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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

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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

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