Tools used to Assess your Montessori Student

In traditional public schools, testing is the required norm. Some classes test the children every week, and all kids must take standardized assessment tests periodically to determine their progress. Everything is different in a Montessori classroom. While each child is being continuously monitored and assessed, the methods used are far more subtle, and often subjective, focusing on the skills of the individual child rather than trying to fit the child into age-specific standardization.

Standardized Tests

Some Montessori schools use standardized testing as well as other methods. This practice is more common in public Montessori schools, or privately operated schools which transition children into public education as they get older. Some of the data collected in these tests can be used to improve the Montessori system, but individual progress carries more weight than standardized questions.

Daily Assessment

Assessment takes place continuously in the Montessori classroom. Guides observe the activities of children and offer assistance or suggest other methods as children require it. Teachers also speak with children regularly, allowing the guide and student to look at the individual’s progress and plan future activities accordingly. Where a public school teacher may know that the class is on page 247 of a textbook, the Montessori guide knows that your child is learning to master a particular concept or skill. The key is that the children in the class are working at their own paces, and they are not all on the same page.

Self-Paced Learning

Montessori learning encourages the children’s natural inquisitiveness. Because the kids are allowed to learn at their own paces, each student may move about the Montessori classroom and various activity centers as they learn new skills. Since this follows a more natural pattern of learning, many children are able to absorb subject material faster.

All Children are Special

Maria Montessori believed that all children are special. Each one has unique talents and is able to grasp different concepts more quickly than others. In the Montessori classroom, this allows gifted children and challenged learners to work together in the classroom, advancing at their own pace, without becoming separated from their peer group. In addition to allowing individual advancement within the classroom, this also allows interaction between children, benefiting those who are having more trouble and creating a sense of self-worth for the children as a group.

Montessori schools teach the same kind of information, in approximately the same age-groups, as traditional schools. But the methods used to do that are much different, focusing more on personal achievement, hands-on learning, and social responsibility. Both methods attempt to provide children with a well-rounded education, but the approaches used by each are like comparing apples to oranges.  Schedule a visit at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus today to learn more about the tools we use to assess students.

Preschoolers and the Lesson of Friendship

The preschool years are a perfect time for children to learn about the importance of friendship. Your child will form friendships that could last throughout their childhood and beyond at this time. Helping your child learn about the importance of friendships from such a young age will get them ready to make new friends at school.

Read Books About Friends With Your Child

Preschoolers can take away a lot of information from reading books, making reading a perfect activity to help explain the importance of friendship to your child. After reading these books, take some time for you and your child to discuss how their friends are like those they read about in the stories and how they’re different.

A few books that your child will enjoy include:

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister – A story of a fish with shiny scales who gives one away to a sad friend, then gives away more when he sees the happiness they bring. You’ll be able to introduce your child to the idea of giving to those less fortunate than they are.

Just My Friend and Me by Mercer Mayer – This Little Critter classic shows how the signature character learns it’s okay to play alone after a difficult playdate. Your child will learn a little more about coping with conflicts.

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni – When Blue and Yellow come together after being apart, they turn green and all accept them. This book is a cute lesson in tolerance.

Make Friendship Necklaces

A friendship necklace is a great activity for preschoolers, under adult supervision. In place of beads that could present a choking hazard, you can use pasta dyed to bright colors using a food coloring and vinegar mixture. Thread them on to pieces of string with a knot at one end, tying the ends off to close.

Host a Tea or Lunch

Enjoying a tea or a lunch together is a great way for kids to appreciate the value of friendship. They’ll learn how to share with each other, as well as some other basic manners that will help them when they reach school age. One of the fun things about this type of setting with preschoolers is that they will often play pretend, inviting their stuffed toys or even imaginary friends to the table.

The lesson of friendship is a very important one that your child will benefit from learning as early as possible. These engaging activities will help get your child excited about making new friends as they prepare to start school.  The teachers and staff at Montessori Children’s Center encourage students to be friends with all, embracing the differences that make each child unique and special.  Contact us today to schedule a visit of one of our preschool Montessori classes.

Preschool Center Ideas You Can Use at Home

Children are born with a natural curiosity to learn and explore their individual surroundings. Preschool-aged children thrive in a consistent, well-prepared environment. Promoting accepted behavior helps your child understand limits and consequences. Setting up your home environment to mimic your child’s preschool center will inspire growth and learning.

Ideas for Your Preschool Center for Home Use

The next time you visit your child’s preschool center, check out the different aspects of the room. Use the ones that best fit into your home environment.

