Sunday, February 18, 2018

Preschool Skills to Use Before Reading a Book

Every child learns at a different pace, and learning how to read is as unpredictable as it is important. But if you want to help your child prepare for this milestone – and continue to grow as a new reader – you can help by building some early literary skills now. After all, reading and understanding text aren’t the only skills involved in reading, and they’re not the only ways for a child to experience words and books. Pre-reading skills range from paying attention during reading time to identifying letters and numbers, and all of them help us lay an important foundation for literacy.

Here are a few early childhood literacy skills your preschooler can use before they start reading. Grab your favorite book and get started today!

Looking at Pictures & Identifying Items

Reading comprehension skills are important because kids must learn to pay attention to the details and meaning of a story. Luckily, this skill can be sharpened without even using words. Select books with colorful, clear illustrations on every page and help your child identify the most important elements. For example, your child may start by distinguishing between different colors and animals, then progress to picking out specific characters, settings, and other details.

Identifying Letters, Numbers, & Punctuation Marks

Long before kids learn how to interpret letters and words, they can tell different shapes and sizes apart. Now is a great time to start focusing on the differences between different letters and numbers, including their shape, size, and name. Start by reading alphabet books that name and describe each letter, getting your child familiar with the whole alphabet. As they learn more about the alphabet, pause during story time and ask them to identify random letters or point out the differences between capital and lower-case letters on the page.

Predicting Patterns & Plots

As you read aloud to your child, engage them in the action of the plot and encourage them to try predicting what will happen next. This helps them pay attention to plots and patterns, and it also inspires creativity and problem-solving skills by allowing them to imagine the next page. This can be as simple as pausing during story time and asking what one character should say to the next, or as complex as drawing

Telling Stories Themselves

Ultimately, reading is all about following narratives. Because strong narrative skills are helpful as your child learns to read, consider involving them in the storytelling process. After reading a book together, ask them to retell the story – or tell a story about something that happened to them. Reading repetitive books is a great starting point, because kids can rely on a predictable pattern to help them learn and retell a story. Even playing make-believe is a great way to build storytelling skills, so give your kids an opportunity to get creative.

At Montessori Children’s House, we encourage our students to embrace and enjoy reading at their own pace. Contact us to learn more about our preschool programs and see how Montessori education teaches students new skills that set the foundation for lifelong learning.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

3 Tips to Further Develop Fine Motor Skills

Although most of us don't even think about it, our fine motor skills are used and tested on a daily basis. Whether it's writing, drawing, typing, cutting, tying shoelaces, using a fork and spoon, or buttoning your shirt – fine motor skills are essential for nearly everything you do.
So naturally, you want your child to have highly developed fine motor skills they can rely on both inside and outside of the classroom. Here are three tips to help your child develop and hone their fine motor skills:

No. 1 – Understand the stages of development

If you want your child's fine motor skills to improve, it's imperative to understand their current stage of development. Depending on their age and progress, you'll want to explore and complete activities that reflect those factors.

No. 2 – Customize the Activities

Finding out what kind of activities your child gravitates towards is a really important part of developing their fine motor skills. If you incorporate fine motor skills into projects or hobbies they have already shown an interest in, it will be a natural learning process rather than something that feels forced. Whether they enjoy building stuff with Legos, creating a masterpiece with finger paints, or playing with Barbie dolls – you can use it to help them build upon their existing fine motor skills.

No. 3 – Stock up on supplies

It's a good idea to give your child as many options as possible when they are developing their fine motor skills. This way, you can see which activities they naturally gravitate towards.  Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Supplies for Creative Projects
  • Construction paper
  • Finger paints
  • Markers (non-toxic and washable)
  • Crayons
  • Coloring books
  • An Easel
  • Modeling clay
  • Musical instruments
Building Activities
  • Legos
  • Bristle blocks
  • Construction straws
  • Tinker toys
  • Magnetic blocks
  • Puzzles
General Supplies
  • Safety scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Smock (to prevent staining)
  • Paste/glue
Having a variety of supplies on hand will give your child the resources they need to explore and develop their own interests – all while improving their fine motor skills as they continue to grow and learn.

