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5 Ways the Montessori environment may be ideal for children on the Autism Spectrum

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the links and purchase products.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

 

Could a Montessori environment be a good fit for a child on the autism spectrum?

 

The Montessori Method and environment is very unique.  The philosophy is based on individual learning, child led instruction and the development of the child.  The environment is carefully and thoughtfully set up & maintained based on the needs of the children, their various developmental levels and is inviting to the children.  The Montessori environment is aesthetically appealing to the eye, is strategically designed and provides a sense of calm and order.  For children who are on the autism spectrum, the Montessori environment has characteristics that may be ideal for their success and overall learning.

 

DISCLAIMER:

The following information is for informational purposes only.  The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of seeking the advice of a trained and qualified healthcare or medical professional.

 

As stated by Dr. Lori Ernsperger, an autism specialist with over twenty years of experience; “the best way to make sure your students learn well is to ensure that the physical layout of your classroom is maximized and workstations are clearly delineated.”  Following what Dr. Ernsperger has presented, a Montessori environment fits the description on what she has determined is an ideal environment for children on the autism spectrum.  A Montessori environment is very distinct and individualized.  The materials are mostly made of natural wood, and along with neutral colors are meant to soothe the senses, attract the children to the materials, and not distract from their learning. Environments that contain bold, bright colors can often be overstimulating to the children and the adults in the room.   Montessori classrooms are open, light & airy; and are peaceful and uncluttered.

 

All learning environments can be an integral part of a child’s learning.  An enriching, inviting and  stimulating environment can provide an increased chance of children being successful in their learning.  Not only will they learn more, they will enjoy it and be more willing to learn!  If an environment is boring, drab, dark and not visually appealing, it could be harder for the children to want ti engage and learn; AND make it hard for the teacher to find ways to motivate themselves to teach.  I must say, personally, if my classroom was drab and boring, it would be a STRUGGLE for me to want to teach.  I prefer an environment that is fun and lively, but not overstimulating and distracting.

 

5 ways a Montessori environment may be a good fit for a child on the autism spectrum

 

 

These tips on selecting an appropriate environment for a child on the autism spectrum are recommended by a autism specialist.  Please note that each child is different, and not every Montessori environment is the right fit for each child.  There are many things to consider when choosing a learning environment for your child.

 

  • Pay special attention to the physical  design and layout of the classroom

Always consider the flow of the classroom.  Think about how children and adults are able to manuever and move throughout the classroom; making sure to keep it as easy as possible.  Provide areas that are intended for smaller and larger group activities, and arrange the furniture and shelving to assist in that.  Montessori environments are well known for their design and layout characteristics; since they allow for children to roam freely through the classroom during the work period.

 

  • Be mindful of sensory stimulation

It is probably best to try to avoid overly stimulating the senses.  As stated before, overstimulating can be a distraction and disrupt concentration.  Consider things like lighting, windows, floor & window coverings and ceilings.  Equipping the classroom with carpet or investing in large area rugs to reduce the noise level, have dimmer settings on lights and use window coverings that allow natural light in; but not too much.  That is one of the things that makes a Montessori environment different; we try not to overstimulate the children with bold, bright colors on the walls, shelves and materials.

 

  • Try to eliminate or reduce clutter as much as possible

Excess or unused furniture, classroom teaching aids and even teacher collectibles can be a distraction.  Try to keep the classroom free of unused or rarely used items so that the children will not be distracted by them.  If possible, store these items away and bring them out as necessary or when needed.  If you walk into any Montessori classroom, you will notice how organized and orderly the materials and shelves are.

 

  • Use visual aids to define spaces and increase independence

Using visual aids throughout the classroom can help children in a variety of ways.  It helps them to understand the flow of the day, anticipate what activity comes next and can keep the day running smoothly.  Using visual aids on shelving can remind children how and where to put their work away.  It increases their independence and boosts their confidence as well.  Montessori classrooms use subtle visual aids as well to help children learn how to put their work away and where the group area is as well.

 

  • Have an area of the classroom where children can calm down and regroup

Preparing a calm down area for children to use if needed is important part of the environment.  Make sure the area is free of distractions and can be used for as long as the child needs.  This calm down area should never be used as a form of punishment, but an area for a child to relax, calm down and refocus.  In a Montessori classroom, this area is referred to as a Peace Area or Corner.  Sometimes it has a table, small floor pillows or a chair placed in an area of the classroom that is not near the hustle and bustle of the classroom.  It has items that are good for reducing stress and provide calming effects.  These are special items that are specific to the peace area, and are not found in other areas of the classroom.

 

 

As you can see, there are many benefits and positives when considering if a child on the autism spectrum will thrive in a Montessori classroom environment.  The Montessori environment provides many of the characteristics of an ideal learning environment that are recommended by professionals.  With Montessori being an individualized, child-led learning philosophy, the non-traditional, open flow of the classroom may be worth looking in to for your child.

 

Looking for more resources or information for children on the autism spectrum? Check out these books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope that this information is helpful and insightful to parents and teaching professionals!

 

Anitra

Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

5 Key Tips on Implementing Montessori at Home

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the links and purchase products.  Please see the Disclosure Policy for more information.

 

Do you homeschool? Looking in to the Montessori Method for your homeschooling needs? Are you a daycare provider that would like to develop a specialized home space for your child? Are you a parent that would like to introduce key elements, thoughts, and practices of the Montessori Method into your home on a regular basis?

 

Are you interested in developing a better understanding of the Montessori Method?

 

Are you unfamiliar with the Method and its’ principles?

 

Don’t know where to begin?

