child is feeling. It’s best just to ask them. If children assert that they are fine and seem to be functioning well, take it at face value. However, if you or your children need additional help coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, you may want to consider the following resources:
Admn October 25th, 2017
A Montessori classroom is a child’s second home. In fact, it serves as the child’s first step into the new world. As the child slowly makes this transition, it is essential that he is provided with an environment that not only makes the shift easy but also facilitates learning to the maximum.
According to the Montessori Method, a Montessori classroom should be planned and equipped in such a way that children adapt easily to the environment without compromising their learning process.We are all familiar with the setting of the traditional classroom where young students are provided adult-sized furniture while the shelves and cupboards are placed so high that the child is always in need of an adult’s assistance. Additionally, in a traditional classroom, children are usually confined to their desks while the teacher dictates the same lesson to the whole class.
However, Maria Montessori was contrary to the traditional learning environment and believed that, “The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” Her desire was to provide the children with a learning space where they had the freedom to explore, learn, and experience at their own pace and desire. This led her to create the Montessori Method which focuses on shaping the child as a whole being while making the learning process pleasant by equipping the classrooms with a variety of different materials.
The focus of the Montessori prepared environment remains on the six basic principles – Freedom, Structure and Order, Beauty, Nature and Reality, Social Environment, and Intellectual Environment. Here is a brief description about each of the principles and why they hold importance in the child’s learning and developmental process.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
The prime principle of the Montessori prepared environment is freedom. Just imagine how you would feel if you had to take assistance for the smallest task or were limited to the same task daily without any challenges. Our children are the same way. They have the potential that we, as parents, oftentimes ignore.
The Montessori Method is based on the belief that children who are given freedom can learn with their own natural instinct. The prepared environment of the classroom allows children to choose the activity according to their own preference and pace while enhancing social interaction amongst peers.
Structure and Order
Parents of preschoolers will agree that a temper tantrum can be expected whenever their child’s routine is disrupted. This is because children between the ages of one and five pass through a sensitive stage. Montessori believed that during this phase, children should experience order, consistency, and familiarity in their environment. Since children of this age have limited verbal skills, any disorientation can create chaos which can be avoided by having a consistent schedule and ground rules.
The Montessori method meets the child’s need for order by providing a space that is organized and structured according to their needs. Materials are in the same place every day while lessons and activities are conducted at the same time. The school day ends with children placing all the materials and their completed work in the given space. This sense of order enhances children’s understanding of the world and allows them to organize their time and space efficiently.
Visit the MKU classroom and at first glance you will notice how well-organized the environment is. Everything is beautifully displayed while the classrooms are neat, uncluttered, and orderly. Maria Montessori emphasized the aesthetic appeal of the Montessori classroom and always encouraged teachers to decorate classrooms in such a way that learners come eagerly to learn and work. The environment should reflect peace and tranquility while the arrangement should always be well-maintained.
Nature and Reality
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that 60 minutes of unstructured free play daily is essential for the child’s physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, studies show that children are spending less time outdoors than they were 20 years ago. However, Dr. Montessori agreed with the benefits of outside play and always emphasized that educators should take children outside as much as possible. Children don’t like to sit inside, and keeping them confined in one room can make them cranky and sluggish. Giving them outside time daily enhances their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
In Montessori classrooms, children are grouped with different ages. This structure allows children to share and work cooperatively while enhancing empathy and respect towards each other. Multi-aged classrooms allow older children to develop leadership qualities and younger ones to learn to return the favor in the coming years by being in the same spot as the elders.
The last but the most important principle is the Intellectual environment. The Montessori Method claims that children develop a love of lifelong learning when they take responsibility for themselves and their education. The intellectual environment moves students from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. Each Montessori material can be used in multiple ways to enhance learning, whether it be through language, sensorial, life skills, math, culture, or art.
When all the principles of the Montessori prepared environment are combined, the child develops independence, focus, adaptability, self-confidence, self-discipline, and patience. The freedom to fully learn not only helps the child succeed in academic endeavors but also in practical, everyday life.
manager October 24th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Tags: academic, child development, children, education, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, school, school age kids, sugar land, toddlers
The Internet is home to boundless amounts of information. With just a few seconds of your time and a Google search, you can have answers to nearly any question you can ask. For children, the number of questions is even more sizable, making the possibilities for learning even more plentiful.
