Age-Appropriate Apps for your Preschooler

Getting your child used to technology early is a great way to help him or her succeed academically. A child who is used to using software, including mobile apps, will find trying new things less of a challenge. Apps like the ones summarized below can also make learning experiences more engaging, and your child will be more likely to look forward to school.

Alpha Tots

This app helps children learn their phonics and letters through the use of action verbs, such as “B for building”. Other features include an ABC’s-based sing-along song, mini-games with fun interactive features, and puzzles. One of the things you’ll appreciate is that the app works perfectly fine without ads or in-app purchases that could otherwise be a major distraction.

Reading Rainbow

This app features a lot of the appeal that has helped the show remain popular over the years. Some of the features include themed islands to explore, video field trips featuring host Lavar Burton, and easy access to hundreds of book titles. Helpful tools for parents include tips and the ability to track how much time your child spends reading.

Elmo Loves 123s

This Sesame Street favorite is perfect for teaching the youngest preschoolers how to count up to 20. Games and videos help provide even more of an interactive feel to get toddlers and young preschoolers fully engaged. Parents have a section where they can check their child’s progress very easily.

Animatch

Matching is an important skill for toddlers to learn, and using colorful animals is a good way to make things more interesting. Animal sounds and movements help keep kid’s attention throughout the game. With 30 different animals, kids will learn great memory and concentration skills easily.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

This app offers a little bit of everything for preschoolers, including pattern recognition, counting, shapes, colors, and letters. Each activity follows a goal of filling the monkey character’s lunchbox. The child’s reward for completing the activity is a colorful sticker on a virtual bulletin board.

Preschool Arcade

This fun little app has four arcade-style games to entice preschoolers: Whack-a-Mole, Claw-Crane Matching, Pinball 123, and ABC Invasion. Some of the cognitive development features include counting and alphabet recognition. Kids will enjoy the sound effects and animation that mimic real arcade games.

All of these apps will help make learning a more exciting experience for your preschooler. He or she will have more have more of an advantage once they start school.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, we understand how technology plays a vital role in today’s environment.  While we don’t believe in focusing solely on electronic devices, they do provide another educational opportunity for time spent outside of your school and especially when preparing your preschooler to begin school in the first place.  To schedule a meeting with our teachers and staff, contact us today!

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.

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.

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.

The Philosophy of Montessori Education and Preschool

When considering the benefits of a Montessori education, it is important to understand the core values of the Montessori Method. Originally designed to meet the educational needs of young children, the system has been expanded to include older kids over the years, but early childhood is still a critical period for teaching children the advantages of learning and showing them how to do it.

The 5 Principles of Montessori

Respect for the Child Children are not puppets, meant to do as they are bid without hesitation. In Montessori learning, the first principle is to respect children, to be aware of how each one is special and unique. This does not mean that children are allowed to run rough-shod in the classroom, but it does mean that the classroom must be centered on the children.

The Absorbent Mind This principle acts on a child’s natural desire to learn. Children can be observed to absorb knowledge as they progress through their daily activities, and the Montessori classroom gives them the freedom to live – and to learn – in each child’s own unique way. The idea is simple: During early education the mind of a child is like a sponge which absorbs what it comes into contact with.

Sensitive Periods If the mind is thought of as a sponge, then sensitive periods are the periods of absorption. Montessori principles states that allowing the child time to become absorbed in subjects of interest allows the child to soak up more knowledge, and thereby build on their own natural curiosity and potential.

Prepared Environment The prepared environment adds to the respect of the child and his absorbent mind by providing a classroom that is child-centered. This includes the furnishings, which are chosen to match the size of the child, but it also includes the way the materials are laid out. The idea is to mimic the natural environment while allowing the child to move freely from one resource to another. The prepared environment includes educational as well as social opportunities, including encouraging children to work together on projects and educational goals.

Self Education The ultimate goal is to teach children a love for learning. Once that has been accomplished, children are able to educate themselves, at their own pace, where the teacher offers guidance more than direct instruction. Autoeducation is the final of the 5 steps to Montessori learning, but it is also the sum of the other philosophies together. When respect, encouragement, time, and environment are all taken as a whole, then the child is able to direct their pursuits towards reaching educational goals and acquiring new skills.

