It’s no question that gaining and keeping a child’s attention can be difficult. There are many ways teachers attempt to engage students, however not all students learn the same way or share interests. Fortunately, in classrooms like those influenced by the Montessori method, a hands-on approach is used alongside the curriculum. This allows for a well-rounded and all-inclusive education.
Hands-on learning is the process of relating a lesson to something physical the child can see, feel, or experience. This can include inserting shapes in their respective slots, sorting colored beads, or making objects out of Play-Doh.
The benefits of hands-on learning are numerous, including:
Helping to Build Meaning and Form a Connection with Lessons
Children learn best when connections are made with their brain through their senses, a fact that has heavily influenced Montessori classrooms’ approach to education. This means listening to a lesson only uses hearing, limiting the possible connections with the content. A lack of a real-world connection can make information harder to understand, memorize, and use. However, if they are encouraged to make pig noises or create a Play-Doh pig instead of just repeating the name, they are forming more connections and assigning further meaning to the lesson.
Contributing to Development of Fine Motor Skills
When children use their hands and fingers, they are developing fine motor skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks. This is important because children learn by trying and doing. As they refine these skills, they become more confident in their abilities, leading to them sharing what they know with parents and classmates alike. This reinforces the concepts and leads to well-rounded development for the students, and is one of the primary benefits of hands-on learning.
Encouraging Unconventional Learners
Nothing is more frustrating to children and students alike than feeling left behind in class. This often is due to a lack of variety in the way information is presented, and can likely be explained by a difference in students’ learning styles in a classroom. The 4 primary learning styles are:
Visual – Learn through images and seeing physical representations or relationships.
Auditory – Learn through sound and hearing as well as repeating words or sounds.
Reading & Writing – Learn by reading or writing information down.
Kinesthetic – Learn by being hands-on and by “doing”.
Unfortunately, many classrooms do not address all the learning styles in their classroom, which can make some students feel behind. Montessori classrooms are different though. Their hands-on and collaborative approach helps include all learners so nobody is left behind.
If students are using letter blocks to spell the names of animals, they are relating the names they are hearing (auditory) with the picture of the cow (visual). They are also reading the name (reading & writing) and then spelling it out themselves with blocks (kinesthetic). This is great because children don’t know how they learn best, but they understand the information because all styles are included. This does wonders for confidence, which then inspires them to keep learning.
Hands-on learning is a great way to ensure a child gets the best and most complete education possible. Through stimulating all their senses, children connect with the lessons more easily and understand information better. They also gain confidence and independence as they learn, explore, and do more, traits that are very important to their future both in school and out.
Admn October 23rd, 2017
One of the things that parents find the most surprising about Montessori teachers is the fact that they do not give “grades.” The idea behind the grade-less approach is not about creating a careless environment but one where self-motivation and mastery are the center.
Montessori teachers try to avoid creating a learning environment centered on test taking. When a child is worried about grades and test scores, they tend to memorize what they need to pass a test and nothing more. Once the test is done, much of the information “learned” is lost in their memory. This approach to learning allows children to squeeze by without actually learning much and causes an unnecessary amount of stress in their lives. Focusing on test taking essentially deprives a child of the fun of learning.
One thing teachers don’t want to see in a Montessori classroom is a child saying, “well, at least I passed.” A grade centered learning environment can inhibit a student’s learning ability and expectation of themselves. It is far better to focus on the mastery of a subject than worrying about getting a passing grade. This way, a child has no reason or temptation to just squeeze by. Instead, they are encouraged to truly learn and master a subject.
In a Montessori learning environment, the sky is the limit. When a child is focused on gaining a satisfactory grade, he or she is a slave to the limitations of that grade level. Montessorian approach to learning allows children access to knowledge without limit and is based on their individual abilities and interests. Students are not fed information to pass a class but taught how to learn and how to gather information. There are no textbooks or standardized tests in the real world; therefore, there are none in a Montessori classroom. Students are taught to gather information from various sources as well a draw on their own past experiences.
