Monday, March 25, 2019

Earth Day Projects for Children ages 3-12

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, 2019, and provides students and families with an opportunity to take part in preserving and protecting the environment. At your child’s private elementary school the day is often associated with planting trees or other growing things, but it is equally important to reduce refuse and clean up our local areas. We’ve put together some fun projects that you can do with your children to show them the importance of protecting our planet.

Recycled Wind Chime

Earth Day activities are the kind of play-based learning found at an authentic Montessori elementary school. Children can collect aluminum, plastic, and glass to make their own unique wind chimes out of discarded material. Each child will have a different creative approach, and the finished products will produce a wide variety of sounds based on which materials were used. For additional decoration, they can pick flowers or find other natural items that can be tied or pasted onto the recycled wind chime.

Planting and Growing

Flower seeds, onions, and potatoes are all easy items to plant, and they can be started inside the home or classroom. Regardless of whether they are sowing a handful of seeds or planting a tree, making an activity out of planting a growing thing is sure to entertain and interest children of all ages. Keeping a gardening journal even incorporates reading and writing into your Earth Day activities.

Earth Day Events

There will be events all over the Bay Area for Earth Day. From entertaining festivals to community clean up events, there will be activities, games and take-home projects for everyone to take part in. There will be a beach cleanup in Berkley, and a festival in Cupertino, to name only a couple of events celebrating Earth Day this year.

The best approach to protecting the world we live in is to make preservation an ongoing event in our children’s lives. Even more importantly, these activities give children an absorbing way to learn about nature and the roles human beings play in reducing waste and conserving resources.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Outdoor Fun: New Outdoor Games to try this Spring

To supplement their daycare and preschool curriculum, consider some engaging activities to encourage your children to go out and play. Because play-based learning is the best way to learn-- and instill a love of the learning process-- some outdoor playtime fun will excite children and teach them a bit of science in the process.

Gone Fishing

This game requires a fishing pole for toddlers or a rod and reel for older kids. Tie a nut or washer to the end of the fishing line. Use rope, stones or other items to mark out “sweet spots” and then have the children take turns trying to get as close to the target as they can. This game helps build hand-eye coordination and teaches children to aim for-- and eventually hit-- a desired target.

Go Fly a Kite

While not precisely a game, flying kites is an enjoyable springtime activity with the added benefit of teaching children science concepts like identifying wind direction and basic physical laws. Older children may want to experiment with building kites, but smaller ones will be more interested in running around and learning how to get a ready-made kite to stay aloft for a while.

Balloon Games

Whether you are keeping score like this game, or trying to hit a target with an object anchored to an inflated balloon, yard games involving balloons are both enjoyable and educational. Investigate how varying weights affect the distance a balloon can be thrown, or experiment with how much weight is necessary to keep a helium-filled balloon from rising into the air.

Disc Golf

Small children may not be ready for professional disc golf, but they will enjoy trying to hit a target with a flying disc. Place various objects around the yard and take turns trying to land the disc as close as possible. As with the other activities listed here, this game combines science and fun for the whole family.
The games listed above make a great starting point for outdoor fun, but feel free to adjust the games to incorporate other lessons. The key to success in a montessori elementary school is to keep your children engaged and entertained while learning about the world they live in.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Instill a Love of Learning in Your Child Starting in Preschool

Children start out with a natural interest in learning, and your Montessori preschool nurtures that interest rather than promoting rote-memorization as a learning process. To do that, they use the Montessori Method to instill a love of the learning process, allowing children to develop their own learning patterns and subject interests as they progress.

Relevance Matters

Show your children how the things they learn can make a difference in their lives. Counting coins helps them decide on treats to buy, for example, or adding the right amount of sweetener makes the kool aid taste more appetizing. When kids understand how learning things can make life better or easier they will be more interested in the learning process.

Ask Every Question

Kids are born with a curiosity about the world they live in. Encourage your son to ask questions, and ask him questions that motivate learning. When you take the time to ask and answer questions, you are showing him that being inquisitive helps him discover new things. Don’t turn his life into a continuous test, but make it obvious that investigation and exploration will broaden his figurative horizons.

