Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Incorporating the Montessori Method at Home

Walking into a Montessori classroom surprises many parents and caregivers - the environment is clean, calm, completely organized, and promotes child-centered learning. The Montessori Method encourages independent learning through a well-maintained, prepared environment. Incorporating the basic principles of the Montessori Method at home will provide you and your child with numerous benefits for learning.

At Home: Parents using the Montessori Method in daily life

Use Child-Friendly Furniture

Creating a child-friendly space allows your child to be responsible. Promoting accessibility, age-appropriate furniture and storage areas will create an order to your child's room and other areas of the home.
  • Low shelving, drawers, and closet rods with child size hangers provides the perfect opportunity for your child to put away clothes.
  • Low shelves with storage baskets for toys, educational materials, trays, and other essentials promote cleanliness in your child’s bedroom or play area.
  • Use small chairs and a table. Encourage your child to sit the trays or baskets on the table for play. When finished, remind your child to place items back in the proper space. After some time, the ritual will be part of the daily routine.
  • Use step stools with one or two steps in the bathroom area. By using the steps, your child may use the sink for handwashing.
  • In the kitchen, place healthy snacks, waters, and juices at your child’s level.


Promote Independence

Allow your child plenty of time to accomplish different tasks without interruption. After completing the task, your child will gain a sense of independence, accomplishment, and confidence. As time progresses, the completion of basic tasks will enhance further learning.


Teach Basic Skills

In the Montessori learning environment, children learn basic life skills. Implementing organization techniques, assisting younger children, and participating in everyday cleaning rituals are part of the daily routine. At home, use the learning techniques to help build your child’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Allow your child to wash up prior to a meal or snack.
  • Encourage your child to put away clothes, toys, and other materials after use.
  • Allow your child to wash off the table before and after use.
  • Place dishes in the sink.
  • Help with basic household chores.
  • Encourage your child to discard items in the proper place. Discarding trash and recyclable materials into proper bins provides your child a sense of accomplishment.


Incorporate Nature

Montessori teaching believes nature plays a major role in learning. Spending time outdoors promotes curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn about the immediate surroundings. When at home, create a nature space.
  • Set up different nature items for exploration.
  • Go for walks.
  • Allow your child to explore the outdoors without interruption.
  • Provide nature books.
  • Plant flowers.
  • Search for nature materials including acorns and rocks.

Incorporating different aspects of the Montessori Method at home provides your child with a chance to learn and explore. The small changes in your child’s environment provide a larger impact. As your child learns, a basic foundation develops for further exploration.

At our private elementary school in Pleasanton, CA, Montessori School of Pleasanton works with its parents to incorporate the Montessori Method at home, in order to supplement the learning environment their child is experiencing at school.  Contact us today to see our elementary school students working together as they learn through exploration and hands-on activities.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Preschool and Storytelling: Expanding Your Child's Imagination

Storytelling is the oldest form of instruction known to mankind. Through stories, prehistoric people passed down family histories, learned what to eat and what to be afraid of, and then the art of storytelling progressed into learning how to write down letters and leave a legacy for the future. For the preschooler, stories still fulfill all of those functions, and Montessori learning embraces storytelling as a vital tool in a young child’s education.
Using Storytelling to increase your Preschooler's Imagination


Building Language Skills

For small children, storytelling is an important step in building vocabulary and language skills. Simple stories using basic phrases and building on them with more colorful adjectives and adverbs teach the art of language and speech. Storytelling also helps children build a robust vocabulary, introducing them to novel words that they may not be exposed to on a regular basis. Encouraging preschoolers to assist in creating an exciting adventure prompts them to think-- and express themselves-- in new ways.


Every Picture Tells a Story

Giving a child an object and asking him to make up a story about it does more than build creativity. It also teaches him that everything has its own story, and that more goes into that story than may first be apparent. The object can be anything from a colorful picture to a leaf or pebble. And the story can be a fanciful history or imagining what will happen after the moment the object has been introduced. The important thing is to imagine and create, not to arrive at a predetermined outcome.


Tales of Long Ago and Far Away

Fairy tales and history lessons share a common trait: They both introduce a young child to something from the distant past and show them how it relates to a moral or physical understanding. Knights taming dragons may not seem to have any historical importance, but exposure to such stories may encourage a boy to learn more about feudal systems, ancient castles, or the ethics involved in honesty or personal virtue.


Imagination and Invention

All of the great inventions started out as imagination. Storytelling encourages children to imagine what could be, and that prepares them for a future where they may build the next great tool for modern living. Historical stories for preschoolers can be about all kinds of things, including the solar system, life beneath the seas, or how building dams creates electricity to power homes. Tickling the imagination to fuel the possibility of creating something new and wonderful will encourage the little ones to learn more, think more, and to use their own minds for things no one else has ever thought of.


