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Montessori Education for Children with Special Needs

There are many ways in which the Montessori classroom can benefit a child with special needs. Special needs children may have developmental, social, and academic needs that differ from the average child. The materials, setting, multi-age groups, and calm focus of a Montessori education are just a few examples. Montessori education is beautifully beneficial for any child, especially those who might need a little more support.

Hands-on Materials

The Montessori classroom is jam-packed with beautiful hands-on learning materials. This gives special needs children the opportunity to work with their hands and explore their environment. Montessori learning activities are also focused on enhancing fine motor skills as well as developing independence. Students are encouraged to follow their own interests when it comes to all academic subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science. It is this peaceful freedom that allows special needs children to thrive and flourish.

Working at Their Own Pace

Just like any other Montessori student, special needs children are encouraged to work at their own pace. No child is alike in their development. It is important that each child is given the freedom to learn at the pace that makes them most comfortable as well as providing a rich educational experience. This eliminates the worry and stress that many children face in a traditional education setting. Students are given the tools to build self-confidence and a positive self-image.

Multi-Age Groups

Children in a Montessori classroom are paired with students of a three-year age gap. This encourages a sense of community and hones social skills. Multi-age groups also eliminate the anxiety of needing to “keep up” with peers. Special needs children will worry less about keeping up and more about participating and enjoying classroom life. Older students can help a special needs child who is struggling and an older special needs child can build confidence by teaching younger kids.

Emphasis on Respect

Children are highly respected in a Montessori educational setting. There is no separation between “special needs” and “normal” children. Here, we work as a family and help each other learn and evolve as human beings. All Montessori children are given the tools to become helpful, respectful, confident, and loving people.
A Montessori learning environment is beneficial for ALL children, including those with special needs. Having a wide-ranging and developmentally diverse group of children working together is what Montessori education is all about.

May 29th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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

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

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

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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Preschool Writing Development Made Easy

preschool writing4 Fun Montessori Inspired Activities Your Child Will love

Do you want to help your preschooler learn to write, but don’t know where to start? Montessori educators have some great solutions, and parents across the US are catching on the benefits of their teaching methods. Here are four fun-filled early writing activities that you and your child will love!

Montessori Alphabet Boxes

The first step to learning to write is recognizing each letter of the alphabet. This fun activity will do that and more. You’ll need a box or basket for every letter of the alphabet, each labeled with a single letter. For each box, have your child help you locate items around your home that starts with that letter. For example, a letter “B” box could contain a toy bear, ball, brush, and buttons. This activity is great because it creatively teaches your child letter recognition, phonics, and real-life application.

Sand Writing Tray

Writing starts with engagement, and what better way to captivate your child than letting him play in the dirt! This writing activity is a great starting point for letter recognition and basic motor skill development, and setup is simple. All you need is a small wooden box, sand, and ABC flashcards. Fill the box about half-way with sand and place a single flashcard at a time beside the box. Have your child trace the letter in the sand with the finger or a stick.

Chalkboard Water Letters

This mess-free game is a fun way to teach your preschooler basic writing skills. It also works well for learning to spell and write their name. A chalkboard easel works best, but you can also sit your child at a table with a tablet chalkboard. Write the desired letters with chalk. Give your child a cup of water and a paint brush, and encourage them to paint over the chalk letters with water.

Paint Dot-to- Dot ABCs

Paint makes any learning activity fun! This exercise helps your child recognize letters while practicing fine motor skills, and all you need is paper, paint, and Q-tips. Write letters on paper using a black marker. Along the lines of the letters, make dots so that it resembles a dot-to- dot picture. Place a small amount of your child’s favorite washable paint color in a cup or another washable container. Show your child how to dip a Q-tip into the paint, then mark your dots with paint. You can also have your child trace solid lines with paint instead of dot-to- dot letters.

Montessori educators know how to make learning engaging and memorable! With hands-on activities like these, your child will gain basic writing and reading skills in no time.

December 27th, 2016

Posted In: Montessori Education

How Montessori Students Have Fun

As a parent, you want your child’s learning experience to be an enjoyable one. Montessori educators prefer real-life lessons over fantasy play and make believe. Some parents are concerned that this serious approach does not allow room for fun. This is untrue! The Montessori method of teaching provides high-quality education without sacrificing entertainment.

Independent Learning

Montessori children have a large variety of options when it comes to learning activities. There are many prepared assignments for students to choose from. Children have free choice on what work they will complete in a day. This creates an empowering environment in which the child can learn what interests them the most.

Enticing Classrooms

Montessori style classrooms go against the traditional rows of desks found in a typical classroom. These rooms are designed to be stimulating and exciting. Students work on floor mats and large tables where they can spread out learning. Children move from area to area freely. This keeps things fresh and interesting. Allowing children to change-it-up often prevents boredom and promises deeper absorption of information.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Many Montessori schools provide extra learning activities in addition to their regular day-to-day education. Most Montessori educators teach as generalists, meaning that they are qualified to teach all subjects of the curriculum. Many schools also provide “specialists” in subjects such as art, dance, music, foreign language, and science. This allows children to further explore their interests and develop their sense of self.

Family Environment

Montessori classes generally have a 3-year age range between children. Older children are mentors for the younger, creating a brother-sister environment. This teaches respect for your peers and encourages friendship. Montessori students have the same teacher, classroom, and classmates for three years. This supplies security and structure ensuring that children are comfortable in the learning environment.

Montessori education provides high quality learning as well a fun filled environment. When children enjoy their work, their ability to grow and reach the next level increases with each lesson. Parents seeking education for their children need look no further than a Montessori school.

October 7th, 2016

Posted In: About MKU

What Sets Us Apart? Everything!

This fall, the very first area Montessori Kids Universe opens right here in Sugar Land for preschoolers ages one through kindergarten. What sets this school apart? Everything!

article-picThis is a unique hybrid of an authentic Montessori way of teaching, enriched with Montessori Kids Universe’s proprietary, Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum called Da Vinci Kids. Here, your child will have the opportunity to develop into a joyful, confident learner who is prepared for success in school and life. Well trained and certified Montessori teachers act as guides, fostering the academic, cognitive, social and emotional development of your child.

The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. The curriculum is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the child through a self-guided curriculum. In this philosophy, children are believed “knowledge bearers,” so they are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas about everything they could meet or do during the day.

Montessori Kids Universe was founded by Nancy Poulos Boehm and Thomas J. Boehm. Nancy has founded, owned and operated 19 private schools. She is a strong champion of the Montessori philosophy with a desire to make a difference in a child’s life. Through her research she became intrigued by the Montessori pedagogy. “The outcomes observed in the children, compared with those in traditional child care programs, were astounding. Children were not only achieving academic advancements, they demonstrated a greater sense of peace, security and self confidence.”

Lifelong area educator and author of Teenagers 101: What a Top Teacher Wishes You Knew About Helping Your Kid Succeed, Rebecca Deurlein, is the Director at Montessori Kids Universe, Sgar Land. Rebecca says, “My son was a Montessori preschool kid and I believe it’s the strongest foundation we could have given him. Ages once through five are the foundational years for children – when they become who they are. Here at Montessori Kids Universe your child will learn skills and social graces that will stick with them for the rest of their life. I’m excited to be a part of the first school like this in Sugar Land!”

In addition to the Sugar Land location, Montessori Kids Universe is coming to many prestigious locations in the Greater Houston area… including The Woodlands, Katy, Memorial, The Galleria and Riverstone.

August 29th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorized