Maria Montessori had a view that education should prepare children for all aspects of life. She believed that each child is unique and must be free to learn at his or her own pace. To support her theory further, Dr. Montessori designed several materials and techniques that are an integral part of the Montessori prepared environment. Each set of materials focuses on concepts that compliment the curriculum.
Visit the prepared classrooms of Montessori Kids Universe Sugarland and you will see several different sets of materials on low shelves. This is because Maria Montessori emphasized giving children ‘freedom within limits.” The materials are easily accessible and children are free to choose one according to their interest. Once the students are finished with their material, they are encouraged to put everything back on shelves before moving on to the next activity.
The greatest advantage of the Montessori materials is that they are “self-correcting,” which means that students will notice their errors and don’t need adult supervision to rectify their mistakes. This improves their problem solving skills and makes them more confident and content with their accomplishments.
Parents who are new to Montessori often find it hard to understand the importance of these materials. To help you out, here is a list of some of the most popular Montessori materials and how they are used in the prepared environment.
Montessori doesn’t teach the alphabet in the traditional way. Instead of A, B, C, the children are taught the phonetic sounds of these letters. Once they are familiar with the sounds, they are transitioned to the moveable alphabet that allows them to recognize the letters they are used to hearing. The main purpose of the moveable alphabet is not to teach children how to read, but to prepare them for writing.
The Golden Bead material is included in the mathematical curriculum and introduces the children to the decimal system. Initially, children around the age of four use the golden beads as an introduction to counting. As the child progresses, the same set of material allows them to perform sums of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
The Pink Tower may look like an ordinary set of blocks to any person who is not familiar with the Montessori curriculum. However, it is one of the most recognized Montessori materials and teaches children a variety of skills including coordination and dimension. Most importantly, the tower is self-correcting since the child is immediately able to grasp his or her mistakes when the tower is completely built.
Similar to the Pink Tower, the Brown Stairs is another sensorial material that teaches children the different dimensions. As the name suggests, the children use the blocks to build “stairs” starting from the broadest to the narrowest. This allows them to further enhance their learning of sizes and shape.
The World Map puzzle instills geography knowledge and skills. The cutouts of different continents teach children the name of seven continents as well as the names of their countries, their capital cities, and their demographic location on the globe.
An advanced mathematic material, the Checkerboard helps children learn multiplication. The checkerboard material contains colorful beads and a large painted board. However, unlike the traditional methods that force children to memorize the multiplications table, the Checkerboard teaches abstract mathematical skills that allow them to calculate large numbers without counting.
As discussed in previous blogs, Montessori emphasizes practical life skills that help children in their daily routine and make them more independent and resilient in the future. The practical life materials are a norm in Montessori classrooms and include the basics such as broom, dustpan, mop, and duster. Each item is child-sized so the children can conveniently access the items without asking for adult’s assistance. Children are also assigned duties during the school hours such as cleaning the shelves, watering the plants, and giving food to the class pet. This makes the children more responsible and instills them with a sense of pride for their contribution.
Montessori materials, while seemingly simple, can be used in a complex manner and through every stage of a preschooler’s development. More importantly, the materials develop a love of learning, advanced critical thinking skills, and the ability to problem-solve, even at this young age.
manager December 7th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Tags: child development, children, education, learning, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, school, school age kids, Small Children, sugar land, The Montessori Method, toddlers
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.
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.
Admn December 6th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
A few years ago while scouring for a Montessori for my son, I had the chance to visit several primary classrooms. Apart from the well-organized and attractive classroom environment, I was impressed with the different sets of materials that were being used effortlessly by the children. Another feature that appealed to me was the use of work mats. Although there were quite a few child-sized tables and chairs in the classroom, many children were utilizing the small mats for their individual activities.
At that time, I thought they were given to the children to minimize mess and make cleanup easy. However, I was wrong and cleaning had nothing to do with it. In fact, the lightweight work mats hold significant importance in the Montessori prepared environment.
