but one must still say that it takes no account of life itself."
I started my adult life as a teacher and I think I eventually grew in to a very good one. So, you can imagine my bewilderment when each of my three children were "slow to read." (Confession - I actually don't believe in "slow" or "quick" when it comes to the learning process...but I forgot about that when it was my kids!) I did all the right things. We read books together from the time they were infants, they saw me reading for enjoyment, and they each attended very well prepared Montessori classrooms from the time they were 2 (or less) years old. Like any other parent, I grew frustrated and worried.
Fast forward a few years and my youngest son just recently hit his "explosion" in to reading and let me tell you, it was glorious. It was no less glorious for him than it was for his peers who had this same explosion at 3 and 4 years old. His world is equally bright. And then there's me over here remembering how brilliant these little beings are when we give them the space to grow at their own pace. Children will learn every single thing we think they need to learn AND SO MUCH MORE. They are developing every skill they need in just the right time. As for the skills they aren't developing (that perhaps you're wishing would come a little faster) - they are learning equally important ways to manage without and building an entire skill set that they can access throughout their entire lives.
Believe it or not, the most important job a parent has is to have faith and trust in our little people. I am absolutely convinced that they will do far more to teach us than we will them!
I hope this article is inspirational in reminding you, as it did me, to enjoy your opportunity to sit back and enjoy the show as these lovely little beings climb mountains to reach their highest potential. Rest easy knowing that everything is unfolding just as it should.
For Parents Who Worry (Isn't That All of Us?) by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services.
By now your children are settled in their classrooms and are being cared for and educated by your extended "village." Perhaps you're still concerned about whether your child is adjusting well and learning enough. Like all parents, you want your children to be happy and learn the skills they need for success.
As Montessori suggests in the above quote, young children naturally grow and learn from their surroundings without being directly taught.
No Need to Be Anxious
It's hard not to be anxious, especially with your first child. You learned to do all the right things as your child grew from infancy to childhood. Now your child is more capable and independent.
Because of their absorbent minds, preschoolers do not need direct teaching in order to learn. This is the period of children's self-construction, learning from the environment in which they live.
Try not to worry about what the latest expert or neighbor says. Take time to just be with your child. Adapt your home so your toddler can explore safely. Observe his new independence and sense of self. Remember to relax and have fun, too.
Did you know that children learn best when exploring the world with hands-on activities? Research shows that children who are prematurely pushed into academic drills become less creative and enthusiastic learners, and do not retain information any better than those who learn facts later. Instead, a focus on play is key at this age, helping children to develop social and emotional skills that are important for long-term success.
It's easy to look at your friend's child and compare. However, it's important to remember, we are not all alike! No two children are on the same timetable, even if they are the same age. Keep your expectations in line with your child's abilities. Change is constant with a growing child.
Beware of the accelerated-learning industry. Baby DVD's or reading programs have proven worthless and sometimes detrimental to development. It's actually more productive to let your child scoot around the floor, play with pots and pans, or sing silly songs with you. Reading and talking to your child, and helping him learn to care for himself are better options. Your job is to expose him to the world without any pressure.
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.
Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of educators. ~Maria Montessori
We are looking forward to the opportunity for our Early Childhood parents to participate in the ThroughPlay study through the University of Utah. MCS parents can expect to receive a link to the questionnaire via email shortly. Completion of the questionnaire is a prerequisite to receiving an invitation to the presentation mentioned above.
And so, just a few weeks late but with extra attention due to the heartache and disunion going on around the world, I feel inclined to stand as a global citizen and honor my fellow parents throughout the world.
Competition in Montessori? Well, No! Which is it? Is there competition in the Montessori classroom or not? Well – yes and no! Let’s examine the “No” first. There is no formal institutionalized competition in the Montessori philosophy because Montessori is about your child not about your child in competition with others. Your child is not competing with any one else. Nor is your child competing for stars or popsicles or even attention. Your child is not being compared to anyone else in the environment nor is your child being set up to win or lose. Competition is not part of the curriculum or the philosophy and yet there is competition in the classroom. So where does it come from? It walks in the door with your child. Competition is part of human nature. Some of us are more competitive than others. Some of us lean more to cooperation but all of us have some of the competitive gene. What Montessori education can achieve is to help a child recognize and manage this human characteristic. Traditional education often uses the negative aspect of competition (“I’m better than you.”) to motivate learning and behavior. Children are unfairly forced into competition with others who may be more talented or gifted in certain areas while their own personality strengths (determination, aesthetic, creativity, compassion etc) are not recognized or valued because they do not fit the educational matrix that is being graded. Yet, it is these other strengths that in the end determine the satisfaction of a life well lived. Here, competition can be destructive to the developing self-image of the child. How many brothers and sisters grow up competing with each other – wasting years of energy – only to realize that they are in different races, have different personalities, different talents and different goals?