 

Well, you are in luck! Whether you are familiar with the Montessori Method or not, there are some basic ideas and principles that you should know before you decide on fully implementing the practices of Montessori. There are many types of publications, websites, and information available that explains the Montessori Method. The information can come from various organizations and/or people, that provide information on the method. The main problem that I have noticed is, that the information is not always verified or come from a reputable source.

So, why not learn the ins and out of the Montessori Method from a trained Montessori teacher? Montessori trained teachers learn, study, and analyze Maria Montessori, her teachings and publications; as well as her philosophy, writings, and materials regarding the development of children and their education. Based on some of her writings, the tips below will give you a bit of insight on the basis of the Montessori Method, as well as tips on implementing the ideology.

 

The beginnings of the Montessori Method:

The Montessori Method is an educational and teaching system that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator whose philosophy is based on creating a self-directed, hands on learning environment where children are encouraged to be the natural learners that they are. Independence, character development, and the development of their natural abilities are key components of the Montessori philosophy. Children thrive in an environment where they are active participants in their learning, are encouraged to explore their surroundings and have free choices in selecting activities. The method promotes child centered, developmentally appropriate activities, and fosters the development of the “whole child”. To learn more about the Montessori Method, be sure to check out the American Montessori Society website.

 

5 Key Tips for Implementing the Montessori Method at home
 
  1. Montessori activities should be child centered:

“The free choices made by the children enabled us to observe their psychic needs and tendencies”.-Maria Montessori, The Secret of the Child

One of the key concepts in introducing Montessori practices and principles is to ensure the environment and activities are child centered. Provide activities and items in the environment that are developmentally appropriate. Furniture should be child sized and items for the child’s use should be easily accessible for the child.

 

  1. Montessori activities should follow the child and their interests:

“The first thing to be done, therefore, is to discover the true nature of a child and then assist him in his normal development”. –Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

When preparing the environment and activities, be sure to take into consideration what your child enjoys doing and learning. Provide activities that are focused on the child’s interests and allow them to decide on their activity choices, as well as taking note of things that may be of little to no interest to them.

 

  1. Montessori environments foster independence:

“The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his “natural development”.-Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind

Create opportunities for your child to be independent. Providing opportunities for children to be independent builds confidence and fosters a sense of accomplishment. Encourage your child to do things independently; start with simple activities; then following the child’s development, increase to more complex activities.

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  1. Montessori fosters the development of the whole child:

“There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life”.-Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind

Create and provide a wide variety of activities that encompass many different topics, subjects, and skills. Support the development of their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive needs by introducing your child to activities that will stimulate and foster their overall growth.

 

  1. The Montessori Method and environment contributes to the thought that children are natural learners:

“Before elaborating any system of education, we must therefore create a favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts”.-Maria Montessori, The Secret of the Childhood

 

Prepare an environment that allows your child to learn from it. Have various activities that teach many different concepts, so that your child can intuitively learn from the activities. Introduce activities that allow your child to explore, create, and motivate their ability to learn naturally.

Are you intrigued to learn more about implementing the Montessori Method at home? Need ideas on activities to implement into your home? Please feel free to email me so we can discuss the details of my Montessori in the Home Activity & Ideas Plan!

 

Want to learn more about the Montessori Method and implementing it in your home?  Check out these books to give you more insight and understanding into the principles.

 

How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way

by Tim Seldin

 

 

Montessori at Home Guide

by A. M. Sterling

 

 

Teaching Montessori in the Home: Preschool Years

by Elizabeth G. Hainstock

 

 

Montessori at Home: A Complete Guide to Teaching Your Preschooler at Home Using the Montessori Method

by Heidi Spietz

 

 

Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook: A Short Guide to Her Ides and Materials

by Maria Montessori

 

Hoping that you have greater knowledge on the Montessori Method!

Keeping these tips in mind when implementing the Montessori Method will put you on the right path to creating a child centered and independent learning environment for you child.

 

Anitra

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Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

Which school model is best for your child? Traditional or Alternative

By Anitra

 

Keeping with the theme about the various learning styles of how children learn and the multiple intelligences, I find it only fitting to now discuss school choices.  I thought that it would be good to discuss and compare the two educational models.  My hopes in comparing and laying out the differences in the models would be that parents have enough information to make an informed decision on choosing what type of school is right for their child (ren).  Although I am a Montessori trained professional, I support any and all educational settings that have the best interest of the child and their needs as their objective.

 

 

Last week, I posted about the different learning styles and intelligences on how children learn. According to psychologist Gardner, there are eight different learning styles.  In case you missed it, you can read it here.  Like I stated before, it is important to find out what type of learner your child is so that you can decide which type of school environment fits their learning style the best.  There are two main educational models to choose from when selecting a school for your child.

 

I will break down and compare both educational paradigms so that you have a clear understanding of each type, and can make an informed decision when selecting a school for your child.  This comparison is helpful when selecting a preschool, elementary school, middle school or high school.  There are many choices that have become popular over the last ten years, and the different types of educational environments either supports one of the two models I will discuss or a sort of combination of the two.  Each type has very distinct characteristics that set it apart from the other.

When I was younger there was one choice; public school.  Many of the alternative schools that exist and that are popular today weren’t an option or even a possibility.  Now, parents have the choice to choose the educational environment that they feel is best for their child.

 

Comparison of two educational models

 

Traditional Model:

Founded on the theory of Behaviorism

Example: Public school education                                                               

1. The student is viewed as the passive recipient of the transmission of knowledge.  The learning environment is teacher centered and directed

2. A product oriented, linear curriculum: building block type of model; in which a foundation of information is built upon. Once information is presented, it is rarely revisited.

