Why Montessori Preschool is Important for Your Child

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Montessori preschool may be the best way to give your children an early head start. The Montessori Method and immersion in a prepared environment offers children the ability to learn at their own pace through the use of practical activities that focus on real-world actions and projects. More than just a different way to learn, the Montessori Method is a child-centric approach to education.

The Montessori Preschool Classroom

Your child’s Montessori preschool classroom is a prepared environment designed to provide the most educational opportunity for young children. From multi-age classrooms to child-sized construction and carefully thought-out workstations, the classroom contains all of the elements necessary for both education and encouraging children to learn by doing.

Freedom to Move, Freedom to Choose

Freedom of movement is a central facet of the Montessori preschool. Children are allowed to move between activities, work together or alone, and choose their own subject studies and the time spent at any particular activity. Student guides observe the children and make constructive suggestions to help guide children to appropriate behaviors and activities.

Practical, Peaceful Education

The Montessori Method relies on practical, real-life activities to teach children more than just a curriculum of subjects like math or language arts. The learn practical activities to assist them in their daily lives, and how to resolve conflicts peacefully. The same subjects are taught in a Montessori classroom as in any other classroom, but they are taught in a practical way that children can immediately apply to their individual environments.

Acceptance and Responsibility

Diversity, acceptance, and personal responsibility are tremendously important in a child’s development. Montessori preschool to children to be responsible for their actions, look for the positive aspects of any situation, and to respect other cultures, lifestyles, and differences. 

 

Schedule a tour of your child’s Montessori preschool and observe how the Montessori Method works for yourself. Unlike traditional education systems, Montessori puts the focus on children and allows them to learn by doing the things they enjoy.

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Fun Outdoor Games for Elementary Students

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A big part of Montessori pre-school and elementary schools is enjoying ample time outdoors. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that connecting the learning environment to nature and making sure children used and moved their bodies in the school day is beneficial for all students. While this philosophy behind the Montessori elementary school approach to integrating the outdoors in the classroom is good to know, it is also good to remember what any kid can tell you – it’s fun to play outside! Read on to learn some great games that get students to collaborate, strategize, and most importantly, have fun. 

Practice teamwork

For the game of Snakes and Worms, you will need two 20 foot lengths of yarn, one green (snakes) and one brown (worms). Cut the yarn into smaller sections, about 1 foot long, and hide the sections around the outdoor space. Divide your students into two teams, the snakes and the worms, and designate a captain for each. When you say “go,” the students will disperse to look for their team’s color of yarn and to bring to their captain, whose job is to tie the sections to each other. The game is finished when one of the teams is the first to reconnect their whole snake or worm. 

No supplies needed

If you are looking for a game that doesn’t call for any equipment or supplies, Sharks and Minnows is a great option that can be played and replayed until the students are spent. To start the game, one student is named the “shark” and stands across the play space from the rest of the students (the “minnows”), who are spread across the play space boundary. When the shark says, “Swim!” the minnows must run to the opposite boundary, past the shark, without being tagged. When the shark tags a minnow, they turn into another shark! Now the remaining minnows must make it across the play space again to the opposite boundary, trying to evade the growing group of sharks. Students go back and forth like this until the last minnow standing gets to be the first shark in the next round. 

Make the most of wide-open spaces

An energized group of students and a big field is the perfect recipe for a classic game of Tag. The premise of Tag is simple: one student is “it” and they must tag another student who then becomes “it,” and the tagging continues until it’s time to go inside. Because the game of Tag has such an easy set of rules, kids of every generation have come up with all kinds of creative variations. The long list of ways you can transform Tag is never ending: Freeze Tag, Shadow Tag, Tunnel Tag, Chain Tag, Toilet Tag, even Blind Man’s Bluff is a game of Tag by a different name. To add an extra challenge for your students, invite them to make up their own version!

Click here for additional outdoor activity ideas!

Preparing your child for Montessori Kindergarten

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Moving from preschool into Montessori kindergarten marks a big development in your child’s life. To make the transition easier, you can help him adjust to the idea slowly in the days and weeks leading up to the big day. From getting familiar with the staff to setting routines and verifying kindergarten readiness, you can do a lot to make the first day of school a fun and exciting experience.

Visit the Montessori Kindergarten Classroom

You can take a lot of the scary mystery out of the first day of school by giving your child a chance to explore the classroom ahead of time. A visit to your child’s Montessori kindergarten before the first day can be treated as an exciting adventure as your son meets the staff and possibly even some of the new students he will be interacting with.

