At the heart of the Montessori philosophy is respect for the child, which has profound implications for the way children are taught in a classroom. In a Montessori Pre-school, this translates into the understanding and support of children’s developmental stages, versatile curriculum throughout their elementary school career, and a more hands-off role for the teachers, all of which encourage children to learn at their own pace.
Support of developmental stages
In Dr. Maria Montessori’s research and experience in education, she developed* the concept of developmental planes, a timeframe in which children are more apt to adopt certain behaviors and learn specific skills. Instead of thinking of development as linear and universal, Montessori’s concept of developmental planes posits that the path to mastery and access to the next plane is particular to each child, and supporting that child in their path is the most natural and effective way for them to learn. She observed that these stages of development span several years and for this reason, Montessori schools are organized into mixed-age groups that share the same developmental plane. Children have the opportunity to explore in the same classroom for three years, allowing them to pursue their interests and develop their skills at their own pace.
The three Montessori elementary school programs are the primary (3-6 year olds), lower (6-9 year olds), and upper (9-12 year olds) programs. Each program offers a different approach to curriculum, but all offer flexibility and diverse ways to approach the topics. In the primary program curriculum, children acquire knowledge through exploration and hands-on practice in practical life skills, sensorial, math, language, and cultural studies. For the lower program curriculum, children are introduced to the Five Great Lessons: the story of the universe, the timeline of life, the story of language, the story of numbers, and the timeline of civilization. As children move into the upper program curriculum, they will focus on research projects and group work of their choosing that deepens their knowledge and understanding of the subjects they’ve explored in the previous programs, letting their innate curiosity and love of learning guide the way.
Teachers as observers
Lastly and importantly, Montessori teachers are positioned in the classroom as observers and guides. Due to the intentional design of the prepared environment and the emphasis on self-directed learning, teachers do not have to uniformly govern a classroom full of children with diverse interest, skills, and needs. Instead they can observe the child as they explore, question, and engage subjects and encourage them to own their learning process, while offering support and their presence as a resource.
During Spring Break, keep your Montessori primary school child engaged with exciting activities that encourage learning. Just as we use play-based learning in the Montessori classroom, you can use the same process for educational activities throughout the year at home.
Learning about and making music is part of the prepared environment at your Montessori primary school, and critical to healthy childhood development. The youngest ones will enjoy simple instruments such as banging on a couple of old pots, and the older children can explore the cultures where instruments were developed or the differences between various string or percussion instruments. If you have more than one child, let them make their own instruments and put on a home symphony.
Basic Weather Station
Putting together a simple weather station is an inexpensive way to become an amateur scientist. Your daughter will need a rain gauge, a thermometer, and a weather vane but the weather vane can be as simple as a pinwheel. In addition to learning the science of meteorology, keeping a journal teaches responsibility and writing as part of the project. As she gets older you can add more complex instruments, but keep it simple while starting out.
Almost any educational activity is going to provide an opportunity to learn about math. She has to measure the rain in the gauge. He needs to understand the importance of timing in music. Even the smallest children can begin learning to count blocks or cars and the rudiments of adding or subtracting items in specific sets. From cookie recipes to counting down the minutes until time to leave for the park, math is a critical part of so many of the things we enjoy in life.
Getting It Write
Like math, reading and writing skills are vital, and it is never too soon to start. Infants and preschoolers are ready to start arranging letters into the words for their favorite things. Play “word of the day” games which involve to spell a new word and then using it in the course of the daily routine, or practice spelling object names around the house.
Everything we do is an opportunity to learn. From counting fingers and toes to discovering how to spell words, the learning process should be fun and absorbing. Investigate different ways to integrate play-based learning in everything you do, including educational spring break activities.
Keeping organized and on track can be difficult for children attending Montessori primary school. From cleaning their rooms to remembering to put necessary items in their book bags, Montessori primary school students learn organization through daily activity.
Attending Montessori elementary school is the perfect time for students to begin learning about organization. One way to help is to separate different tasks and projects, working on them in a priority-based manner. By giving her one thing at a time to be completed, she is able to devote her attention to getting the job done and visualize her progress along the way. When there are multiple tasks to complete, separate them into specific folders or bins, and split the workload up to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
Write it Down
Try writing down the tasks in progress. Not only will this provide her with a way to remember what she is supposed to be working on, but the act of writing down notes is also often beneficial in committing things to memory. Even things like keeping her room tidier will improve if she has a checklist of things that need to be done so that she concentrate on each step of the process.
Follow a Routine
Repeating tasks during similar time periods each day can help with organization. When she learns that she needs to put her toys away after brushing her teeth, the pattern will become a normal process which helps her be more organized. Coupled with separating tasks and writing down the things she needs to accomplish, her day will quickly become organized and follow a regular progression.
Sticking to regular tasks can be helpful, but take care to leave the schedule open to interpretation and change. It won’t be possible to the same thing at the same time every day, but there can be tasks assigned to Monday and Wednesday that are not part of the Tuesday and Thursday routine. Effective scheduling can improve her organization by making it a facet of the normal course of events.
The tax season is upon us and a common question at Montessori preschools is whether preschool expenses can be used as a deduction. The question will have a different answer for many parents than it did in previous years, and some households will discover that they are no longer eligible for the tax credit they used in their 2018 filing.
Who Qualifies for the Tax Credit
In order to qualify for the tax credit, you must have reportable earned income. This applies to single parents as well as couples. In the case of couples, both parents are required to have reportable income. If either parent was able to work but did not, then the tax credit will not be available to you.
Childcare Tax Credit
Between 2019 and 2025, sweeping changes to the tax code are going into effect, including changes to how the child and dependent tax credit can be applied. While it is not a deduction, the tax credit can be applied to qualifying households and may cover up to $3000 of costs for one child or as much as $6000 for two or more children. Attending school or being unable to work may qualify in some cases.
Childcare Not Education
The IRS is very specific about what the tax credit is meant for, specifically to allow one or both parents to be employed and earn taxable income. The credit is not intended to pay preschool educational expenses, but to assist in child care costs while applicable parents work. Parents who are not employed while their children attend preschool are not allowed to claim any childcare expenses during periods of unemployment.
Employment is the Key
Once available for parents who were seeking employment, the new tax code is only for those who have earned income. If you were seeking employment while your child attended preschool but did not have any taxable income as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, you cannot use the credit.
Please study the changes in the U.S. tax code carefully. Many of the changes going into effect over the coming years will have an impact on what you can claim, including the costs associated with your child’s preschool attendance. Consult a professional accountant or tax service with any questions or concerns you may have before filing this year’s returns.