A Day In Our Lives

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The Montessori classroom is a “living room” for children, self-correcting lessons are displayed on the shelves awaiting them. The environment’s purpose is to unify the psycho-social, academic, and physical development of the child. As guides, our purpose is to provide children with a solid foundation that includes positive self-image of oneself and school, security, sense of order, curiosity, and persistence. This foundation will help the child become self-disciplined, and have a sense of responsibility to others.

We have parents who observe our classrooms and wonders, “How does the teacher manage the students?” What a wonderful questions. The answer is, “The guide designs an environment that allows each student to engage in what interests them.” The student in a Montessori classroom becomes engaged and involved in their community. Respect is the foundation from which great world stems. The environment works so well because the children have respect for themselves, each other, and their materials.

 

Montessori’s Brain-Based Approach

Steve Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN is the Director of the Center for Research on Developmental Education and a board certified pediatric neuropsychologist. He is a scientist who speaks about brain development and educates parents about academic, social, and executive functioning. In his talk, “Good at Doing Things”, Hughes highlights Montessori’s brain-based approach to education and it’s benefits.

A few highlights include:

  • More of the brain is dedicated to controlling your hands than any other part of the body
  • Human beings learn best through hands-on exploration of the world, especially in childhood
  • Montessori’s hands-on education philosophy is based on the idea that the hands are the tools the mind uses to discover the world

What Does That Mean?

Planes of Development. Normalization. Cosmic education.

If you’ve ever heard these terms in your child’s Montessori classroom, you might be curious about their meaning. The American Montessori Society has posted a Terminology glossary on their website that’s extremely helpful in clarifying some of the names and phrases particular to the Montessori environment.

Understanding these terms provides deeper understanding of the classroom culture and work cycle, which in turn equips you to effectively engage your child in conversation about his day.

The Peaceful Classroom 3

Today, we conclude our exploration of the Peaceful Classroom. In our previous posts, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for PeaceMaking Room for Peace Education, Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity; today we discuss Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World..

Peace through Giving

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

Children need direct experiences with giving, joining the heart and hand. Children love to make things, small and large, and share with family, friends, and neighbors – they naturally want to share and help. Montessori addresses this desire with mixed-age classrooms where older students help the younger.

Practical life in Montessori is practiced at every level with the purpose of preparing children to take excellent care of themselves, our planet, and the people on it. Children are engaged in gift giving projects and works of charity throughout the year. The art of giving from the heart builds empathy and compassion, two essential ingredients of a peaceful person.

Make a difference in the world (Elementary and Middle School)

Help young people find active ways of working for peace, the preservation of the natural world, the relief of human suffering, or other concerns through organizations like Kids Can Make a Difference, Free the Children, Roots and Shoots, or Peace Jam, in which students work directly with Nobel Peace Laureates.

The Peaceful Classroom 2

Today, we continue our exploration of the Peaceful Classroom. In our last post, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for Peace and Making Room for Peace Education; today we discuss Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

Peace through Nature

“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” – George Washington Carver

The beauty of nature is a great balm to the soul. Children often seek out their own secret outdoor spaces, even if it’s only a corner of the backyard. Respect children’s need for private exploration and inner reflection that nature inspires. At our school, the outdoor environment is rich in peaceful garden spaces to work the soil with our gardener. Outdoor seating arrangements are comfortable places to spend with friends.

Peace through Creativity

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs

Children need plenty of time for unstructured creative play and artistic endeavors. Unstructured creative time invites children to express their inner most personality and make profound connections between what they have learned and how they feel about themselves and others. During this time, adults keep a watchful eye, but remain unobtrusive to allow children to explore and develop the powers of problem solving through creativity.

Join us on next Tuesday as we conclude our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World.

The Peaceful Classroom 1

Today, we take a deeper look inside the Montessori classroom, beginning with the importance of peace.