It all boils down to creating a child-centered learning environment. The learning pace of a child is not dictated by a textbook or test, but by their own innate ability and talent. Montessorian educators give students the tools to work towards a real future, not just the next grade level.
Admn October 5th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education
A Montessori learning environment is focused on each child as an individual. In a traditional classroom, children are seen as a group and are all taught the same way. No kid learns the same as the other or is on the same developmental wavelength. Montessori education allows students to draw upon their strengths, hone their weaknesses, and build character in a rich and supportive fashion. Montessori children are built from the ground up to be successful and strong.
In the real, adult world, people are not lumped with peers of only their age group. This concept is transferred to the Montessori classroom. Age groups in these classes usually have a three-year range. The benefits of this are astounding. Older children learn from teaching the younger and younger children learn from example. Young kids are ready and willing to gain knowledge from the older peers they look up too. Older kids recognize gaps in their knowledge through teaching. Older students also gain a sense of pride and strength when helping others learn. Montessori children function more like a family or a community than a traditional education setting.
Montessori children are encouraged to be independent in all they do. The Montessori classroom is designed to make that possible. Furniture is sized to fit small children and all materials are within their grasp. You won’t see a student working at a small desk with only a sheet of paper and a pencil. On the contrary, child-sized chairs, tables, and floor mats let students pick where is most comfortable for them to learn. They have a wide array of materials and activities that they can choose from, independently. Even better than that, Montessori learning activities are designed to be self-correcting. Students can see mistakes and easily correct them themselves and gain knowledge in the process.
Montessori teachers do not stand in the front of the room giving orders or stay at their desks while students complete work. Teachers move around the classroom giving guidance when needed and keeping a watchful eye on each child and their development. Montessori educators have a relationship with each child and help them learn in ways that suit them individually. Here, teachers are not dictators, but nurturers; helping each child draw strength from within themselves and grow into the best person they can be.
A Montessori education is not designed to run a mill of children, punching out the best test scores. This is education focused on the future; providing life skills, lessons, and tools that give each child the best chance at a rich education and a fulfilling life after school.
Admn May 29th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education
Montessori learning has been developed to include children of all ages, from infants, to toddlers, to elementary school ages. Using Montessori-style education on children as young as two provides a head start on education, and there are many things that can be practiced at home from this young age.
The “twos” have gotten a bad rap, and many first-time parents fear this age, but in reality, this transitional stage in your child’s development can be a magical time. The Montessori method provides strategies to make the transition from baby to child as smoothly as possible.
Giving small children choices, for example, can help to eliminate the power struggle present with just about any two or three year old. Choices offer opportunities for toddlers to complete tasks, gain independence, and build confidence.
The key to success in Montessori toddlers is the setup of their environment. Well organized spaces create structure and reduce the incidences of misbehavior. An environment in which toddlers have to opportunity to do things themselves breeds independence. A few examples of a Montessori style home are:
When it comes to learning basic practical skills, independence, and confidence; the earlier you start the better. This way, when your child enters school, they will be ready to go and take the next step on their educational journey. Introducing Montessorian strategy can also make your time as a parent to a toddler a pleasant one.
Admn May 17th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education
It was the belief of Maria Montessori that “If we could say, ‘We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,’ we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.” Discipline, like any other facet of a Montessori classroom, requires respect for each child.
A Montessori classroom is designed to provide a balance of freedom, structure, and discipline to each student. Seasoned Montessori educators often say that finding and keeping this balance is one of the biggest challenges of teaching. Mastering this concept is also one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Montessori teacher. With a foundation of freedom and structure, a child finds their own way to discipline.
