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How Montessori Children Have Fun

Most people have heard of the Montessori Method, a reputable teaching technique that strives to develop the whole personality of the student through unique educational principles. However, there are still misconceptions surrounding this method…one being the misinterpretation that a Montessori education does not allow children to have fun.

boy-having-fun

We know that students of all ages learn better when they are having fun. Learning moments occur when children are enjoying themselves… they are actually unaware that they are learning. While Montessori classrooms concentrate on work, children are encouraged to participate in activities that interest them.

In a typical Montessori environment, the teacher is not the focal point of the classroom. The children are. Students are encouraged to participate in activities of their choosing by themselves or with their classmates. They work on their projects and even stop to observe what their fellow students are engaged in…quietly and respectfully. While many may translate the calm atmosphere to unhappy students who are not having fun, we believe, as indicated by Dr. Montessori, that young children play through their work.

The Montessori Method asserts that student learning is improved when they are permitted to work independently to acquire new skills versus being forced to partake in adult-led instruction. Our teaching methods originate from the belief that children want to work and find delight and self-confidence in successfully completing tasks. In fact, students are more content and less pressured…and yes, even much happier, in this learning environment.

Studies indicate children retain more information when learning becomes a byproduct of participating in activities they like. When children participate in enrichment activities like those offered at Montessori Kids Universe, such as gardening, cooking, music, and Yoga, they are receiving a well-rounded educational experience via activities that entice them. So, how do Montessori children have fun? Simply put…through learning!

For many parents, the focus on work may prevent them from selecting a Montessori education for their child. But it shouldn’t. Montessori Kids Universe provides child care programs that make learning both meaningful and fun.

December 6th, 2017

Posted In: About Montessori Education

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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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Why Montessori Teachers Don’t Give Grades

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.

Creating More than Test Takers

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.

montessori_teacher

Striving for More than a Passing Grade

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.

Grades = Limitations

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.

October 5th, 2017

Posted In: About Montessori Education

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How Montessori Education Creates Strong Children

Flying little superman in studio

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.

Muti-Age Grouping

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.

Encouraging Independence

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 Educators

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.

May 29th, 2017

Posted In: About Montessori Education

Montessori Toddlers

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.

Beginning with Twos

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 Environment

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:

  • The Bedroom. Most children of this age are old enough to have their own bed. A mattress on the floor is fine if you are afraid of them falling. A cushion placed instead to catch a child will help a child to learn what happens if they fall. You may be surprised to see how quickly they learn cause and effect. Toys should be separated by type and always kept in the same place. This way your child knows where to find what they are looking for each time.
  • The Bathroom. A stool where the child can reach the toilet themselves may help to speed up potty training. This is the same for having the toothbrush and toothpaste where the child can reach it. During bath time, allow the toddler to use a tiny bottle of soap and shampoo on themselves. You may be shocked to see how much they can do when given the opportunity.
  • The Living Room. This room can have a shelf of toys in which the toddler can play with the parents or siblings. Child-sized furniture should also be available for their work and playtime. Play mats can also be used instead of a table. Mats and tables help to contain activities to a small area.

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.

May 17th, 2017

Posted In: About Montessori Education

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

The Improvements Montessori School Made in My Child’s Life

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.

Here are some of the many benefits my child gained from Montessori School:

 

Enhanced Social Skills

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.

Improved Behavior / Self-Discipline

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.

More Creativity

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.

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!

Greater Self-Confidence

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.

February 13th, 2017

Posted In: About Montessori Education