 

 

Focuses on:   

*group orientation and instruction

*students are taken through a predetermined curriculum

*information is disseminated through lecture, reading of textbooks, rote memorization of abstract facts, testing the facts in a standardized manner, and evaluation is through a system of grading.

*subjects are offered as separate disciplines

*chronological grouping of students

 

Fosters:    

*knowledge of basic skills: recall of facts and surface information, mechanical use of abstract operations

*a perspective of heteronomy: refers to action that is influenced by forces outside the individual

*an external locus of control

*dependence upon the authority figure

*convergent thinking (finding a single best solution to a problem)

*competitive organizational structure based on mutual respect

 

Alternative Model:

Founded on the theory of Constructivism

Example: Montessori Education

1. The student is viewed as an active participant in constructing knowledge.  The learning environment is child led and directed.

2. A process oriented, non-linear curriculum: spiral type of model; in which knowledge areas are visited and revisited at higher and higher levels of difficulty and complexity.

 

Focuses on:

*individualized orientation and instruction

*the curriculum is developed to meet the needs of the students

*information is disseminated through demonstration, hand-on use of concrete materials, shared inquiry, child/teacher collaboration, portfolio assessment, and descriptive evaluation.

*subjects are offered as integrated disciplines

*multi-aged grouping of students

 

 

 Fosters:

*an understanding of the process underlying learning, knowledge of basic skills: functional application, ability to access information,

problem solving, and critical thinking skills

*a perspective of autonomy: refers to action that is not influenced by forces outside the individual

*an internal locus of control

*independence and self-responsibility

*divergent thinking (finding a variety of possible solutions to a problem)

*cooperative organizational structure based on mutual respect

 

 

 

It is important to take many factors into consideration when selecting a school environment for your child.  Their individual learning style, the philosophy of the school, the academic structure of the school and compatibility with your personal learning goals for your child should all be considered.

As stated above, an example of the traditional model is public school education and an example of the alternative model is Montessori education or other academic/philosophical based schools.  An example of a mixture of the traditional and alternative models is a charter school.  Many charter school offer a blend of sit down classes as well as home school or independent study.  There are so many choices to choose from, and it is important that each parent and family to research and determine what is the right fit for their child(ren) and family.

 

Anitra

 

 

Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

What Kind of Learner is Your Child?

By Anitra

 

Everyone in the world has their strengths and weaknesses.  Some are natural athletes; while others have to practice and train to become a good athlete.  Some people are naturals when it comes to academics; while others mat struggle a bit and have to study in order to do well in school.  People are so different; it is even amazing to see how different or similar your child are to you, and to see how different or similar siblings can be.  For instance, I have two daughters.  One is in college, and the other is in high school.  My daughter in high school goes to the same school her sister did.  She has many of the same teachers as well.  They didn’t actually go there at the same time; my oldest was a freshman in college when my youngest was a freshman in high school.

 

There are many kids and teachers alike that are shockingly AMAZED that they are sisters!  My oldest daughter was not as social as my youngest is.  Academics came easier for my oldest daughter and she had to work hard to excel in sports.  My youngest daughter on the other hand is a natural athlete, and learns better with visuals. Unfortunately, most public schools are do not teach using many visuals. So you see, although they are siblings, they are like night and day!  My oldest daughter is more like me; academics comes fairly easy to me and my youngest daughter is more like my husband in that he also learns better by seeing.

 

It is important to realize how your child learns early on. If you have younger children, it can help you in deciding what type of preschool to enroll them in; or if you should home school them.  Determining what type of learner your child is also is important in the later years of schooling as well.  Not all children are meant to sit for hours at a desk and listen to a teacher teach from the front of the classroom.  Some children need to be engaged in their learning, they need to be able to freely move about, explore, and actively take part in how and what they learn. There is so much to consider when choosing the right school path for your child.  Being aware of how your child learns will help you decide what is right for your child.

 

So…Do you know what type of learner your child is?

 

According to psychologist Howard Gardner, there are eight types of intelligence. Early on in his research, Gardner had discovered seven intelligences, but later added the eighth.  He believes that everyone has a small part of all the intelligences within them.  But he also believed that over the years; a person develops one area of intelligence more thoroughly than the other areas and that becomes their primary way of learning.  To learn more about Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences and to find out your multiple intelligence, please click here.

 

What kind of learner is your child?

 

Interpersonal

-Thinks by bouncing ideas off other people

Also known as “The Socializer”

LIKES TO:

  • have lots of friends
  • talk to people
  • join groups

IS GOOD AT:

  • understanding people
  • leading others
  • organizing
  • communicating
  • manipulating
  • mediating conflicts

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • sharing
  • comparing
  • relating
  • cooperating
  • interviewing

 

 

Musical

-Thinks via rhythms and melodies

Also known as “The Music Lover”

LIKES TO:

  • sing, hum tunes
  • listen to music
  • respond to music

IS GOOD AT:

  • picking up sounds
  • remembering melodies
  • noticing pitches/rhythms
  • keeping tune

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • rhythm
  • melody
  • music

 

 

Bodily-Kinesthetic

 

-Thinks through somatic sensations

Also known as “The Mover”

LIKES TO:

  • move around
  • touch and talk
  • use body language

IS GOOD AT:

  • physical activities
  • crafts

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • touching
  • moving
  • interacting with space
  • processing knowledge through bodily sensations

 

 

Naturalistic

-Thinks by relating to the outside world

Also know as “The One With Nature”

LIKES TO:

  • grow things
  • be in nature
  • camp, hike, and bike

IS GOOD AT:

  • memorizing
  • observing
  • recognizing patterns in nature

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • classification
  • exploration
  • touching
  • examining

 

 

Spatial

-Thinks in images and pictures

Also known as “The Visualizer”