While the Montessori hands-on approach has been proven to be effective for children’s development, it’s not always possible to replicate the same ideas at home. Materials can be expensive and setting up an environment like a Montessori classroom can be difficult. Fortunately, the Internet can act as a learning aid to children that, in combination with hands-on learning, can lead to endless exploration.
The Internet and Montessori Classrooms
Although the Internet is a great aid for continuing learning at home, it does not have a place in many Montessori classrooms. Montessori classrooms focus on concrete interaction with objects and learning materials. Teachers encourage hands-on learning and deriving meaning from physical objects which is not possible with the Internet. This allows the content to appeal to the senses, forming more meaningful connections for the child and leading to a greater understanding.
Why the Internet is a Useful Learning Tool for Children
How to Facilitate Learning at Home with the Internet
While a hands-on focus to learning is important to a child’s development, it can be magnified when supplemented with the boundless information hosted online. The Internet allows for exposure to tons of topics and teaches valuable skills that your children will use for the rest of their lives. Taking advantage of the Internet will allow you to set the best foundation possible, one that will inspire an interest in learning for years to come.
Admn October 5th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Most of us have a fixed mindset of a teacher’s role in a classroom. She stands in front of the room and dictates material while the children listen intently. The students, regardless of their pace and interest, are required to follow the lessons according to the teacher’s academic plan.
Although this method of learning has been practiced effectively for centuries, Dr. Maria Montessori had a different theory. She believed that the teacher, student, and the environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher with activities and materials according to the child’s learning abilities and interest. The students make use of the environment and develop various skills while taking guidance and support from the teachers when needed.
Her belief is that the focus should remain on the children’s learning and not on the teachers’ teaching. This is why Montessori teachers are not the center of attention in the classroom. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to spot the teacher in a Montessori classroom as she often steps back,allowing the children to learn from their own discoveries and draw conclusions. Rather than giving children answers to the many questions they ask in one day, the Montessori teacher asks them how they would solve the problem while actively engaging children in the learning process and enhancing critical thinking skills.
A prepared environment
Montessori teachers provide activities based on six areas of learning: practical life activities, sensorial activities, numeracy, literacy, understanding of the world, and creative abilities. The children are given the freedom within limits to choose the activity according to their interests and abilities.They are allowed to spend as much time as they need on one activity, and while the Montessori teacher will not interfere in their working, she will be readily available to guide them as needed. By following this approach, children of Montessori become more confident about their ability to understand what they are learning. This also limits the necessity of coercion, which often increases feelings of stress and inferiority in children.
A Model, Mentor, and a Guide
In a traditional classroom, the teachers present the lesson to a large group of students who are expected to listen and take in all the information provided. However, in a Montessori environment, the teachers work with only one or two students at a time while the learning material is provided on the basis of children’s interest.
If a child is not interested or making an incorrect association, the Montessori teacher does not force the child to learn. Instead, she gives the child time to clear the air and continues the topic another day. The Montessori system believes that pushing a child to learn will only make them frustrated while allowing them to learn at their own pace with patience will empower them to learn more.
The most important role of a Montessori teacher is of an observer. The Montessori teacher makes careful observations of each student while they work. The teacher does not interfere or disrupt the students while they work, nor do they give out punishment or rewards.This allows the teacher to understand when a child has mastered a specific skill or concept, thus moving them on to an advanced curriculum. Progress notes are shared frequently with parents and caregivers.
We at Montessori Kids Sugarland believe that children are full of curiosity. By giving them an environment to learn with freedom, they can grow up to be intelligent, independent, responsible, and contributing members of society.
As Maria Montessori would say,
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say: The children are now working as if I did not exist.”
manager October 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Today, let’s take a look behind the scenes in the classroom to give you some ideas for Montessori-style activities you can recreate at home. Montessori teachers refer to them as “practical life activities”
Practical life activities in the classroom
As the name suggests, practical life activities focus on skills children use on a daily basis. Children observe these activities in their own environment and gain knowledge through the practice of daily duties.