The Montessori method uses tried and true educational tools to assist children in their development. For preschoolers, this includes the age-old method of storytelling, both creatively and historically. The idea is to use the best tools to garner the most progress, and this is one tool that has a long history of success. At Montessori Children's House, a private day care in Fremont, CA, our teachers encourage students to embrace their creativity and use their imagination throughout their learning. Contact us today to schedule a tour!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Self Esteem and Your Toddler: How to Instill Confidence from an Early Age

Children begin to build on an awareness of “self” from the moment they are born. Enabling a child to feel confident and successful will stick with them for as long as they live. In a million little ways, parents and teachers can foster self-esteem in toddlers, and help them become productive students and successful adults.


Avoid Comparisons

Every child is different, and rightly so. One child may immediately grasp a complex concept while another struggles with it for longer periods. For the teacher, trying to match developmental milestones with specific individuals is far more important than attempting to impose those milestones on all children equally.


Children Imitate Authority

Parents and instructors are vital to a child’s self-esteem. When a parent shows an interest in the projects or playtime fun of a child, it encourages them to do more. In contrast, a child that is told how their time is not being used wisely is more likely to be insecure and introverted. For those in a position of authority over a child, encouraging that child to shine is one of the best gifts that can be given.


Confidence and Motivation

If a child believes that they can accomplish a goal, they are more likely to actually do so. Little encouragements, even something as simple as saying, “You can do it!,” give a toddler the confidence to try. And when that child has tried, confirming their attempt, whether it was successful or not, is critical in building self-esteem and future attempts at the same or other goals. If a child believes they can, they will, and the opposite is also true.


Confidence and STEM

It is never too early for a child to begin learning about science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). A common problem in American education education is that children, especially girls, are taught that “math is hard.” In reality, the only real barrier comes from a falsely reinforced inability. Instead of reinforcing the misconception that math or science are too hard, spend more time encouraging those subjects as fun ways to understand the world and tools for accomplishing goals.


Build on Uniqueness

Every child can learn to play the piano, but there has only been one Beethoven. Helping children focus on the things they have a natural ability for will instill confidence. Trying to force them to become something they are not will cause them to lose faith in their ability to grow and learn. Recognizing the differences in aptitude and focusing on building those strengths is a large part of Montessori education, and should be practiced at home as well.


Children do not start out with insecurities, they learn them from people in positions of authority, and adopt them as facts of life. The best way to teach a toddler confidence is to offer praise and encouragement every time an opportunity presents itself, both at home and in the classroom.  The Montessori Method encourages and supports children to learn through self exploration at their own pace.  The teachers at Montessori Childrens House work with children from an early age, teaching them to be confident in who they are as individuals. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Apps for your Toddler: Fun and Age Appropriate

When choosing an app for your toddler, you need to keep in mind how they learn at this age. Choose ones that focus on open-ended play and exploration. Extend your toddler's knowledge through digital media that helps them grow by learning about matters that relate to real life. Playing with your child through these apps will increase their desire to learn and make an enjoyable time for both of you.


Fun and Age Appropriate Apps for your Toddler

Computer time doesn't have to be a waste of time. Many worry our young are spending too much time with computers; however, many educational apps are fun while helping your toddler to learn. A great feature with the educational apps is they are often free, so you don't have to worry about spending a lot of money. If you are not sure which apps are appropriate and fun, check out our list to help you choose.


Baby's Musical Hands

Baby's Musical Hands is designed for toddlers two years of age and older. This app is a music-making app designed to be navigated easily by your toddler. Your child will love the musical sounds and the colorful starbursts that display each time they touch the screen. There are 15 squares producing piano, guitar, and percussion sounds with the iPad version. The iPhone and iPod Touch will provide your child with ten instruments as these versions exclude the percussion sounds.


Busy Shapes

Busy Shapes is an exploring-to-learn activity based on a theory of cognitive development. It will give your child a digital playground to explore with many features that will make it easy for even young users to navigate. It uses artificial intelligence, so your toddler will continue to be challenged and will keep a record for you to check on the concepts they've explored. This app is designed to teach how objects relate to one another and their impact on each other versus a name learning activity.


One Touch Reveal

The One Touch Reveal App is designed for your preschooler as an educational tool to teach them words and concepts all in a fun learning environment. Your child will be able to practice and learn about time, shapes, and have two different games to play. The material in this app will keep your child busy for hours. It is loaded with educational value with a touch of fun to make learning exciting for your toddler.


Montessori Approach to Technology and Apps

Montessori's approach to teaching is the philosophy that young children's education should be aimed at recreating their natural observations. It is believed they should be encouraged to self-direct their learning experiences, so developers are using this aspect by creating apps for toddlers to use both in and out of the classroom.


These apps and others are excellent educational tools that will give your child a wealth of information as they practice and learn their shapes, numbers, colors, and more. These apps are both fun and appropriate to make learning enjoyable.  While the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus focuses on teaching the child through hands-on learning, they encourage parents to incorporate a variety of learning tools, such as apps, into their child's at-home environment.  Contact us today to see how the Montessori method encourages children to learn through various forms of exploration.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Appropriate, Interactive, and Educational Websites for Preschoolers

Kids all want one thing from their educational experiences, and that is to have fun while learning. When you present your preschooler with an interactive exercise, you'll be able to capture their curious mind and help them learn with enjoyment. These are appropriate and interactive websites your preschooler will enjoy that have educational value.