LIKES TO:

  • draw, build, design
  • daydream
  • look at pictures
  • watch movies
  • play with machines

IS GOOD AT:

  • imagining
  • sensing changes
  • mazes/puzzles
  • reading maps/charts

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • visualizing
  • dreaming
  • using the minds’ eye
  • working with colors/pictures

 

 

Logical-Mathematical

-Thinks by reasoning

Also known as “The Questioner”

LIKES TO:

  • do experiments
  • figure things out
  • work with numbers
  • ask questions
  • explore patterns and relationships

IS GOOD AT:

  • math
  • reasoning
  • logic
  • problem solving

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • categorizing
  • classifying
  • working with abstract patterns/relationships

 

 

Linguistic

-Thinks in words

Also known as “The World Player”

LIKES TO:

  • read
  • write
  • tell stories

IS GOOD AT:

  • memorizing names, places, dates and trivia
  • word puzzles
  • writing

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • saying
  • hearing
  • seeing words

 

 

Intrapersonal

-Thinks deeply inside of themselves

Also known as “The Individual”

LIKES TO:

  • work alone
  • pursue own interests

IS GOOD AT:

  • understanding self
  • focusing inward on feelings/dreams
  • following instincts
  • pursuing interests/goals
  • being original

LEARNS BEST BY:

  • working alone
  • individualized projects
  • self-paced instruction
  • having own space

 

Finding out your child’s learning style and strengths is important in finding the right learning environment for your child.  There are many alternatives to public school.  Charter schools, home school, private schools, Montessori schools, and  hybrid schools are all environments that accommodate the various types of learning styles.  One of my favorite quotes is pictured below; it speaks volumes and is a huge part of my personal teaching philosophy.

 

 

 

I am more of a Linguistic learner…

What’s your learning style?  What is YOUR multiple intelligence?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classroom Content Math Montessori Extras Parenting Science Sensorial Teaching

20 STEM Activities perfect for your child and home

By Anitra

 

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

Are you intrigued how the latest ideas are being created?  How Elon Musk, Owner of Tesla Inc. came up with the fully electric vehicle and the world’s first fully electric semi-truck?  Ever wonder how a 3-D printer was made?  I know I am curious and downright fascinated by the inventions that have taken over our world in recent years.  Without showing my age, I remember being in high school and the technological innovations that were all the rage were the world wide web, DVD’s, and the Prius; the first mass-produced hybrid was introduced!! Isn’t that crazy?!

With everything we do being so technologically based, it is no wonder that STEM is becoming one of the fastest growing educational programs out there.  All the newest advances, all the newest ideas and all the newest breakthroughs are science, engineering and technologically based.

 

In order to keep up with the technology of the world, it is important to introduce these types of activities, skills, and thinking to children.  STEM has slowly made its way into the mainstream public school system, but has had a place in private schools, Charter Schools and alternative schools around the country.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the goal of STEM is to provide opportunities for the youth to thrive “where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know and have the skills and knowledge to solve tough problems, gather & evaluate evidence, and make sense of information”.

Children must be exposed to situations in which they can learn, develop and use the skills necessary to compete in our ever changing world.  I have compiled a list of 20 STEM activities that you can incorporate in your classroom or home to give them exposure to these objectives.  The activities are geared for children three years of age and older.  Due to small parts/objects, these activities are not intended for use with children under three years of age.

**Important note: an item search from any of the links will take you to the desired product**

Item descriptions courtesy of discountschoolsupply.com.  Used with permission.

 

20 STEM Activities for your child and home

 

1. Exploring Circuitry Light Blocks

Item #LSTAX

Explore circuitry and creativity through illuminating open-ended play! Using LED technology, each block lights up when connected to the base or another lit block. A glowing introduction to engineering and STEM.

 

2. Primary Science Color Mixer

Item #COLMIX

Let’s mix some color up and experiment!

 

3. Tornado Tube

 

Item #TORN

Tornado Tube employs hydraulic principles to create the vortex of a tornado within a bottle. Connect 2 empty plastic soft drink bottles together, fill one of the bottles 2/3 full with water, turn it over, spin, and watch the tornado appear.

 

4. Rainforest Cloud Biome Kit

Item #RAINFST

Grow your own tropical rainforest in this unique planter! Rain swirls on top of containers help regulate where water falls to maintain the best conditions for your plants to flourish.

 

5. Solar Building Windmill

Item #SUNMILL

Easy build-it-yourself windmill powered by the sun!

 

6. Brilliant Builders

Item #STRAW

Make structures big enough to sit in or as small as a shoe box.

 

7. Blue Sands Alive

Item #COLSABL

A soothing sensory experience

 

8. Snappy Sticks Building Set

Item #SNAPSTIX

Imaginative open-ended hands-on fun!

 

9. How Long Is It? Measuring Tape

Item #BIGM

This oversized measuring tape is scaled in inches and centimeters. With a large carrying handle, rewind knob with a clicking action, and a 36″ tape, young children will find it easy to manipulate and learn the skill of measuring.

 

10. Platform Scale

 

Item #SCALE

See and compare weights and measurements. Easy to read and accurate with metric and standard English display. Scale measures liquids and solids in the removable pan.

 

11. Height and Depth Measuring Blocks

Item #DEPTH

A unique way to learn about both height and depth!

 

12. STEM Exploring Engineering Set

Item #STEMSY

STEM learning made simple! Introduce and explore all 6 simple machines as you make amazing discoveries, design solutions for real-world problems and conduct your own investigations.

 

13. Hydroponics Lab

Item #H2OGROW

Investigate the hidden magic of plant roots!