  1. Child-Sized Environment

Creating areas specifically designed for your preschooler will help promote learning. Child-sized furniture allows your preschooler to engage in the environment without difficulty. Moving around the room without hindrance develops a sense of independence.

  • Low shelves for books, activities, clothing, shoes, etc
  • Child-sized table and chairs
  • Step stools to reach bathroom sink
  • Clothes hung at a lower level in the closet
  1. Promote Self Learning

Use baskets, small tubs, and trays to store activities and other learning materials. Your preschooler can set the item on the table for further exploration. After playing, placing the items back in the basket promotes responsibility. When making up the baskets, keep items together for specific areas of learning.

For example, a math activity could include placing small objects on corresponding color cards to match the number sequence. Preschoolers with advanced levels of learning could place small items on colored cards representing basic math.

A sensory activity should focus on one or two of your preschooler’s five senses. Simply providing your preschooler with measuring cups, scoops, and different colored beans provide a chance for optimal sensory engagement.

  1. Books

Place books on low shelves directly related to your child’s interest. Allowing your child to find books of interest helps in the learning process. When your preschooler shows interest in a subject in another curriculum area, books can be a foundation for continuous learning. As your preschooler develops other interests or curiosities, add different books.

  1. Incorporate Nature

Upon entering the preschool center, you may notice the emphasis on nature. Developing your preschooler’s understanding about the natural world promotes continuous learning opportunities. Provide your preschooler with items directly from nature.

  1. Creative Environment

Incorporate art into your preschooler’s home activities. Engaging in art promotes creativity with open-ended possibilities. Enhancing vital fine motor skills, art will strengthen finger and wrist muscles needed for learning to write and other activities in the future. Setting up a box of recycled or inexpensive items for art creation will encourage creativity, vocabulary, and language and physical skills.

Implementing small changes in your home will enhance your preschooler’s natural curiosity for exploration. Using the preschool center as a basic guideline will help you provide a consistent learning environment. If you have questions about setting up a home environment, contact the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus.  We invite current and prospective families to tour our school and visit our classrooms to see the Montessori Method in action.

Five Montessori Books to Read this Fall

Fall is always a good time to start putting a reading list together, especially when you have kids that are learning using the popular Montessori method. Books are a great way for kids to get prepared for autumn and help open the door to other learning experiences. You’ll want to read these books with your children this fall.

Winter is Coming by Tony Johnson

One of the most fun things about fall for younger kids is learning how fall relates to winter. In this cute tale, a little girl visits her favorite place in the woods where she observes the changing leaves, chipmunks and squirrels gathering nuts, and other signs of fall. As she observes these fall events, she notices the gradual change to winter, creating a good starting point to discuss seasonal changes with your child.

In November by Cynthia Rylant

There is so much that goes on in nature and our lives in November that this book makes a perfect way to open up discussion of all of these. The season is starting to shift from fall to winter a lot more quickly, and it’s easy to observe animals starting to prepare. Individuals are getting together to celebrate the blessings in their lives with loved ones. The beautiful illustrations in this book are a great way to highlight all these things.

A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas

Kids love seeing fall leaves, but one thing your child may not have thought a lot about is that leaves have a life cycle. This book uses beautiful illustrations to show how leaves change and evolve throughout the seasons. Your child will have a better appreciation for the colorful leaves depicted everywhere during fall.

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

A little girl named Sophie has an unusual best friend – Bernice, a squash. As it gets closer to winter, Sophie starts to notice some changes in her friend. Cute illustrations and a humorous take tell the tale of how both friends get through this time of transition.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Snead

A bear wants to tell a story before he hibernates for the winter. However, he quickly finds that his forest friends are busy making winter preparations of their own. The illustrations help follow the bear on his quest as he learns more about what his friends are doing.

These books are a great way to help your child learn more about fall. Colorful illustrations and fun stories help bring everything to life even for the youngest kids. They’ll be all ready for fall after reading these stories!  At Montessori Children’s Center, we encourage parents to read with their children at home.  Older students are also invited to join, as the Montessori method encourages students to work together.  To see what books our students are reading this fall, visit us today!

Behavior Strategies for your Elementary Student

Maria Montessori is famously quoted as saying, “The undisciplined child enters into discipline by working in the company of others: not by being told he is naughty.” This statement sums up the process of using positive behavior strategies in the classroom. Understanding that children learn from what they are taught, as well as what they experience with their own senses, is crucial to quickly diffusing situations and maintaining order in the classroom. Misbehavior is a symptom of an underlying discomfort or emotional state, and the goal of the parent or educator is to define the problem without allowing the class to be disrupted.