Set Morning and Night Routines

Initiate morning and night routines a week or more before school starts so your child will be able to adjust to them before facing the additional stress of going to school. This includes things like setting out a wardrobe the night before, sticking to bedtimes and morning awakenings, and even practicing saying goodbye to mom or dad after breakfast.

Reduce or Eliminate Naps

By kindergarten, most children are ready to take fewer naps or go without them completely. Practice eliminating naps leading up to the first day and see how well your son is able to handle the change. If necessary, reintroduce a single midday nap and slowly eliminate it as well.

Build Necessary Skills

Print out a kindergarten readiness checklist and practice the items on it with your child. This will include things like knowing how to spell his name, recognizing basic shapes, and being able to go to the restroom unassisted, among other things. Most of these things were addressed in preschool classes, but an end-of-summer refresher is still an excellent idea.

 

Attending Montessori preschool is a good way to give your child a headstart on kindergarten preparedness. But the best advice to communicate with your child and his school, and spend some time easing him into his new role as a “big kid.”

 

Teaching Courage in Montessori Preschool

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Courage is the ability to function in the face of pain, fear, or grief. In the Montessori preschool, courage is important as a means of promoting self-esteem and encouraging ethical and acceptable behavior. In the classroom– and in your home as well– teaching courage is vital to the best development of the child.

Montessori Preschool Storytime

One way to teach courage in a Montessori preschool setting is through the tales of storytime. Stories and books which feature characters who act courageously introduce children to the idea of facing one’s fears and triumphing in the face of difficulty. You can do the same at home by selecting books that deal with courage to read with your children at bedtime or anytime you sit down to share a storybook.

Communication

You should never miss an opportunity to let your children know how much they mean to you. The knowledge that she is loved unconditionally contributes to your daughter’s ability to trust the actions of others, express her own thoughts and feelings, and take chances with the knowledge that you support her in any project she cares enough to attempt.

Facing Phobias

It can be very difficult to come to grip with our fears and requires a great deal of courage to bring some of them into the light at all. A child who is self-conscious about standing in front of the class needs to be encouraged to face that fear and allow his personality to shine through the discomfort. By coming face-to-face with the situations that frighten him, your son learns courage and the confidence to overcome them.

Asking for Help and Giving Assistance

Learning courage means having the bravery to step up for someone else, and the confidence to ask for assistance. The two are facets of the courage to believe in oneself and the abilities of those around you. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you need assistance, for example, and helping another child means lowering social barriers and interacting productively.

 

Teaching your preschooler about courage gives the child an incentive to explore new things, try different ideas, and communicate with people who may differ from them. When you teach courage, you teach your son or daughter to believe in themselves and the power to overcome obstacles.

The Montessori Approach to Discipline

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One way your child’s Montessori preschool differs from traditional approaches is the concept of discipline. Many people consider the lack of a punishment model for discipline to mean that there is none at all, but the fact is that Montessori simply addresses discipline from a different perspective.

Personal Responsibility

Just as their Montessori preschool encourages children to be masters of their own education, it also takes a similar approach to discipline. The idea is to foster personal responsibility in children rather than fear of punishment. Instead of behaving according to the established rules because the child doesn’t want to be punished, each child is encouraged to follow the rules because it is the socially responsible course of action.

Freedom and Choice

In the Montessori environment, choices are equated with freedom. Encouraging children’s behavior becomes a matter of presenting a child with choices that are acceptable to the group, to themselves, and to the parent or teacher. Limiting the choices available will not undermine a child’s freedom to choose, it enhances his freedom by presenting him with an acceptable menu that is free of negative implications.

When behavior falls outside of acceptable options, it is important to address the problem directly, but without a display of anger. Remember that children will model their social interactions based on what they observe in parents or teachers, so reacting to unwanted behavior with more unwanted behavior is not a productive approach to discipline.

Self-Control as Discipline

The goal of Montessori education is to model productive members of the social community. This is accomplished by fostering the concept that we are all ultimately responsible for the choices we make. Instead of being subjected to an indirect punishment, a child who throws their work materials is acknowledged as choosing the option of NOT working with those materials for a period of time. The child is presented with the realization that disruptive behavior creates its own punishment by limiting additional free of choices. The child has more options available by making more appropriate choices, promoting self-control as a way to accomplish one’s goals.