 

14. Botany Lab Experimental Greenhouse

Item #BOTANY

Students learn about plants and seeds by conducting experiments in a specially-designed botanical laboratory with greenhouse domes.

 

15. STEM Force and Motion Discovery Set

Item #FORCE

Design engineering challenges with this exclusive STEM set! Discover science concepts while predicting, measuring, collecting and comparing data.

 

16. Classroom Measurement Set

Item #MEASURE

Children can practice customary capacities, liquid measurement and metric conversions with this set.

 

17. Smartcar Logic Puzzle

Item #SMARTCAR

Challenge kids to build a car with 5 different blocks in this unique logic game!

 

18. Number Tower

Item #NUMTOWER

Select a number block then stack the cubes, counting each as you go – it’s fun to learn about numbers! 22 pieces total, numerous ways to use, self explanatory with lines indicating cube spaces on the back of each number block.

 

19. Jenga

Item #JENGA

The original wood block stacking game!

 

20. Root-Vue Farm

Item #ROOT

Watch carrots, radishes and onions take form before your eyes through a sturdy, styrofoam surround with break-proof acrylic viewing window. Complete instructions plus tested experiments.

 

STEM Related Books

 

1.Our Physical World Books-5Titles

Item #EBOOKS

The perfect introduction to physical science. Easy to understand explanations of how basic physical principles of science relate to our world.  Titles in set include: All About Matter, Electricity All Around, Learning About Rocks, A Look at Magnets and Soil Basics

 

2. Science Vocabulary Books-4 Titles

Item #NATWORLD

Explore nature from the smallest insects to the tallest trees!  Includes these titles: Learning About Animals, Learning About Trees, Learning About Insects, Learning About Plants

 

3. Weather Watchers Books-6 Titles

Item #TWISTER

Young readers fascinated by the changing skies can focus on different types of weather and its causes.  Titles Included: Clouds, Lightning, Rain, Snow, Sunshine, Thunder, Wind

 

4. How Do You Measure? 4 Titles

Item #MEABKS

Learn about measuring units and picking the right tools.  Titles Included: How Do You Measure Weight?, How Do You Measure Liquids?, How Do You Measure Time?, How Do You Measure Length and Distance?

 

These activities and books are meant to be an introduction to STEM education.  Giving children the opportunity to engage in hands on learning is important and imperative to the future of science, technology, engineering, and math.

 

I have found a few new activities from this post that I will be incorporating into my classroom.  I hope that you are able to find and add some of these interesting, fun, exciting activities to your environment as well!

 

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

Classroom Content Montessori Extras Parenting

6 tips on finding a Montessori preschool for your child

By Anitra

 

Are you interested in finding a quality Montessori preschool for your child?  There are many things to consider when searching for a Montessori school for your child.  It is not an easy feat to entrust your child and their safety & well being to others.  It is important for you as a parent to feel comfortable, confident, and trust in the place where you will leave your child.  It is also equally important for your child to feel safe, be happy, and feel welcomed to a place where they will spend a good amount of their time.

 

 

With that being said, please know that not all preschools, schools or child care centers are created equal.  Things to consider are school philosophy, program type, extracurricular activities offered, location and price.  There are also other things to look into as well; considering each Montessori school is privately owned and operated.  The Montessori name, method, philosophy, teachings and materials are not trademarked.  Each Montessori school owner has the right to interpret the Montessori method and philosophy as they see fit.  Which means that two Montessori schools right down the street from one another can have many similarities, and just as many differences.  For more information on what makes Montessori unique, please check out my post What’s so special about Montessori…? EVERYTHING!.  If you would like more information in the work and materials in a Montessori classroom, please check out my post What is all the hype about? A detailed look inside a traditional Montessori classroom.

 

When you are ready to begin looking at schools to choose, first start with an internet search of local Montessori schools in your area.  Narrow it down to no more than 5 schools.  Look through their websites, check out any online reviews they may have, and call the school for additional information on their enrollment process.  Once these things are complete, you are ready to incorporate the tips below in selecting a school for your child.  I have included a free checklist at the bottom of the post as well!

 

These 6 tips will help you select the right Montessori school for your child

 

Tip #1

Visit and tour the school(s) you are interested in

It is important for you to go to the school and tour the facility.  During the tour, the school administrators should walk you around the entire school and the playground as well.  Take special note of the cleanliness of the school overall and the condition of the playground & equipment.  The school should look appealing to the eye, and the playground should have safe, child appropriate equipment & toys.  If anything catches your attention or stands out, be sure to ask the administrator about it.

 

 

 

Tip #2

Ask about the schools philosophy

Of course the main philosophy of the school will be the Montessori method.  But each school has a separate school philosophy on how they view early childhood education.  It is important to ask about how they deal with behavior problems, if they are religiously based, and most importantly, their take on how children learn and develop.  See if they follow authentic Montessori practices such as the 3 year age span, allowing children to be independent, and providing a child based environment.  Make sure that their school views are similar to your own personal views on what you expect for your child.

 

 

 

Tip #3

Ask to observe a classroom in action

While on the tour of the schools, most administrators will show you a classroom in action.  Seeing a classroom in full swing will give you a small idea of how the children move throughout the environment, if they seem comfortable in the classroom, and how the teacher(s) interact with the children.  Look for any clues of children being excluded,take notice of the teacher’s tone of voice, and watch to see how they children interact with each other.  In a true Montessori classroom, the children move about freely & confidently and seem engaged in their work with a buzz of conversation happening around them.  The teacher(s) are engaging and interacting with the children in a positive, respectful manner.