Some typical activities that are implemented in most Montessori classrooms include:
Ideas for the home environment
It’s quite easy to incorporate any of the above activities at home for your child. Simply remember to keep child-sized objects ready for handling various tasks. For example, if your child is helping you butter toast, have a small amount of butter ready on a separate plate.
Other ways you can incorporate life skills at home are:
When applying practical life skills at home, always remember:
Don’t allow your children to sit in front of the TV or play iPads while you perform various tasks around the house. Instead, encourage them to join you and help out. Children love to stay involved with their parents and with some simple activities, they can gain life skills at the same time.
Remember that the main reason we at Montessori Kids Universe teach practical life skills is that we value children and the contribution they can make to the family, and later, the world. We believe they are capable of doing so much more than what the media tells us. They can handle breakables if they’re taught how. They can take responsibility for themselves if we teach them how. In other words, they can learn, if we give them the room to grow.
manager September 20th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Tags: 2 year olds, child development, children, education, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, Small Children, sugar land, toddlers
You are busy shopping at the supermarket and suddenly you hear an ear-piercing shriek. Upon turning around you see a little girl wailing to buy the Frozen toy while the mother (tries to) ignore the embarrassing behavior.
For a parent this is not a new scenario. In fact, ask anyone and they are likely to agree that handling a toddler’s tantrum is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. Toddler tantrums are common, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 4 when they are still learning to communicate properly. It is estimated that more than half of young children will have one or more tantrums a week to vent their frustrations and inability to control emotions.
Of course, as common as they may be, toddler tantrums can be distressing and embarrassing to the parents, especially when they occur frequently.
Why do kids have tantrums?
Temper tantrums can take a variety of forms from crying and whining to screaming, hitting, kicking, and even breath holding. Tantrums usually happen when kids are hungry, tired, uncomfortable or can’t get something (either a person or an object) that they want. It’s children’s way of showing they are frustrated or upset. Over time, children’s language skills improve and thus the frequency of tantrums decrease. But until they are able to communicate their desires or problems, parents must deal with the tantrums.
So what’s the best way to handle tantrums?
Do everything you can to avoid tantrums in the first place. Here are some tips that may help:
• Give your child plenty of positive interaction throughout the day. Sometimes kids act up when they want more attention from their parents. Praising them for good behavior and spending time with them will reduce the occurrence of tantrums.
Most importantly, keep your cool during the tantrum and avoid screaming to let out your own frustration. Remember, your job is to teach children how to stay calm and it will do no good if you are not calm yourself. Hitting and spanking doesn’t help. It will show children that using force and physical punishment is acceptable and can result in negative behavior in the future.
And of course, don’t give in to your child’s tantrums. This will only prove to them that their tactics were effective and can be used again and again.
When to call the doctor
It is best to consult a doctor if the tantrums become frequent, intense, or haven’t stopped by the age of 4 years. It is also advised to call your healthcare provider if the child is in danger of hurting him or herself or others.
The good news is most toddler tantrums are not a cause of worry and usually stop as children mature and learn to communicate. Until then, try your best to handle the tantrums in the most positive way possible.
manager September 4th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Educators and parents alike know how crucial language and communication skills are to a child’s development. Because parents are a child’s first teacher, it’s important for them to comprehend language development in toddlers as it expands their ability to work with their child to enhance communication skills.
Communication refers to both speech and language. Speech is the actual sound of spoken language. Language denotes words and symbols—written, spoken, and body language—used to communicate meaning. Mastering these skills empowers children to socialize and learn from their daily surroundings, as well as through classroom instruction.
Development of early language and communication skills is vital for student success both in school and later in life. This includes the ability to understand others and appropriately express oneself using words, gestures, and facial expressions. Children who master age-appropriate language and communication skills tend to have a greater desire to learn when they arrive at school and are more likely to have higher levels of achievement in both school and beyond.
Children’s brains are developing quickly during their first years, so it is important for them to have meaningful interactions with the adults in their lives. Parents, along with our teachers at Montessori Kids Universe, have ample opportunity to provide toddlers with exchanges that enhance growth and development, specifically language and communication skills.