Prepare the Environment for Peace

“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori begins with the prepared environment for each plane of development as aesthetically pleasing and inviting space for the child to grow up naturally. Classrooms are clean, simple and orderly, yet rich in age-appropriate materials that aid in independence of body and mind with lessons in care of the self, care of the environment (physical and natural), and care of others. Children have a better emotional response in a serene and beautiful environment that is organized for their unique sensibilities.

Make Room for Peace Education

“Peace is always beautiful.” – Walt Whitman

Outer peace begins with inner peace. Children need special places that give them a sense of privacy that can serve as a soft refuge for times when hurt or angry feelings might lead to violent words or actions. Decorated humbly and lovingly, each of our classrooms has a peace corner, table, or shelf where children go to work through unsettled feelings. Peace quotes, art, journals, books, natural objects, or perhaps a sand garden give the child a place to reflect and restore calm. Older children learn to use the peace area for conflict resolution by modeling peaceful communication practices. Learning to use the peace area is a process that takes time, and is nurtured with positive adult guidance.

Join us on Friday as we continue our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

Traveling with Children

Traveling in itself is no easy feat. Traveling with kids is on a whole other level, it’s not for the faint of heart. But by no means should this keep us from packing up and heading out for an adventure, especially in the summer. It just takes a little planning and patience.

Looking for some guidance on how to make traveling with children as easy as possible? Take a look at this great article on the top 20 tips for traveling with children.

 

Applying Montessori Principles at Home 4

Today, we conclude our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last three posts on Applying Montessori Principles at Home, we discussed Movement and Cognition, Interest, ChoiceAvoidance of Extrinsic Rewards, and Interaction with and Learning from Peers. Today we conclude by examining the final three principles, Learning in Context, Communication, and Order the Environment and Mind.

Learning in Context

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori

Create a meal from scratch, or make ice cream from a recipe

Visit a museum – bring a sketch pad and colored pencils and have the child create their own art

Spend time in the garden studying bugs, flowers, and listening to the sounds of peace and quiet

Allow your child to have their own shopping list at the grocery store – have them record their prices and add their total

Communication

“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.” – Maria Montessori

Have family meetings – discuss family expectations regarding behavior and academics

Create chore lists together where each person chooses their assigned chore(s)

Create an annual family newsletter

Involve your child in rearranging their bedroom or playroom

Do things you wouldn’t normally do or do not like to do – children need to see that you are flexible and willing to do new things or do things you do not like to do

Order the Environment and Mind

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, 1966

Adopt the “ten minute tidy” to end of the day

Keep the environment clear of clutter

Have child’s belongings displayed on low shelves and not in toy boxes

Applying Montessori Principles at Home 3

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last two Applying Montessori Principles at Home posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, followed by Interest and Choice; today we move on to examine Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards and Interaction with and Learning from Peers.

Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards

“The prize and the punishment are incentives towards unnatural of forced effort, and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

Challenge children to reach goals.

Praise effort in completing a task. Do not over praise; authenticity is important.

Ask the child, “How do you feel about accomplishing…?”

Interaction with and Learning from Peers

“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.” (Maria Montessori, The Essential Montessori, 1986)

Host playdates with friends from school

Schedule outings with other families and observe how the children play together

Host family game nights with another family

Join us on Friday as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!

Applying Montessori Principles at Home 2

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last post, we began with Movement and Cognition; today we move on to examine Interest and Choice.

Interest

“An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1995)

  • Have different genres of books readily available in basket or on low shelf
  • Play educational board games focused on language or math skills
  • Take mini field trips to pet store after researching an animal
  • Write letters to family members in other areas of the world
  • Have a basket of interesting pictures available during dinner time and discuss the pictures together
  • Allow children quiet time to think and develop their own interests

Choice

“No one can be free unless he is independent. Therefore, the first active manifestations of the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

  • Place a few choice shirts, bottoms, socks, and underwear in drawers the child can reach and allow the child to choose his own clothing
  • Place a basket in the refrigerator with snack items from which your child may choose
  • Allow your child to set the table for meals by making place settings (plates, bowls, utensils, cups) available in a low cabinet
  • Allow your child to serve himself food (small pitchers make serving himself easier)

Join us next week as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!