 

 

 

Tip #4

Ask administration about teacher turnover rates

In the child care industry, Teacher turnover rate can be common and can be higher than in other professions.  This occurs for a number of reasons, but when a school can retain their teachers for more than two years, that is a positive sign.  If teachers stay for extended time at a particular school, it may be due to the school being supportive of their staff and their needs.  When schools value their teachers, and the teachers feel needed & important, they tend to stay at a school for a longer period of time.  Ask the school administrator how long their teachers have been at the school.

Tip #5

Ask neighbors, friends and co-workers about the school

The best way to get an accurate review or opinion on a school you’re interested in is to ask around.  Ask your neighbors where they send their children, ask friends and co-workers if they have had any positive or negative experiences with a school you may want to tour.  Let’s face it; if you’re interested in trying a new restaurant, you reach out to others to get their opinions about the restaurant.  So why not do the same for a school you may be interested in sending your child too?  You can never be too safe when it comes to your child.

 

Tip #6

Check to make sure the school is licensed with the state

Every child care center, preschool, or day care center providing care to children in a business capacity should be licensed in some form or another by the state they are conducting business in.  Here in California, EVERY child care center, preschool, day care center or home day care MUST be licensed by the state in order to operate.  Each child care facility goes through a rigorous checklist of standards BEFORE they are licensed.  They are also subject to frequent inspections from the state at any time.  California has an online database of all licensed care providers that are licensed in the state.  By simply going to the state website, you can enter in the name of the child care facility you are interested in, and get detailed information about that facility.  Such things as licensing date, licensee name, any violation of state standards they have received, and the amount of children they are allowed to have at the facility.  This information is public knowledge, and available at all times.

 

 

Following these tips can definitely help in finding the right Montessori school for you and your child!  I always say that I don’t just have the child in my classroom, but the entire family as well.  It is important for you as a parent to be able to interact, communicate, and mesh well with the school and the teacher.  You must feel welcomed and part of the overall school community in order for you and your child to have a great experience!

 

 

Interested in getting the FREE checklist for Selecting a Montessori Preschool for Your Child?

It’s yours, just click below for your FREE download!

 

Classroom Content Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

5 things to NEVER ask your child’s teacher

By Anitra

 

Being a parent and putting your child in school for the first time is not an easy thing to do.  I know how hard it can be for parents to leave their child for the first time at a child care center.  I remember when I had my first daughter, I stayed home with her until she was about 18 months old.  When I landed my first teaching job as an Assistant at a Montessori school, I had the opportunity to take her with me.  She was in the Toddler classroom, while I was in the Preschool classroom.  Dropping her off with complete strangers was just as traumatizing for her as it was for me.  She cried; I cried…I tried going to check on her, and I was not allowed.  The teachers in the room said it was best for me not to let her see me, as it would make her adjustment even harder. The hardest thing for me to do as a mom was to trust in the teachers and their professional abilities and opinions.  But in order for your child to have a successful time in school, you must trust and believe in your child’s teacher(s).  It is not easy to do, but it is necessary for your child’s educational journey.

 

 

Fast forward to when she moved into the Preschool and a lot of academics began to be introduced.  I wanted her to learn everything possible, learn her shapes, write her name, read at an early age, know all of her numbers, and be one of the smartest children in the classroom.  I wanted to see instant results and her progress lined out, but her teachers informed me that it is just not that easy.  I was confused and frustrated, and as I learned more about child development, what they were telling me started to make sense.  I knew to trust in her teachers and in my child’s inner abilities and development.  I knew to trust in what they do and the process.  So you see?  I get it, I understand as a parent that you want the best for your child, and want your child to learn as much as possible.

 

With all this being said, as a teacher, I understand how my daughters teachers felt at the time.  When curious about your child’s progress, ask specific questions about their development.  There are a few questions that you should NEVER ask your child’s teacher.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other things that you CAN ask your child’s teacher, but there are 5 questions that educators prefer you never ask…

 

 

5 things to NEVER ask your child’s teacher…

try to avoid asking these questions when seeking information regarding your child’s learning

 

 

1.How is my child doing?

Most times, this is asked at a time when the parent is on their way to work and don’t have a lot of time to get this answered accurately.  This question is too generic and extremely hard to answer.  It is a very broad question, and without having a more specific question, the answer you get may also be broad.  When I get asked this question, I commonly answer with, “Good.” I am unsure of exactly what they are asking to know about, so the generic question unfortunately gets a generic answer.   Instead of asking “How is my child doing?”, you could ask, “How is my child doing on learning their numbers?” or “How is my child doing on writing their name?”.

 

2. Why isn’t my child learning to…?

This question is one of the hardest questions to answer.  I understand that parents we have an idea of what we feel our kids should be learning and at what pace.  The one thing that most parents don’t realize is that children develop at their own pace.  We can expose them to various activities and lessons, but they will master these skills when they are ready to.  It cannot be rushed or forced, and it is important for educators and parents to follow the development of the child.

 

3. Is my child behind at all for their age?

The answer to this question is one that many parents do not like to hear.  It is difficult to pre-determine exactly what a child will have mastered by a certain age.  The answer to this question goes back to the previous question.  If you follow the development of the child, then they are not behind for their age.  Children advance at different stages and ages, and children will progress at a pace that is right for them.  It is sometimes difficult for parents to accept this answer, but reassuring them of their child’s natural abilities to learn helps to put them at ease.

 

 

 

 

4. Where is my child in comparison to other kids their age?

The worst thing a parent can do is to compare their child to other children.  It is a common practice, but it does nothing except put undue pressure on the child.  When parents compare their child to other children, it leads to them setting unrealistic goals for their child, which they, in most cases, cannot reach.  Again, remember that each child develops at their own individual pace, and will progress at their own stage.  Some children reach some milestones at earlier ages than others, but it is important to remember that it is not important when they reach the milestone just as long as they reach it.