The Montessori work mat is used to reinforce the primary principle of the Montessori prepared environment – freedom within limits. The mat defines a child’s personal space while other students are taught to respect the classmate’s work and privacy. The mat is considered a child’s sacred space and no one can interrupt the child unless they are willing to interact. Other children make sure to walk around the mat carefully and only join a classmate when given permission.
Another advantage of a Montessori mat is that the children can come back to their activity if they have to leave their work for any reason. For example, a child takes a bathroom break or has snack time. They can leave their belongings on the mat and return to find their work in the same place, undisturbed.
Each activity in a Montessori classroom starts with the mat. Children are trained to first unroll a mat on their desired space after which they can select an activity. Once they have completed their activity, each child rolls back his or her mat, being careful about keeping the edges even, and puts it along with the others in a basket. This not only teaches children order but also improves their practical life skills to help children become more independent and adaptable to society.
At Montessori Kids Sugarland, the work mats are the foundation of everything the children will learn. Visit us and see how the mats are integrated in every activity to create the perfect work space for each child.
manager November 16th, 2017
Hurricanes, like the recent life-threatening Harvey and Irma, can cause tremendous turmoil in people’s lives. It can take months or even a year or more for family members, especially children, to feel that life is back to normal.
The psychological bearing of a storm differs between people based on factors such as age, prior experiences with natural disasters, and the amount of stress that already exists prior to the storm. The effects of natural disasters on children can vary based on the extent of the disaster, maturity, age, and personality. They can also differ based on the way the parents handle the disaster and work toward restoring normal life for the family. It’s important for parents to talk with children and respond to their needs to facilitate coping and recovery mechanisms.
Read on for ways to restore order and calm to your children’s lives in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Talk it Out
Talk with your children about what they were feeling during the storm. It’s common for children to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety following a disaster. They may even have difficulty focusing in school. Talking through a crisis can help reconnect with your children and can give them a positive means of expressing their fears. Furthermore, it enables parents to identify children who may need additional help dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster so they can seek assistance from professionals or school administrators.
The most important thing you can do for your children is get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Routines instill a sense of safety in children and ensure that everything is okay. Everyone, even adults, draws strength and refuge from a structured daily routine, so it’s important to start practicing bed time, dinner time, going to church, etc., even if you are staying in a hotel or with extended family. Children respond to these rituals by feeling safe and secure, regardless of the stressful changes taking place around them
Help is Available
Keep in mind that as a parent, you can’t be expected to guess how your child is feeling. It’s best just to ask them. If children assert that they are fine and seem to be functioning well, take it at face value. However, if you or your children need additional help coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, you may want to consider the following resources:
Admn October 25th, 2017
A Montessori classroom is a child’s second home. In fact, it serves as the child’s first step into the new world. As the child slowly makes this transition, it is essential that he is provided with an environment that not only makes the shift easy but also facilitates learning to the maximum.
According to the Montessori Method, a Montessori classroom should be planned and equipped in such a way that children adapt easily to the environment without compromising their learning process.We are all familiar with the setting of the traditional classroom where young students are provided adult-sized furniture while the shelves and cupboards are placed so high that the child is always in need of an adult’s assistance. Additionally, in a traditional classroom, children are usually confined to their desks while the teacher dictates the same lesson to the whole class.
However, Maria Montessori was contrary to the traditional learning environment and believed that, “The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” Her desire was to provide the children with a learning space where they had the freedom to explore, learn, and experience at their own pace and desire. This led her to create the Montessori Method which focuses on shaping the child as a whole being while making the learning process pleasant by equipping the classrooms with a variety of different materials.
The focus of the Montessori prepared environment remains on the six basic principles – Freedom, Structure and Order, Beauty, Nature and Reality, Social Environment, and Intellectual Environment. Here is a brief description about each of the principles and why they hold importance in the child’s learning and developmental process.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
The prime principle of the Montessori prepared environment is freedom. Just imagine how you would feel if you had to take assistance for the smallest task or were limited to the same task daily without any challenges. Our children are the same way. They have the potential that we, as parents, oftentimes ignore.
