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Importance of a Montessori education for lifelong success

One of the main differences between a Montessori education and a traditional one is that the Montessori method focuses on individual learning at a child’s individual pace. Although it may seem as if that would slow the child down, it actually does the opposite. Because students are permitted to explore areas that they are most interested in, they are naturally encouraged to explore more challenging areas and dig deeper into a topic. The measures of achievement look at individual progress and development rather than traditional methods like grades and tests. A study conducted by the University of Virginia found that Montessori students had significantly better scores when tested against non Montessori students in mental performance, academic abilities and social and behavioral skills. The study further showed that the Montessori students were better equipped to adapt to changing and complex problems. This ability is often treated as a predictor of future success, another indicator that a Montessori education better prepares students for future success.

Another key value of a Montessori education is its emphasis on fostering independence among the students. In her book The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori writes, “The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’, labeling independence as one of the key aspects of development. It is vital to begin fostering independence at a young age and Montessori allows that to occur.

The Montessori Method, especially when paired with Reggio Emilia enrichment, also serves to grow a child’s creativity. With Montessori, children are encouraged to follow their interests, leading to an inherent growth in creativity as they are doing tasks that they want to rather than to prepare for an exam or because they are told to do so. This allows children to enjoy the process of learning rather than just the end result allowing for a creative process to occur and for a child’s love of learning to grow. In an environment where students are forced to learn “for the test” or because the “curriculum says so” a student’s natural love of learning is often extinguished and along with it the ability for creative expression. A Montessori education avoids those issues by working for the opposite goals: fueling a child’s love of learning and allowing a child to explore his or her passions. When a Montessori education is also paired with the Reggio Emilia designated creative art space, creativity increases even more.

A Montessori education has many unique benefits that are vital to lifelong success and are not accessible with a traditional education.

https://www.education.com/magazine/article/10-benefits-montessori-preschool/
http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/pros_cons_montessori_education/
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2006/sep/29/schools.uk

May 2nd, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorized

Benefits of A Full-Time Program

Watching your child grow up is bittersweet and we often think it goes by too fast. One day they can’t sit up by themselves and then at the blink of an eye they are ready for preschool. It’s hard, but every parent, without a doubt, wants the best for their child. Unfortunately that shock that your child is getting older, combined with the ability for a parent to stay home a few days of the week, often leaves parents opting for a part time program. Although it is better than not attending preschool at all, there are many benefits that your child receives at a full-time program that they will be missing by attending part-time.

The Journal of the American Medical Association found that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschools than in part-time programs. The article explains that students in full-day programs showed higher scores in social development, language, math and physical education than their part-time peers. Additionally, a study conducted by Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and his colleagues discovered that full-time preschool programs yield students better prepared for school than those who attended a part-time program. The children who attended the full-time program had higher scores on measures of school readiness skills, increased attendance and reduced chronic absences, when compared to those who attended a part-time program.

Although full-time attendance is important for all preschool students, it is even more critical for those in a Montessori program. A large aspect of the Montessori curriculum is consistency and constancy. Simply put, that means that students receive the full benefit of the Montessori program only through attendance of five days a week with three hour work cycles. There is no other way to achieve the full benefit of a Montessori education if not for consistent attendance. Part of a Montessori education and an aspect that we focus on in our classrooms is independent learning and student driven studies. We allow our students to choose what to focus on as well as learn at their own pace. A large part of that is if a student is learning something very interesting but time runs out, they know that their materials and everything else they need to continue will be there waiting for them the next day. This allows the student to continue thinking about a subject and the short wait time can often make them even more excited to continue. The issue arises, however, when a constant routine is not established. If a student doesn’t attend every day of the week, they often will have forgotten what captivated their mind the last time they were in school and have to get re-inspired to learn a topic. Having a part-time schedule leads to students not being able to truly be independent and the leaders of their own learning. Children flourish with routine and the best way to get a consistent routine is to get into the rhythm of school for five days a week and the weekend for anything else.

We know that seeing your child grow up is hard but our desire to provide the best possible education for our child and setting them on a path to achieve whatever they desire, begins now! Setting your child up for success starts at preschool and the most effective way to do that is with a full-time program.

April 11th, 2018

Posted In: About MKU, Montessori Education, Tips

Summer Camp

As a person who attended summer camp for most of my youth, summer camp memories are some of the best I have. Spending days with my friends, learning from the counselors and just getting out of the house, made for incredible memories. On the contrary, the one summer I spent without camp I remember feeling trapped at home and simply bored out of my mind. My friends who attended camp echo the sentiment that simply put, summer camp rocks!