Make it Fun

Fine motor skills are necessary for almost everything we do in life. Use the tips listed above to ensure your child's development stays on track, making sure you are giving them the encouragement and support they need to excel in the classroom and beyond.  

For preschoolers in particular, it's important focus on your child's fine motor skills both inside and outside of the classroom.  The teachers and staff at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus use hands-on, interactive learning to further develop and fine tune students' fine motor skills.  Contact us today to schedule a tour of our school and learn more about the Montessori Method.

Elementary Math Lesson: Teaching Fractions

Many elementary students struggle with learning fractions. But with the right information and know-how, you can instill a love of numbers in your child that will help them succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. That's why it's so important to take an individual approach when trying to teach them how to calculate fractions.

Consider Their Interests

If you can find the place where your child's interests meet the world of mathematics, they will take to these new concepts like a fish to water.
You can find ways to explain fractions using an activity they have already shown an interest in, and then a seemingly complicated concept like fractions is instantly more familiar and comfortable to them.

1. Legos

Maybe your child loves to create things with Legos. If so, you can use this existing interest to easily explain how fractions work. Use the different colors of their Lego set to give them a visual representation of a fraction. Then, have them draw and label the fraction on a blank sheet of paper.

2. Baseball

If your child has an interest in America's favorite pastime, you can use it to teach them about fractions. For instance, you can play a game of catch as a fun way to demonstrate a real-life example of this skill.
Throw the ball x amount of times – keeping track of the number of times you catch and throw the ball on a sheet of paper. After you're done, help your child write down the fraction that represents how many times they caught it compared to how many times it was thrown.

3. Dominoes

If your family loves game night – dominoes might be the perfect tool to teach your child about fractions. Make up your own domino game to sneak in a math lesson with game night.

4. Pizza

Who doesn't love a hot, cheesy pizza? But you probably didn't realize how easily you can use it to teach your kid about fractions. Next time you order a pie, count how many slices there are and have your child figure out the fractions as it disappears slice by slice.

5. Smartphones

Put the "smart" in smartphone by using it to help your child understand the concept of fractions. There are a lot of great apps designed to make math both fun and easy for young students, such as Squeebles.

Bottom Denominator

Regardless of what subject you're teaching your child, it's important to make it relevant to their everyday experiences. Find something they already enjoy doing, then find a way to teach them about fractions using their unique and pre-existing interests.  Elementary students at the Montessori School of Pleasanton are encouraged to use everyday activities to enhance their learning.  To learn how to incorporate specific Montessori activities into your home life, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our teachers and staff.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Math Lessons for your Preschooler at Home

Learning math skills is a progression of skills. In order to grasp the methods used for addition and subtraction - the most basic of mathematics - the child has to understand the relationship between numbers. Here are some games that can be played with preschoolers, as they advance through the skill sets needed to do simple math.

Counting on the Body

Children are born with the tools necessary to do simple math: their fingers. These lessons can begin in infancy, carrying through preschool and into kindergarten, becoming more complicated as skills are mastered. Start with by holding up one finger and saying the number. From there, progress to alternating between the child telling you how many fingers, or holding up fingers to match a number you name.

Number Recognition

While your child is learning to count, you can teach number identification. Make up a set of 10 index cards, each with a number from 1 to 10 printed on it in a large size, and a corresponding number of objects drawn on the back. When your child holds up a specific number of fingers, you show her the picture or number which corresponds. As their knowledge increases, you can simply use the homemade flash cards.

Sorting By Properties

The next step is to learn that similar items can be grouped together. You can use anything for your sets of objects, from clothes to toys or brightly colored pictures. Show your preschooler how items of a particular color or shape look the same, and then ask them to sort them. For example, separate the shoes from the socks.

Sorting By Quantity

Now that your child has learned to separate items by identifying their properties, it is time to count the items in a set. Start with one type of item, slowly adding one item and counting the number of items. Next, sort the items into groups and count the number of, for example, triangles. This teaches more complex counting skills, as well as the concepts of groups, sets, and properties. For example, there are 3 types (groups) of items, and each group contains a set of 4 items, while each item is a different color.

