Spanish in the Classroom

The Spanish language can be heard in three FMS classrooms as naturally as we hear words and phrases being said in English. Two of our Primary classrooms and one of our Lower Elementary classrooms deliver their lessons in English and Spanish. P1040065In the Primary rooms, the lessons mirror the work shown to the children in English. If a child has done a math lesson using the small bead stair, they will also be given the same lesson using Spanish nomenclature.

“One” becomes “uno” and “two” becomes “dos.” In the process of using the Spanish language to respond to the teacher; the students are reinforcing their core lessons, while at the same time, they are utilizing their second language skills in a practical and useful way.

Lower Elementary students in E3 have the extra benefit of doing math, grammar and word studies in Spanish. They also read books in both English and Spanish, and are asked to apply their written skills in the Spanish language. By the time a student has gone through Primary and Lower Elementary Spanish immersion classes at FMS, they will have had 6 years of actively learning and using the Spanish language. Research confirms that immersion in a second language when a child is young, often makes it easier for the child to acquire the fundamentals of using the second language.P1040072

Author Ronald Kotulak observes, “During the first three years of life, the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down.” He states in Inside the Brain, “Consequently, it would be a waste not to use a child’s natural ability to learn during his or her most vital years, when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first.”

Picking up the Spanish language comes naturally in our primary aged classrooms and is further refined as our students move into their lower elementary classrooms. P1040070All students on campus are given the chance to learn Spanish even if they are not enrolled in our Spanish immersion classes.All other classes are visited on a weekly basis from our Spanish speaking teachers and are taught the fundamentals of the language. This time spent learning the Spanish language in a primary and elementary setting lays the groundwork for all of our students who elect to take Spanish in high school. FMS graduates report that having the chance to learn Spanish, while here on campus enhanced their ability to further their skills in high school.

When “I Don’t Know” Is the Best Answer

Have you ever struggled with how to reply to your child’s curious questions when you don’t know the answer? The Value of Not Knowing, a recent insightful post at mariamontessori.com, explains why not providing an immediate answer creates a great opportunity for the child.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Birthday America! This year marks the 238th Birthday of our nation. There are so many ways to celebrate this special day from family BBQs to community firework shows.

Check out these interesting facts that you may or may not already know about the 4th of July.

If you’re looking for a few July 4th, montessori centered, at home activities and crafts to do with your children take a look at these ideas:

Beat The Heat

Let’s face it, summer is amazing, but summer is also really hot and being outside for long periods of time is not always the most comfortable or safest thing for you and your family. For those days that you just need to stay indoors here are some fun activities that should inspire you and your child.

Enjoy and stay cool!

Revolutionary Learning

In renowned creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, “Bring on the Learning Revolution,” he speaks about the crisis of human resources, poorly used talents, and a life that people endure versus enjoy. Across the world, educational systems are seeking reform. Sir Robinson believes that “reform in no use anymore. Because that’s simply improving a broken model.” He calls for arevolution in education.

Many elements of the revolutionary environment Robinson describes are found in a Montessori classroom, which begs the question, “Shouldn’t every school be a Montessori school?”

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk

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

Summer Reading

Are you looking for some fun, interesting ways to keep reading a part of your child’s days this summer? In addition to regular book time together, these tips from Baan Dek Montessori in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will help incorporate reading into your everyday activities to keep skills fresh.

And here is a link to a great local summer reading program.

Henderson Libraries

How Do Students Do After Montessori?

One of the questions we are most frequently asked when families are touring our school is, “How do the students do once they leave Montessori?” A recent research study by AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) reveals that Montessori students who transition to traditional settings score higher in Mathematics and Science than students with no Montessori background. For students who have attended a Montessori program for three to eleven years, significantly higher scores are noted. If you have further questions regarding our students’ performance, please reach out to us.

Who is a Montessori Guide?

Today, we continue our exploration of the core philosophies of the Montessori classroom by looking at philosophies embodied in the Montessori guide.

It is the transformation of the adult that is the underlying theme of a Montessori teacher, where as a Montessorian is first and foremost an observer, exemplar and protector of the child’s right to learn. Parents likewise can adopt these philosophies in their approach at home, creating an environment consistent with the classroom.

Core Philosophies of A Montessorian

Be an Observer

To learn from the child, one must observe the child. Observation is an art that must be a highly developed skill in Montessorians. Observing a child is a learned art. The teacher needs to be able to anticipate the needs of a child and act on this need.

Be an Exemplar for the Child

The adult needs to “show” rather then “tell.” It is important for the Montessorian to carefully study their demeanor from which the children will derive behavioral clues. Teachers learn to move quietly, work carefully and give the child a chance to follow an example that is geared to the child’s capability and not to the adult’s expectations.

Be the Protector of the Child’s Right to Learn

A Montessorian recognizes that children learn at their own pace, with varied activities, which are both direct and indirect. If a child is to increase, the adult must decrease. The adult must have experienced a transformation in order for a child’s learning to take place.

For more information on this topic, see “What Makes a Montessorian?” by Nancy McCormick Rambusch, EdD (Montessori Life magazine, Summer 2013 Volume 25 No. 2).

Nurturing a Lifelong Learner

Lifelong learning is jargon that has been floating around the educational world in recent years. But what exactly does a lifelong learner look like? The Montessori method provides the framework of the ideal habits of learning – habits that will sustain students the rest of their lives. Surprisingly, the phrase “lifelong learning” has roots not in the educational world, but as jargon from the 1970’s that was popularized in European intergovernmental agencies in the 1990’s. Europe was seeking to change educational policies to create a stronger global economy. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, governments around the world adopted this platform to make education a priority.

So what does a “lifelong learner” look like in a Montessori environment? We believe that constant self-improvement and pursuit of passions is a natural human tendency that begins at birth. If fostered, this urge never goes away. We witness the child who engages in play outside with his friends, peace conversations between two students with opposing views, and the sense of confidence as the students share their research. We believe parents are the best role models for their children. To encourage the development of this quality in your child, it is important to demonstrate what lifelong learning looks like.

Lifelong learners:

Challenge Their Minds
Regularly reading, writing, and completing puzzles keeps the mind engaged
Exercise Their Bodies

Habits of fitness lead to positive self-image, and building core strength increases ability to focus and concentrate.
Stay Socially Connected

Interacting with family, friends, or volunteer improves communication skills and ability to work together with others
Stay In School
Take classes in areas you love (sewing class, programming class, yoga)
Are Confident

Those who can control their feelings, control their choices
Manage Stress
Stay as calm and positive as possible in all situations