On Thursday, November 5th our Lower Elementary, 3rd Year students will have the opportunity to learn about the Navajo way of life at the Deer Valley Navajo Rug Show. For more than fifteen years, the Montessori Community School has sponsored our Navajo grandmothers through the Adopt-a-Native-Elder Program.
The following was written by Lower Elementary Spanish teacher, Diana Haro Reynolds.
Mathematics is the study of quantity, form, and magnitude. We live among it. It is in the position of the sun and in the shell of a snail. We carry math in our pockets, in our devices. It is what makes our communication possible. We touch and live math, whether we know it or not. It is our responsibility as Montessori guides to help the child discover this framework of mathematical order that makes up our world. This rationale proposes several reasons for teaching math in the Montessori classroom. It will explain the journey the child will take from concrete concepts through to abstraction.
Human beings have a tendency for order. Since the beginning of human origin, math has been used to unlock the mysteries of the world. It began with a man’s need to
keep track of his belongings. Then came early techniques that created the experience
with numbers of counting. After a long time, came comprehension, which led to
improvements and shortcuts. Finally, humankind reached abstraction. This same
process is seen in a child. (Doer, 2012)
Mathematical order leads to a mathematical mind. As the mathematical mind unfolds, it develops capacities such as sensorial interaction among objects, observation
of patterns, and awareness of the physical world, mental classification, abstract thinking, and knowledge of the power of relationships. Math supports understanding by encouraging order, concentration, independence, special relations, patterning, one to one correspondence, combination, difference, and similarity. Additional goals supported by math are predictability, exactness or sense of accurateness, concreteness, logic and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making skills, as well as refinement of the mind and thinking. (Stockton-Moreno, 2015)
Why the need to teach math in a specific Montessori way? There are a lot of aspects that prepare the child for math. These include the prepared environment, giving the child the power of choice. Practical life works build concentration and confidence. The child enjoys practicing a task over and over for the pure pleasure of it. The joy is in the process. This mentality is preparing him for the academic areas. Sensitive periods serve as the specific times in a child’s development where part of their needs include an insatiable thirst for specific tasks. There is a sensitive period for concrete tools of precision. We must capitalize on these sensitive periods. (Stockton-Moreno, 2015)
The aims of Montessori math are to make the child aware that math is a part of her life; to build confidence and prepare the child for life. Confidence comes from the sequential growth in which the materials are presented. It starts with the importance of the Three Period Lesson. The first period being the presentation of the concept. The
second period is where the child practices and shows that which has been presented. In math, this second period is much longer than in other areas of study. This is the time in which the child is practicing, exploring and making discoveries, day in and day out, about the concept presented. The third period is that in which the child shows understanding of the concept through teacher observation or helping someone else.
The main goal of Montessori math is to move the child from concrete to abstraction and helping him form a mathematical mind. In the book, A Way of Learning, Ann Burke Nerbert explains that “the mathematical mind derives from experience” (Stockton-Moreno, 2015). We must not rob the child from forming her mathematical mind. She must have ample time to experience the joy of working with the materials and for understanding and internalizing the processes and concepts. The materials are
multimodal in that they appeal to multiple senses. This aids in the "permanent wiring of the brain that will be available as your child gets older and uses her brain for analytical thinking and problem-solving" (Duffy, 2008). Knowing is not understanding. Montessori math provides the path toward understanding.
According to Michael Doer, the passage towards abstraction is done in four stages. The first is the Concrete stage. This is where the child works purely with the material. No works is shown on paper until the child is nearing the end of this stage. The second stage is Concrete Materials lead to Symbols. This is when the child works with
the materials and records the process in writing. This is the longest stage and requires
that the focus be on the process, not the end result. This is the time in which the child is “internalizing the algorithm” (Doer, 2012). Towards the end of this stage the child may begin to work with charts rather than manipulatives. The third stage is often overlooked perhaps because it is the shortest. This is the stage when Symbols connect to Concrete Material. Essentially it is the reversal of stage two. The child does the work on paper then uses the materials to check their answer. The Symbolic stage is the fourth and final stage. This is where the emphasis is on showing the written work. (Doer, 2012)
Doer also emphasizes mental calculations and mental carrying as the two key elements in reaching abstraction. Mental calculation or memorization requires that the
child know math facts with accuracy and speed. The child should take no longer than
three second to recall a fact, otherwise, memorization has not been reached and the
child is calculating. Accuracy should be no less than 98%. It should be recall only. The
second key, mental carrying, requires that the child be able to keep track of the carrying without making a mark on paper. Having the child work on other forms of memorization, such as poems or definitions, will greatly help achieve this goal.
