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
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
Your preschooler is busy spreading different colored paint on paper. Trying to be encouraging, you ask her, “What are you making?” and she shrugs. Until you mentioned it, she hadn’t given any thought to what she was making or how it will end up.
Little kids are masters of the moment. They love the way different colors turn up on paper and unlike you and me, they are least bothered about the finished product.
Art – whether it’s in the form of drawing, painting, theatres, or music is a natural activity that allows free play in children. The unstructured play and the freedom to manipulate different materials give children lots of opportunity for exploration and experimentation.
These artistic activities are not only fun but educational for children as well. Apart from increasing their chances of becoming the next Picasso, children can benefit from art in a number of ways, including:-
Fine motor skills –
Grasping pencils, making dots, mixing colors, cutting with scissors, rolling playdough, tearing paper, and controlling a glue stick – all these tasks require a lot of dexterity and coordination. Yet these activities are fun and children usually wish to do them again and again and that too without your encouragement – hence improving their motor skills over time.
Writing skills –
Scribbling is the precursor to writing. The random scribbling your child does on paper will able them to control the crayon better and with time, the doodles will turn into shapes and eventually alphabets.
Math skills –
Art helps the children learn and understand different mathematical concepts like sizes, shapes, counting, and making comparison.
When children create something, they like to show it to everyone. As they describe their artwork, their vocabulary also increases. You can also encourage their language skill by asking open-ended questions in return.
Problem solving skills –
Which color should I use? How to make the color darker, should I press harder on the crayon? How to stick the legs on the clay figure?
When children are given different materials to work with, they learn to solve their own problems and make a choice – which thus enhances their problem solving abilities and enables them to gain more confidence.
Outlet for emotions –
Art allows children to express their emotions in a safe way. They learn to control their emotions and recognize that they can express both – sad and happy feelings through a positive medium.
How to motivate creativity?
These were just some of the benefits your child can gain from art. Here are some tips on how you can inspire creativity in children.
Remember, children learn through trial and error. So as long as your child is playing in a safe environment, let them explore by themselves.
manager August 2nd, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Tags: academic, art, benefits of art, child development, children, education, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Education, Montessori Method, parenting, parenting tips, pre-school, sugar land
Fine motor skills involve using the smaller muscle of hands, finger, and thumb. Developing fine motor skills is essential for common activities such as writing, buttoning, using scissors, and zippering. These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of toys, materials, and even foods.
What skills do fine motor skills include?
Why are fine motor skills important?
Fine motor skills are important for performing everyday tasks. Without the ability to complete these daily activities, children’s self-esteem can suffer along with their academic performance. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in their life skills, such as dressing and feeding themselves.
How to encourage fine motor skill development
Children don’t need much prodding to seek new adventures but it takes time to master a new skill. With some encouragement, patience, and support from your side, children will be more confident about the tasks and eventually surprise you one day with their abilities.
So the next time you hear “Let me do it!” try to step back and let children try their hand at simple tasks like getting dressed or spreading jam on a toast. It will require some patience on your part, but it will be well worth the wait.
Squeeze the sponge:
Set up two separate bowls – one empty and the other filled with water. Let the child soak up the sponge with water and squeeze it out in the other bowl. The simple activity will strengthen the hands and forearms.
Make macaroni necklaces:
Stringing necklaces is a great way to improve children’s creativity and improve hand-eye coordination. To start, use a thick piece of string and large pieces of pasta. Over time, you can add different shaped dried pasta along with big, colorful beads to enhance children’s creative skills.
The idea of finger painting might sound a bit messy to you, but for children, it’s an important aspect of development. Finger painting allows children to improve fine motor skills by strengthening finger and hand muscles while encouraging precision and varied levels of pressure. Additionally, children learn more about colors, shapes, and patterns while showcasing their creativity.
If you are concerned about children marring furniture or walls during the art activity, set up an easel or a thick piece of paper in the yard, garage, or any other area that can be washed easily.
Don’t underestimate the power of the old-fashioned playdough. Manipulating playdough helps strengthen the muscles of children’s hands, improves creative skills, and develops hand-eye coordination. So let them squish, roll, and flatten it as much as you want to. But make sure you use a non-toxic form of playdough or better yet, extend the activity by making your own playdough. Recipes abound on the Internet and allow children to create their own colors, to boot!
Remember, the skills that children master today will help them gain a steady position once they advance towards formal learning in kindergarten and beyond. With some effort, children will gain one of the most important skills that will ultimately help them reach many more milestones in the future.
manager June 20th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
“I’ll do it myself!” If you’re a parent of a preschooler, you’ve likely heard this a thousand times.
Of course, it’s usually when you are running late that 4-year-old Cathy decides to put on her own socks and shoes. So you help her – but this time only!