Addition and Subtraction

By recognizing properties and groups, addition and subtraction have been introduced. If there are zero triangles, and you add one, there is one triangle. If you add a second triangle, there are two. If you then add a circle, you have three items. Ask your preschooler which group has more items, and how many items.

With patience and practice, your preschooler will be able to count items, associate the number of items with the number that matches it, and be able to increase or decrease the number of items or even entire sets. They have also learned that items of different properties can be grouped into sets, and math can be performed on an entire set.

The Montessori method believes in teaching children through hands-on, interactive learning activities, such as learning math using objects found at home.  At Montessori Children's House, we work with our preschoolers and their families to further develop their skills both in and our of school.  Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Keeping your Child Healthy during the Cold Weather Season

Staying healthy during the cold weather season may require small changes to your daily routine. At this time of year, paying close attention to your child’s individual needs will help keep your elementary age student happy and healthy.

Keeping Your Child Healthy in Colder Weather
Colder weather brings lots of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Keeping your elementary student healthy during this time may require some extra effort.

1. Staying Warm
Children lose body heat faster than adults. Keeping your child warm and comfortable is necessary to avoid frostbite or hypothermia. When your child is outdoors, monitor the time. Colder weather may require you to shorten outdoor times. Or you may need to drive your child to school to avoid waiting outdoors for a bus, for example.

Layer clothing items with appropriate-sized coats, hats, gloves, and boots to help keep your child healthy. Keep a close watch on the temperature schedule for the day or week. Changing temperatures may necessitate different clothing choices. For example, frigid temperatures may require extra sweaters or sweatshirts to help ward off the cold.

2. Getting Enough Rest
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, elementary age children should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep. Getting enough rest helps your child stay healthy. Setting a regular bedtime pattern sounds easy, but busy schedules often get in the way of a good night's sleep.

3. Eating Healthy
Eating healthy meals and snacks provides the proper nutrition to fight off germs.
  • Encourage healthy lunch or snack choices at school.
  • Minimize fast food or takeout meals.
  • Prepare well-balanced meals with food items from the recommended food groups.
Along with proper meals, staying hydrated is necessary to stay healthy during the cold season. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water, milk, or juice throughout the day. Avoid sugary drinks or sodas with little nutritional value. Building up your child’s immune system is critical for fighting off infections.

4. Encourage Hand Washing
Sitting next to a sick classmate increases your child’s risk of being exposed to germs, viruses, and other bacteria. Practicing proper hand washing techniques decreases the chance of getting ill. Washing hands should occur:
  • Prior to eating meals or snacks
  • After using a restroom
  • After sneezing, coughing, or wiping one's nose

5. Regular Checkups
Make and keep regular doctor appointments. Seeing a doctor provides you a chance to learn about any health issues you may not notice. During the visit, you can address any of your concerns regarding your child’s well-being. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor if your child needs vitamins or other nutritional supplements to help stay healthy during the colder weather.

As a parent or guardian, you know your child better than anyone. Keeping track of your elementary student's daily needs will help you focus on specific areas. Getting plenty of sleep, eating properly, and avoiding the spread of germs will help increase the chances of your child staying healthy during the cold season.  At the Montessori School of Pleasanton, we care about your elementary child as a whole, including their health.  Contact us today to schedule a tour and meet with our elementary teachers and staff.

Teaching your Toddler Manners

How you can Teach Your Young Child Manners

At a young age, your child will strive to do what he or she feels is the right thing. Maria Montessori firmly believed all young children have a sense of dignity instilled in them which guides them into pleasing the adults around them and behaving in proper manners. There are techniques you should follow to help your child know what is considered proper manners. Montessori has set some guidelines for you that will enable you to teach your young child at home what is regarded as appropriate toddler manners.

Opportunities to Practice Manners

Role-playing is an excellent way for you to show your child manners. Greeting others can often be a difficult action for toddlers, and by role-playing, you can show them good ways to meet others. Pretend you've met a friend at the store and go over how he or she can say 'hello' nicely.