On a more psychological and developmental level, Peter Scales, Ph.D., a senior fellow with the Search Institute in Minneapolis, explains that “camp is one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression and true participation in a community environment”. He further analyses that in a structured environment, such as camp, children get the opportunity to interact with positive role models who have time to talk, relax, and reflect. Children also learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self reliance, and gain confidence. All of those skills are necessary steps on a child’s path to a healthy, productive life. Bruce Muchnick, a licensed psychologist explains that “the camp community seeks to satisfy children’s basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, acceptance, safety, and feelings of acceptance and appreciation”.

The difference between us and most other summer camps is that while we are focused on providing a fun experience, we also aim to keep each child mentally stimulated and learning. According to the Wallace Foundation Study, by the end of summer, students perform, on average, one month behind where they left off in the spring – and these effects are cumulative. To combat such negative effects, the study identifies that students must continue to be mentally engaged. If a child experiences severe skill deterioration over the summer, they are likely to fall behind their peers the following year, and that cycle is very likely to continue if summers are wasted.

Summer camp offers so much for every child. It offers great memories, a great community, a fun learning environment, lays the groundwork for future success, and so much more.

March 30th, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorized

How to Balance Technology and Montessori

We live in a world overrun by technology and our kids are growing up in an era when technology is at the forefront of almost everything they do. While it’s clear that we will not be returning to the days of Leave it to Beaver, we have to be careful not to embrace technology to the point of excluding other modes of fun, communication, and learning.

 

The Montessori classroom does a fantastic job of keeping the focus on learning through hands-on manipulation and through doing, versus studying from a screen. Montessori materials are designed to bring out critical thinking skills that develop patience, multi-step processing, creativity, and problem solving. When students learn math, they don’t do so through computer games that provide an array of answers and make jubilant sounds when the correct answer is chosen. Instead, students select the material that catches their eye and are guided through a process of learning that leads to self-discovery and long term understanding of math concepts.

 

Likewise, in language arts, they form letters in sand and learn to trace on sandpaper letters. This tactile approach is a proven method for memory, much more so than typing or reacting to a computer screen. And it should come as no surprise that science comes alive through manipulation of materials, witnessing real-life changes in structure, studying animals and plants up close and personal, and planting and tending to a garden.

 

According to the National Academy of Pediatrics, the average American child spends 7 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort, whether it be a TV, computer, or phone. The recommended amount of time is one hour per day. Yet parents still question if Montessori schools shouldn’t use technology more in the classroom.

 

The answer is that many Montessori schools have found a beautiful balance that welcomes technology while making sure kids have plenty of time on the floor, being active and engaged. For instance, students can use computers to create documents, learn how to submit papers on popular share drives such as Google Docs, and discover how to use email to communicate. But for every hour spent on these pursuits, the students spend 5 being physical and social. The belief is that in these realms, real learning takes place. And it’s a given that once they’ve left the Montessori environment, students will have plenty of time to use technology at home.

 

The key is balance. Montessori Kids Universe offers that much sought after healthy balance where students can discover the joy of learning while also discovering the wonderful world of socializing with friends, following good examples set by adults, and getting physical exercise for good overall health.

March 5th, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorized

Lunchtime Learning – Prepare Your Child’s Lunch Montessori Style! 

A Montessori education strives to help children master the skills necessary to meet fundamental needs. Parents can support this objective at home with simple activities like helping children pack their lunch for school each day.

child_lunch

A Montessori-Style Lunch
You can support your children’s education by encouraging them to implement some of their newly-learned skills at home. One fun way to do this is by helping your preschoolers prepare a Montessori-style lunch each day for school. A Montessori-style lunch provides opportunities for your children to apply some of the practical life skills learned at school in the home environment. For example, they can practice opening and closing containers and using a spoon to transfer food. They can also name the shapes of the containers and identify the different ingredients being used to make their lunch. What an exciting way to watch your children accomplish a practical life task and experience the satisfaction they portray upon successful completion!

When selecting foods for your children’s lunch, be sure to keep their delicate taste buds and appropriate portion sizes in mind. For example, instead of packing a whole sandwich that an adult would likely prefer, pack elements of the sandwich in separate, small containers. You can put cheese slices in one and turkey slices in another. A separate container might be used for crackers and another one for fruit slices. Small, individual portions encourage your preschoolers to combine their foods as they see fit…creating new, interesting combinations that they will certainly be excited to eat. You can even make their lunch visually appealing by helping them make carrot roses or prepare small-sized sandwiches in fun shapes. Children also love to dip their veggies in soft dips such as yogurt and peanut butter. The beauty of this experience is that it’s nutritious, educational, and fun!

