What children learn during their Montessori preschool years will have an effect on them for the rest of their lives. Attending school is exciting in itself, but your child will be enthralled by the child-centric classroom, making lots of new friends, and being given a way to answer some of the many questions he has about himself and the world he lives in.
Letters and Numbers
Montessori preschool introduces the alphabet and basic numbers from 1 to 10. By the time she reaches kindergarten, she will be ready for simple addition and subtraction, but preschool is focused on learning the tools necessary in later years.
Shapes and Colors
Geometric shapes and basic colors are an important part of the curriculum in Montessori preschools. Combined with the ability to count, knowing these things gives your son enough information to begin learning about sets and sorting, and that in turn leads to more advanced math skills.
Confidence and Responsibility
Your Montessori preschool is designed around children, from the size of the furniture to the encouragement and respect each child receives. The underlying concept is that children who are shown respect and given praise are encouraged to learn more and do more. The Montessori Method is concerned with everything about your child’s development and helping him learn social skills and personal responsibility help build self-esteem and personal confidence.
Feel free to talk to your child’s Montessori preschool teachers about any questions you may have. Montessori classrooms have a much different approach than the traditional public school system, but a short conversation will show you why this method has such good results.
Having a set of daily routines helps Montessori preschool children build self-confidence and teaches them a sense of order in their lives. Knowing what step comes next and how it can be achieved encourages your kids to act more independently and provides them with an avenue to seek acceptance from others. For children with some learning disabilities, routines are the barrier between themselves and anxiety attacks or emotional outbreaks.
Morning routines help stimulate mental processes and may be as important to learning as eating a nutritious breakfast. The routine gives children something to concentrate on and a checklist of things they need to do to make it a successful day. Morning routines include:
Afternoons and Evenings
After school routines include a variety of activities that need to be accomplished every day. This includes things like putting away their school things, changing out of school clothes and into play attire, feeding pets, and eating snacks followed by dinner in the evening. It is okay if daily routines vary in the time they occur, but the order of events should be adhered to as much as possible.
Most children have had a nightly schedule for their entire lives, so going to Montessori preschool is a more a matter of refining the existing routine rather than developing a new one. Some of the activities that are part of a nightly routine are:
Routines within Routines
Major routines can be subdivided into smaller sets of activities. “Taking a bath” includes putting away dirty laundry, brushing teeth, and getting ready for bed. “Dinner time” includes washing face and hands, setting the table, eating dinner, and then cleaning up afterward.
Academically, routines are also a great way to teach about sets, using time and clocks, and counting. Since Montessori preschool addresses the total development of the child, routines are as much an educational tool as a comforting way for children to face a school day’s activity.
No matter who we are or what is going on in our lives, we all have something to be grateful for. By showing-- which is identical to teaching-- gratitude to your young children, you can teach them the path to a gratitude mindset that will serve them for the rest of their lives. We encourage this mindset in the Montessori elementary school, and encourage parents to do the same at home.
An Attitude of Gratitude
An attitude of gratitude is a vital element of the Montessori preschool, providing a sense of well being for the giver as well as the receiver. When you thank your child for a job well done, it pleases you to say so and gives your child an incentive to please you more often. It is much too easy to take the care and kindness of others in stride while taking a moment to acknowledge the efforts of others is never a waste of effort.
Life as a Series of Lessons
Even in the worst of times, there will be many reasons to express gratitude. Think of the bad things which happen as an opportunity to learn and be grateful for the knowledge that a lesson learned may not be repeated. Even when it seems like everything is going wrong, we can all be grateful for the meals we eat, the time we spend with friends and family, and the blessing of experiencing another day. Adversity is not there to defeat us, it is there to make us stronger.
Give a Little Bit
Gratitude is contagious. When a child discovers that being grateful is a path to gaining someone’s smile and attention, they will take advantage of the opportunity. As your child’s primary role model in life, you can nurture this desire to please by praising her when it is appropriate and displaying an attitude of gratitude to the people you interact with.
When you display the gratitude mindset, you encourage your children to adopt it as well. As with so much of a young child’s education, the easiest and most successful way to teach them is to be the example they can learn from
Your child’s Montessori preschool is interested in more than memorizing facts. It provides a complete approach to becoming active members of first the classroom and the community they live in. Teaching the social skills your preschooler needs to learn is more a matter of guidance than education, and it begins at home rather than in the classroom.
Grace and Courtesy
Grace and courtesy are traits that are central to managing personal behavior. Your Montessori preschool will help children acquire the grace to accept compliments and praise while instilling in them the politeness to show gratitude and appreciation.
As with other aspects of your child’s education, the precedents you set through your own behavior are the fundamentals that will be put into action. Let him see you displaying grace and courtesy, offering thanks for services and graciously accepting positive feedback as a matter of course.
The ability to convey concepts and emotions is vital in the development of social skills. Language and vocabulary are how people-- including young children-- are able to share their point of view, show interest, and let others know about the things which we would like to change. Including your kids in conversation and treating them with respect gives them the courage to speak up and helps them find the right words to make their position understood.
When you treat your kids with tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion you give them the opportunity to exhibit positive social skills. Keep in mind that children begin with a blank slate that is slowly filled with information. The opportunity to experience and influence is a necessary ingredient in learning how to interact with others in a positive and mutually acceptable manner.
