What Does a Montessori Child’s Day Look Like?

A Montessori classroom is completely different than a traditional school classroom. The basis for the Montessori educational approach focuses completely on the child. The classroom has many opportunities for self-directed learning activities, collaborative play, and the freedom to make individual choices.

As you bring your child to the Montessori classroom, you will immediately see the differences. The classroom environment is set up to draw the students’ attention to specific hands-on learning activities. By actively engaging in individual activities or small group activities, the classroom provides unique learning opportunities for your child throughout the entire day.

A Typical Day in the Montessori Classroom

The age of your child will determine the exact learning environment. The Montessori approach incorporates a mixed aged classroom. For example, a single classroom may have children as young as 2 ½ years to 6 years of age. The multi-age classroom allows for a family-like atmosphere which helps in the learning process. Learning leadership skills, older children will naturally mentor younger ones, teaching them valuable skills along the way.

Social Exchange

Upon arrival, each child receives greetings from the teacher. The social exchange builds vocabulary, self-awareness, and mutual respect. The teacher recognizes each child as an individual with unique learning interests. By engaging in respectful exchange, students learn to understand the environment. Eventually, children will understand and develop empathy and compassion for their peers.

Block Activities for Development

Students participate in numerous activities throughout the day. Teachers provide the prepared learning environment for specific block activities to build upon the students natural curiosities for optimal development. Learning areas will provide activities for full development of each student physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally.

As children develop different interests or they desire further exploration on a subject, teachers will add to the learning environment. Creating a continuous, hands-on learning environment allows children to participate in activities of interest in a self-directed manner. Encouraging children to go at their own pace enables maximum learning potential for each interested subject.

Being Flexible

The prepared learning environment provides specific time blocks for activities. By providing children the freedom to explore, the learning environment provides flexibility. As a way of self-discovery and exploration, your child may spend most of the day learning about one subject. By allowing for the freedom to choose, your child will gain a much deeper understanding of the subject. Over time, the curiosity may allow for further exploration into other areas of learning.

Imagination Activities

Along with the prepared intellectual learning environment, teachers prepare open-ended activities to increase imagination. By encouraging imagination, students learn self-expression and critical thinking skills to try new methods of play. Exploring imaginary ideas also increases vocabulary word use, maximizes social skills, and develops the basis for thinking outside of the box.

The Montessori approach seeks to develop each student to reach their own, individual maximum potential. If you would like further information on a typical day for a Montessori student, contact Day Star Montessori today to schedule a tour.  Parents and students are encouraged and welcomed to to spend a day in the classroom to see the Montessori difference firsthand.

The Difference of a Montessori Middle School Education

On a daily basis, parents make decisions affecting the welfare of their children. Finding the best learning environment for a child to grow and succeed is part of the daily decision. Montessori Middle School focuses on children as individuals. Unlike a traditional classroom, the student-centered learning style focuses on self-reliance and independence.

The Montessori Middle School Approach

The Montessori Middle School learning environment is different than a traditional classroom. By focusing on each child’s uniqueness, instructors encourage self-discovery and learning. Montessori wants children to grow in all areas of development, including physical, social, emotional and mental. Foregoing restrictions or conforming to standardized testing norms, students learn areas of interest without limitations.

  • Small Groups/Individual Learning: Students use a self-paced curriculum. Working in small groups or individually allows children to feel confident about their discoveries. Resulting in more questions, the open-ended activities inspire students to continue learning. If a child is uncertain about a subject, the small grouping allows for questions without worry.
  • Non-Grading Learning Environment: Montessori groups children in a multi-age learning environment. The unique grouping allows children to mentor younger ones and develop leadership skills. The multi-age environment helps children feel more at ease. Participating in this style of learning environment allows students not to receive standardized grades.
  • Social/Communication Skills: Along with fostering independence and leadership skills, the Montessori learning environment enhances social and communication skills. The small groupings allow children to ask questions and discuss topics with other students. Often, the discussions lead to further exploration and learning.
  • Work Centers: The design of the Montessori learning environment includes work centers. At each work center, students may learn about one subject. Without any time restrictions, students may focus on one subject or several in one day. Basing the subjects at different levels, students will continue to learn new aspects.
  • Learning Styles: The self-paced learning environment allows the students to pick areas of interest. As each child makes a choice, the learning environment is both unique and different. Encouraging students to learn about individual passions allows for areas of expertise.
  • Instilling Self-Confidence: Children who focus on areas of strengths gain self-confidence. The desire to continue learning will aid in higher education choices in the future.
  • Curiosity and Learning: Montessori encourages children natural curiosity for learning. As students develop skills for exploring subjects and data, the desire for learning increases. Students will be able to use research, study and exploration skills in high school and college courses.

