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The Kindergarten Year in Montessori by Edward Fidellow

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 08 January 2014
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An MCS Kindergarten student works on the Addition Strip board discovering "Ways to Make 10"


Kindergarten is the harvest year for all the planting and intellectual tending that has gone on for the preceding years in preschool. The kindergarten child’s learning explodes into an avalanche of reading and writing and math. All of the earlier preparation (practical life, sensorial) now finds academic outlets. The kindergarten child not only gains a wider breadth of knowledge but a deeper understanding of what she has learned and now is able to use this knowledge to enhance her own intellectual pursuits.

A Montessori education is not just cumulative in its learning; it is exponential in its understanding. The learning that happens in kindergarten is not just adding another year’s knowledge but multiplying what is learned and applying it to what is to come.

It is common for Montessori kindergarten graduates to be able to read well (and write) and to understand math far beyond addition and subtraction all the way to multiplication, division and geometry.

To miss this formative year that sets successful life patterns is to miss the ultimate advantage of this unique preschool experience.Maybe even more significantly, the lifetime patterns of responsibility, goal setting, having a work ethic, working through mistakes, inquiry and curiosity are being firmly set.


The kindergarten year in a Montessori classroom is also the year of mentoring. It is the year when the five year old is able to really help her classmates. This mentoring year is significant for two reasons. First, when you teach others, you really master the subject for yourself. Second, when you are asked to teach you demonstrate your mastery of the material. It is this mastery that produces the profound feelings of self-confidence and assurance that is the hallmark of Montessori students. Real achievement and real achievement demonstrated builds real self-esteem.

Leaving the Montessori program before kindergarten often places a child into an educational setting that is not as advanced; nor one that allows for the initiative that has been carefully cultivated during the earlier preschool years. The child is often introduced to a different curriculum one that lacks the individual intellectual satisfaction that comes from exploring and discovering the wonderful world of learning found in Montessori.

The essence of successful life is to be able to make wise choices. The Montessori kindergarten student is at a major threshold of exercising that wise decision making power. To lose that opportunity is to lose a significant part of the hard won success of the preceding years.

The great gift of an education is not the accumulation of facts and statistics but the lighting of the fire of learning, discovery and joy. It is a gift that Montessori children have the privilege and pleasure of opening and using for a lifetime.

by Edward Fidellow

Check back soon for more information about our Kindergarten program here at MCS!

Silent Journey and Discovery 2013

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Friday, 22 November 2013
in Parent Education

A warm appreciation to all who planned and attended our Silent Journey and Discovery this November.  As always, it was a delight to share this experience with many of you.  As in past years, those who are able to experience the Silent Journey and Discovery have a renewed commitment to a Montessori education for their children.  Below we have shared some comments from some of this years attendees.

Parent practice using materials in an Early Childhood classroom.

 

This 6th Year student volunteer models use of a pouring exercise in an Early Childhood classroom.

 

This parent builds words with the Movable Alphabet.

 

These SJ&D attendees receive a lesson on Checkerboard Multiplication.

 

This parent practices sentence analysis.

 

"Our little girl started this October in one of the Toddler classes. We felt and understood how this would be a good environment for our daughter--we saw a difference in her after only a week! The only thing to say after experiencing Silent Journey is we THOUGHT we understood how good of an environment this is for our daughter. The progression through the classrooms and the works is absolutely brilliant. There is no way we would want anything different for our precious little girl. The system set in place is orderly, focusing on progression, growth, and learning pertaining to independence, reading, math, social skills, morals, ethics, and problem solving. We noticed how 'hands on' and multi faceted every work is designed to engage the children on their level with their own learning abilities and processes.

We were also so impressed with the educators- the individual time, care, and attention they put into their students. They truly know and understand each individual child they work with.

We discovered how the works build. The one that stuck out to us the most was the math. Starting early with dimensions, and stacking blocks moving toward cubes and counting- and onto multiplying enormous numbers by using a mat and beads- Absolutely incredible.

Math was a subject I struggled with and I can remember the exact time (2nd grade) when I got left behind. We had to pass off times tables with the teacher in front of the whole class. I was too shy and embarrassed to perform those simple times tables in front of the class for fear of getting them wrong or not being able to have them memorized the way all the other kids seemed to be able to do. I struggled the rest of my life with the ominous subject. During Silent Journey, when I reached Lower Elementary, I got it. I actually got a little emotional watching and doing the hands on mathematics. Both my husband and I just kept saying that we wished we would have had this type of learning environment available to us as kids.