The Montessori Method is based on the belief that children who are given freedom can learn with their own natural instinct. The prepared environment of the classroom allows children to choose the activity according to their own preference and pace while enhancing social interaction amongst peers.
Structure and Order
Parents of preschoolers will agree that a temper tantrum can be expected whenever their child’s routine is disrupted. This is because children between the ages of one and five pass through a sensitive stage. Montessori believed that during this phase, children should experience order, consistency, and familiarity in their environment. Since children of this age have limited verbal skills, any disorientation can create chaos which can be avoided by having a consistent schedule and ground rules.
The Montessori method meets the child’s need for order by providing a space that is organized and structured according to their needs. Materials are in the same place every day while lessons and activities are conducted at the same time. The school day ends with children placing all the materials and their completed work in the given space. This sense of order enhances children’s understanding of the world and allows them to organize their time and space efficiently.
Visit the MKU classroom and at first glance you will notice how well-organized the environment is. Everything is beautifully displayed while the classrooms are neat, uncluttered, and orderly. Maria Montessori emphasized the aesthetic appeal of the Montessori classroom and always encouraged teachers to decorate classrooms in such a way that learners come eagerly to learn and work. The environment should reflect peace and tranquility while the arrangement should always be well-maintained.
Nature and Reality
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that 60 minutes of unstructured free play daily is essential for the child’s physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, studies show that children are spending less time outdoors than they were 20 years ago. However, Dr. Montessori agreed with the benefits of outside play and always emphasized that educators should take children outside as much as possible. Children don’t like to sit inside, and keeping them confined in one room can make them cranky and sluggish. Giving them outside time daily enhances their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
In Montessori classrooms, children are grouped with different ages. This structure allows children to share and work cooperatively while enhancing empathy and respect towards each other. Multi-aged classrooms allow older children to develop leadership qualities and younger ones to learn to return the favor in the coming years by being in the same spot as the elders.
The last but the most important principle is the Intellectual environment. The Montessori Method claims that children develop a love of lifelong learning when they take responsibility for themselves and their education. The intellectual environment moves students from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. Each Montessori material can be used in multiple ways to enhance learning, whether it be through language, sensorial, life skills, math, culture, or art.
When all the principles of the Montessori prepared environment are combined, the child develops independence, focus, adaptability, self-confidence, self-discipline, and patience. The freedom to fully learn not only helps the child succeed in academic endeavors but also in practical, everyday life.
manager October 24th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Tags: academic, child development, children, education, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, school, school age kids, sugar land, toddlers
The Internet is home to boundless amounts of information. With just a few seconds of your time and a Google search, you can have answers to nearly any question you can ask. For children, the number of questions is even more sizable, making the possibilities for learning even more plentiful.
While the Montessori hands-on approach has been proven to be effective for children’s development, it’s not always possible to replicate the same ideas at home. Materials can be expensive and setting up an environment like a Montessori classroom can be difficult. Fortunately, the Internet can act as a learning aid to children that, in combination with hands-on learning, can lead to endless exploration.
The Internet and Montessori Classrooms
Although the Internet is a great aid for continuing learning at home, it does not have a place in many Montessori classrooms. Montessori classrooms focus on concrete interaction with objects and learning materials. Teachers encourage hands-on learning and deriving meaning from physical objects which is not possible with the Internet. This allows the content to appeal to the senses, forming more meaningful connections for the child and leading to a greater understanding.
Why the Internet is a Useful Learning Tool for Children
How to Facilitate Learning at Home with the Internet
While a hands-on focus to learning is important to a child’s development, it can be magnified when supplemented with the boundless information hosted online. The Internet allows for exposure to tons of topics and teaches valuable skills that your children will use for the rest of their lives. Taking advantage of the Internet will allow you to set the best foundation possible, one that will inspire an interest in learning for years to come.
