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Hands-On Learning

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

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.

October 23rd, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, About Montessori Education

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Discipline in the Montessori Classroom

timeoutIt 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.

Freedom

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.

Structure

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.

Discipline

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.

March 24th, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, About Montessori Education

What to Expect in a Montessori Classroom

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.

An Unconventional Approach

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.

Pristinely Organized Rooms

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.

Teachers as Nurturers

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.

The “I Did it Myself!” Attitude

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.

October 7th, 2016

Posted In: About MKU

Montessori School – Helping Kids Help Themselves

If you’re a parent or caretaker, you’ve probably asked yourself, when should my child be able to do this for himself? One of the core concepts and benefits of Montessori education is learning greater independence, which sets a foundation for success throughout life. Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method of education states:

 

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
 

When do children become independent?

You might be surprised to know that learning independence starts very early in life, even during infancy. A Montessori educator watches for subtle cues that a child (or a baby) is trying to do something for themselves, and encourages while offering help only when absolutely necessary. When a child tries to do something herself, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking over and doing the task for them – it’s faster and often less stressful for parent and child. The downside is when too many things are done for the child, they lose confidence and are slower to develop independence and necessary skills.

How do children learn independence?

The Montessori learning environment is created to promote self-discipline and independence. This is achieved by offering tools that will help the child do for themselves, such as child-centered tables, chairs, eating utensils, and more. Children are also allowed to do little things for throughout the day, like prepare snacks, put on jackets, and clean up messes. Education is done in the same way. When children are given the freedom to act and learn within a structured environment, especially one geared towards the way children learn naturally, independence is nurtured. Adult intervention is needed at times, but will gradually decrease as the child develops new skills.

Why is learning independence so important?

Growing independent children is an important part of development for many reasons. Learning that “I can do this” builds confidence and encourages the child to try and learn new things – even when faced with challenges. Learning how to overcome obstacles through persistence and problem solving are important skills throughout life. Montessori education sets habits for positive attitude, work habits, and sense of personal responsibility that will help children discover, learn, and succeed.

September 30th, 2016

Posted In: About MKU