We know the school is expensive; however, we walked away from Silent Journey thinking it is worth every penny and we would pay it twice over to have our children here. In our minds, there is no other way that can hone in on every aspect of learning for each individual child and still be able to provide loving, passionate, engaging teachers to foster a child's learning and progression. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity and for this incredible school. You  really do 'get it' here. "

Chad and Ashlee Haslam, Parents of a Toddler student

 

"I think it should be mandatory that every parent go through silent journey! Even though Aria has been here for 7 years, Azur 3 years, and I have taught art on and off during all of that time, I never really got it as I did Saturday. Suddenly, all that I had read about Montessori or observed in the classrooms made sense. It builds on itself in a beautiful way as the student moves from one phase to another. I loved seeing how things made sense in a concrete way and then transitioned towards abstraction. I'm so honored to provide my children with this opportunity."

Kindra Fehr, Parent of Early Childhood and Upper Elementary students

 

Silent Journey & Discovery

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Thursday, 14 February 2013
in School News

We had a wonderful Silent Journey and Discovery experience this month. Fifteen parents were in attendence.  We started in the lobby where we shared the routine and schedule and then headed into the classrooms.  Upon entering each new environment, attendees spent the first few minutes of their visit to access the environment in relation to the students at that level. With some prompting they looked at the nature of the materials in the space.  Then, when the bell rang, they were invited to sit down and engage with the classroom materials.  After visiting each classroom and working with the materials, attendees participated in a student-led Socratic Dialogue.  Following a wonderful lunch, we had an open discussion about the experience as a whole and staff members answered specific questions about the materials, the curriculum, and the Montessori philosophy.  Thank you to those who attended.  We are looking forward to hosting this event again in the Fall and we hope more of our parents will have the opportunity to experience this wonderful event.

 

SJ&D participants engage with materials from the Practical Life, Math, Language and Sensorial materials in an Early Childhood environment.

 

Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, gives these parents a lesson on the Division Board during their visit to the Lower Elementary environment.

 

Parents work independently on Checkerboard Division in the Upper Elementary environment.

 

Participants explore the Middle School environment where they read about Middle School students experiences of different learning cycles.

 

Middle School student, Maddi Schmunk, and Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, prepare for the Socratic Dialogue.  Maddi chose the topic quote and led the discussion beautifully. The topic of discussion was quote, "It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life" by Sister Kenny.

 

Socratic Dialogue

Two parents who attended the Silent Journey and Discovery share their experiences below:

"The Silent Journey and Discovery was a very emotional and powerful experience for me.  I did not attend a Montessori school as a child so I am only familiar with the Montessori philosophy through what I have read and observed in the last two years.  It gave me a great appreciation and understanding of the different developmental levels of the works.  I loved seeing the progression and advancement of the works through Toddler, Early Childhood and up through Middle School.  The grammar and math works were thrilling to learn and experience.  The focus on the sensorial aspects of each work creates a love of learning.  In addition to receiving an amazing education the students are also learning how to be independent, respectful and loving human beings.  I think every MCS parent should participate in the Silent Journey and Discovery to really understand and appreciate the experience and education we are giving our children.  I know that it made me realize that I will do everything in my power to continue my daughter’s Montessori education."

Tonia Hashimoto

Mother of Savvy Williams, Blue Class

 

"Having not grown up in a Montessori environment, it has been difficult for me to understand what exactly a day in the life of my Montessori students is like.  I try to take in as much as I can at pick-up and drop-off, with the occasional visit and guided lesson by my children, but there is no way to fully understand without an experience like the Silent Journey and Discovery.  It was an eye-opening voyage that I would recommend for every parent, and prospective parent.  I want to do it again.

 

Going through a classroom from each cycle really makes the whole Montessori experience come full circle from seeing how the Toddlers get their first understanding of space and shape, to Early Childhood and their practical life lessons, to Lower Elementary and their grammar materials which encourage socialization, to the Upper Elementary complex math problems, to a Middle School student-led Socratic discussion.  We only saw the tip of the iceberg, but the hands-on learning experience helped personify the school life of our children.  I was struck by the thoughtful organization of each room; how comfortable and serene a small space can feel.

 

I also enjoyed the roundtable discussion following our classroom journeys.  We were able to get some insight from teachers, staff, students and other parents.  Because Montessori isn’t the “traditional” schooling for kids in our country, there are obvious concerns and hesitations with going outside the “norm”.  Many of my concerns were put to ease and I feel my children are on the correct path for them at this time.  I appreciated the book recommendations and feel they will help in understanding the Montessori Method and perhaps assist me with decisions for my family down the road.