Math is part of our society. We need it in order to function. But there is also a math phobia. Math in Montessori makes it more than accessible, it makes it real. Whenever possible, real life problems should be presented to the child so as to give her
the context for these new skills. Among with word problems, research in the area of
math is a great way to expose the child to the practicality of math. We must cultivate a love and understanding of mathematics in our children by proving the keys and allowing them to make their own discoveries.
Diana Haro Reynolds - Lower Elementary Teacher/Intern
Doer, M. (2012). Numbers: Montessori arithmetic for lower elementary.
Duffy, M. (2008). Math works: Montessori math and the developing brain. Hollidaysburg,
PA: Parent Child Press.
Stockton-Moreno, L. (2015). MONT. 633*01, week 1 notes [PowerPoint slides].
Left to right: Jeannette Shaffer: Lower Elementary, Gretchen Strear: Early Childhood, Greg Feucht: Toddlers, Annie Guerrero: Upper Elementary, Soo Schmidt: Early Childhood
This year, the Parent School Alliance (PSA) has been restructured to include one (1) representative for the Toddler, Lower Elementary & Upper Elementary age groups, and two (2) representatives for the Early Childhood age group. We hope that the presence of a PSA Team will continue to help facilitate conversations between parents and the school, and to create events throughout the year that give us an opportunity to get to know each other, and have some FUN!
The PSA includes parents, faculty, and administrative staff of MCS and allows us to work together with a mission to offer support to our school, which allows our children to get the most out of their education.
There are a number of ways for you to get involved such as various Social Events, Fundraisers and MCS Community Committees. We would love your enthusiasm and assistance in getting involved with Community Building for your child’s class, the Halloween Carnival, the Spring Music & Dance Performances, the Art Showcase and the End of Year Carnival. By participating you will work toward completing your parent participation hours, have some fun and it will also give you a chance to help improve our school.
Did you know that you can check on your child’s weekly progress through Montessori Compass? Compass is where your child’s teacher records lessons, uploads pictures, and writes anecdotes about what’s happening in the classroom. This is an excellent way to stay connected to your child and their experience! Compass includes some excellent parent resources.
I choose a Montessori school for my son almost as an act of faith. At that time my knowledge of the method was null, besides having heard of small chairs and colored beads. But seeing my son happy day after day encouraged me to study and deepen the Montessori’s ideas. What I had discovered astonished me as a father and as a scientist. As a father, I found how children are really respected and prepared for the future. As a scientist, I found solid scientific foundations for everything Maria Montessori proposed.
When asked to describe how yesterday's peace celebration made her feel, a third year Early Childhood Willows class student
(kindergartener) uses the moveable alphabet to build the words peace, love, magical, wonderful and grateful.
Please enjoy viewing the prayer flags decorated by our students and staff when you visit the school this week.
The Montessori approach offers children intentionally prepared environments that are full of beauty and order. Materials in the classroom are appealing and designed to meet the developmental needs of each child. Montessori-trained teachers are the bridge between the environment and the student, first through careful observation of each child, and then by providing appropriate instruction and guidance.
This video was created as part of the documentary film project, Building the Pink Tower. "What if we were to set aside the noise of failing schools, teacher evaluations, test scores, achievement gaps, and funding issues — and ask, instead, what is the true goal of education?"
We would like to say how appreciative we are at the excellent turn out for all or our Back to School Potluck picnics. It appeared that all of you enjoyed the opportunity to meet or reconnect with other families and we were most fortunate to have such perfect weather.
As part of our Peace Curriculum that is incorporated into our monthly studies at MCS, this month each of the classes is engaged in a study of creating space for Peace as we prepare to celebrate International Peace Day on September 21st and in honor of Maria Montessori’s extensive work in the field of Peace Education. Studies show that a preventative curriculum that promotes communication, community and self-advocacy is more effective than a punishing approach to bullying in schools. Ours is a program that we expect will follow our students far beyond their structured educational experience. We hope for and assist children in the development of skills of peaceful conflict resolution, gaining respect for peers and incorporating communal advocacy, taking in to account the needs of a community and how one’s behavior affects another, and establishing a lifetime of self advocacy, self love and self respect.
Peace is a work rooted deeply in the approach in Montessori schools across the world and Maria Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three different occasions as her passion for Peace Education led her to spread its good word in various countries. Her legacy lives on as she is now widely recognized as an advocate for peace and her educational philosophy is practiced throughout the world.
(Education and Peace, Montessori, 1949, p. 27).