The concept of freedom in the classroom is something that many parents are initially uncomfortable with. This is probably due to the fact that the word “freedom” is not commonly associated with discipline. It is a common misconception that because a child is free to choose their work and how they learn, that discipline must be an alien concept in a Montessori classroom. On the contrary, the freedom of choice comes with the responsibility of that choice. Kids are much more likely to make good choices when they are given the opportunity to be independent and live as a valued part of a community. Children learn to govern themselves in the Montessori setting by watching the examples of others and finding pride in their work.
Lack of routine and structure is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to a child’s misbehavior. When a child steps into a Montessori classroom, they know what to expect. They know where each learning station is and where to find each material. They know what is expected of them and that their purpose in the classroom is to learn and grow. Each classroom and learning activity is meticulously designed and organized with structure in mind. When a child sticks to a routine, they tend to be more relaxed and confident. An anxious and insecure child is much more likely to act out and misbehave.
What is the role of the teacher in all of this? If discipline comes from within, what is the purpose of the Montessori educator? It is understood in a Montessori classroom that a child cannot and will not be able to listen and obey rules right off the bat. Inner discipline is something that evolves over time. It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide nurturing guidance and a structured, unchanging example. When a child knows what to expect from their peers and teacher, they learn quickly what is expected of them.
A Montessori education is centered on independence. This is the same when it comes to discipline. Children are free to learn in a way that is not stressful and demanding. Rules are kept simple, straightforward, and it becomes immediately apparent to each child that following the rules benefits them personally. Like any other aspect of a Montessori classroom, discipline is an enriching experience.
Admn March 24th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education
As a mother, few things are more important to me than my child’s education. When researching the best schools, I discovered a local Montessori school. I loved the individualized approach and child-centered classroom, but I had no idea the full extent that Montessori education would have on my child. Now, after seeing such great improvements, I’d recommend this method of education to anyone.
When my child entered Montessori school at age 8, he was a bit of a loner. He had a difficult time playing with other kids, usually preferring to go off on his own. After a short time in Montessori school, my son blossomed. He now has a lot of new friends, and even interacts more within our family.
My son was always a good kid, but it was hard at times to get him to do what me and his father asked. Now, he doesn’t need to be told to do simple things, like clean up his messes or get dressed for school in the morning. He does it all himself. I see this, “can do” attitude and independence that he never had before.
Art and music were always my child’s strong points, but in traditional school these things are not always encouraged. In Montessori school, my son is given real tools for growing all of his talents, especially his creativity – not only in art in music, but in many other ways like writing and self-expression. I love seeing my son’s natural curiosity encouraged. It’s really helped fuel a natural love of learning.
School work was a chore before Montessori school. They teach kids in a natural way that caters to their inner child. My son has thrived in the child-centered educational setting of his Montessori school, and now he actually wants to go to school every single day!
With his new “I can do it” attitude, friends, and excitement about school and his future, my son’s self-esteem has sky rocketed! I love seeing him approach life with positivity and motivation to succeed. Before, he was timid, felt unsure of whether he could do well in school, and didn’t seem to feel confident at all. Montessori school was so great for his confidence.
If your child struggles in school or socially, or if you simply want the best education possible, then Montessori school is the way to go. My son and I love it, and I’m sure your child will too! My only regret is not stating him in Montessori school sooner.
Admn February 13th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education
In a traditional classroom setting, children sit at their desks, listen to the teacher, and receive instructions. Montessori students are encouraged to learn with a much more hands-on approach. Instead of sitting and learning with paper and pencil assignments, children have free reign over a classroom with a variety of educational activities at their disposal. Working with their hands gives children a solid understanding of the learning materials, and information is absorbed more effectively.
Children tend to learn better when they are completing tasks on their own rather than receiving constant instruction. When kids learn using their hands, the lesson is effortlessly committed to memory instead of relying on verbal or written repetition. The Montessori hands-on experience can be applied by using:
Children learn most from what they see; they learn better by copying the actions of others rather than being told what to do. Your child will learn much more by working alongside an adult than being given instructions from afar. A few ways to apply this concept are:
Admn January 30th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori
Montessori students are not typically assigned homework. Montessori educators do not believe in dictating the work of their students at home, instead reserving that time for family, relaxation, and the child’s own interests. There are many benefits of a no homework policy, as well as alternatives that allow children to continue learning while home.