Montessori Middle Schools focus on children as individuals to reach their highest potential. Learning without time restrictions enables children to focus on interests. Fostering natural curiosity, students will continue to learn and grow at their own pace.

As a concerned parent for your child’s middle school education, if you would like more information on the Montessori learning style, please contact the Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus today. The highly trained instructors will answer all your questions. Providing informative tours, you will be able to view first-hand the effects of a non-restrictive learning environment.

Teaching Kids how to be Internet Safe & Savvy

The internet is full of information that kids can use to write reports and to learn new things. It can also be very dangerous. If your children don’t know how to use the internet safely, you cannot be sure who they are really talking to. Predators often pose as children to gain a child’s trust to commit a crime. Also, curious children will often visit sites that are not appropriate for children. As a parent, it is up to you to make sure that your children know how to be safe when they are online.

Set Up Parental Controls

The most important thing that you can do to keep your children safe online is to set up parental controls. This safety feature will block your child if they try to enter any website that is not age appropriate. When setting up the parental controls, be sure to use a password that you children won’t be able to easily guess.

Insist On Having Their Passwords

The best way to know who your children are communicating with online is to insist that they give you their email password and their passwords for social media. As they get older, you can change this rule. However, if your child is young and they insist on using email and social media, you should have access to their accounts so that you can check up on them.

Teach Your Child to Only Communicate With People They Know

Predators will often send children friend requests on social media. You should explain the dangers of befriending strangers to your children. Remind your children that people online are not always who they say they are. Let them know that if they don’t know the person in the real world, they should not accept their friend request. Even if the person has a few mutual friends with your child, they still should not accept the friend request. The friends that the person has in common with your child could be children who haven’t been taught the dangers of befriending strangers.

Teach Your Child to Speak Up

You should teach your child that if they see something on the internet that makes them uncomfortable or that they feel is wrong, they should walk away from the computer and tell you. This could be messages and emails from strangers or classmates bullying another child. Remind your child that it is their responsibility to help and speak up whenever possible.

Remind Your Child That Posts and Photos Are There Forever

Many children are naive when it comes to the internet. They believe that if they post something and then delete it, that it is gone forever. It is important to remind your children that everything they put online is saved somewhere and it can come back to cause them serious problems in the future. This is not just photos, but also written words.

It is very important to teach your child how to use the internet safely. It could potentially save their life.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus, children will learn how to make smart and informed decisions throughout their Montessori education.  Contact us today to schedule a tour and learn about the Montessori difference.

Parent Volunteers – Observing in the Classroom

Every parent wants the best learning opportunities for their children. An early love for knowledge builds a foundation for a lifetime of learning. Observing and volunteering in your child’s Montessori classroom may help you to better understand the diverse learning environment.

Volunteering is different than simply observing. Asking to be a volunteer is usually the role of the teacher to a parent. Being an observer is generally a task where parents ask teachers if they can come into the classroom. Each one plays a vital role in your child’s education. Understanding the classroom environment allows parents the opportunity to incorporate learning into regular home routines. Most educators welcome the opportunity to show concerned parents the daily routine of the classroom.

Right to Observe In the Classroom

Volunteering and observing in a classroom allow you to learn about your child’s day. Failing to take an active part in your child’s education may result in problem areas in the future. In the Montessori school setting, parents are welcome to visit. Trying to accommodate parent observation requests, some classrooms actually come equipped with an adult sized chair just for parent guests.

If you are a parent who is denied the opportunity to observe the classroom, you must stand up for your rights. Ask why access to your child’s classroom was denied. Explain the reasons for wanting to observe the classroom. As a parent, you must take into consideration that your presence will be a disturbance in the classroom. Many teachers want to plan your visit to allow for the maximum exposure to the daily classroom environment.

Guidelines to Observing in Your Child’s Classroom

Every teacher has a specific time frame for the length of the classroom observation. Prior to entering the classroom, you may want to ask the teacher or educator the time allowed for observing. In order to understand the Montessori environment, try to observe for at least one hour. Remember to ask the teacher or staff about the other guidelines to follow.