Montessori Method has been shown to work for over 100 years, and has been expanded to include children of all ages. Through the 5 Principles of Montessori, the child is given the ability and access to materials which allows seemingly effortless learning. Just as importantly, it teaches children that learning can be enjoyable in itself, and that is a lesson which will last a lifetime.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, we invite prospective parents and students into our classrooms to see the Montessori Method in action.  The 5 Principles are incorporated daily through hands-on, student-led learning.  Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Preschool Library Corners

Preschool classrooms may vary in their design and the program they follow, but one thing is consistent: They always have a library corner. But why do classroom libraries and book nooks work so well? Here are a few of the ways in which book corners promote literacy in the preschool classroom.

  • They make books always available. In the typical preschool classroom, the library corner or book nook is open during any free play or work session, putting books literally at children’s fingertips at any time. This makes books an integral part of the preschooler’s day, allowing them to explore at will and model good reading habits to other children.
  • They provide a comfortable, inviting space. Most book nooks have comfortable chairs, beanbags, and pillows where children get settle in comfortably. Some also have headphones with music and books on tape or CD. This makes the library corner very appealing to children, especially those who want to get away from the noise and bustle of the classroom for a little while.
  • They provide a source for information. Library corners also often include nonfiction books, where kids can go to learn or look up information. When the class is learning about a specific topic, many teachers even add a few related books to the classroom library, encouraging kids to learn more on the subject during free time or work periods. In this way, kids discover books are not only a source for entertainment and relaxation, but also for research and learning.
  • They provide structure. Children crave structure, so organizing a classroom into small, easily-definable stations gives them visible boundaries. Carving out a separate reading nook, in addition to other learning stations, helps to break up the classroom. Making the reading area well-defined and separating it from other, noisier learning stations also encourages quieter behavior and better focus, helping to establish lifelong reading habits.

Bringing the Love of Literacy Home

You can drive home the importance of books by borrowing the idea of the library corner. This could be an entire room in your home, or perhaps a study or office with a corner for the kids’ desk and books. If you have a dedicated play room or craft area, you could install bookshelves and some comfortable seating on one side of the room, or you could dedicate one corner of your child’s bedroom to a book nook.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, our private Montessori elementary school encourages parents to continue the teaching and fostering of their child outside of the school environment.  For more information about how our Montessori preschool program strives to promote literacy and a love of learning, contact us today to schedule a tour of our school.

Games to Teach your Preschooler Teamwork

Life for your preschooler during his or her school time is about learning how to work with their peers. This concept is difficult for young children, so it’s important to promote teamwork during play to make it inviting and fun. Creative games or art activities are useful tools to initiate communication, collaboration, and cooperation among preschoolers.

Teach your Preschooler Teamwork Through Games

Your preschooler probably loves to play dress up or with blocks as these are common play activities with young children. Through these activities, they naturally develop cooperation between each other, but there are other games they can engage in to further promote teamwork. Try some of these ideas with your preschooler and their peers to focus them more on working together as a team.

Boxes and Balls

Using a large box cover, you can put your child to work as a team member and create an incredibly fun event. The best type of cover is one that has sides, so the ball remains contained on top and does not go rolling off as often. Place your child and their friends around the sides of the cover and put a brightly colored ball inside for them to keep in the middle. As a team, the preschoolers will have to work out how they hold the cover to maintain the ball in the center of the cover.

Group Mural

On a large sheet of paper or canvas draw a circle large enough to accommodate the number of children. Let the kids decide what images they want inside the circle, and they will work as a team to fill in space. This coloring or painting activity will have your preschooler working as a group to decide the style of coloring they choose and how to fill up the circle. It is also a great way for preschoolers to demonstrate or learn different techniques in coloring.

Amazing Maze

You can create an amazing maze with the bottom cut out of a large box. Inside the lower part of this box create a maze using brightly colored straws. Place an object such as a large marble, toy car, or any small movable item the children can work through the maze. With your preschooler and their friends placed around the bottom, each will have to work as a team to tilt the box and move the object through the maze. This activity is ideal for promoting cooperation between the team members.

Montessori Promotes Teamwork and Respect

Montessori classrooms are the ideal environment for your preschooler to learn about teamwork and respect. Classrooms are more like small communities where your child will share and work together with others while they learn the skill of being a team member. This skill is often forgotten in typical classroom settings, but in the Montessori environment, your child is encouraged to respect not only the teacher but their classmates as well. The teamwork aspect is a skill your child will take with them to create a lifetime of success.  The teachers of the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus integrate teamwork activities into their students’ daily learning.  Schedule a tour today to see the positive impact working together has on a student’s learning environment.