Thursday, June 30, 2016

Five Bay Area History Hotspots for Kids

Living in the Bay Area provides a plethora of destinations to learn about history. Learning about the past can be an exciting adventure for children, providing fodder for their active imaginations. Take time this summer, while the children are off of school to visit one or all of these historical places.

1. Drawbridge GhostTown
Drawbridge is the San Francisco Bay Area's only ghost town. Originally a hunting village, it became a true ghost town in 1979 and is sinking into the marshlands. The only path that leads into Drawbridge is an abandoned railroad track, which is somewhat dangerous and means possible falling into waist-deep marsh for those who attempt the trip. At one time 10 passenger trains stopped in Drawbridge every day, and the one small cabin was for the operator of the railroad's two drawbridges, which were removed long ago.

2. Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
The Essanay Studios was the earliest home of California's motion picture industry. This is where Broncho Billy and Charlie Chaplin made silent films between 1912 and 1916 -- remember Chaplin’s “The Tramp”? The non-profit museum is in the century-old Nickelodeon Edison Theater. Every Saturday evening there are screenings of those early films, many of which were done locally.

3. Ardenwood Historic Farm
Opened to the public on July 28, 1985, the park includes a large forest, what is still a working farm producing vegetables and wheat and a large pumpkin patch in the Fall, and a mansion which was first constructed in 1857 by George Washington Patterson. He called the estate "Ardenwood" after England’s forested area described in Shakespeare's As You Like It. One large Queen Anne Victorian section was added in 1889. In 1915, a remodel of the old farm house added a kitchen with a large bedroom above it, a sun porch, a nursery, and a bathroom that had indoor plumbing.

The park’s Railroad Museum operates the recreation of a narrow gauge horse-drawn railway and has a collection of railroad cars and other artifacts.

The park hosts many events including a celebration on Independence Day, an antique fair on the last Sunday every August, a Railroad Fair on Labor Day, a Harvest Festival in October, numerous Halloween celebrations complete with a haunted railroad, and more.

4. Mayhew's Sulphur Spring
This is located 600 feet north of the Niles railroad depot. In September 1869, a short four months after the famous Promontory Summit, Utah, golden spike ceremony, the Central Pacific Railroad was able to complete the long-awaited transcontinental link between the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento and finished the track through the nearby Niles Canyon.

5. Mission San Jose in Fremont
One of the oldest of the California historic Spanish missions, the church building is a re-construction dedicated in 1985 of the adobe church of 1809 that unfortunately was destroyed in the Hayward-fault earthquake of 1868. The original quadrangle had one side that remains and is a museum.

Schedule a tour at 
The Montessori School in Newark applies the educational philosophy and methods of Maria Montessori, M.D., a renowned Italian physician and child educator. The Montessori concept of education allows children to experience the joy of learning at an early age.  To learn more about our Montessori Primary and Kindergarten program contact us to schedule a tour.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Teach Your Child to Make Decisions




Children start making decisions that will affect their lives as early as three years old.

While these decisions may not be life-altering ones, they are still making them. It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure that your child knows how to make the right decisions in life early on. There are a few ways that you can help them do this.

Let Your Child Make Age Appropriate Decisions
When your child is young, you can start letting them make decisions for themselves, based on their age. For example, you can let them choose what they are going to have for a snack or what they are going to wear to school that day. When your child is very young, you should give them two options. This way, your child is making the decision, but they won't get too overwhelmed with all of the options available.

Give the Input in Family Decisions
While you cannot leave all of the family decisions up to your child, you can get their input. For example, if the family is going out to dinner, ask your child where they want to eat. Not only will they be forced to make a decision, they will also see that their voice matters in the home.

Let Your Child Make Mistakes
In life, we make decisions every day. Some decisions are the wrong ones and we need to learn to move on from that. Your child needs to learn the same concept. If your child is making a decision that you believe is the wrong one, you should let them make the decision, as long as it won't harm them in any way. For example, if your child chooses to wear a spring jacket outside when they need a winter jacket, let them make the mistake. They will learn that their decisions are not always right, but they will learn that they won't always make the right decision. This is a huge life lesson.

Practice What You Preach
If you are trying to get your child to make the right decisions, you should do the same. If you ask your child what they want for dinner, you hope they choose something healthy. When they do, it is a bad idea if they see you eating a gallon of ice cream while you are fixing dinner. If you want your child to make the right decisions, you should try to do the same.

Talk to Your Child
When your child makes a decision and you think it is the wrong one, encourage them to discuss their thought process with you. It will help you both figure out why that particular decision was made.