  • Remember your role in the classroom is to observe. Carefully watching the interaction of your child and other children in the classroom will help you in understanding the Montessori learning environment.
  • Enter and exit the classroom quietly. Some Montessori teachers will introduce parent observers.
  • Montessori classrooms are busy with various learning opportunities happening at the same time. As a parent, you may want to just focus on your child. In order to fully understand the learning environment, you should also watch other areas.
  • Do not interrupt the teacher; simply take notes to ask questions later.
  • After observing, ask the teacher or administration staff for a follow-up conference to discuss any questions or concerns.

Observing in the classroom provides parents with opportunities to understand the interaction between children and educators. The Montessori learning environment is not like the traditional classroom. Observing the class in motion will help a parent understand the learning strategies of the Montessori model.  To visit a Montessori classroom in person, contact Montessori School in Newark today.  Schedule a tour and see how Montessori education is firsthand. 

Our Favorite Books for the Season

Holiday books are a perfect way to celebrate a season filled with various traditions. Getting children interested in books at an early age may result in a lifelong love of reading. Seasonal books add to the excitement of the holidays. Finding the right type of book for your child depends on your personal seasonal preferences. As you begin to search for seasonal stories, keep in mind the best way to peak your child’s interest is finding an age appropriate book.

Books for Age Two and Above

  • Christmastime by Alison Jay (2012) is a delightful tale of the different aspects of the wonderful Christmas season.
  • Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle (2014) is a novelty book with lights. The book tells the story of the Little Blue Truck spreading Christmas cheer to various animal friends.
  • Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden (2000) is a fun die-cut window book guiding children to a surprise ending.

Books for Age Three and Above

  • The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood (2012) focuses on the quiet times of the holiday season.
  • The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (2015) inspires the reader to realize true gifts only come from the heart.
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert (2013) shares the story of Anja who wants to be one of Santa’s elves.

Books for Age Four and Above

  • A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel (2011) tells a funny story on how a bad kitty finds the true meaning of the holiday season.
  • Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko (2012) shares the delights representing two seasonal traditions in one household.
  • The Little Elf by Brandi Dougherty (2012) tells the story of Oliver, a small elf with the desire to do the best job in Santa’s workshop.

Books for Age Five and Above

  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien (2013) shares the magical tales surrounding the adventures of North Pole living.
  • Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1986) unfolds the magical tale of being welcomed aboard a train on Christmas Eve.
  • How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan (2015) invites the reader to enjoy the different tips for catching Santa on Christmas Eve.

Books for Age Six and Above

  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett (2012) tells a funny tale of a boy trying to capture Santa.
  • Barbara Parks’ tale of Junie B., First Grader in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) (2009) tells the story of finding out your secret Santa pick is the class tattletale.
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tee: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (1996) shares the story of Ruthie who wants to find the perfect Christmas tree for the little town.

Every book has a way to invite the reader into a season filled with joy and laughter. Deciding on just one book may be a difficult decision. For extra fun, you can always go with the classic tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. The ending always makes you smile.

Montessori School of Newark can help your child excel in reading through Montessori education, where children are encouraged to work at their own pace and collaborate with others.  Call us today to schedule a tour and learn how Montessori education can be a fit for your family.

Five Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

Exploration activities are a great way to help your child gain confidence while exploring the world around them. We are lucky that here in Pleasanton, we have plenty to do year round. Here are five activities you might want to check out that can help your child explore and grow.

5 Exploration Activities in Pleasanton

  1. Augustine Bernal Park – When the weather is nice, head out to Augustine Bernal Community Park. This is a great place to take the kids to get some energy out and to learn as they explore the outdoors. There are many different trails out there, some as small as half a mile, making it perfect for all ages. Children can explore different plants, get a little dirty, and be out in the fresh air.
  2. Mission Hills Park – If you are looking for a more confined space where you can let the kids roam and explore at their own will, Mission Hills Park on Junipero Street is just the place. Kids will love running, swinging and going as fast as they can down the big slide. Play is such a great way for kids to explore and learn and this park with 2 playgrounds, walking trails, and a creek provides the perfect spot.
  3. Play Well – This activity center for kids in kindergarten through grade eight allows children to explore and build using their favorite Lego pieces. Kids will learn about physics, engineering and creativity as they create and collaborate in these confidence building activities.
  4. Grow Canyon Community Gardens – If you are looking for a way where your child can learn how things grow, dig in the dirt, and explore the growing cycle, Grow Canyon Gardens in San Ramon is worth checking out. This large community garden has 54 plots that you can rent out year round to grow fruits, flowers, and vegetables. This can be a great daily or bi-weekly activities for the kids.
  5. Museum on Main – This museum is Pleasanton’s very own home of history but don’t let that scare you away. There are interactive exhibits and family activities to keep everyone happy. Once a month, the museum holds a special reading time program where your preschoolers can enjoy stories and crafts. The museum is located at 603 Main Street and worth checking out.