 

My kids have been at MCS for three/four years now and I feel like I have finally been able to look beyond the curtain of their daily journey, something that every parent should see and experience.  Now, when my kids and I have our chats at the end of the day, I can ask even more detailed questions and have a bit more understanding as to how their day went.  That is priceless.

 

Thanks again to all who helped facilitate the Silent Journey and Discovery."

Carrie Christensen

Mother of Lucas, Oquirrh Class and Emily, Blue Class

Social Skills in the Montessori Environment

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 05 December 2012
in Parent Education

Through the years I have commonly been asked about Montessori students and their development of social skills. Some parents, when considering a Montessori education, become concerned that because of the size of the facility, the mixed age groupings, or the limited number of classrooms that their child will somehow be "missing out" on some aspects of social development. The short answer is that although there might not be as many children on our campus, the opportunities to develop socially are unlimited in the organization of the classrooms and curriculum.

 

Montessori herself said that "Social life does not consist of a group of individuals remaining close together, side by side, nor in their advancing en masse under the command of a captain like a regiment on the march, nor like an ordinary class of school children. The social life of man is founded upon work, harmoniously organised and upon social virtues - and these are the attitudes which develop to an exceptional degree amongst our children. Constancy in their work, patience when having to wait, the power of adapting themselves to the innumerable circumstances which present themselves in their daily contact with each other, reciprocal helpfulness and so on, are all exercises which represent a real and practical social life and which we see, for the first time, being organised amongst the children in a school. In fact, whereas schools used to be equipped only so as to accommodate children, seated passively side by side, who were expected to receive from the teacher (we might almost say in a parasitic manner), our schools, on the contrary, have an equipment which is adapted to all those forms of work which are necessary in an active and independent little community. The individual work in which the child is able to isolate himself and to concentrate, serves to perfect his individuality and the nearer man gets to perfection, the better is he able to associate harmoniously with others. A strong social movement cannot exist without prepared individuals, just as the members of an orchestra cannot play together harmoniously unless each individual has been thoroughly trained by repeated exercise when alone."

As her philosophy developed, many standards were set into place which help a student develop socially. Some of those include:

 

  • Grace & Courtesy: An essential part of the Montessori curriculum is the opportunity for children to develop skills of grace and courtesy. Children learn to interact appropriately with one another through dialogue with adults, they learn to greet and host guests into their classroom, and they learn to dialogue with their peers in classroom meetings. As early as three years old students use the "peace table" as a place to they learn to recognize personal feelings and express themselves. They often share a "peace object" of some kind (ie; rock, flower...) that can be passed back and forth as they work to solve problems with their peers. As part of the Grace and Courtesy curriculum, children prepare and share snacks within the classroom. They are given lessons on appropriate meal behavior and sometimes teachers will join students at the lunch table to model appropriate meal behavior.
  • Small Group Lessons: Though many lessons are presented to students individually, at all levels students participate in small group lessons. These lessons allow students to express their thoughts and ideas in a safe environment. As they dialogue with one another regarding their thoughts about a particular subject, teachers can assess conversational skills as well as how much or little a child may be grasping an important concept. When a child is uncertain or misunderstands a concept, teachers will represent material in a different way or within a different setting rather than reprimanding or shaming a child for misunderstanding. In these group lessons, students learn to listen to and respect other children's perspective.
  • Care of Environment: At entry into a Montessori environment children are given lessons on care of the environment around them. They are taught that the space in which they learn is their space, it belongs to them. They are taught the value of community and learn their role in a community. They are also taught to respect and value the roles of their peers within the same community.
  • Freedom to solve problems: Along with lessons on how to solve problems, children are given the freedom to actually practice the skill in a safe environment with caring and observant adults nearby. Montessori believed that children like to work out their own social problems and she said, "When adults interfere in this first stage of preparation for social life, they nearly always make mistakes....Problems abound at every step and it gives the children great pleasure to face them. They feel irritated if we intervene, and find a way if left to themselves." In order to accommodate this freedom, teachers use lunch, recess, and transition times to continually model appropriate social interactions. The time for lessons does not stop once the bell to step outside the classroom rings.
  • Lack of Competition: Mixed age classrooms, individual progression, and self-correcting materials are all contributors to the ability to avoid competition among children in a Montessori environment. Students have a natural tendency to assist one another and collaborate. Oftentimes only one material of its kind will exist within a classroom, teaching children patience as well as allowing them to plan ahead, and accommodate change. Montessori said, regarding classroom materials, "The chid comes to see that he must respect the work of others, not because someone said he must, but because this is a reality he meets in his daily experience."
  • Self-Correcting Materials: Work in the environment is set up to allow the child to use the materials to check their work. As students discover mistakes for themselves, the ability to correct becomes innate and they do not lack confidence for fear of being told they are wrong. It also allows the children to have purposeful movement.
  • Celebration of Individuality: As students are allowed the opportunity to choose what to work on and how long to spend on an activity and the ability to not be rushed to understand concepts, they are able to celebrate their individuality. Some children will grasp a concept more easily than another, some students will embrace one subject at a different time than their peers and as they work with those sensitive periods they grow as individuals. Then, within their roles as an important part of the classroom community, they are able to share concepts with others.

