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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

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.

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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

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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 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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The Benefits of Independent Learning

If you have a child, chances are the word “independent” causes some concern. With all the trouble children can get into, leaving them alone can be a daunting idea. However, in the right circumstances and with a watchful eye and guiding hand, independence can be a blessing for your child.

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Standard classrooms involve a teacher in front of a group of children going over the curriculum assigned to them. Whether they like it or not, your child must understand the information in the way it is provided. Montessori classrooms, on the other hand, allow your child tons of ways they can approach the lessons. Instead of a single lesson taught to the class, children can safely roam through the learning materials provided in their classroom under the watchful eye of their teacher. This way they can benefit from having a say in their learning, and reap the benefits of their independence.

Independent learning:

Boosts Confidence – When children are encouraged to learn independently, they take greater pride in their work. Because it is their choice to learn and they are progressing, they will be more confident in their abilities to learn as well. Don’t be surprised if your child comes running to you to tell you what they learned today!

Enables Exploration & Elicits Interest in Learning – Children have vastly different interests from each other, and the only way for them to find a topic that resonates with them is through exploration. Montessori classrooms contain many different learning materials, which will allow your child to find something they like. Once they do, they will be motivated to continue learning and grasp the concepts better because they are interested in the subject.

Allows for Collaborative Learning – A huge part of Montessori classrooms is their emphasis on social learning. By encouraging children to communicate rather than sit quietly and listen, children can share their knowledge and learn from other students. This allows them to form greater connections with the information because they are hearing, seeing, and speaking it.

Children can be hard to control, but you’d be surprised how far a little independence goes when it comes to their education. Boosted confidence, an interest in learning, and developing social skills are all great benefits that will stick with your child as they progress through school. Independent learning is a great way to ensure your child receives the best opportunities to learn and helps keep their development as well-rounded as possible.

December 19th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Montessori and Children with Learning Disabilities

Is Montessori effective for children with learning disabilities?

Today’s classrooms are comprised of children who benefit from differentiated learning. Some children have learning disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, or dysphasia. Montessori schools can be quite beneficial for special needs students because they encourage them to work at their own pace.

Montessori_student

The Montessori Method promotes the belief that children learn best by doing. Montessori does not implement a one-size-fits-all curriculum, which aids students of different learning styles. The creator of the Montessori Method, Dr. Maria Montessori, worked with children with learning disabilities. In fact, the Montessori Method was initially inspired by students with special needs. It embraces the unique qualities within each child. Each student determines their own learning pace while staying motivated throughout the process.

With the Montessori Method, learning occurs through active pursuit of experiences. Students are encouraged to progress at their own speed. They begin a new activity once they are comfortable with what they have learned from the previous activity. They can work alone, with a partner, or within a group, remaining with a specific learning activity as long as they want and progressing onto the next one when ready.

Additionally, children receive an abundance of personal attention from instructors…an effective technique for individuals with learning disabilities. Instead of sitting at the front of the classroom, Montessori teachers move around the room observing and assessing each student while providing needed support.

Another positive outcome is that children with learning disabilities often discover that the multi-sensory, interactive setting created within the Montessori environment can be stimulating, resulting in the ideal venue for learning. In addition, many special needs children benefit from witnessing other children acting in what is perceived as normal and appropriate behavior.

Because the pace of learning is typically established by the children, they tend to stay motivated and feel better about school. Most special needs students also benefit from the increased personal attention, a trademark of Montessori schools.

So, is Montessori effective for children with special needs? We say…absolutely! Montessori is intended to help all children reach their potential at their own unique pace. The Montessori classroom is a community where children learn from each other and everyone contributes without feeling ahead or behind in relation to classmates.

December 6th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Implementing Montessori Practices at Home

girl_reading_home
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.

Stress Courtesy
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.

Encourage Concentration
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.

November 15th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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How to Get Young Children Back on Track After a Natural Disaster

Students Natural Disaster

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.

Restructure Routines

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:

National Association of School Psychologists

Red Cross Disaster Relief

Coping with Disaster | FEMA.gov

October 25th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, Montessori Education

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