While every child does not develop at the same pace, there are practices that parents can incorporate into their child’s daily schedule to develop speech and language skills.
• Elicit regular conversations with your child throughout the day.
• Use advanced grammar and vocabulary.
• Provide children with descriptions of objects, emotions, activities, and events.
• Read, read, read! Read with your child several times each day. Point to pictures and identify images.
• Use props. Introduce objects that spark interest during story time.
• Use dramatic gestures with words to emphasize meaning.
• Children love music. Be sure to engage in musical activities every day.
These daily interactions benefit children from numerous language and cultural backgrounds, including dual language learners. By implementing these activities, parents and early childhood educators can team up to provide children the extensive experience and opportunities needed to enhance their language and communication skills.
To help your children reach their full potential, Montessori Kids Universe embeds this philosophy within its curriculum through social interaction with other children, development of language and practical life skills, and music and movement activities.
Admn August 23rd, 2017
Babies turn into toddlers very quickly. And parents are surprised (and of course, happy) by how quickly the stages of night-waking, dealing with colic, and constant nursing have passed.
But they now have a new set of challenges to face as toddlers can be a handful. Raising toddlers and preschoolers is not for the faint of heart and even though elder parents might tell you that the phase goes by quickly, there will be moments when you will feel like losing your mind.
So how can you keep your sanity while your cute and adorable 3-year-old is throwing a fit, kicking and screaming at you for not cutting the cheese in the way he wanted? The good news is that with (a lot of) patience, stamina, creativity, determination, and sense of humor, you can sail past these days and actually enjoy the tantrums thrown by your “heart-melting” toddler. Here are some tips:
Kids have a lot of energy that needs to be released, and they need outside play time every day to do this. On rainy days or when the weather is too cold to go outside, set up some constructive play indoors where they can take part in physical activity. Obstacle courses, forts, Hide & Seek, and songs with accompanying movements will all help to quell temper tantrums by channeling energy into something positive.
Keep reminding yourself that “all messes can be cleaned up.” Resist the urge to have a meltdown when you see your new lipstick being used as crayon or mounds of toilet paper trailed on the bathroom floor. While nothing can be done about ruined items, every action can be turned into a learning opportunity. Make a game of cleaning up and sing the song “Clean Up,” to make doing so part of the game, not a punishment.
And don’t forget to take a picture of your children when you catch them in mischief – after some years you all will share a good laugh over it.
The Montessori method encourages parents to treat children as small adults. As such, you should be able to have knickknacks and decorative items around your home that you teach your children to handle carefully or not at all. Montessori kids learn that “this is china and will break, so we must carry it with two hands and be very careful.” They also learn that there are items precious to mom or dad that they shouldn’t touch without permission. While childproofing to remove any hazards is important, children can and should be taught how to handle various common household items.
Parenting can be lonely. But there are many parents out there who are looking for friends to share their days with. Join a Mom’s or Dad’s group or go out with friends who have kids the same age as yours. A little time out in a different atmosphere will be refreshing and fun for all of you.
Respect the pace at which they are developing and don’t push them into reaching a certain milestone that they are not yet ready to reach. The key is to encourage discovery with a positive attitude but to recognize when a child is becoming frustrated and has reached his or her limit. At that point, step in and take a break. You can always revisit that task another time.
This goes for the both of you. Just like your children are different from others, you are also not like the other moms. Just because one mom looks like she has her kids under control on social media doesn’t mean you are a failure (plus, she might not have it all under control).
The same goes for children. Children have distinctive interests, skills, and developmental speed. Comparing them with other children will put stress on them and lower their self-esteem. It is likely that the comparison might lead them to shy away from social situations and make them reluctant to take part in activities.
Most parents are so focused on their children that they hardly take time for themselves and their spouse. Children are your first priority but you still need to pamper yourself and spend adult time with your better half. Hire a babysitter at least once a week or, if finances are an issue, trade services with another parent. It doesn’t matter what you do with your free time; what matters is that you have it.
You might feel like you are fighting a never-ending battle but remember, the “little days” will go by quickly. Keep reminding yourself of this mantra and embrace each day with your toddler.
manager August 16th, 2017