 

In these ways and others, children in a Montessori environment are given the very best opportunities for appropriate social development.

How is Montessori designed to prepare children for the "real world?"

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 04 December 2012
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Thank you to those parents who recently attended our Elementary Admissions Information Meeting.  Remember, if you have a child who is moving into 1st or 4th grade next year, this meeting is MANDATORY for both parents.  Also, if you are currently still in process of deciding whether your Kindergartner or 3rd grader will continue with us next year, we recommend you come to the next meeting where Margaret, our Elementary and Middle School Program Head, will answer your questions regarding curriculum as well as social develpment of Elementary age students.  Many of the attendees of our meeting last Friday were especially excited by the brief overview of the Montessori Math materials.

During the meeting some questions were raised about Montessori students transitioning to schools with a more traditional approach to education.  Tim Seldin wrote an article entitled "What are the real benefits of sending a child to Montessori?" which sufficiently explains the ways in which Montessori children are prepared to transition to other environments.  I recommend this article for any parent who has a child enrolled in a Montessori program or who is considering a Montessori education for their child.  Read Tim Seldins article here...

We invite any parents with questions regarding enrollment for your child next year to make an appointment with either your students teachers or a member of our Administration where we will be happy to address any questions or concerns you might have.  Also, dont forget that our next Elementary Admissions Information meeting is coming up this Friday, December 7th @ 8:30am.

 

This Upper Elementary student works on the Peg Board during work time.

 

Why Should I Consider Montessori for My Child's Kindergarten Year?

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
in Parent Education

Why Montessori for the kindergarten year?

Written by Tim Seldin with Dr. Elizabeth Coe

 

Every year at reenrollment time, and in thousands of Montessori schools all over North America, parents of four-almost-five-year-olds are trying to decide whether or not they should keep their sons and daughters in Montessori for kindergarten or send them off to the local schools.

So here are a few answers to some of the questions parents often ask about Montessori for the kindergarten age child.

Naturally, to some degree the answer is also often connected to the question of family income as well, although we are often amazed at how often families with very modest means who place a high enough priority on their children's education will scrape together the tuition needed to keep them in Montessori.


It is a fair question and it deserves a careful answer. Obviously there is no one right answer for every child. Often the decision depends on where each family places its priorities and how strongly parents sense that one school or another more closely fits in with their hopes dreams for their children.

Read More...

The Sensitive Periods of the Child

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 13 November 2012
in Parent Education

 

 

The Montessori philosophy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori through careful and thorough observation of the child.  Having studied to become a medical doctor, much of her theory was developed based on the biological growth of the child.  In developing her theory, Montessori discovered that children go through sensitive periods in their development.  What is a sensitive period?  It could be defined as a special sensitivity related to certain elements in the environment towards which the organism is directed with an irresistible impulse and a well-defined activity.  In other words, and in relation to our children, sensitive periods are periods of time in which children are directed by an inner pull towards a certain activity, impulse, or characteristic.

Montessori herself described sensitive periods stating, "Children pass through definite periods in which they reveal psychic aptitudes and possibilities which afterwards disappear. That is why, at particular epochs of their life, they reveal an intense and extraordinary interest in certain objects and exercises, which one might look for in vain at a later age. During such a period the child is endowed with a special sensibility which urges him to focus his attention on certain aspects of his environment to the exclusion of others.  Such attention is not the result of mere curiosity; it is more like a burning passion.  A keen emotion first rises from the depths of the unconscious, and sets in motion a marvelous creative activity in contact with the outside world, thus building up consciousness."  Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work, pp. 120.