Patience, not punishment, is the key to discipline in the Montessori environment. Undesirable behavior is examined in search of more appropriate options and positive behavior is encouraged through positive reinforcement rather than physical reward.

How do I reinforce the Montessori method at home?

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The philosophy behind the Montessori method has 8 key principles that can help guide your family in reinforcing this educational method from your Montessori pre-school or elementary school at home. 

  1. Connect movement and cognition

Dr. Maria Montessori and many contemporary educators have found that when the act of learning incorporates the whole body, it better aids cognition. In short, it’s essential to make learning physical. In the classroom, students do this by using Montessori learning tools like the sandpaper letters, but this is something you can do at home too. Practice creating activities that use all the senses and encourage your child to move their body as they learn. 

  1. Provide choices

In Montessori pre-school and elementary school classrooms, the day is guided by the student’s choice in learning activities and subjects. Teachers may help to guide their decisions by offering prescribed options for activities or offering an alternative for when the student would like to follow up on a topic. However, the choices are mostly only limited by the tools and activities they’ve been shown how to use and the availability of those resources. By similarly creating opportunities for choice in your home you can reinforce self-motivated learning. 

  1. Cultivate interests

Cultivating a child’s interest goes hand in hand with prioritizing their choices in their education. Montessori elementary school teachers work to awaken and nurture their students’ interests in their classrooms. You can do this too by fostering your child’s natural interests and partnering with them as they explore it further. 

  1. Prioritize intrinsic motivation 

In many traditional schools, the motivation to learn is often tied to external metrics of success, like good grades or gold stars. However, research has found that this extrinsic motivation can have a negative impact on learning outcomes. Instead, it is better to help your child value learning for learning’s sake. This self-motivated approach is more likely to lead to deeper understanding and retention of the topic. 

  1. Learning with and from Peers

Montessori classrooms have students of mixed age groups to enable children to teach and learn from each other. Creating a mixed-age playgroup at home can have the same outcome, whether it’s with other children in your family, neighborhood, or community groups. 

  1. Learning in Context

In adult parlance, this principle might be translated to “learning on the job.” Essentially Montessori schools create learning experiences where the concept that is being taught or explored is anchored in concrete activities and materials. Instead of letting concepts become abstract, you can help your child experience the ideas they are learning firsthand. 

  1. Just the right amount of teaching

Montessori teachers spend a great deal of time observing their students and balancing their lessons with the imperative to avoid interrupting their student’s self-motivated learning as much as possible. This balance can be practiced at home as well, allowing your child to struggle with a project or task long enough to learn from it, but not so long they become frustrated and disengaged. 

  1. An organized environment

The calm and orderly environment of the Montessori classroom helps students to know what to expect, to build independence, to lower anxiety levels, and to create a love of learning. This prepared environment can be replicated at home by having a minimal amount of activities, tools, or toys available at one time and by ensuring every item has its designated space and that it is accessible. While this might sound challenging, your Montessori child should have plenty of practice from school!

Introducing a School Routine for your Preschooler

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Starting Montessori preschool is a big step for young children, but you can ease them into it by introducing a school routine at home. Talk with the staff at your child’s school to get an idea of what the daily schedule will be and then practice it in the days leading up to the start of the school year.

Routines Can Be Flexible

Having a routine does not mean that the same thing happens at the same time every day. Routines in Montessori preschool may occur in a set order, but the length of time spent on each activity in the schedule may vary significantly from one day to the next. You have probably noticed the same thing at home, where dinner follows a set procedure but mealtime changes somewhat from day to day.

The Importance of Daily Routines

A routine is a set of actions that are repeated on a regular basis. Routines provide structure to events and activities, such as helping children remember the order of actions before bed or first thing in the morning. Because the routines they perform each day give them a sense of order and power over events, children will quickly adapt to routines as a way of understanding what is expected of them in specific circumstances.

Routines Provide Consistency

When children are just starting out in preschool the consistency of patterns in the daily schedules will help them adjust to the changes in their lives. Knowing that a favorite activity is coming after the current one gives children something to look forward to and encourages them to concentrate on the current tasks so that they can move on to the next activity. For children with ADHD, daily routines can have a calming effect which helps them function appropriately.

Understanding the school routine helps preschoolers adjust to the classroom environment. Because going to preschool involves many new concepts for children to learn, the more consistency you can demonstrate in the school day, the easier it will be for them to play an active role in the classroom.