Though much has been said about the academic achievements of Montessori children, the main value of the educational method lies in the self-discipline, self-motivation, independence, and love of learning that the children achieve.  To learn more about our Montessori Fremont schools, contact us to schedule a tour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bay Area Free Activities for Kids


The best way for children to learn is by doing the things they are learning about.

Hands-on activities allow children to play and find out how things work, and there are many free activities for kids throughout the area. Making education fun helps kids develop an interest in learning.

SF Giants Fan Lot
Baseballs fans young and old will enjoy the SF Giants Fan Lot. It is free to ticket holders on game days, and free to the community at large on select non-game days. Exhibits and activities include:
  • Coca-Cola Super Slide
  • Giant Baseball Glove
  • Miniature Version of AT&T Park
Additionally, the whole family will enjoy the excellent views of the games and the San Francisco area available from the mezzanine. The Fan Lot is open September to May on the weekends, and daily during June, July and August

Randall Museum
Combining Science, Nature and the Arts, Randall Museum is always free and fun for the whole family. Saturdays feature special hands-on experiences for children, but there are many things to do every day, such as:
  • 188 Seat Theater
  • Live Animal Exhibit
  • Toddler Playroom
  • Woodshop, Arts and Ceramics Studios
The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, although some exhibits may be temporarily closed for maintenance and renovation.

Tilden Little Farm
Tilden Nature Area and the Little Farm are a popular attraction in Berkeley. The farm is free to the public every day of the year, and includes:
  • Petting Zoo
  • The Famous Red Barn
  • Children’s Garden
Touring a working farm helps children understand the importance of animal diversity, locally grown crops, and helps foster environmental respect.

Adventure Playground
Berkeley’s Adventure Playground is considered one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Playgrounds, and has received numerous awards from other publications. Unlike most attractions, this one encourages children to create and build, so be prepared to let your children get a little dirty.

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Free for infants and reasonably priced for the rest of the family, the Children’s Discovery Museum offers many hands-on and educational activities for kids, with an emphasis on how things work. Exhibits include:
  • Cultural Art Gallery
  • Investigating the Principles of Bubbles
  • The Science of Circles
Even though a small charge is involved for most visitors, the Children’s Discovery Museum is an experience that all kids will love to be a part of.

Bay Model
Created and administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bay Model allows visitors to see how the San Francisco Bay changes with the tides, in just a few short minutes. This working bay model gives visitors the opportunity to understand the diversity and fragility of the San Francisco Bay and Joaquin Delta System.

Visiting these attractions will give you an idea of the importance of hands-on teaching and allowing children to progress at the pace which works best for them.  More than basic child care, we are planting the seeds for a lifetime of learning.  Give your child a lifetime advantage from the very beginning of their education.  To learn more about our Montessori preschool program in Milpitas, please contact us to schedule a tour.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Teaching Your Child to Lead Successfully

With a natural curiosity, children are active learners. The Montessori learning environment provides children with a multi-age experience. The different ages are within a three-year span. The purpose is to provide children the necessary skills to become an independent adult. Along with fostering each child’s inner curiosity for learning, each student gains valuable leadership skills.


Children and Leadership
Both parents and instructors can introduce leadership qualities in children. With a multi-age learning environment, younger children naturally navigate toward older students within in the classroom. The process allows for the older children to foster leadership skills. The collaboration among the different age groups allows all students to work together in a cooperative effort toward specific end goals. The Montessori methods further build upon the different skill levels. The characteristics eventually expand a child’s leadership role as a member in the classroom, local community, and global effort.

Respect and Responsibility
Within the classroom, mutual respect and responsibility are key characteristics for learning leadership roles at a young age. Showing by example, the teacher respects each child as an individual. With the evaluation of the child’s interests, the teacher will continue to provide learning tools to aid in the intellectual, emotional and moral development.
With the Montessori principles, children realize the learning resources set by the teacher are valuable for growth. The child respects the teacher as the person for providing the tools to learn. At the same time, the child learns responsibility for taking part in each learning activity. Transforming the classroom into a trustworthy environment, all students will benefit from the unique learning experience.

Independence and Self-discipline
In the Montessori setting, each child has the freedom to make choices as part of the learning process. The initial choice may result in failures. The mistake allows for a learning opportunity. As a result, the child learns self-discipline. Aiding in the development of the child, the process promotes intellectual, social and physical skills. The valuable skills are an important part for instilling leadership qualities.

Future Leaders
Developing the individual student provides the essentials for being a key contributor in a collaboration for a team or project. The key component in developing independent qualities for leadership roles. With self-discipline and responsibility experience, students develop a positive self-image contributing to higher self-esteem. Learning the skills at a young age actually sets the groundwork for future success in higher education and employment opportunities.