Children spend all day learning with the help of their peers and teacher. The last thing they should be worried about when they get home is hours of school work to complete. A no homework policy makes education more fulfilling rather than stressful. Some key points to consider are:
Kids have a natural desire to learn, absorbing information everywhere they go and from everything they do. Although they may not be completing traditional assignments, there are still many things they can learn at home.
Montessori schools generally avoid homework for the benefit your child, but that doesn’t mean your child’s education will come to a stop at the end of each school day. You can teach your child a variety of things by spending time together. This quality time may not be available if your child is busy with homework.
Admn January 25th, 2017
When is the best time to start teaching your child to write? You might be surprised to know that Montessori students begin learning to write as early as age two! Starting early has many benefits, and in fact, many Montessori children can read before entering kindergarten. The Montessori method works by taking advantage of early development, a magical time when children are most receptive to learning language skills. From their first coos to writing their first “A,” children are building lasting skills that will help them grow.
Storytime is a fun way for teachers and parents to bond with their children while also encouraging academic development. From infancy forward, reading with your child will build an early interest in learning to read and write, and it will enhance your child’s language skills.
Montessori students are given a variety of activities to strengthen their fine motor skills. Washing dishes, assembling pegged puzzles, and using scissors are just a few. Activities using the hands and fingers will make it easier to use a pencil in the future.
Proper posture and arm strength are very important when a child is learning to write. For example, children should be able to sit up straight for a period of time while being able to use arms properly. Easily switching from hand to hand and reaching around their back indicates that the child has strong arm muscle control, and they might be ready to start writing.
Tracing lines teaches children how to hold a pencil while learning basic letter formations. Students simply trace straight lines and gradually begin tracing squiggly lines and shapes. Tracing squiggly lines teaches the child control of the pencil which makes writing letters easier.
Identifying letters and the sounds they make are the next steps. As children learn their letters, he or she should learn to associate that letter with the sound it makes. This will make the information more concrete and easier to remember while setting the stage for early reading skills.
Admn December 27th, 2016
Posted In: Montessori
Montessori classrooms are calm, happy places where the needs of each child are met depending on their developmental stage. The Montessori classroom environment not only prepares a child educationally, but for every stage of life.
A usual Montessori classroom does not resemble a traditional classroom. You will not see the standard rows of desks with a teacher at the front. In fact, there are no “desks” at all. There are tables and furniture that fit the size of your child. There are also mats on the floor for your child to complete their work. Shelves sort materials and divide the classroom by subject. Everything is within reach of the students, enhancing the hands-on experience.
Rather than having a separate classroom for each subject, Montessori classrooms organize all subjects into one room. All materials are sorted into well thought out stations that allow the child to gain the most knowledge possible from each subject. This also allows the student to move from station to station freely. He or she can absorb knowledge as they go, honing their skills and enhancing development. Montessori classroom stations generally include math, science, language arts, and life skills.
In a traditional classroom, what the teacher says is law, and teachers are generally seen as an authoritarian by students. Teachers do not hold the usual position in the front of the room. Montessori educators move around with the students, giving guidance and instruction as she goes. Students are given the space to learn at their own pace while their independence and self esteem are nurtured.
Independence is key in a Montessori classroom. The independent approach to learning is unconventional but extremely effective. This is where all the attributes listed above come into play. Instead of each student being lectured and completing a designated task, you will find most students working independently. The setting, teachers, and organization are all geared toward the encouragement of independence.
The non-traditional setting of a Montessori classroom is what makes it work so well. We choose individuality over uniformity. We choose guidance over lecture. Most of all, we choose lifelong skills rather than memorizing information. The Montessori classroom is designed to give your child best educational experience possible.
Admn October 7th, 2016
Posted In: About MKU