 

5. Is there anything I can work on at home?

If your child is in preschool, you are entrusting the school educators to teach your child.  You are leaving them in our care so that we can teach them things like academics, socialization skills, and following directions to name a few.  As an educator, it is my responsibility to teach every child skills that will be needed later on in their educational journey.  I teach them based on their personal developmental needs and abilities, and try to instill a love of learning in every child that comes through my classroom.  I feel that having parents work on skills or tasks at home may overwhelm children.  I encourage parents to leave the teaching to us educators in the classroom setting, and just let their children play, relax, and enjoy quality time with them while at home.  There will be plenty of time in the future when they will have tons to work on at home later on in school.

 

I have been teaching for over 17 years, and these 5 questions are questions that are always asked by parents.  As a professional educator, who has studied child development, I feel that letting children develop naturally at their own pace they will reach their full potential.  As Maria Montessori said, “Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.” 

 

Trust me, your child’s teacher will thank you for not asking these 5 questions!

 

Anitra

Parenting

Holiday gift ideas that are educational…and still fun!

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.   Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

Oh boy, it’s that time of year again…Christmas gift shopping time!  I know that many of you have probably already started (or even finished) your gift shopping, but there are many of you that haven’t started because you have no idea what to get your children.  There are many desirable toys out there right now, and trying to get your hands on the latest toy may be close to impossible.

 

As a mom, I understand how much you dread adding to your child’s already large collection of toys.  Toys that make noise, toys they begged for and no longer play with, toys that they haven’t played with in months, but if you try to throw them away or donate them, that will probably start World War III!!!

 

Sound familiar?…I had this happen to me over and over again; year after year.  Now that my girls are older, I don’t have to worry about this.  But for those of you who have younger children, I am here to help in your search for great gifts for your children that are educational, and yet, still fun!!!  Why not get them something that they can actually learn some valuable skills from?  The items on the list can educate your child in a variety of subjects; the body, rocks & minerals, geography, art appreciation, shapes, sorting, math, time, language, and one of my personal favorites, yoga! They are also for many ages, as young as birth and up to age 8!

 

As a mom and an educator, I tried to pick the best options that I would pick if my girls were still little.  I hope you enjoy my choices!

**Brief descriptions under products are from Montessori Services®, used with permission**

 

 

True-to-Life Human X-rays

Ages 5+

“Children can feel their bones from the outside through their skin and muscle. This x-ray set shows children what their bones actually look like. Showing the body’s outline around the skeleton, young children are able to relate the x-ray bones to visible body parts (arms, legs, etc.). Young children might assemble a 5′ 6″ skeleton with these x-rays or guess which body parts belong to which bones.” -Montessori Services®

 

 

Rock Science Kit

Ages 5+

“Children will learn to look for luster (the way a mineral reflects light) and hardness (measured on the Mohs scale), for example. This starter kit includes 15 numbered specimens that represent the full range of types of rocks, a small magnifier, and activity guide offering more test ideas for further study.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Mineral Science Kit

Ages 5+

“Children will learn to look for luster, (the way a mineral reflects light), hardness (measured on the Mohs scale), and color (with a streak test) with this starter kit.  This kit includes 15 numbered specimens that represent the full range of types of minerals, a small magnifier, a nail and tile for testing, and activity guide offering more test ideas for further study.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Shape Sorting Box

Ages 2+

“Toddlers love matching these simple blocks to the cutout shapes in the lid of the box. In fact, they love it so much they do it over and over!”-Montessori Services®

 

 

 

Yoga Pretzels Card Deck

Ages 4+

“Pick a card from any of nine categories and find an imaginative way to start your children bending, breathing, and stretching with yoga.  This mind/body practice develops children’s strength and flexibility, helps improve their concentration, and builds self-esteem. Engaging step-by-step illustrations show a playful, imaginative pose or activity on one side, with activity instructions or simple visualizations on the other. Try partner poses or choose a fun group game, such as “Yoga Pretzels.” The companion booklet helps any adult design a safe and fun practice for children.”-Montessori Services®

 

Beginner’s World Atlas

Ages 5-8

“Large, easy-to-read maps introduce youngsters to the world and each of its seven continents. Stunning photographs, carefully selected for their appeal, supplement the maps.” –Montessori Services®

 

 

Famous Paintings Cards

Ages 3+

“You’ll learn where Dali’s inspiration came from, why Magritte painted improbable scenes, how many dots are in a Seurat painting, and so much more.  These cards beg to be lingered over—looking at the painting on one side, reading the interesting facts on the back. Young children will enjoy the pictures; older ones will love the stories of the paintings and the artists; adults will find them engaging, too.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Classic Judy Clock

Ages 4+

“The Judy Clock has movable hands and large, clear hour numbers on the face.  Grasp the knob on the minute hand to turn it and watch the visible, working gears simultaneously move the hour hand. Children clearly see that turning the minute hand one complete revolution causes the hour hand to move forward one hour.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Sum Swamp

Ages 5+

“Take a skill-building journey through a whimsical land where adding and subtracting dice numbers determines your fate.  Players will master basic operations and learn about number relationships such as even and odd or “less than” and “greater than.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Count Your Chickens

Ages 3-5

“All 40 baby chicks are out and the fox is loose. Young children will be eager to work together to collect the chicks. Picture-based play makes it easy for everyone to participate.  Spin the spinner, count the spaces together, and move the mother hen. Then return that many baby chicks to the safety of the coop.  A very appealing way to learn and reinforce counting skills.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Happy Hats Beginning Reading Game

Ages 4+

“Play and read with your favorite characters from the popular Bob Books® series.  Children explore initial consonant and short vowel sounds as they form simple words. For each word they create, they collect a “Happy Hat.”  Includes board, 44 hat token, 40 word ending cards, 4 characters & stands, spinner, a word list, and complete instructions.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

My First Dictionary

Ages 5-8

“A brilliant bridge between a picture dictionary and a text-only dictionary! Early readers will find a picture clue alongside the definitions for words selected with early readers in mind.  Alphabetical listings help children look up and decipher unfamiliar words. Includes tips for parents and nine dictionary games.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

A few other great gift ideas…

Do you have a child that LOVES books?  Well, Scholastic has a wide selection of books that any child will love!!  Simply search by age, author, or title!