Listen, Watch, Inspire and Assist

By paying attention to the things which interest your child, you can help her be more interested in the learning process. Make her favorite materials available, and listen to her wants and concerns. If you take an active interest in her active interests, you demonstrate to her that she matters and that helps her become more confident in making decisions and choosing her own educational patterns.

Encourage Rather Than Force

If you transform the learning process into an exciting and entertaining adventure, children will want more of it. One of the problems with traditional educational systems is that the whole learning process has been put on a schedule which children are forced to abide or be left behind. Instead, encourage your children’s interest and make educational materials available without forcing them to study this subject and work on that task.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to encourage your child to enjoy learning is to enjoy learning new things yourself. Instead of sending your child down the educational path alone, go with her and allow her learning process to be yours as well. After all, what she sees you taking an interest in is going to naturally be an inspiration for her.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Fun with Letters: Teaching your Child the Alphabet

The Montessori School of Flagstaff takes pride in teaching children about letters because reading is the key to learning about everything else. We recommend that you begin teaching your children the alphabet early because that will give them a headstart at almost everything they will learn later. To help you get started, we came up with some great ideas that you can use at home.

Read Along

The printed word is everywhere, and every word is an opportunity. Read out loud to your child and follow along with your finger so your child can see the words you are saying. This will help children recognize the alphabet and how the different letters work together to form words.

Alphabet Activities

Make learning the alphabet fun with activities that capture your child’s imagination and attention. Whether you put together elaborate sets or just practice writing letters in a notebook, the act of repetitively making the shapes of letters will benefit children. An especially fun activity is singing along, and that’s a great way to practice learning the alphabet.

Involving and Interesting

A good place to begin learning the alphabet is with your child’s own name. Their name is something they have been hearing since birth and they are able to relate to it on a personal level. After their name, follow up with other words that interest them, such as cars or dolls or even the names of different kinds of flowers. Being able to spell favorite things can be a source of personal accomplishment.

Lower Case Counts

All letters have two versions: Upper and lower case. In traditional schools, children are taught the alphabet using upper case letters, but the reality is that they are going to be exposed to the lower case versions much more often. To help children learn the alphabet faster and easier, start with lower case or at least an equal measure of both cases.

The very best way to teach your child a love of the alphabet is to be a role model. Read to them often, and read for yourself when you aren’t reading to them. Your kids will imitate what they see you doing, plain and simple. For more information about using hands-on activities to teach your child the alphabet and other lessons, contact the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus today.

Montessori Philosophy: Mixed-Age Classrooms

One of the hallmarks of Montessori schools are classrooms with mixed age groups. In most cases, the age range is a maximum of 3 years, with the exception of the youngest children who are typically kept to a range from birth to 18 months. There are excellent reasons for having mixed age groups in classrooms.

Imitating the Real World

Outside of school, children are rarely limited to interaction with other children their own age. They have siblings who are different ages, and the friends they make through daily activities are from mixed ages as well. Since the primary goal of the Montessori Method is to prepare children for success in the real world, imitating the natural mix of ages is beneficial to everyone.

Peer-Based Role Models

Children look up to their older peers, and that can have a positive impact in the Montessori classroom. Not only will the younger children adopt the behavior they see, but the older kids gain a sense of responsibility when they assist their younger classmates. Instilling self-esteem and personal responsibility is a big part of Montessori education, and the mixed ages contribute to that goal.

Sense of Community

Remaining in the same environment for an extended period of time instills a sense of familiarity and community among children. This reinforces the concept of helping one another and prepares children for the responsibilities they will face later in life. As they age, the children who were assisted by older children early on become the ones assisting younger children, which means that they are able to put their own experiences with others into action as time goes by.

Benefits to Teachers

An important facet of the Montessori Method is a careful observation of the progress children make and areas where they require more assistance. Mixed age classrooms make this more feasible as the older children are able to relieve some of the burdens of instruction while reinforcing the concept of responsibility and sharing among all members of the classroom.