If you are looking for a school where your child can play, explore and learn on a daily basis, Montessori School of Pleasanton is a perfect choice. Come and take a tour of our school today and find out how our learning style can help encourage your child to explore the world around them.

The Toddler Tantrum – How to Approach and Diffuse

Children are famous for throwing tantrums when they reach the toddler stage. Some parents will call them the ‘troubled twos’, others refer to the ‘terrible threes’, but what we all realize is the phase does pass. What we call or recognize as a ‘tantrum’ is often just a young child being unable to express themselves verbally. Even as adults, we get frustrated when we cannot make someone understand our feelings, but we have the know-how on how to handle ourselves. A toddler frustrated can only act out as they don’t yet know how to handle their frustration.

The Toddler Tantrums – How to Approach and Diffuse

The first step in handling a tantrum is learning what the cause is. It isn’t always easy as the tantrum can result from anger, frustration, sensory overload, fear, and a number of other reasons. While it is a very loud and attention-getting form of communication, it is not always a clear form and us as adults may not be able to determine the exact cause.

Tantrums are Usually Reactions

When a child is having a tantrum, you should assume they are reacting to a situation they are not able to handle. Since they cannot talk to you and explain how they are feeling and tell you exactly what they want or expect, the toddler will become overwhelmed by emotion and unleash feelings in quite a dramatic fashion – the tantrum. This doesn’t always mean they are consciously and willfully acting out wrong – it is more that they are displaying a learned behavior. Your goal as a parent or teacher is to help the toddler unlearn this type of response.

Assess the Reaction

The first thing you will need to do is find out what is triggering your particular child’s tantrums. Looking at what has happened immediately before, during, and after the tantrum might tell you a lot about why they are happening. Most kids prone to tantrums do them at very predictable times – bedtime, time to put toys away, not being able to have a toy or some other personal situation that involves their play or comfort time.

Reacting to the Tantrum

At the Montessori Preschool, toddlers who experience situations that they feel warrant a tantrum are met with positive reinforcement. As a school that is also a community of other children their same age, it is normal they will find themselves in situations from time to time where things are not going as they want them to. When the tantrum is met with a calm demeanor, persistence, and patience, the tantrum can almost always be diffused. Montessori instructors know how to choose a strategy that is in tune with each child’s individual needs and personality.

Contact Montessori Children’s House in the Bay Area today, and schedule a tour to see how their educational program will benefit your child. Speak with the instructors and learn how they value each student as an individual, ensuring your child receives the education he or she deserves.

Fall Crafts to Make at Home

Fall is a great time for kids to get involved in craft activities. Even your youngest kids will eagerly jump on the chance to learn more about the beautiful colors of fall and what the season is about. A hands-on approach will help ensure your child gets the most out of the activities.

Nature Tray Sorting and Counting

A nature tray is an important part of Montessori activities, and even toddlers can benefit from using one. Gather up items that include leaves or flowers, pine cones, rocks, twigs, and other items you might find outside on a fall nature walk. Your child will enjoy sorting and counting these items, and the fun nature walk focus will help make the counting part more enjoyable.

Fun With Apples

Fall is the ideal time to pick apples and otherwise have fun with this favorite food. You might do these activities separately or as part of a bigger unit on the harvest as a whole. Visiting an apple farm to see how the apples are harvested is an exciting lead-up to other activities that involve apples. When you’ve brought home some apples, consider some fun snack preparation, such as making candy apples.

Fall Leaf Artwork

One of the nicest things about fall leaves and their bright colors is the fact that they are perfect for artwork, even with toddlers. Kids will want to spend time focusing on remembering the colors, and sorting through the leaves to make pictures of trees or murals. If your fall travels won’t take you near fall foliage, consider creating leaves from colorful felt that can form the basis for an art project. Making your own mural with a tree and allowing your child to help add the leaves makes the idea of fall come to life.

Pumpkin Scubbing and Painting

Pumpkin scrubbing is a good activity fro toddlers, especially after having had the chance to select a pumpkin. Regardless of whether a pumpkin will be used in food or as a decoration, scubbing will help your child get used to cleaning vegetables before use. As an alternative to carving, consider getting some non-toxic paints to help your child decorate a pumpkin.