Ask Three Before Me

Teachers are very busy, but some students have difficulty waiting patiently for assistance. The multi-aged environment of a Montessori classroom encourages students to work together to solve problems, and a rule which requires students to seek help from other students a minimum of three times before approaching the teacher is useful in several ways. It promotes social interaction, for example, but is also a source of accomplishment for the student who provides assistance, and allows the teacher to focus on their immediate tasks.

Classroom Design

The classroom layout itself is a type of behavior strategy intended to promote activity for a wide range of student needs. Everything is in its place, and there is space enough for everyone. In order to provide students with freedom of movement, the Montessori classroom combines elements ranging from group areas and activities to single-student activities and open spaces where students can have more room. The idea is to allow students to investigate things at their own pace and work separately or independently according to the immediate needs and projects.

Set the Tone

Children want to feel like part of the picture, and they are easily affected by tone of voice and how things are said. Avoid being accusatory, for example, but make it clear that classroom rules must be obeyed. In the same vein, it is not helpful to address children in a condescending tone. When you are speaking with a child, ask questions which elicit an informative answer rather than rote yes or no responses. Communication is central to social interaction, and Montessori relies on interaction to provide a complete learning environment.

Build Emotional Capital

Encouraging children to be positive creates a positive return. Children want to be noticed in a positive way, and doing so gives the child a sense of accomplishment. When you help children feel good about themselves, they are less likely to act out in ways that help them feel bad about their actions.

The behavior strategies will be slightly different for every classroom. Teachers may experiment with several approaches before they find the one which works best for a given situation and how individual students react. As with other aspects of Montessori education, the lessons learned through classroom behavior strategies will help them become more responsible and interested.

The Montessori School of Fremont in Fremont, California encourages and supports teachers and parents as they try different behavior strategies to find the best one that works for their child.  Montessori education believes in positive reinforcement and allowing children to explore on their own and at their own pace.  To learn more about behavior strategies used at our school, schedule a tour today.

Volunteering in your Child’s Classroom

Parental involvement should be considered a crucial part of childhood development and education. Aside from the benefits discussed below, volunteering in your child’s classroom will help your child build self esteem, and it will give you a direct view of how your child’s spends their school time. Especially in the Montessori classroom, parent involvement is part of the process, contributing to a well-rounded learning environment and promoting social interaction.

Benefits of Volunteering

Your presence in the classroom is beneficial to your child, your instructor, and to yourself. It builds a working relationship between yourself and the teachers, allows more interaction between yourself and your child, and gives you the satisfaction of playing a larger part in your child’s developmental years. As a member of Montessori advisory committees, you are able to have a say in how and what your child will be taught and some influence over classroom-specific decisions.

How To Play a Part

The first step to volunteering your time in the classroom is to make contact with the teacher and school administration. Ask them where assistance is needed and set aside the time to be there and do your part. Special occasions and school events, for example, are always looking for parent volunteers to help things go smoothly and provide a satisfactory experience for everyone. If you want to have a more pronounced role, ask about joining a parent advisory committee and become active in making school and classroom decisions which will affect your children’s education.

Parent-Child Relationships

Parent volunteers enjoy the benefits of spending more time with their children. This helps builds stronger family bonds and instills a sense of community participation in the children. It shows your children that you are interested in their success and has a positive influence on how children perceive the educational process. This, in turn, builds confidence in the children and gives them an accomplishment-oriented purpose in the classroom.

Parent-Teacher Interaction

Parent volunteers are able to establish a bond with the staff of the school. This creates additional channels for communication and displays to the children that their parents and teachers are all working together. Such involvement also reduces classroom disruptions and often has a positive effect on how children interact with each other.

Enrolling your child in a Montessori school is the first step in giving them a powerful tool for learning. To make that tool even more successful, volunteering your time in school functions, special events, and classroom activities will not only provide more learning potential for the children, it will build adult and student bonds that reinforce the importance social interactions.

At the Montessori School of Fremont, we invite parents and guardians to volunteer in our classroom.  Here, they have an opportunity to not only see their child learning, but also observe how other children thrive in the Montessori learning environment.  To see how you can play an active role in your child’s education by volunteering in the classroom, contact us today.

Transitioning from a Daycare to a Montessori School

Childhood is full of transitions, but one of the ones that is simultaneously the most anticipated and the most dreaded is starting a new school. This transition can be especially challenging when switching from daycare to a Montessori school because your child has to not only adjust to a new teacher and setting, but also a new set of expectations.