Scholastic Books 

Do you have a younger child or infant?  MontiKids provides quality, educational Montessori products for children birth to three years of age.  Check out their toy timeline, which gets more challenging as your child works their way through each level!  Materials sent directly to your home every three months!

MontiKids

 

 

These are some of my favorite products as an educator.  Many of these products I have even used before in my classroom, so I have first hand knowledge of how awesome they are!!  I hope that I helped you out with your shopping list for your littles, and I wish you a happy shopping season!!

 

Anitra

 

 

Product Reviews

Book Review: Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash

By Anitra

One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

I’m here with another great book review!! I’m so excited about being able to review books from authors that I am not so familiar with, and that write amazing and interesting children’s books that have great content and story lines younger kids can relate to.  With that being said, this leads me to my next review of Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash.  It is written by entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan C. Fox.  Alan C. Fox is a successful New York Times bestselling author of numerous relationship books.  Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash is his first children’s book, and is based on a true story; his true story of how he grew a gigantic banana squash when he was younger!  Alan C. Fox is also the editor of a poetry journal called Rattle, and each year they publish a book of poems written by children.  For more information about Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash and Alan C. Fox, please click here.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash is about a boy that has been patiently ,(rather impatiently) waiting for the time to be right for him to plant his banana squash seeds.  When the time is finally right, Benji, with the help of his mom, go out and plant the seeds, water them, and cover them with dirt.  Poor Benji impatiently watches and waits for the seeds to sprout for weeks.  He goes to visit his garden daily until he sees a sprout, and in no time his seeds have grown into a giant banana squash…a 24 POUND squash!

 

 

 

 

I read this book to my class of preschoolers who range in age from three years old to six years old.  I read the book right before we talked about and carved our pumpkin.  After reading the book and then carving our pumpkin to examine and learn about the parts of the pumpkin, we discussed the seeds, and the process of growing a squash and a pumpkin.  This book tied in nicely with learning about pumpkins and the pumpkin life cycle theme we are doing!  It would also be great to tie in with spring time planting and growing of plants and vegetable as well.  I particularly enjoyed the ending of the book, where Benji and his family decided to cook and eat his giant banana squash.  The book does a great job tying in the concept of garden-to table.

 

       Here is our pumpkin and a small squash from my classroom.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash has bright, colorful illustrations and an overall great story.  I will definitely use this book in the future as part of many of my curriculum themes.  This book teaches children about the importance of care, patience, love, and perseverance!

 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as my class and I did!

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Montessori Extras

Birthday Celebrations-Montessori Style

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

 

Who doesn’t love celebrating their birthday?!  Kids and adults alike love celebrating their born day.  It is a very special occasion that is shared with family and friends in a variety of ways.  Children in a Montessori classroom have a very unique way that their birthdays are celebrated and shared with the classroom .  It is termed the Celebration of Life; in which we celebrate and share aspects of each year of their lives on Earth. Each child excitedly waits for their turn to do the Birthday Walk each year on their birthday.

 

 

 

Montessori Walk Around the Sun Activity

 

 

The Montessori Walk Around the Sun is composed of a painted wooden sun with twelve points on the ends.  It also comes with twelve wooden months of the year cards for each of the twelve months.  The sun has a space for a candle as well, which is not included. Add a birthday and the Montessori Walk Around the Sun is ready for use!  For the activity, I put out the sun on a work rug, and have the children repeat after me saying the months of the year as I place them around the sun.  They have learned and memorized the months of the year this way!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Celebration of Life…

In a Montessori classroom, birthday are a tradition.  During this special ceremony, the child stands next to their birth month and holds a globe; which represents the Earth. They (as the Earth) walk around the sun.  Each trip around the sun represents one year that the child has been o the planet.  I begin the Montessori Walk Around the Sun by explaining to the children that we are the Earth and that the Earth goes around the sun.  I tell them that it takes the Earth three hundred and sixty five days to go around the sun, and every time it does, you get one year older; I also add, (except for Ms. Anitra who is 21 forever!) Haha!!!

 

                                 

 

I also ask that the parents send in photos from each year of their life, either as single, individual photos, or as a prepared birthday poster.  I also send out a form for parents to fill out that documents any significant milestones, firsts, or trips that they would like shared during the birthday celebration.  I’ve had some parents get quite creative with the birthday boards they’ve prepared!!

 

Along with the birthday walk and the picture board, I have a special song that we sing as the child walks around the sun.

“The Earth goes round the sun, the sun

The Earth goes round the sun.

The Earth goes round the sun, the sun

And (Child’s Name) turned one!”

 

Continue until the child’s current age is reached.

The children love joining in to sing this song!  I’ve even gotten in on the fun of the Birthday Walk!!

 

 

 

 

Birthday’s are a special time in a child’s life, so why not make it a day to remember!  The Montessori Walk Around the Sun teaches science, months of the year, history, and traditions all in one  It is that amazing of a thing to celebrate your child’s birthday Montessori style!

 

Anitra

 

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