February 20th, 2018

Posted In: Montessori Education

Tags: ,

The Importance of Free Play – It’s OK to Just Play

Is your child getting enough unstructured play time each day? With the very scheduled lives that most children have these days, it’s important to fit in some free time for your preschooler. Not only does it give your child time to unwind, but her intelligence and creativity are further developed during free play as she figures out how things work on her own.

kids playing

Benefits of Free Play
Why is unstructured play so important? Free play is vital to both the physical and emotional well-being of children. Some of the benefits include:

  • Enhances self-confidence
  • Develops creativity
  • Fosters independence
  • Helps children overcome fears
  • Teaches children to share and settle disagreements with others
  • Encourages children to exercise decision-making skills
  • Helps children discover areas of interest on their own
  • Keeps children active, helping ward off obesity
  • Develops social skills
  • Encourages children to interact with their peers
  • Encourages discovery and learning without self-consciousness that is sometimes present with structured learning
  • Alleviates the effects of pressure and stress
  • And of course, it’s fun!

Examples of Free Play
Free play is any unstructured activity that inspires your child to use her imagination without constant adult direction. Examples include:

  • Neighborhood children playing together in the backyard…perhaps a game of hopscotch or kickball. This is a great way for children to meet their daily physical activity requirements.
  • Going to the playground to swing, slide, or just run around
  • Creating artwork such as drawing, coloring, or painting. What a great way for your child to freely express herself!
  • Reading storybooks of their choosing
  • Playing dress-up

Children need opportunities to play and explore freely. Daily free play prepares them to work well with others as they approach learning with a sense of enthusiasm.

February 8th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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How Poetry Engages Young Children

 

Remember how much you loved poetry as a child? The songs, the nursery rhymes, the rhythm and meter of sing-songy poetry that engrained itself in your brain and that you can still recall to this day?

Poetry is powerful, and in the Montessori classroom, that power is recognized.

Poetry Speaks, a large volume of classics encased in a beautiful hard cover and containing cds featuring the poets themselves reciting their own poetry, has been a bestseller for years. The child-friendly version, Poetry Speaks to Children, is a must-have to introduce pre-schoolers to the world of language. Featuring famous writers such as Langston Hughes and Ogden Nash, the book engages young ones by tapping into their inherent desire for rhyme and rhythm. Recited repeatedly, the poems are easy to memorize and give children a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Take this a step further by watching YouTube videos of other children reciting poetry, and your kids will be extra motivated to do the same. Aside from the joy of discovering sounds and the entertainment value found in songs and poetry, it turns out that early exposure to this form of literature is crucial to later reading success.

“When children from six months to six years are exposed to the various sounds and rhymes awash in children’s literature, they are better prepared for the task of decoding the words in text when they begin to read,” explained Maryann Wolff and Stephanie Gottwald, researchers specializing in literacy.

So what can you do at home to make poetry part of your child’s life? It can be as simple as enjoying a Poem of the Week! Choose a fun, easy poem appropriate to your child’s readiness level. Read the poem aloud several times, then encourage your child to join in whenever he recognizes a word or phrase. Create a Poetry Basket containing the items mentioned in the poem. This can include found items or ones you make yourself. As you continue to read the poem aloud throughout the week, point to or have your child select the corresponding items in the basket. Now your child is making word, sound, and visual connections, all key to becoming a future reader.

The beauty of poetry is that you and your children can evolve from very simple to quite complex selections as they mature and grow in their intellectual abilities. You can change poetry selections based on seasons and holidays, and you can even create a unit of study that contains poetry applicable to a theme, such as the ocean or wildlife. Your child’s birthday month is a special time to explore poetry all about your child, at first written by you, and eventually by your child! Because poetry varies wildly in form and format, you’ll never face boredom or redundancy. Each time you explore a new poem, you will open your child to a new world of sound and language that will entertain and delight.

There’s a reason why nursery rhymes have been around for centuries. Parents recognize the value in these early forms of literature. Reading creates a natural time of bonding and a shared experience children will treasure forever. So don’t hesitate to introduce your children to poetry and take every opportunity to expand their world of language.