Learning to manage the positive aspects of competition has great value. In the Montessori classroom children get to choose the arena of their competition. It is never the slowest child who accepts the challenge of a race with the class sprinter but yet there are always takers. There are those who enjoy the demonstration of their abilities and those who want to stretch their own limits – which is only done against good competition. Montessori children (and mature adults) realize that there are venues in which they cannot compete and realistically assess their own goals and abilities. Montessori children can grow up into adults who have no need to compete with Hollywood looks, Wall Street money or professional athletic prowess because they are secure in knowing who they are and what their gifts and talents are. So, where do we find and how do we judge healthy competition in the Montessori classroom? We find its most excellent use in the Montessori concept of mastery. Mastery brings out and into focus the child’s most significant competitor – himself or herself. Mastery says “I’m not working for a grade, I am not working to get by or to do the least I can do. I am working for excellence. And I am my own competition.” And that is the mind set that produces success in life. Choosing your goals wisely (learning to choose wisely is another Montessori quality) according to your abilities, passions and goals brings the kind of success that is meaningful. Many people have found that unless you know who your real competitor is you often run races in life that give you no pleasure and bring you no closer to your goals. Montessori children are afforded the opportunity to compete with the best – themselves.
I had an interesting conversation with a prospective parent recently who teaches at a local college. She shared that she and her colleagues are constantly discussing “how underprepared kids are for college in terms of ‘soft skills.’” By soft skills she meant skills other than the purely academic — the personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make someone a successful college student and, by extension, a good boss or employee later in life. She had just come from an observation in toddlers and primary and was surprised to have seen that in Montessori, “starting in toddlers students develop the self-motivation, independence, and follow-through that many college students lack!” In other words, beginning at these very young ages, Montessori children are already developing the soft skills that will benefit them so greatly later in life.
Why Montessori for the Kindergarten year?
Magnolias Third Year student works on a botany project.
they discover them.”
Enjoy this wonderful video on the beauty and benefits of a Montessori education. Click here.
One time when one of my boys was about four years old I found myself in a common battle trying to get him to clean take care of his belongings and clean up the toys that were scattered about his play room. I felt good about our system and knew that I was not asking him to complete a task that was outside his ability to complete. We had cleaned the room successfully on a number of occasions. Finally, out of frustration, I told my son that if he did not clean up the toys I was going to gather them up, put them in a garbage bag, and give them to children who didn't have any toys. I left the room and, to bolster my threat, returned seconds later with a large trash bag. My son approached me with an armful of toys and dropped them passionately in to the open bag. Baffled, I asked "what are you doing?" and tearfully he replied "I didn't know there were kids without any toys."
As Montessori parents, we are giving our children a great gift that does not just start at 8:30am and end at 3pm. This gift should be nurtured, honored and recognized at all times, particularly in the home. Donna Bryant Goertz wrote one of my favorite Montessori books about classroom management in the Lower Elementary classroom, 'Children Who are Not Yet Peaceful'. This book highlights the value of community and truly honoring and trusting each child to develop in their time, in their way, and in absolute authenticity. It is powerful and inspiring for educators and parents and I highly recommend it to those of you who are raising Lower Elementary age children or who will be doing so in the near future. However, its values are appropriate for children, parents, and educators of all ages.
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].
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.
Sign-up outside of your student's classroom.
Childcare will be provided, however, you must sign up in advance.
This is a really great night full of insight regarding the education of your child in relation to Montessori Philosophy. Don't miss out!
(Your attendance can go toward Parent Volunteer Hours).
Your child wants to do what is right, even at the youngest age. First of all, she wants to because she loves you and wants to be just like you. She also has a powerful inner drive to adapt to the world around her, the world of your home, and to do so she needs to know what the rules for life are. She looks to you to show her.
As parents, if you can keep that in mind, you can create an approach to discipline that is positive, less stressful on everyone and it will assist your child in developing into a competent, civilized, compassionate and joyful person.
So, what are some strategies that you might employ?...
The Silent Journey and Discovery is coming up on February 7th from 9:00am - 1:00pm.
Sign up in the office, space is limited. Attendance is free of charge, brunch will be served & child care will be provided to those who sign up in advance.
The biggest challenge parents face is their children’s drive for independence. A toddler or a preschooler’s drive for independence is even fiercer than a teenager’s. While a teenager may be looking to undo parental control your preschooler is looking to share control. They are trying to become part of your world by taking responsibility for their own actions.
This drive for independence is slow and messy. Learning to walk – the first great independence is full of falls and scares (more for Mom than for baby). And it is a slow and unsteady success. Even when they accomplish vertical independence their rate of locomotion impels us to pick them up and carry them if we want to get anywhere now....
What is it that every child needs that parents don’t seem to have? (Life time passes to
Disney World and unlimited shoe budgets don’t count!) You can fill in your own blanks.
It is something that a Montessori school can help offer. Of course a good education