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
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
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
You are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the playground when suddenly you hear a loud wail. Imagining it is your toddler, you rush to the area where children are playing and are horrified to find your child’s playmate sporting a teeth-imprinted arm while the mother of the victim gives you (and your kid) cold stares.
As much as you want to sink into the ground with embarrassment, you remain (somewhat) calm, apologize, and remove your child from the scene.
Surprisingly, biting and hitting are normal parts of childhood development. By the time children are in preschool, most of them have bitten or hit at least once and have also been on the receiving end of an unfriendly blow.
Why Children Bite And Hit?
Children become aggressive for a number of reasons.
How To Stop Biting and Hitting?
In all instances, don’t throw a tantrum or spank children when they behave negatively. Using the retaliation protocol can teach children that violence causes violence. But of course, don’t leave the issue as it is – children should know that their behavior is wrong and should not be repeated.
Even with the best prevention methods, incidents will happen until children grow out of the phase, which most children do after a certain age. So stay firm and keep teaching children empathy. Give your kids the tools to deal with conflict constructively.
manager April 17th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Tags: 2 year olds, behavior, biting, child development, children, education, family time, hitting, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Method, Older Children, parenting, pre-school, school, school age kids, Small Children, sugar land, toddlers
The ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand starts at birth. These skills are considered the key to success in school and practical life. Researchers also agree that the time frame from birth to the age of 8 years is crucial for children’s development.
Although children learn primarily from their homes, preschool teachers also play an important role in laying the foundation for early literacy development. By exposing children to expanding vocabulary, knowledge, and experiences, the teachers at Montessori Kids Universe use a variety of fun and engaging strategies to develop literacy in the classroom.
Here are some literacy activities that are favorites in our classroom:
Reading aloud is one of the most important activities teachers and parents can do with children. In classrooms at Montessori Kids Universe, children gather in a circle while the teacher reads from a book holding it up so children can see and discuss the illustrations. The teachers also ask the children to make future predictions which enhances their understanding about how stories are structured.
Reading aloud builds many important foundation skills including introduction to new vocabulary, provides children with a model of fluent reader, and helps children gain an interest in what reading for pleasure is all about.
Nursery rhymes provide great opportunities for children to learn early language and vocabulary skills. The repetition of rhymes teaches children how phonics work and sharpens their memory capabilities. According to experts, children who know eight nursery rhymes by heart at the age of four are usually amongst the best readers and spellers by the time they reach grade 3.
Most importantly, rhymes are fun and considered a great group activity where even the shyest students become confident as they take part in singing, dancing, and acting with their fellow classmates.
Whether the stories are read from a book or told from the mind, children love to hear them. Good stories not only teach children new vocabulary but also enhances their emotions. Done correctly, this time should be interactive and allow children to take part by asking questions.
Usually, children talk more than they listen. However, by encouraging them to participate in storytelling sessions, they develop the habit of listening and become better listeners in the future.
Preschoolers at Montessori Kids Universe are surrounded by printed words. They are everywhere around the classroom – bulletin boards, cubicles, furniture, and materials are all labeled so children can learn to correspond spoken words to written ones.
Alphabet and numbers
Learning letters and numbers is crucial to the foundation of education for preschoolers. Through various activities and resources, children are taught to recognize and distinguish letters and numbers. In fact, every material found in the Montessori classroom is designed to be used in multiple ways over the months or years students spend in the classroom. Children don’t tire of the materials because the possibilities for learning are endless.
To see Montessori learning in action, check us out and schedule a tour at www. MontessoriKidsSugarLand.com.
manager January 16th, 2017
Posted In: About MKU
A New Year has started and most of us have resolved to make ourselves better in one way or other in the year 2017. Although most New Years resolutions focus primarily on developing healthy habits, we at Montessori Kids Universe have another one for our parents – to foster reading habits in young children that encourage them to be better readers.
Every day you and I and millions of parents around the world feed and care for their children so they grow into happy and healthy individuals; however, we should also provide them with all the essentials that enhance their learning abilities.
Reading plays an important role in the growth and development of children. Studies have shown that children who are read to from an early age are likely to do better when transferred to formal education. Through stories, children are exposed to a wide variety of words which further enhance their language skills. Additionally, reading is a great form of entertainment and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.
Sadly, in a world full of television, video games, and mobile devices – getting children to read and taking the time out to read TO them is becoming a challenge on its own. However, if reading skills are established at an early age – children grow up to be better learners, listeners, and speakers.
So, this New Year, let’s all join hands and make a resolution that we will encourage better reading habits in our children. To help you out, here are some tips that you can apply on a regular basis.
Create a habit of reading to children every day. Whether it’s at night before sleeping or after school – set aside at least 20 minutes when you put everything aside and read different books together. By following a set schedule, children will understand that reading is an important activity and will look forward to spending more time with you.
FILL CHILDREN’S ROOMs WITH BOOOKS!
Purchase plenty of books that are in accordance with your child’s age group and keep them at their reaching level. For budget-friendly options, you can also visit Book Fairs and thrift shops. The more variety children have, the more they will be encouraged to read or ask you to read to them.
BE A ROLE MODEL!
Children do what they see. Instead of fiddling around all day with your smartphone, let them see you reading. Show them how much you enjoy reading books and magazines to encourage them as well.
GET A LIBRARY CARD!
Visits to libraries are always fun. Take children to the nearest library and allow them to find books that they would like to read. Let them choose in order to build their interest level and confidence as well.
Reading should not be limited to books only. Make it fun by reading signs on shops when you are travelling or on everyday items such as cereal and milk boxes, toothpaste, and juice bottles.