January 19th, 2018

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips

How Behavior Can be Influenced by Sensory Processing Disorder

Behavior problems in school interfere with the educational process for all students in the classroom. If your child’s behavior is getting him in trouble at school, it may be due to issues with sensory processing disorder.

child-school

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition where the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information received via the senses.

What are Sensory Processing Issues?
Some children with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things, such as sounds, bright lights, or the touch of a shirt on their skin. Oversensitive kids respond easily to sensory stimulation and may find it to be too much to deal with. Examples of these behaviors are:

  • Inability to endure bright lights and loud noises, like police or ambulance sirens
  • Easily distracted by common background noises
  • Fearful of being touched or hugged…especially when caught by surprise
  • Exceedingly fearful of swings and other playground apparatus
  • Often bump into people, furniture, etc. Their concept of personal space may be skewed.
  • Difficulty recognizing the amount of force they’re using; for example, they may unknowingly slam down objects.
  • Experience meltdowns when overwhelmed

On the other end of the spectrum, under sensitive children seek out sensory stimulation. They may:

  • Constantly desire touching people or objects, regardless of whether it is socially acceptable
  • Have problems recognizing personal space
  • Have a very high tolerance for pain
  • Can’t realize their own strength
  • Fidgety, can’t sit still
  • Enjoy activities that include jumping, bumping, or crashing
  • Desire fast, intense movement

Unfortunately, behaviors influenced by sensory processing disorder may be at the root of those phone calls from the school reporting your child’s disruptive behavior. These behaviors can also be mistaken for ADHD, as the symptoms overlap, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.

Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues

Parenting a child with sensory processing issues can be quite stressful. Currently, there is no medication available to treat sensory processing issues. However, therapy coupled with everyday changes can make life easier for both of you. Here are some ideas to try.

  • Learn as much as you can about the symptoms of sensory processing issues, as well as available treatments.
  • Identify patterns in your child’s behavior to further anticipate situations that may be difficult for her.
  • Help your child learn what things are appropriate to touch.

January 9th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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Stop the whining!

Research has confirmed whining as the most annoying sound to the human ear. Unfortunately, parents of preschoolers face the sound of whining on a regular basis.  Most agree that whining is a habit that they hope their kids will break soon.

Have you ever wondered why kids whine? Is it purposely or unintentionally? What is the best way to get children to behave? Moreover, should you ignore the behavior or give in to your children’s demands?

Preschoolers know that they can get your attention quickly if they use a certain tone of voice. This is why children start whining when they are tired, hungry, or thirsty. They may also whine when they are not feeling well. In these cases, it is best to comfort your children and attend to their needs.

Unfortunately, for children, negative attention is better than no attention at all. They are aware that whining works. Whether you have said no to an extra cookie, more screen time, or a candy bar from the checkout aisle, they know that they will succeed in getting what they want as soon as you hear the sound of their high-pitched wail.

How to un-whine children

As parents, we are often embarrassed by the sudden outbursts of our children, especially when they are misbehaving in a public place. We usually give in to their demands and assume that simply getting them what they want will prevent any extreme meltdowns. However, not addressing the behavior can cause it to continue well into the child’s teenage years.

If the child is throwing a tantrum because of any physical discomfort, tending immediately to their needs will solve the problem. Nevertheless, if the child is acting up for their own advantage, here are some ways to put a cork in the bottle.

  1.  Take action

To avoid whining, respond to the first call of action by your child. For example, if you are on the phone and your son comes up to talk, make eye contact and signal for him to wait. Attend to your child as soon as you are finished with the conversation. Additionally, make sure you avoid potential tantrums by sticking to a daily schedule and keeping snacks and water in your purse.

  1. Relate to them

Children have a habit of asking for things that they cannot have. For example, they might ask for more than one gift at the party. Instead of scolding, make them understand that there is only one gift for each child at the party. If your daughter pleads at the top of her lungs for one of the candies from the checkout aisle at the grocery store, divert her attention by asking her to choose the apples or the flavor of ice cream for dinner.

  1. Be calm

Ask any parent and they will admit that it is hard to stay calm in such situations. Nevertheless, don’t mimic your child’s tone of voice by shouting back. Instead, speak in a calm voice and say something like, “I don’t understand when you don’t use your normal voice. Please speak properly so I can understand.”

  1. Give rewards

When your child does repeat his request in a normal voice, don’t hesitate to respond immediately. Of course, this does not mean you have to give in to their unreasonable demands, but you can appreciate their effort by saying, “Wow that sounded so nice, but I am sorry you can’t have more cookies now. It’s almost time for dinner.”