Play-Doh Fall Math Activities

Play-Doh makes a perfect tool for creating countable objects to help kids learn. Learning trays that feature full-color photos of bight apples and pumpkins, along with counters and cards, help make learning simple, and counting and math fun for you toddler or preschooler. Using objects they are seeing a lot of during the fall will help counting come more easily.

Montessori School in Newark offers the perfect environment for creative children who learn well with hands-on activities. Contact us today to schedule a tour to see how Montessori education will benefit your child.

Fall Crafts to Teach Thanks

Fall is the perfect time to teach children what it means to be thankful. At our Montessori schools, we love to teach through hands-on experiences and believe that crafts are a fun way to do this.

Fall Crafts that Teach Thanks

We put together a small list of some fun crafts you can do at home with your child to learn more about being thankful.

A Thanksgiving Tree – Colored construction paper and some tacks or tape is all you need for this craft. Cut out a tree trunk and individual leaves. Use these to create a tree on a space in your home that everyone walks by several times a day. Each day, decide on something you are thankful for. Have your toddler draw a picture on the leaves. Fill in a leaf and attach it to your tree. Each time you walk by, your family will see all the wonderful things you are thankful for.

A Thankful Book – You can use brown paper bags or create a book with sturdy card stock or paper. You will need 5 pages in addition to the cover. On each page write at the top.

  • At home I am thankful for …….
  • At school I am thankful for ……..
  • Outside I am thankful for ……….
  • In my family I am thankful for ……….
  • Other things I am thankful for ……….

Have your child fill in each page with drawings, writing or pictures cut from magazines.

A Jar of Thanks – This one is a simple craft. You will need a large glass jar, decorations and card stock. Let your child decorate the jar. Cut out small cards using the card stock. Now fill in the small cards with things you are thankful for; you can also have your toddler drawer pictures. When someone is having a bad day, they can go to the jar and remember all the things they are thankful for.

Create a Thankful Wreath – Cut out some leaf shapes in fall colors using colored paper or card stock. Have your child draw things they are thankful for on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in a wreath, securing them with glue or tape. You can have each child in your home make one of these and hang them on their bedroom doors.

These crafts are all great ways to help your child think about things they are thankful for and things they appreciate in life. It is never too early to start such a wonderful lesson.

Here at Montessori Children’s Center, we love to use arts and crafts to learn new things. If you are looking for a school for your child that includes hands on learning experiences, contact our school today to schedule a tour.

How Parents Can Support Their Montessori School

Montessori schools are a warm and friendly environment that will bring you and your child together with teachers, other families, and students into a welcoming community. Being part of this community will bring both of you many rewards. You will be able to make choices and decisions about your child’s education and your child will be allowed to learn and grow in a community that focuses on individuality. Supporting your child’s school, even if you do not have a lot of extra time, will keep you informed and help you bridge how your child learns at school with home.

Be Involved

There is always a need for an extra pair of hands and teachers welcome parents to come in and help with activities. There is also a great need for parents to come in and share with the children any special skills they have that could apply to school-age children. The teachers appreciate the help and the children, especially yours, will love the support and interest you will provide for them. You may consider sharing cultural celebrations with your child’s class or plan and supervise an outing or project. There are numerous ways to provide support that will benefit you, your child and the entire Montessori school community.

In or Out of the Home Support

If you are a working parent, the hours of the school day may not fit into your schedule for helping out during class times. Check with your school and ask about ways you can help from home. Providing in-home projects like editing the school newsletter, or helping with the school website is a fantastic way for you to support the Montessori school. There are also out-of-home positions such as serving on the school’s Board of Directors which would meet after working hours or perhaps helping prepare materials for classes that can be done during various hours. Discuss your schedule with your child’s teacher and find where he or she thinks your skills will benefit your child’s class and school best.

Stay-In-The-Know

One of the best ways to support your child’s school and education is to ‘stay-in-the-know’ about what is happening. Reading the school newsletter is a great way to understand what your child has been doing and know what is coming up. Make sure you keep up with communications from your child’s teacher with emails and by attending conferences. Asking your child to talk about his or her day is a wonderful look at how beneficial a Montessori education is and a great way to ‘stay-in-the-know’.

When you enroll your child in a Montessori school you will both be entering a great community. Many schools have parent education meetings where they learn and discuss general parenting issues. Contact Montessori Children’s Center in the Bay Area today to schedule a tour. Find out how you as the parent can support your child on their incredible, educational journey.