This means that we have a great responsibility to provide our children with an environment in which their inner urges can be satisfied in the development of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Montessori described missed sensitive periods as dropped stitches.  Once a sensitive period has passed, it will never return with the same intensity and completeness that it once existed.  In each period, the child is endowed with special powers to direct and guide the learning process to its greatest potential.  Montessori describes the child's development of language as "one of the most wonderful."  Between the ages of 0 and 6, a child is in a sensitive period to develop language.  A child learns to speak and communicate simply by being in an environment rich with language.  One of the main goals of our Toddler and Early Childhood programs here at MCS is the development of appropriate language communication.  Our Dual-Language programs are based on research indicating the importance of exposure to a second language before the age of 6 is most effective.

Of course, language is not the only sensitive period through which our children pass.  Order, small objects, refinement of senses, learning good manners are just a few others. Some sensitive periods manifest one way in one child and quite differently in another.  We might see a child developing their sense of order by building blocks or laying objects in neat rows.  Another child in the same sensitive period might insist on a specific bedtime or morning routine.  Yet, another child developing order might choose the same puzzle over and over again.

It is important to note that sensitive periods often pass as quickly as they come.  Therefore, the importance of a well prepared environment speaks volumes for the child's devel0pment.  Along with a prepared environment, we must consciously observe our children and place in their paths the appropriate opportunities for growth.  Each of our programs is built on the stages of growth that our students will experience and our specific activities placed on the shelves are a result of careful observation of the needs of our developing students.  The Montessori curriculum supports sensitive periods at each level.  For example, children aged 6-9 years old are in a sensitive period for development of social skills and appropriate communication.  Therefore, if you walk into one of our Lower Elementary classrooms you will find many students working in pairs or small groups as they collaborate on projects within their learning environment.  Of course, this is just one example of how our Montessori environment supports the sensitive periods of the students.

Preparing Your Home Environment

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Wednesday, 17 October 2012
in Parent Education

A huge thank you to our Toddler Teachers for presenting a wonderful Parent Education Night to the parents of our Toddler students last night.  We were pleased that so many of our parents came out to learn more about the Montessori Toddler Environment and ways they can support the curriculum in their homes.

 

 

Read the article below for more information about preparing the home environment for your little ones....

Birth To Three...Preparing the Environment

Learning comes from a natural interaction with the environment much more than from listening or watching another. For this reason the preparation of the environment is extremely important.

Read the full article

montessori.edu

Middle School Team Building

Posted by Britney Peterson
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on Tuesday, 16 October 2012
in Classroom Updates

Recently the Middle School students participated in their Team Building Immersion Week, after 5 weeks of study. The week started off with a trip to CLAS Ropes Course in Provo where they practiced many team building techniques.  The Upper Elementary students were excited to be able to join them for the Ropes Course Field Trip.  Other activities throughout the week included completing class projects, painting the “Nookery” (their mini workspace under the stairs), hiking up Mill Creek's Alexander Basin train with more team building games, and planning, shopping for, and preparing  meals for a campout on school campus.  Food from the class garden was used for their meals.  The week concluded with setting up a tent in preparation for their campout Thursday night.  At the campout they enjoyed a fire-pit and a presentation by Native American flutist and storyteller, Nino.  On Friday, following the campout, the students participated in a Guided Reflection on the completed week and who they are as a team.  They focused on challenges, celebrations, and goals.

Now, Middle School students have begun Cycle Two, where they will focus on “Changes,” change in literature, change in the world around us physically (fungi, protists, and matter) and social change (being catalysts for positive change). Cycle two’s immersion is geared around Service Learning, being the change we want to see in the world.

Do Montessori Schools Have An Edge?

Posted by Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan
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on Thursday, 20 September 2012
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New research suggests that children who attend Montessori schools may have an edge over other children in terms of both academic and social development.

The 5-year-old Montessori students were found to have better reading and math skills than their peers who attended traditional schools and they scored higher on tests measuring social development, researchers reported.

The 12-year-old Montessori and non-Montessori students had similar reading and math scores, but the Montessori children tended to score higher on tests measuring social and behavioral development, researcher Angeline Lillard, Ph.D., tells WebMD.

Read the full article

CBSnews.com

Google's co-founders credited Montessori for their success

Posted by Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan
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Google on Friday honored Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori with a homepage doodle celebrating her 142nd birth anniversary.
Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both went through the Montessori education system and have credited it for their success.
"I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated, questioning what's going on in the world, doing things a bit different," Page said in an interview with ABC (below).

PCMag.com Article