Preschool experts say that children should be encouraged whenever they wish to exert their independence. Even though they may need plenty of parental help, preschoolers are typically able to do more than we expect from them.
So how can we as parents encourage their independence?
According to Diane Kinder, PhD and a professor at the University of Washington, “It takes more time in the beginning to teach independence, but in the long run, it benefits both parent and child.”
Here are some tips to encourage independence in young children:
As parents, we struggle when our children struggle. But have patience, take a step back, and watch from the sidelines so your children can learn new skills – regardless of the time it takes.
manager May 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Summer is just around the corner and we all know what this means – warm sunshine, outdoor activities, maybe a vacation, and best of all – freedom from SCHOOL! Undoubtedly, kids get up early to work hard at school approximately nine months a year, so they deserve a fun-filled break to recharge their batteries. They should be able to enjoy their summers, just as adults do.
But where do academics fit in? Should we press “pause” on all learning materials and expect children to just pick up where they left off when the new school year starts in the fall? Is summer vacation all about sleeping until late morning, watching TV, playing video games, and hanging with friends?
According to education experts, children are in constant learning mode when they are in school. But as soon as the final bell rings, their focus changes and the academic skills they acquired throughout the year simply slip into the background. This results in an academic loss that hurts them when they return to school. To make matters worse, teachers must then spend countless days reviewing previously learned material, time that could be better spent learning new concepts.
This is why it is important for parents to stay involved with children during summer holidays and set aside a specific time each day when they can review and enforce what they learned throughout the school year. Summer months are also a great opportunity for students to strengthen the areas in which they are weak.
The same goes for preschoolers. Since they are just developing various social, mental, and emotional skills, the summer months are a great time to polish and strengthen these skills so children don’t forget their newly acquired abilities.
Learning is a lifelong process and should not be pushed aside for TV shows, video games, and long slumbers. The beauty of the summer months is that they give children a chance to have fun while learning.
The summer holidays are a great time to catch up on reading material with children. Plan to visit the library and allow children to select books of interest. Consider participating in a library reading program that rewards children for reading.
At home, set a designated reading hour every day where each family member can enjoy a quite reading time.
You can also put together a summer reading list for each member of the family and celebrate the completion of each book with rewards.
Provide children with space and materials that encourage creativity and imagination. This can be anything from paper and art supplies to Legos and building blocks and even sculpting materials for older children.
Art plays a vital role in children’s development and enhances fine motor skills, problem-solving capabilities, concentration, and even confidence. So give children different art supplies and watch their imagination unfold.
Children not only suffer from lack of academic activities but they also become couch potatoes due to lack of participation in scheduled physical activities. Encourage them to stay active by enrolling them in a team sport, going swimming, taking walks together, and bicycling in the park.
Remember playing outdoors for several hours a day leads to improved concentration and better academic performance.
Use the summer holidays as an opportunity to visit all your city has to offer such as the museum, zoo, and the science center. If you are planning a vacation out of the city or state, make a point to tour historical landmarks and teach your kids what makes each area so special.
Learning can also happen in your own backyard or in pots on your balcony. Select some seeds and plant a vegetable garden. Take turns watering them daily. Extend the activity by having children decorate or paint the pots to personalize them.
Apart from all the above-mentioned activities, don’t forget to enjoy your fair share of carnival rides, movies, and lazy pool days. A balance of learning and fun will be the perfect combination for the perfect summer.
manager March 27th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
The Montessori Method is a method of education that emphasizes the importance of keeping children at the center of activities and lessons. It is a set of beliefs that seeks to allow children to be themselves and act as children tend to behave. More specifically, the Montessori Method encourages the eagerness of children to explore their world and actively engage with their environment and their peers. This is much different from the more traditional method of schooling, which tends to place children in rigid classrooms that demand their attention and obedience. This can have a poor effect on children and actually work to reduce their interest in learning and observation.
As a highly effective educational method, the Montessori Method makes use of three separate elements. The child, the environment, and the teacher create what is sometimes known as a learning triangle. Every point is important for the overall success of the program. The environment, usually carefully prepared and organized by the teacher, is meant to stimulate interest and encourage children to engage. The teacher works to keep order while also guiding children through periods of self-teaching as well as more traditional instruction. The child, of course, is the center of the entire process and the most important point. All other points on the triangle are created to foster their intellect and ability.
Another important aspect of the Montessori Method is the use of groups of multi-age children. This is beneficial to both the younger and older children. Older children, for example, can help the younger children learn new concepts or ideas. Younger children provide older children with a means to reinforce their previous learning by helping someone new to the concept. In this way, a beneficial environment for all involved is created.
Allowing children to interact with their environment, their peers, and their teachers can have incredible effects upon their desire and ability to learn. Montessori style learning is one that can have a surprising amount of success, and help bring children to new academic heights and pursuits.
Admn January 25th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education