  1. Don’t give in

Giving in to children’s demands is the best way to get them off your back, especially when you are tired or preoccupied yourself. Simply saying, “Go ahead, do whatever you want!” seems to be the ideal solution for many of us but if you make it a habit, be prepared to hear a lot more whining in the future.

Connect with children

Ignore your child’s whining. However, if he continues to throw a tantrum after you have attempted several times to make him calm down and pain or illness is not the cause, then ask yourself if you have been too busy lately. Has a new sibling joined the family? Or perhaps your family is going through a life-changing event such as death, divorce, or remarriage. Children often find it difficult to cope with changes in their life and convey their frustrations and confusion through whining.

If this is the reason, then try to  reconnect with your children. Spend more time with them. Read stories. Play games. Simply spending a few minutes of your day with your children will make a huge difference in their behavior and give them the positive attention  they require.

 

January 7th, 2018

Posted In: Tips

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What to do when your preschooler lies

As a parent of a preschooler, you must have noticed children telling occasional fibs or tales about scenarios that never really happened. And just like any other parent, you must have ignored these ‘untruths’ without questioning the child. Even though the random stories narrated by your child don’t mean you have a future criminal on your hands, you should teach children the importance of honesty from an early age so they don’t have to rely on lying to resolve unwanted situations.

Before we discuss the reasons kids lie, let me assure you that it’s perfectly normal for kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to tell untruths now and then. They are not trying to deceive you in any way, as children of such young age are not aware that lying represents a lack of moral character. At this age, the line between reality and fantasy is still a bit fuzzy which is why their stories may sound somewhat exaggerated. However, it is important to start teaching children the difference in their early years to prevent the habit from becoming customary.

Why do preschoolers lie?

There are many reasons children lie to their parents, teachers, and caregivers. One of the primary reasons is to please the adults around them and/or avoid getting in trouble for any mischief. For example, a child who is often punished by parents is encouraged to lie in order to cover something up so they don’t get in trouble. Additionally, preschoolers who yearn for their parents’ attention might mistakenly believe that the only way to interact with them is through lying. Although the child is aware that he or she will be punished for the wrongful act, sometimes parental attention can only be won through inappropriate behavior rather than appropriate conduct.

Sometimes children lie because they are confused. As mentioned above, young children are unaware of the difference between fantasy and reality. They are unsure of what really happened and may innocently fill in the gaps with their active imaginations.

Children often fib to adults to get something they want, as well. For example, they may tell their grandma that they are allowed to have candies before dinner when in reality, they are restricted. Moreover, children make up stories to feel important in front of others, especially their peers.

Most importantly, preschoolers learn to lie from us. We adults often tell “white lies” as an excuse for something we were unable to do. Although we may have a good reason to lie, our children will consider it acceptable behavior and do the same in the future.

Ways to encourage honesty in children

The best way to make children understand the difference between truth and non-truth is to emphasize the importance of honesty in your family. Praise children for telling the truth and let them know that you feel disappointed when they lie to you. Share stories about honesty with children to teach the importance of being trustworthy. One good example of moral stories is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which explains that lying can have serious consequences.

Connect with children

Reassure your preschooler that you love her no matter what. If she accidentally spills juice on your carpet, don’t scold her. Instead, be sympathetic and tell her to be more careful next time. Have her clean up with you and avoid making a big fuss over it.

Don’t accuse

Avoid situations in which your child has to lie. For example, if you find toys in the living room, beware of statements of blame. Instead, encourage confession from your children by saying, “I wonder how these toys got here?” or “I wish someone would help me clear up the area.”

Don’t punish

If your preschooler admits to doing something wrong, don’t be angry or punish them for their behavior. Children who are punished for the smallest of mistakes often become rebellious and avoid telling adults the truth in the future. Appreciate children for owning up to their mistakes and tell them that you trust them no matter what.

Avoid judgments

We all know that parental labels like “You are a good girl” or a “brave child” go a long way in building children’s self-esteem. The same goes for negative labels such as “You are a liar” or “Why can’t you ever tell the truth?” For children, these labels can become their identity. Rather than blaming them for what they did wrong, encourage them to be honest by saying, “This is not like you” and “You are always truthful to me.”

Be a role model

Children exhibit what we show them. Just like you, children can also foresee your untruths, which is why it is important that you model truth in front of them. As discussed above, children learn to lie from us. To make sure it doesn’t become a habit in your children, avoid the white lies that are a part of your daily living and be a role model of honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

December 20th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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