Ask your child questions and show an active interest in her responses. Show her that her input is important to you by discussing her comments and enlisting her opinions. The more you allow her to join in your daily social interactions, the better she will be able to manage her own responsibilities and obligations.
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.
Your Montessori preschool teachers will tell you that developing fine motor skills is crucial for young children. These skills are necessary for everything from holding a spoon or fork to tying shoes, fastening buttons, and much more. As soon as your infant has mastered the ability to grasp an item she is ready to start developing fine motor skills, and learning early gives her a headstart in developing control over her muscles and manipulating items in the world around her.
A montessori preschool student has a lot to learn from piggy banks of all sorts. Placing coins in a slot is great for improving fine motor skills, for example. Start off by learning to place a single coin in a slot on top of the bank, and progress to holding multiple coins in the hand and inserting one at a time. As the skill develops, progress to a bank with a slot on the side. The same activity can be used to learn to count coins and later to count money.
Once your little one can hold a crayon, she can begin using them to draw. This develops fine motor control over the fingers and and hands, and is the first step in learning to write. While it could happen, you shouldn’t expect your infant or toddler to produce masterpiece drawings. What you will see, however, is a progressive development where random scribbles begin to take on shapes and then resemble actual items. Once a degree of control is being exhibited, move up to connect-the-dot pictures and then to drawing shapes, letters, and numbers-- in that order.
Stacking, Filling, and Dumping
Stacking blocks is a wonderful activity for developing fine motor skills, and one that is used commonly in Montessori preschools. Variations on this activity include filling a container with objects or dumping containers into other containers. Begin with large, easy to grasp objects and then reduce the object size as motor skills develop.
As motor skills develop, encourage your children to learn new activities such as using scissors, pasting objects on construction paper, and real-world activities such as fastening buttons, using zippers, and tying their own shoes. Even digging holes and planting seeds will improve coordination. Talk with the teachers at your Montessori daycare and coordinate the activities you use at home with ones which are being employed at school.
One of the defining characteristics of a Montessori pre-school or elementary school classroom is the everyday presence of hands-on, student-driven learning. This approach to education is called the Montessori method and is guided by the principles of child education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori was a researcher and educator who pioneered this method in the early 1900s and trained a generation of educators across the world in the practice. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools in dozens of countries with millions of students and passionate adherents to the concept of learning by doing.
Experiential learning and the prepared environment
The concept of experiential learning, or learning by doing, in itself is not unique to the Montessori method. Many educators understand the value of a learning process that starts with a tangible experience, provides space for reflection on that experience, encourages the conceptualization of those reflections into an individual’s knowledge framework, and then allows for testing of those concepts in further concrete experiences. This cyclical learning process, however, finds a uniquely nurturing medium in the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom. The foundation of the Montessori method is the prepared environment, which is the physical space of the classroom that is designed with student-driven experiential learning at its core: learning tools are available and accessible to motivate students' engagement, furniture and items needed to manipulate the environment are engineered for students’ cognitive and physical developmental stage, and teachers are observers who offer guidance in learning with minimal disruption to a student’s experimentation.
Self-teaching and love of learning
Learning by doing in a Montessori elementary school classroom has two valuable outcomes: skills in self-teaching and a love of learning. These outcomes are part of the larger goal of Montessori education to teach the whole child with the aim of growing into a self-aware, capable adult. The independence and agency students gain in their learning process comes from the confidence and efficacy they develop in an unfettered experiential learning program. Unlike in traditional classrooms where external factors direct the content of learning, the pace and ways of engaging that content, and the measurement of mastery of that content, Montessori classrooms recognize that a student’s innate curiosity and drive to understand and contribute to the world around them is the most authentic, enduring, and ultimately empowering, way to learn.
The Montessori Method extends far beyond your child’s Montessori preschool. It is more of a way of life than an educational program, including waking habits, sleep routines, and everything in your children’s daily routine. Sleep is crucial to proper development, and these tips will help your child learn and grow in a holistically healthy manner.
A Consistent Routine
Just as Montessori preschool students take naps at the same time every day, your child should have a regular sleep routine at home as well. You do not have to follow the same routine as your friends and neighbors, but it is crucial that the routine you set is followed regularly so your child knows when it is time to sleep and accept bedtime as a matter of course.
A Child’s Environment
You have your own bed for resting, and so should your child. A child-sized bed promotes a feeling of comfort and safety and reminds the children that even when little they have their own special places. Make the bed easily accessible so your child can get in and out of it without your assistance to promote a sense of personal accomplishment and empowerment.
Promote Freedom of Movement
Even an infant can benefit from her sleeping space by placing her mattress on the floor and eliminating confining cribs or railings. When she is able to get in and out of bed or crawl around on it to find the most comfortable spot or position, she learns that she has control over her environment and the freedom to be where and how she wants.
Patience and Persistence
Be patient as your little one adjusts her own sleep space. You may find yourself having to place her back in bed after she falls asleep on the floor, for example. But be persistent, knowing that every morning when she wakes up on her floor bed she is one night closer to understanding the purpose of the bed why she belongs there during the night. Children learn by doing, and your patience will help her learn faster and without fuss.
Not every child will adapt to a floor bed right away, but with your help they will get the idea and acceptant the routine fairly quickly. As with other aspects of the Montessori Method, avoid showing displeasure when crawls out of bed, yet praise her when she willingly lays down for a nap.