Admn October 5th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Most of us have a fixed mindset of a teacher’s role in a classroom. She stands in front of the room and dictates material while the children listen intently. The students, regardless of their pace and interest, are required to follow the lessons according to the teacher’s academic plan.
Although this method of learning has been practiced effectively for centuries, Dr. Maria Montessori had a different theory. She believed that the teacher, student, and the environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher with activities and materials according to the child’s learning abilities and interest. The students make use of the environment and develop various skills while taking guidance and support from the teachers when needed.
Her belief is that the focus should remain on the children’s learning and not on the teachers’ teaching. This is why Montessori teachers are not the center of attention in the classroom. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to spot the teacher in a Montessori classroom as she often steps back,allowing the children to learn from their own discoveries and draw conclusions. Rather than giving children answers to the many questions they ask in one day, the Montessori teacher asks them how they would solve the problem while actively engaging children in the learning process and enhancing critical thinking skills.
A prepared environment
Montessori teachers provide activities based on six areas of learning: practical life activities, sensorial activities, numeracy, literacy, understanding of the world, and creative abilities. The children are given the freedom within limits to choose the activity according to their interests and abilities.They are allowed to spend as much time as they need on one activity, and while the Montessori teacher will not interfere in their working, she will be readily available to guide them as needed. By following this approach, children of Montessori become more confident about their ability to understand what they are learning. This also limits the necessity of coercion, which often increases feelings of stress and inferiority in children.
A Model, Mentor, and a Guide
In a traditional classroom, the teachers present the lesson to a large group of students who are expected to listen and take in all the information provided. However, in a Montessori environment, the teachers work with only one or two students at a time while the learning material is provided on the basis of children’s interest.
If a child is not interested or making an incorrect association, the Montessori teacher does not force the child to learn. Instead, she gives the child time to clear the air and continues the topic another day. The Montessori system believes that pushing a child to learn will only make them frustrated while allowing them to learn at their own pace with patience will empower them to learn more.
The most important role of a Montessori teacher is of an observer. The Montessori teacher makes careful observations of each student while they work. The teacher does not interfere or disrupt the students while they work, nor do they give out punishment or rewards.This allows the teacher to understand when a child has mastered a specific skill or concept, thus moving them on to an advanced curriculum. Progress notes are shared frequently with parents and caregivers.
We at Montessori Kids Sugarland believe that children are full of curiosity. By giving them an environment to learn with freedom, they can grow up to be intelligent, independent, responsible, and contributing members of society.
As Maria Montessori would say,
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say: The children are now working as if I did not exist.”
manager October 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Educators and parents alike know how crucial language and communication skills are to a child’s development. Because parents are a child’s first teacher, it’s important for them to comprehend language development in toddlers as it expands their ability to work with their child to enhance communication skills.
Communication refers to both speech and language. Speech is the actual sound of spoken language. Language denotes words and symbols—written, spoken, and body language—used to communicate meaning. Mastering these skills empowers children to socialize and learn from their daily surroundings, as well as through classroom instruction.
Development of early language and communication skills is vital for student success both in school and later in life. This includes the ability to understand others and appropriately express oneself using words, gestures, and facial expressions. Children who master age-appropriate language and communication skills tend to have a greater desire to learn when they arrive at school and are more likely to have higher levels of achievement in both school and beyond.
Children’s brains are developing quickly during their first years, so it is important for them to have meaningful interactions with the adults in their lives. Parents, along with our teachers at Montessori Kids Universe, have ample opportunity to provide toddlers with exchanges that enhance growth and development, specifically language and communication skills.
While every child does not develop at the same pace, there are practices that parents can incorporate into their child’s daily schedule to develop speech and language skills.
• Elicit regular conversations with your child throughout the day.
• Use advanced grammar and vocabulary.
• Provide children with descriptions of objects, emotions, activities, and events.