Fortunately, there are ways to make the transition a little easier on your child, and therefore on yourself. Here are a few ways to smooth things over.

Familiarize Your Child with Montessori-Type Expectations

Since the Montessori method is based around independent play and education, your child’s new classroom is bound to feel very different than daycare. One of the main differences is the independence expected of children in the Montessori environment.

You can help your child prepare by encouraging greater independence at home. Here are a few easy ways to incorporate independence into your child’s daily routine and help prepare him or her for the expectations of a Montessori classroom:

  • Get dressed, brush hair and teeth, get ready for the day
  • Help cook in the kitchen, serve food
  • Organize and clean up toys
  • Help with chores such as sweeping, unloading the dishwasher, and sorting and folding laundry
  • Encourage self-guided play, art, and reading (even if just looking at pictures)

Expect Some Challenges

Once your child starts at the new school, you’ll undergo a transition yourself: Instead of trying to prepare your child for their new Montessori school, you’ll have to be there to offer support. Kids under pressure from a demanding transition respond in a variety of ways. Depending on age, your child might:

  • Need extra sleep
  • Get upset more easily or throw tantrums
  • Struggle with drop-offs
  • Act needy or clingy

During this period, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open as much as possible with your child as well as with his or her teachers.

Support the Montessori Method at Home

You can help to ease the transition by continuing to support Montessori ideas at home, not only while your child is settling in to the new classroom, but afterward as well. Here are a few of the ways you can incorporate the same principles into your child’s home life.

  • Set up a “work space” at home. A table and chairs, tucked into the corner of your child’s bedroom or playroom, makes a great Montessori work space for home. Stock storage shelves nearby with art supplies and manipulatives.
  • Continue fostering independence. Look for opportunities at home to teach new skills and encouraging continued independence.
  • Follow the child. Allow time with your child where he or she chooses the activity, mirroring the Montessori theme of following the child.

The best way to prepare for a transition to a Montessori program is to understand what the Montessori method entails. If you have questions about the Montessori environment or how to prepare your child for the transition, please contact us today for a tour of our school.  The staff and teachers at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside campus work with parents, guardians, and students to ensure the child is prepared and excited for their new journey into Montessori education.

The Montessori Environment: What is your Role as an Adult?

In the classroom and at home, the adults in a child’s life play a vital role in education. The Montessori environment positions adults as a guide for children to draw upon for information, guidance, and resources that promote learning. Their role is not to force the child to conform to preconceived ideas, but to provide necessary materials and help the child discover methods or activities that nurture learning and development.

Practice, Consistency, and Motivation

The role of the adult can be summed up using the 3 key components of the adult-child relationship. Far from being an authoritarian role, it is more supportive than dictatorial. The components are simple ones:

  • Practice – Give the child ample opportunity to experiment with ideas and practice skills. Think of this as allowing children to review and reaffirm past lessons rather than rushing them from one milestone to the next.
  • Consistency – Establish and stick to a consistent plan. This does not mean that a rigorous schedule is necessary – it means that the there needs to be regularity in the learning environment.
  • Motivation – This is arguably the most important part of Montessori learning. Children who receive encouragement and support are more enthusiastic about learning and experiencing new things. Motivation builds self-confidence, and that promotes moving forward.

Planning and Support

For the child, a seamless environment is preferable to a chaotic one. Adults, whether they are parents or teachers, need to provide the planning necessary for smooth transitions throughout the day, week, and the years to come. This includes having the materials available for course studies, and providing the encouragement and support which merges one lesson or activity into the next. Give children the freedom to move from one activity to the next by making sure the choices are available to them when they are ready.

Preparation and Guidance

Many of the responsibilities of the adult take place behind the scenes. Planning and preparation are invisible guidelines in the classroom which allow smooth transitioning and freedom to move about the classroom. As a guide, your encouragement and participation are as important as the preparation. This includes discussing how the child is progressing, offering suggestions on how to solve problems, and maintaining a comfortable atmosphere.

Emotional and Intellectual Interaction

In order for a child to excel, they need to be comfortable, both emotionally and intellectually. It is more practical to help a child understand their feelings than to simply dictate why they should react a certain way. This helps put emotional reactions and intellectual understandings on par and gives the child a framework to build on. An adult is needed to help the child understand their feelings and pursue their understandings rather than dictating how one should behave and what they must learn.

