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The Internet as a Learning Tool

internet_learning

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

  • Unlimited Learning Possibilities – Given the depth of the Internet, there are unlimited topics, subjects, and content for children to read and gain an interest in while learning.
  • Teaches Problem Solving & Computer Skills – Computers become more and more important to education every day, and working with computers can lead to better computer and problem-solving abilities because the Internet encourages abstract thought, a staple in problem solving.
  • Boosts Confidence – When children browse the Internet, they are exploring on their own (with supervision, of course). This leads to confidence boosts because they are learning independently.
  • Refines Coordination – The act of moving a mouse with your hand and seeing it move on a screen helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

How to Facilitate Learning at Home with the Internet

  • Treat It as an Extension of Physical Materials – The Internet allows for access to educational material of all grade levels without the need to replace old learning materials. Use educational software to further lessons from the curriculum.
  • Encourage Exploration of Interests – Expose your child to a wide array of topics and if they show interest in some, allow them to research the topics further themselves.
  • Work with your Child to Develop Cooperative Skills – Browsing with your child helps to build social and problem-solving skills, as well as form more meaningful connections with the information.

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.

October 5th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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The role of the Montessori teacher

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.

Observe students

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 3rd, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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Easy Tips to Promote Language Development in Toddlers

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.

Montessori Kids Sugarland

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.

Sources:
https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/language_development/#.WXDJ3IjyuUk

http://mtbt.fpg.unc.edu/more-baby-talk/10-ways-promote-language-and-communication-skills-infants-and-toddlers

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6219/42027fbae548dd516980766203a157fb1427.pdf

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/communication-disorders/difference-between-speech-impairment-and-language-disorder

August 23rd, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, Montessori Education, Tips

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Staying sane during the toddler years

messy toddlers

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:

  1. Let children burn energy.

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.

  1. Remind yourself of what’s really important.

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.

  1. Teach children to respect “nice things.”

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.

  1. Arrange playdates.

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.

  1. Don’t force them into milestones they are not ready for.

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.

  1. Don’t compare.

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.

  1. Take time out for yourself.

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.

Happy parenting!

August 16th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips

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Why Open Houses Are Worth Your Time

Open House

 

For many parents, choosing the right preschool for their child is as stressful as selecting the right college for a teen. There are so many schools out there with varying curriculum that it’s no surprise parents become overwhelmed.

Luckily, it’s a norm for most schools to hold open houses to give parents a glimpse of what to expect. Not just for new parents, these events are beneficial for parents whose children are already attending the particular school. By taking part in such events, you can see the children’s progress, meet up with teachers, and get a good look at the classrooms.

And of course, open houses are a great way to communicate with other parents. Regular school days are usually filled with the hustle and bustle of picking up and dropping off, but open houses provide a great opportunity to visit with fellow parents and share experiences.

To make the most of these events, follow these suggestions:

Go early: Try to reach the venue early so you have sufficient time to chat with other parents, teachers, and the leadership of the school. Sometimes, open houses follow a program and you don’t want to miss important introductions and information.

Talk to the teachers: Although these nights are not about individual children, they are perfect for getting to know the teachers, their expectations, and their personalities. This helps make future conversations more productive and pleasant.

Check out the curricula: The curriculum is a guide to what the children will be learning during the school year. Since different preschools follow different teaching philosophies, it may be a good idea to find out about them in advance.

Voice your concerns: Although an open house will not give you a chance to discuss specific issues your child is facing, you can still voice your concerns during the event. For example, if your child is complaining about not getting enough time to eat lunch, open house is the perfect place to get clarification on the duration of lunch time.

Volunteer: Most schools appreciate parent volunteers during trips, events, and with everyday classroom resources. As a parent, you might have your hands full, but remember, school is more than a pick-up, drop-off point. It’s a place where children spend most of their childhood. Seeing you there and helping out will go a long way in giving children a more meaningful school experience.

Always Remember:

An open house is neither the place nor a setting to discuss your child’s unique needs. If your child is attending the specific school and you have a concern about his development or behavior – schedule a meeting in the future where you and the teacher can talk about the problems at hand.

May 31st, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips

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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

How to stimulate even the youngest infant

infant-stimulation

Many of us have heard the term infant stimulation but don’t know what it is or why it is important.

Infant stimulation is using specific activities to arouse babies’ senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. This helps in improving their attention span, curiosity, and memory which enables them to reach developmental milestones faster.

Recent research on children’s brain development has shown that infants’ environments have a dramatic effect on their growth. This impacts how well they think and learn as both children and adults.

There is no need for special training or products to stimulate the young mind. As parents and caregivers, we have several simple, free opportunities throughout the day to satisfy children’s natural desire to learn.

Make eye contact. Infants start recognizing faces much earlier than you think. You can make the most of the time when their eyes are open by maintaining eye contact with them. Talk to children while changing diapers and make funny faces. Remember, every time they stare at you they are building their recognition memory.

Interact with them. Instead of leaving children with their stuffed toys in the crib, make stuffed animals come to life. How? By giving them a voice and moving them around. This will enhance their imagination and encourage their creativity.

Play peek-a-boo. Lightly cover the baby’s face with a blanket and talk to her, so she can hear even when her eyes are closed. Pull the blanket away with a “peek-a-boo!” This will not only bring a few giggles but will also teach her that Mom may disappear for a while but she always comes back.

Grab a tissue. Most young babies love pulling out tissue from the box. It may be a few cents’ loss for you but tissues are one of the best sensory play items. Young children can crumple them, tear them, or smooth them out. The key is to allow them to explore their environment safely.

Read books. No one can disagree with the importance of reading. Young infants might not be able to follow the story but they will definitely enjoy seeing the colorful pictures and the sound of your voice. Plus, reading is a great way to connect with children and spend some one-on-one time with them.

Point out differences. Choose two pictures that are similar but have a minor difference and display them. Even the youngest infant will go back and forth between the pictures trying to distinguish the similarities and differences. Simple games like this one engage the mind and babies’ natural curiosity.

Let them smell YOU. Avoid exposing young children to artificially scented perfumes and deodorants. Instead, let them get used to your unique smell.  Hold them, cuddle them, and give them lots of kisses in order to enhance their oxytocin, aka the ‘love’ hormone.

Include them. Whether you are going somewhere or trying a new food, engage children by telling them everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. You may not realize it, but this gives children endless vocabulary-building opportunities.

Always remember, stimulation works best when babies are alert and giving you their complete attention. If you find your infant losing interest or acting tired, it’s time for less stimulation and a rest.

By applying these simple tips regularly, your baby will not only grow intellectually but will also grow more in love with you. Nothing can replace quality time together, so make the most of your time with your infants.

 

May 19th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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The Hands-On Approach to Learning

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

The Traditional Approach

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

The Montessori Approach

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

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

Hands-on Materials

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

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

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

April 20th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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

What’s your child’s learning style?

Learning_Styles

 

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

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

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

Learning Styles Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a fourth type of learner?

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

Discover your child’s learning style.

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

 

March 10th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education

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