• Read, read, read! Read with your child several times each day. Point to pictures and identify images.
• Use props. Introduce objects that spark interest during story time.
• Use dramatic gestures with words to emphasize meaning.
• Children love music. Be sure to engage in musical activities every day.
These daily interactions benefit children from numerous language and cultural backgrounds, including dual language learners. By implementing these activities, parents and early childhood educators can team up to provide children the extensive experience and opportunities needed to enhance their language and communication skills.
To help your children reach their full potential, Montessori Kids Universe embeds this philosophy within its curriculum through social interaction with other children, development of language and practical life skills, and music and movement activities.
Admn August 23rd, 2017
Babies turn into toddlers very quickly. And parents are surprised (and of course, happy) by how quickly the stages of night-waking, dealing with colic, and constant nursing have passed.
But they now have a new set of challenges to face as toddlers can be a handful. Raising toddlers and preschoolers is not for the faint of heart and even though elder parents might tell you that the phase goes by quickly, there will be moments when you will feel like losing your mind.
So how can you keep your sanity while your cute and adorable 3-year-old is throwing a fit, kicking and screaming at you for not cutting the cheese in the way he wanted? The good news is that with (a lot of) patience, stamina, creativity, determination, and sense of humor, you can sail past these days and actually enjoy the tantrums thrown by your “heart-melting” toddler. Here are some tips:
Kids have a lot of energy that needs to be released, and they need outside play time every day to do this. On rainy days or when the weather is too cold to go outside, set up some constructive play indoors where they can take part in physical activity. Obstacle courses, forts, Hide & Seek, and songs with accompanying movements will all help to quell temper tantrums by channeling energy into something positive.
Keep reminding yourself that “all messes can be cleaned up.” Resist the urge to have a meltdown when you see your new lipstick being used as crayon or mounds of toilet paper trailed on the bathroom floor. While nothing can be done about ruined items, every action can be turned into a learning opportunity. Make a game of cleaning up and sing the song “Clean Up,” to make doing so part of the game, not a punishment.
And don’t forget to take a picture of your children when you catch them in mischief – after some years you all will share a good laugh over it.
The Montessori method encourages parents to treat children as small adults. As such, you should be able to have knickknacks and decorative items around your home that you teach your children to handle carefully or not at all. Montessori kids learn that “this is china and will break, so we must carry it with two hands and be very careful.” They also learn that there are items precious to mom or dad that they shouldn’t touch without permission. While childproofing to remove any hazards is important, children can and should be taught how to handle various common household items.
Parenting can be lonely. But there are many parents out there who are looking for friends to share their days with. Join a Mom’s or Dad’s group or go out with friends who have kids the same age as yours. A little time out in a different atmosphere will be refreshing and fun for all of you.
Respect the pace at which they are developing and don’t push them into reaching a certain milestone that they are not yet ready to reach. The key is to encourage discovery with a positive attitude but to recognize when a child is becoming frustrated and has reached his or her limit. At that point, step in and take a break. You can always revisit that task another time.
This goes for the both of you. Just like your children are different from others, you are also not like the other moms. Just because one mom looks like she has her kids under control on social media doesn’t mean you are a failure (plus, she might not have it all under control).
The same goes for children. Children have distinctive interests, skills, and developmental speed. Comparing them with other children will put stress on them and lower their self-esteem. It is likely that the comparison might lead them to shy away from social situations and make them reluctant to take part in activities.
Most parents are so focused on their children that they hardly take time for themselves and their spouse. Children are your first priority but you still need to pamper yourself and spend adult time with your better half. Hire a babysitter at least once a week or, if finances are an issue, trade services with another parent. It doesn’t matter what you do with your free time; what matters is that you have it.
You might feel like you are fighting a never-ending battle but remember, the “little days” will go by quickly. Keep reminding yourself of this mantra and embrace each day with your toddler.
manager August 16th, 2017
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.
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.
manager May 31st, 2017