Montessori education addresses Peace in a variety of ways, encouraging children to first develop inner peace. At its most basic level the Montessori method does this by honoring the individual interests, passions and ability of each child, giving children space to develop confidence with making mistakes as they explore and the courage to fix mistakes, and inspiring them to be part of a community. Because each student is recognized as an individual, you will find children working on a variety of activities at any given time. This gives children space and encouragement to accept that differences between humans exist at varying degrees.
Inner peace gives children the foundation for supporting peace within their classroom, school, social and family communities. Communities are an important aspect of the Montessori philosophy in that there is an emphasis on the whole person and learning to function within a community is essential to the success of human endeavor. A successful community is made up of a variety of different talents, strengths, skills and goals. As our students engage in peaceful conflict resolution, modeled by the adults in the community, they learn to function as many parts making up a whole. As they assist in the management of the environment, including caring for the physical space, taking on important leadership roles within the classroom, and engaging in group discussion about how to make change for the better, students practice life long skills of considering others and building functioning communities.
Some common Montessori terms/methods that directly and indirectly support Peace Education include:
-Cosmic Education is the child’s gradual discovery, throughout the whole of childhood, of the interrelatedness of all things on earth, in the past, in the present, and in the future.
-Intrinsic motivation (versus rewards or punishment) is a desire to do for the sake of doing with no expectation or even hope for an outside motivator.
-Multi age classrooms allow children to play varying roles throughout their cycle in a classroom, allowing investment in the environment and practice of various skills, jobs and identities.
-Follow the child means that each child is considered individually and opportunities to further develop special skills and talents is honored along with opportunity for extra, repetitive practice of more difficult tasks.
-Class meetings and agenda books allow children to bring up issues or concerns and decide, with adult guidance, how to overcome challenges as a group. It also allows a sacred place for celebrating one another’s accomplishments.
-Peace areas in each classroom provide a place for children to go when they need to find inner peace. Meditation, breathing and various other exercises are encouraged to help students look within.
-Outdoor education and care for living things (plants and animals throughout the school and in each classroom) give children the opportunity to practice care for and consideration of the needs of all living things and help them develop a love and advocacy for our earth and all it has to offer.
By honoring each individual and supporting children in becoming their most authentic, passionate, courageous and determined selves, we provide the world with a powerful force for change for the better.
May you all find inner peace and enjoy a most lovely day of celebrating the beauty and hope of mankind on this day set aside for celebrating Peace on earth.
The pictures here show Calendula!
We harvest about (literally) a ton of Calendula by the end of the season.
So, usually 300 to 400 pounds per week or so! Is it any wonder how Calendula is my new favorite herb?!
Winter is just a season away. Please keep in mind that all students participating in the Winter Sports Program this year will be REQUIRED to have helmets and goggles and there will be no daily rentals at the resort.
The PSA is working on potential discounts for MCS renters and will keep us updated. For now, please check out the list of Ski Swaps coming up.
Click here to see a list of upcoming ski swaps.
“Your children go to Montessori school? I heard that’s fine for preschoolers, but when they are older, won’t they need something different?”
I would guess that many of you have been asked questions similar to this on more than one occasion. It is an indication of the positive reputation Montessori enjoys as a preschool program, but also the relative lack of understanding of its relevance for older ages. It also asserts that older children need a different environment from the little ones. And indeed they do, which is why the Montessori elementary environment is designed so differently from that for the younger ages. What most of these people mean by “something different,” however, is the teacher-centered, one-size-fits-all conventional model of education in which they themselves grew up.
Lower Elementary students build a collage of materials seen through the microscope.
Lower Elementary students working on the Dynamic Addition Stamp Game.
Thanks to Bjorn's Brews for providing our coffee!
Parents getting to know one another at our first Coffee Tuesday. This was a great opportunity to build community.
Dear MCS Parents,
We invite you to join us the first Tuesday of every month for Coffee and Tea Tuesdays. This is a wonderful opportunity for MCS parents or grandparents to get to know other families, learn more about the Montessori philosophy, share ways to support your Montessori student at home, and learn the many ways you can get involved with our PSA and the upcoming events at MCS. We will meet in the gym from 8:30am - 9:30 am. Feel free to just drop in to say hello and grab coffee, tea or a snack or come and relax with us the entire hour.
We look forward to seeing you this coming Tuesday, September 1st.
Britney Peterson - MCS Parent Education Coordinator
Annie Guerrero, Jeannette Shaffer, Gretchen Strear, Soo Schmidt, Greg Feucht - PSA
Food and meal times are an important and essential part of every day life. In a Montessori classroom we work to create a peaceful and healthful meal experience for our children as we place great value on both the experience and the consumption of food.