Montessori education recognizes that adults play a key role in a child’s education.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, our teachers work with parents and guardians, assisting them with the continuation of Montessori learning outside of school.  If you are looking for more ways to get involved with your child’s education, contact us today to learn ways to play an active role in your child’s daily learning.

Top Factors to Consider when Choosing a Montessori School

Choosing a Montessori school for your child is a huge decision. One that will impact your family for many years to come. That’s why it’s vital to know what to look for in a Montessori educational program, and the type of schooling you want in your child’s future.

Is a Montessori School Right for You?

It’s very important to understand – not all Montessori schools are created equal, and they do not all adhere to one curriculum. Moreover, just because a certain school is a good fit for one student does not necessarily mean it will benefit your child in the same way.

Here’s some of the top factors you should consider when choosing a Montessori school:

No. 1 – The Credentials

Many Montessori schools will choose to join a professional organization to reflect the credentials of their teachers and programs. The American Montessori Society, or AMS, is probably the most common, but it’s important to know which credentials and licenses are held by the school you are interested in and if it is a fully accredited program.

These qualifications are what protects the students’ health, safety and educational opportunities. Without the proper credentials, you might want to look other options.

No. 2 – The Classroom

The classroom is the heart of your child’s educational experiences. When visiting a Montessori school, visit the classrooms and look for a variety of learning materials, as well as lots of space for group and individual activities.

A major difference between a Montessori school and a traditional classroom is the teaching approach. Montessori classrooms should encourage hands-on learning rather than simply reading and repeating information.

No. 3 – The Teachers

We all remember our favorite teacher, right? That’s because teachers have a huge impact on our lives and the good ones really tend to stick out. Therefore, you’ll want to meet with the teachers before deciding on a school and ask them about their qualifications and what approach they take when teaching children new skills.

No. 4 – The Students

One of the most exciting parts about a Montessori education is the support system your child is given access to from day one. Most classrooms will include children who are within 3 years of each other. The older children can help the younger children, but every student is encouraged to be a self-directed learner and leader.

No. 5 – After-School Activities

Extra-curricular activities can help boost a child’s confidence, teach them new skills and improve their social interaction with others. So while every Montessori school is different, if after-school activities and clubs are important to you – look for a program that offers these type of groups.

The Montessori Difference

If you’re considering a Montessori program for your child’s educational needs, consider the factors listed above before enrolling them in a school. For more information on how a Montessori education can benefit your child, contact the Montessori School of Fremont today!  We welcome parents and students to visit our classrooms and meet with our teachers to better understand the Montessori difference.

Helping your Kindergartner get Organized for the First Day of School

The first day of kindergarten is something every parent and child looks forward to, but let’s face it – it can also be a little scary. The key to having a successful start in Kindergarten is in the preparation. Getting your child ready and organized for their first day will allow them to feel confident in starting their educational pursuits.

Here’s some helpful ways you can prepare your child for their first of school:

Explain the Schedule

Simply talking to your child about what they should expect while attending school will ease their mind. Explain how the day will start at a certain time and end at a certain time.

Share Your Experience

We all remember those first day jitters when starting a new school. That’s because every single one of us went through it at one time or another. Make sure your child knows it’s perfectly normal to feel a little nervous before the big day!

Talk about the Benefits

Knowledge is power. And as a parent, you of course want your child to grow up feeling powerful and capable in everything they do. Tell your child about the numerous benefits education will offer them – just don’t leave out all of the fun and exciting adventures they will also get to experience as a Montessori student.

Make Friends

If possible, introduce your child to a couple classmates before school starts. Let them play together and get to know each other a little beforehand. Then on their first day, they will already have some friends to make them feel more relaxed and comfortable with all of the changes they are experiencing during this time.

Meet the Teacher

Before their first day, have a short meeting with the teacher so your child will be familiar with them as soon as they get into the classroom. As soon as the teacher greets your child as a friend, they will feel right at home!

Get Involved

One of the scariest parts of starting Kindergarten for children is the fact they will be away from their parents for so long. That’s why it’s so important to reassure your child, explain to them you will always be there when school ends each day.

You can also get involved with activities at the school to help foster the educational community that exists there, as well as become an active participant in your child’s learning process.

Have a Routine

Perhaps the most important part of keeping your child enthusiastic and interested in school is having a solid routine they can always depend on. Start this routine early and it will become a habit for the rest of your child’s life, keeping them on track and focused on the goals ahead.

For more information on how to prepare your child for a life of success, contact the Montessori Children’s Center today!  Our teachers welcome prospective parents and students to visit their classroom and see the positive impact Montessori education can have on a child’s life.