Try these tips with your young ones and start 2017 in the right way – by giving children the gift of reading which they can cherish for a lifetime.
manager January 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Christmas is just a few weeks away and even if you have completed your holiday shopping in advance – there are some people you are likely to have accidentally overlooked. As parents we know that it’s far easier – and faster – to keep the kids at home to complete the shopping list. Unfortunately, this may not be feasible and you have to make the dreaded trip to the mall with kids in tow.
To help you out, here are some tips that can make the shopping experience, despite the traffic and crowds, pleasant for both you and the little ones.
Before going out, prepare a shopping list so you know what to look for and where. Try to pre-plan your parking to be close to the section of the mall where you need to shop. Pack some snacks and lightweight books/puzzles ready in your bag for kids if they become cranky. It is easier to shop if your kids have something that entertains them and bringing along a favorite activity will go a long way in keeping your kids’ attention.
Just as you have rules for proper behavior at home, you should have rules for proper shopping behavior. Make these clear to your kids ahead of time so they know exactly what’s expected of them. Remember safety and make sure you tell your children that stores will be crowded and they are to stick next to you. You can also offer rewards for good behavior, such as a stop in their favorite store or a milkshake in their favorite flavor. Everyone needs incentives, and if it will cut your shopping time in half to promise a treat at the end, it’s well worth the reward.
No one likes to stand around feeling useless, even little kids. Give them a task according to their age. If they are young, ask them to hold on to the shopping list and track your progress. Or ask them to select between two shirts for grandpa and actually listen to their opinion. By making them feel useful and important, you are likely to limit any behavior issues. They will naturally want to help when they see you value their input. In addition, you are showing your respect for them as little people, and they appreciate that!
Are your kids acting up? Are they cranky? Maybe they are tired, hungry, thirsty, or just plain bored! Take a quick rest by having a snack or maybe even a nap for the little ones. Visiting Santa is also a great activity that kids look forward to when in the mall. Grab a bite to eat, get off your feet, and take a few minutes to rejuvenate. After a little break, everyone will be back in shape to finish off the shopping list.
Shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun by singing carols on the way to the mall or skipping from store to store. By keeping your kids happy and entertained, your shopping trip will go by in a breeze. Remember that learning can be fun and keeps little minds engaged, so get them to help you with the math of a purchase or aid you in finding the best price. Ask them to count how many people they see wearing red sweaters. Games can come out of the smallest moments, but they make a big impact when it comes to creating a pleasant shopping experience. They also make long memories that your kids will treasure when they get older.
With these tips in mind, your holiday shopping trip will be a fun experience for all and not an overwhelming hassle, like you expected. Give these tricks a try and happy shopping!
manager December 12th, 2016
Posted In: Uncategorized
Tags: child development, children, Christmas, christmas shopping, education, family time, learning, Montessori, parenting, pre-school, school, school age kids, shopping with kids, sugar land, toddlers
Doing chores is (and should) be a tradition in a family. Children learn responsibility by doing their chores and of course, by sharing chores with the family members.
Not sure where to start and which chores to give your little ones? Don’t worry! We’re here to help and make doing chores a positive experience for all.
By giving children responsibility, they feel needed and know that they are making a contribution to the family. If children learn to help in their younger years, they will work harder later in life. Even children as young as two years old can help around the house and are more able than you think they are. They can easily use the modern gadgets, so tasks at home are simple. However, they are not born knowing everything and just like you taught them how to walk and talk, you must teach them how to do tasks that are appropriate for their age group. Don’t insist on perfection but praise them as they struggle through each job that you have assigned them.
Make a Chore Chart
Create a list of jobs for every member of the family. Hang it in a place where everyone can see and follow. Rewards can also be given to children to motivate them to do their tasks on time.
2-3 Years old
4-5 years old
6-7 years old
8 years old and up
With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to creating a chore system for your household. We at Montessori kids Sugarland also believe that children should take care of their own belongings so we encourage them to clean up their class work and lunches. With this partnership. Children learn responsibility and feel that they are members of the larger community.
manager December 5th, 2016
Posted In: Uncategorized
For many children, saying goodbye to a parent or guardian brings tantrums, screams, wails, and tears. Young children are in a close relationship with their parents and are often hesitant about leaving them or seeing them go somewhere – even if they are just leaving the room for a minute.
However, it is perfectly normal for young children to feel anxious and worried when separating from their parents or important caregivers. And although it might be difficult for you to leave your clinging child, it is a normal part of growing up and fortunately for you, it can be relieved with patience and understanding of your child’s unique situation.
But before we look at ways to cope with separation anxiety, let’s learn more about what causes it.
When does Separation Anxiety occur?
Separation anxiety develops after children gain an understanding about your presence – usually around 8 months. Once they realize you are gone (even if you have just gone to the bathroom), they become unsettled and cry their hearts out until the parent or caregiver is back in the room.
The feelings of anxiety become stronger after the children’s first birthday. Children at this age become more independent and thus are more uncertain about their parent’s whereabouts.
Most cases of separation anxiety ease after the children turn 2. However, certain life-changing stresses can again trigger the feelings. These situations include starting school, having a new sibling, relocating, or dealing with an illness in the family.
How to survive separation anxiety?
There are several steps you as a parent can take to ease your children through this challenging phase.
As hard as it might be for you, do your best not to cave in. have confidence that the caregiver or the school that you have chosen for your children will handle any situation. And it’s likely that by the time you are back in your car, your child will be happily engrossed in other activities.
Remember, in most cases the phase passes during the preschool years. However, if you feel that your child’s separation anxiety persists even after the preschool years, consult your doctor or a child specialist.
manager November 28th, 2016
Posted In: Uncategorized