All parents want the best for their children. Fostering leadership skills at a younger age can set a foundation for future academic growth. If you would like to learn more about the importance of leadership skills in children, please contact any one of our Bay Area Montessori Schools for a tour. Answering all your questions and addressing any concerns, the knowledgeable instructors and staff will show you our child-centered learning environment.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Botany For Kids

Children possess the natural gift of curiosity. Montessori principles encourage children to use their curiosity to continue to learn in an active manner. With the study of botany, highly trained instructors inspire children to learn about the various types of plant life surrounding them every day. The botany related learning activities can encompass a variety of subjects, including math and art.


The Study of a Simple Flower
From simple dandelions to long stem roses, children are drawn to the bright colors of flowers. Montessori instructors use flowers as part of the study of botany for kids. With the multiple colors, textures, and size, children love to inspect every part of a flower. The flower activities inspire children to connect with nature. Instructors will continuously build upon the basics to help demonstrate all the different aspects of botany.

Books
Books are a great resource to introduce the subject of botany. Beginning with an age appropriate book, instructors may read to peak children’s interest and promote further learning activities. The classroom bookshelf will have other flower or botany related books for children to pursue further on their own. Planting flowers can be part of the introduction to plant life. As the flowers grow, the learning opportunities will continue throughout the classroom. Students love to play in the dirt. Taking home a blooming flower provides a chance for parental interaction.

Examination
Montessori inspires children to learn with active, hands-on approach. Instructors allow each student a chance to examine real cut flowers. With careful selection, the flowers will be non-toxic and without thorns.
  • Students are given a chance to smell and touch the flower. By examining the flowers up close, children will interact with peers. Promoting language and social skills are another learning aspect in the activity.
  • Instructors may point out all the correct names of the various flower parts. The process increases vocabulary.
  • After the discussion, the flowers may be pressed and preserved. Allowing each student a chance to take a flower home.
Flowers and Art
With colors and textures, art inspires children. Integrating botany into art projects builds upon children’s desire to learn more about the flowers.
  • Students can trace various types of flowers. The noticeable differences will become part of their artwork.
  • Painting with the flowers aids in the promotion of fine motor skills. Students will learn how the petals, leaves and stems make different imprints on the paper.
  • Students can glue different types of materials into flower shapes.
Using the flowers up close in art, allows the student to further study the parts of the flower.


The Montessori Method's Cultural Activities incorporates botany and is part of the classroom experience.  If you are looking for an authentic Montessori preschool in the North Fremont area, please contact us to schedule a tour.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cooking With Toddlers

For a Montessori school, there are principles that are meant to be maintained throughout every activity. The activities should be student selected, guided by teachers, they should encourage creativity, and be completed in an open and judgement free setting.

When one thinks of activities for toddlers, art and outdoor play are things that likely come to mind first, but there's an activity that not only develops a toddler's creativity, motor skills, and encourages real world connections that will help them in academic settings for years to come: cooking.
 
For many reading this things like: "But, they'll get burned!" or "They'll hurt themselves!" come to mind, and rightly so. Cooking can be a dangerous activity, but that's where the focus on teacher guided activities, which is a hallmark of the Montessori method comes in. One of the simplest and easiest ways to introduce cooking is mixing ingredients, and one of the most common introductions to cooking for toddlers in classrooms around the country is making play-dough.
 
Toddlers get to experiment with different ratios of ingredients; they develop their motor skills and problem solving skills as they strive to add just the right ratio of dry and wet ingredients to create the perfect dough. Of course the part that all toddlers love is adding food coloring and experimenting with color mixing, all of this is done under the watchful eye of a teacher who is teaching what the words ratio, dry, wet, ingredients, heat, and mix, mean as they help to guide the students to success.
 
Once the dough is prepared it has to be cooked, which leads to further opportunities to teach about heat, safety, letting food rest when it comes out of the oven to avoid being burned. As the dough cools, the students get to compare notes on color, what was easy, what was difficult, things that lead to identifying variables in scientific and mathematics lesson later in their education. This isn't the only thing that cooking allows for toddlers.
 
As a toddler's motor skills develop, they're taught to cut their foods, again under the eyes of a teacher. They learn about the food pyramid, they learn how to cooperatively achieve goals as they prepare basic meals like making sandwiches, fruit salads, Jell-O and pudding by assigning roles to groups of students to prepare meals in stages. Each one of these activities develops their understanding of the world and better prepares them for life. 

If you are looking for a Fremont preschool, contact Mission Valley Montessori to learn more about our program and to schedule a tour.