If you would like to get a more personal explanation of mixed age classrooms, staff from the Montessori School of Fremont will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with actual examples of how this philosophy pays off for everyone involved. Contact us today to learn more.

Prepared Environment: Difference Between Montessori and Traditional Education

At Montessori Children’s House, the prepared environment is a critical step in teaching children. One visit to our classrooms is all it takes to see the prepared environment in action and observe how it differs from traditional schools. Some of the key benefits of a prepared environment are listed here, but there is a lot more to it than we can relate briefly.

Designed for Success

There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place in a prepared environment. Comparably, traditional schools force children to conform to the subject of the moment, with every child using the same textbook and fixed on the same page. A prepared environment makes it possible for children to learn about different things at their own pace, spending more time where it is needed and moving on when a lesson has been mastered.

Child Oriented Learning

Traditional schools focus the educational process on the teachers, who provide a set of instructions in a prescribed order. In Montessori schools, the focus is on the children, and the prepared environment is designed to encourage children to enjoy learning about new things. The classroom itself is a prepared environment centered around children.

Child-Centered Classrooms

Our school’s name, Montessori Children’s House, is based on Maria Montessori’s insistence that the classroom should be designed to fit the children, not the adults who are guiding them. Furniture, decorations, and learning stations are all scaled down to fit children, with the intent of making them feel more comfortable and willing to apply themselves.

Building Self Esteem

A prepared environment makes it easy for children to move from one learning station to another, and the play-based lessons are designed to easily fit into multiple lesson types. The idea is to provide children with a sense of accomplishment and build their self-esteem, providing positive reinforcement for their learning activities.

If you really want to get an idea of how the prepared environment stands apart from “regular” schools, you need to visit a classroom. Seeing the prepared environment in action will answer most of your questions and provide excellent examples of how and why our educational method works. Contact the Montessori Children’s House today to schedule a tour.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Child Centered Learning: Montessori Method

In many approaches to pedagogy, children are object of the learning process. The adult teacher or instructor is thought to be the source of knowledge, and the children are the empty vessels into which that knowledge is poured. The Montessori Method, however, takes a different approach. In the Montessori Method, children are seen as the directors of their learning, and the adult teachers as guides and supports. This shift puts children at the center of their education and allows teachers to meet them where they are. In order to foster child-centered learning, the Montessori Method outlines five principles that guide teachers in their primary, lower, and upper elementary Montessori programs: respect for the child, the absorbent mind, sensitive periods, the prepared environment, and self-education.

Respect for the child
Maria Montessori was an experienced educator and the originator of the Montessori Method, which is practiced worldwide in thousands of classrooms, and her work and scholarship in education garnered much acclaim in her lifetime, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Montessori felt, in general, traditional education methods do not respect children. She posits, instead, that adults and educators can demonstrate the kindness we wish to cultivate in children by helping them do and learn for themselves, leading children to develop the skills and abilities necessary for independence.

The absorbent mind
This principle is based on the notion that children are born learning. Simply by living and interacting with the world around them, children are acquiring knowledge. The absorbent mind of children can be encouraged and shaped by the teachers, experiences, and the environment around them and together they create exceptional learning systems.

Sensitive periods
In her work, Montessori observed that children experience periods in their development when they are sensitive to adopting certain behaviors and learning specific skills more readily. These sensitive periods are experienced by all children, but the order in which they present themselves or the age at which they are experienced varies for each child. For Montessori teachers, this means their job is to ascertain where a child is in their development and assist them in acquiring the skill or behavior that they are particularly apt to learn at that time.

The prepared environment
The Montessori classroom is a specially prepared environment that promotes a child’s freedom of choice. The space is orderly and accessible, with all amenities and learning tools within reach. Children are encouraged to navigate the room autonomously, meeting their own needs and exploring the materials as their interest guides them. The prepared environment makes children active, engaged participants in learning.

In the right conditions, children can educate themselves. Given a thoughtfully prepared environment, authentic freedom of choice, and respect for who they are and what they can do, children will develop a life-long love of learning.