Repeat Lessons that are Difficult

If your child has a difficult time greeting others, don't push them. Repeat lessons whenever they appear to make your toddler feel uncomfortable. They will find their way and time on how to greet respectably as long as you continue to demonstrate proper etiquette yourself.

Lessons on Specific Manners

If you've decided to teach your toddler about manners, you should approach each lesson separately. Learning how to greet others, expressing thanks, or when not to interrupt, for example, should all be separate lessons. If you've decided to use the role-playing method, you should only go through one of the manners at each play time.

Be Specific with your Praise

After your child nicely greets another, be specific with your praise and let them know how happy it has made you. Tell them, "I am so happy with how nicely you said hello to Mr. Johnson." It is an excellent idea to reinforce their good behavior by stating precisely what they've done and how it has made you feel. Acknowledge that it was a friendly greeting and let your child know how it pleased you when they spoke so nice.

Do Not Criticize

Do not criticize your child if you feel they've not greeted another properly. Embarrassing them in public or in front of others will not teach them proper etiquette techniques. If you think they are acting incorrectly with purpose, a gentle reminder on how to greet would be appropriate, but criticizing, especially in public, is never advised.

Practical Life Activities

Practical life activities help your child develop order, coordination, independence, and concentration. By implementing these activities with your child, you will provide them with graceful movements and the inner discipline needed to conquer proper etiquette skills and manners.

Your child needs to feel secure and loved and in return will learn how to use self-control and good manners. Children learn what they know from those around them. Know that how you conduct yourself and use good manners will be mirrored by your child.  The teachers and staff at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus understand the important role they play in leading and guiding students through their daily lives, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Contact us today to schedule a tour!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Strategies to help your Elementary Child Focus

Everyone can get sidetracked now and then, but children, especially the younger ones, also have short attention spans. In order to help your child focus on the projects at hand, try out some of these tips to help put those projects into perspective, making them easier to pay attention to. Not only will these tips help your children focus better, they may assist you in your daily routines as well.

Minimize Distractions

It is far too easy to get caught up in the moment and lose yourself in more enjoyable functions. One of the best ways to have more focus is to reduce the number of distractions. For elementary children, this means more than just technology, too. It also means creating a quiet environment that allows greater concentration, with all the materials necessary close at hand. With less stuff getting in the way of making progress, it will be easier to get each job completed.

One Goal at a Time

Multitasking is great, but it is much easier to focus on a single thing at a time. Teach children to tackle one task and complete it before moving on to other projects. Similarly, break large projects down into smaller parts. This allows the child to put more concentration into the job at hand, in addition to giving them a sense of accomplishment each time another portion of the project reaches its conclusion.

Take Breaks

There is no shame in needing to take a break. Encourage children to take a short break every so often, so they can get their thoughts organized. The key is that a break is just that - an interval between bursts of concentration - rather than an invitation to put the project aside and move on to other activities. The timing for breaks should correspond to the attention span of the child, which means more frequent, short breaks for the smaller children and longer periods spaced farther apart for older kids. Taking breaks may be especially helpful for special needs children, such as those with attention deficit conditions.

Communicate About Pending Tasks

A lack of focus and enthusiasm may have underlying causes which need to be addressed. If you notice your child having more difficulty concentrating than usual, it could be because something else is on their mind. Communicating with your child is more than a good way to help them clear their mind, talking out potential problems is a great way to build confidence and a sense of importance for children.

A cornerstone of Montessori learning is making the educational process more enjoyable, and parents can adopt this approach at home. Turning a project that seems to be moving slowly into a more exciting prospect will help children find more energy and interest in the subject. Look for ways to combine exciting activities with the lessons at hand, and show your children that you are excited by the progress they make.  

Elementary students at the Montessori School of Pleasanton are taught these strategies and more to help them focus on different projects throughout the learning cycle.  If you are looking for ways to help your child focus, consider enrolling them in a Montessori school, where teachers are able to provide a more individual approach.  Contact us today to schedule a tour!