Learning does not end with the regular school year. Montessori preschool children will enjoy keeping their educational interests going with any of these summer games. Some of these are more fun played by groups but they can all be played by a single child and a caregiver who want to have a little fun together.
Have a Nature Hunt
Discovery is a big part of Montessori preschool, but you can continue the process at home. Start by exploring the yard or a park with your little one. You can either start out with a list of insects, plants, and animals to find or simply jot down the names of them as they are discovered. The idea is to find as many living things as possible. Make up your own variations for groups or special occasions.
You can use heavy construction paper to make letters for a yard-sized game of Scrabble. Stick the letters to the ground using sticks or stones, or make a list of familiar words to use as the object of the game. If you have a large room, this game can transfer indoors if the weather turns unpleasant.
Rainy Day Number Find
This game is great for indoor play, but it can go outside as well. The idea is to make labels with numbers from 1 to 10 along with labels which name common-- or not so common-- objects. One at a time, players pick one number and one item label and then try to find the specified number of that item. Use picture cards for small kids, and let all of the children work together to achieve each goal.
Preschool children will enjoy playing this variation on the classic tile-turning game. Draw 2 of every letter of the alphabet on pieces of construction paper and lay them out in rows and columns. Each child then picks to cards and tried to get a matching pair. This game can be played with one child or groups of several children, teaching letter recognition and improving memory retention.
The possibilities for summer educational games are nearly endless. You can modify popular games to fit your needs, make up new games of your own, or find board games or outdoor game ideas online. The important thing is that your little ones keep learning all summer long.
For those considering Montessori pre-school or elementary school for their child, there are three significant differences in Montessori schools as compared to traditional schools to explore: the class teacher, environment, and schedule.
The Class Teacher
One of the biggest shifts outsiders will observe in Montessori classrooms is the role of the teacher. Many Montessori teachers consider learning guides as a more accurate characterization of their work. This concept of a guide instead of traditional teacher stems from the priority placed on the observation of students and the one-on-one consultation and facilitation based on observations that Montessori teachers provide for each of their students. Emphasis is placed on individual motivation and progression through a learning topic, instead of an entire classroom being required to engage and move through subjects at the same pace. The mixed age groups of Montessori classrooms further this student-led approach, allowing students to teach and mentor younger students or their peers. Ultimately, though, Montessori teachers aim to cultivate self-motivated and independent learners, meaning each student is their own teacher in their own right.
The Class Environment
When Dr. Maria Montessori was in charge of her own classroom, one of the first things she did was move the straight rows of desks that dominated the space to the edges of the classroom. Instead of relying on this traditional classroom configuration that required young, wiggling bodies to be still, and that positioned the teacher at the front of the classroom as the sole source of learning, Dr. Montessori arranged the space for students to be active learners. Today’s Montessori classrooms also forego the traditional layout and instead create a deliberately prepared environment for student-led learning. The prepared environment utilizes open spaces for students to work independently and in small groups, keeps the room uncluttered and connected to the outdoors, and features organized, easily accessible shelves around the perimeter of the room that is stocked with Montessori learning tools that correspond with the program curriculum and the students’ learning interests. Montessori teachers take great care in constructing the prepared environment, and it evolves based on their observations of the students that use it.
The Class Schedule
Unlike traditional schools and their daily schedule of rigid subject time blocks, Montessori elementary school prioritizes uninterrupted student “work” or learning projects. To achieve this, Montessori schools structure the day around large segments of time where students can engage the prepared environment and its learning tools. Furthermore, the organization of the broad topics of the Montessori curriculum aligns to the students’ developmental stage. The breadth of the topics, like the Five Great Lessons, allows the curriculum to encompass myriad academic disciplines and avenues of education and will enable students to accelerate, slow down, or go deeper into subjects based on their needs. This approach aims to foster self-esteem through students’ personally-motivated learning and pursuit of efficacy and to cultivate, most importantly, a love of learning.
Research indicates that naptime is as important to Montessori preschool students as play-based learning or being given the freedom to pursue personal interests. For the sake of simplicity, you can think of nap time as a chance for a young child’s brain to reset, storing learned information and processing associations which have been encountered during the early part of the day.
Naps Promote Better Health
Naps are a crucial step in Montessori preschool. Young children who are allowed to nap once or twice during the day exhibit better health and cognitive functioning. Children who do not take naps may display less self-control, become aggressive or overly emotional, or have difficulty remembering concepts and social etiquette. Naps allow the body and mind to recuperate, and that promotes better general health.
Learning and Sleep
Insufficient sleep can have unwanted effects on young children. Not only is it more difficult for them to be alert during study time, children are also less capable of learning new concepts if they are tired. Lack of sleep can have other impacts, as well, including making it more difficult to get to sleep at bedtime.
Sleep and Behavior
We have all seen how children can become irritable or emotional when they are tired. Taking morning or afternoon naps help children recharge their emotional balance, which benefits them as well as the classroom as a whole. For teachers, nap time helps maintain order in the classroom by reducing the amount of disruptive behavior the children express.
Naps Process Learned Information
Cognitive associations are enhanced by children taking a nap immediately after being presented with new information. By shutting down many of the mind and body’s voluntary functions, the brain is better able to process and store memories. Better yet, naps seem to allow better information storage so that the things children have learned can be accessed more quickly.
As a rule, infants and young toddlers should be given two opportunities to nap during the day, while older toddlers may only need one nap as morning transitions into mid-day. You can observe your children’s behavior to determine whether it is time to reduce the number of naps, but do not rush to eliminate nap time completely.
Before a child can learn to read, she needs to grasp a few pre-reading skills. Montessori preschoolers are presented with the opportunity to discover pre-reading skills on a daily basis. These skills are her first acquaintance with stories, books, language, and more. They will allow her to understand the basic structure of sentences and how they exist in the printed form.
The Concept of Books
Before delving very far into reading, your daughter needs to understand the concept of books. This includes understanding that books contain stories and grasping the layout of book such as page ordering and orientation. This type of pre-reading skill is often picked up through observation and gentle instruction in your Montessori preschool classroom, but should also be practiced at home.
Learning the Alphabet
Once your little girl is familiar with how books work she can be introduced to getting information out of them. This includes learning to speak the alphabet, recognize and draw letters, and how combinations of letters form words. Spelling out words in a book by pointing to each letter is a great way to help your child learn.
Language Arts Basics
The meaning of words and basic information about how they interact is the next key step in learning pre-reading skills. Recognizing sentences and the concept that each sentence conveys one primary subject is an important lesson, and will lead to higher fluency and vocabulary.
Storytelling and Time Awareness
Telling and listening to stories helps a child understand how things work in a logical order. This is not so much a matter of learning the tenses of words as it is learning that events should be listed in order of occurrence.
Rhyming and Word Association
The final pre-reading skill is one which may develop even as she is reading simple books on her own. Discovering the way words rhyme is mesmerizing for some children, and necessary for all. This improves phonetic recognition and pronunciation, strengthening the ability to read using word associations.
The best way to teach your child pre-reading skills is to encourage the use of books at home. Read to her often, and in such a way that she can see you are using words on the page to extract the stories you are telling. You are the best example for your child’s interest in reading.