Educational Websites for Preschoolers that are Appropriate and Interactive

Many worry about children having too much access to computers. When the time is limited and spent on material with an educational purpose, computer time can be beneficial. Choosing a website with high educational content that is both age appropriate and interactive is often offered for free or a small subscription fee. These are some that you and your preschooler can interact with to make learning fun for both of you.


National Geographic for Kids

National Geographic for Kids has the answer to all those questions your preschooler has about animals. On this website, you and your child can watch videos, learn about nature and the animal world, and play games. This site will increase your child's knowledge about their world.


Agnitus.com

Agnitus.com is designed for use on a tablet or other touch-screen device. This website gives your child an actual learning experience as it asks them to "touch" objects. Your child will be invited to trace numbers and letters, learn about colors, consonants, and explore size relationships. There is a reading section included to expand your child's reading interests. Agnitus.com offers a free trial for you to explore its benefits.


PBS Kids

If you remember characters from your early years such as Elmo, Curious George, and others who appeared on PBS TV, you'll appreciate how your preschooler can now interact with these same friends online. A great feature on this website is how you can customize flashcards to your child's age and interest area. Pull down menus make it easy for you to select which subjects you want to explore with your child and includes fun activities you can complete anytime and anywhere.


ABCmouse.com

ABCmouse.com is an ideal site for children 2 to 7 years of age. This website is one of the most comprehensive learning sites on the web today. You and your preschooler can listen to books, music, color, and play games. It will even allow you to keep track of your child's progress. There is a free month trial after which you pay less than $8 a month to continue.


Montessori Schools and the Internet


Montessori School of Pleasanton teaches the student as a whole.  While the Montessori Method focuses on hands-on and interactive learning, we still believe that technology, and specifically, the internet can be used in a educational way.  Websites are are age appropriate, interactive, and educational, such as PBS Kids and ABC Mouse, are great supplements to a student's classroom learning.  Contact us today to schedule a visit in our Montessori classrooms.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Science Activities for Elementary Students

Presented in the correct perspective, science is a fun and entertaining subject. It also gives instructors the opportunity to get the students involved, inside the classroom as well as at home or in the great outdoors. Montessori learning is well-suited for science activities that give your child a hands-on, exciting look at science and how it affects our everyday lives.


Biology: Frogs and Butterflies

Life is a fragile thing, both beautiful and sometimes tragic as it begins. Classroom activities could include an aquarium of tadpoles maturing into frogs (and transitioning from aquatic creatures to land-based organisms), or a collection of butterfly, moth, and other insect larvae that matures into majestic flying creatures. Introducing the early stages of life makes a great starting point for deeper investigations into life and the world around us.


Climate: Linking Weather and Biology

The success of every living thing depends on its ability to adapt to the surroundings in which it lives. A classic activity uses sealed containers with frogs or insects and the presence or absence of living plants to demonstrate the importance of oxygen. The converse is true as well, so plants require a steady supply of carbon dioxide. From there, students can experiment with variables such as heat, light, and the availability of water - factors that can be easily tested using mushrooms, bread mold, or ordinary pond water.


Learning the States of Matter

Three of the four states of matter can be easily demonstrated in the classroom using only water, a beaker, and fire. Start with ice cubes for the solid state, then allow it to melt into a liquid state. Once the ice cubes have completely melted, transform the water into a gas by applying heat. To demonstrate the plasma state of matter, the fire used to heat the water is a great example of plasma, which can only exist under constant conditions of energy transfer. Fluorescent and neon lights are other examples of this elusive state of matter.


The Joys of Chemical and Elemental Magic

Learning about the basic states of matter allows a transition into the atoms, molecules, and elements that comprise them. While the science is very complex, it is easy to experiment with the basic concepts. Household chemicals and other ingredients can be used to demonstrate many facets of chemical and elemental reactions and interactions, including such ideas as:


·        Specific gravity (solids and oils in water)
·        Natural separation of fluids (oil, water, and alcohol)
·        Sedimentary properties (sand and water)
·        Chemical reactions (vinegar and baking soda)
·        Erosion (dripping fluids on soft clay)


Maximizing Montessori Method


Keeping children immersed and active is a basic tenet of the Montessori Method. The field of science is an ideal subject because indoor and outdoor activities can show real-world examples of how science affects our lives, right down to explaining how the environment is impacted by the things we do.  The Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus teaches students ages 6-12 the importance of learning science, especially in today's society. Starting students off with a solid foundation using the activities above will only help our students as they continue throughout their education and adult lives.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Why Reading with your Child at Home is Important

Reading is a crucial part of our daily lives. Our language permeates everything we do with written signs, notices, and, perhaps most importantly, literacy introduces the method by which knowledge can be transferred from one person to another. In order to give your child the best start on education, the importance of reading to them cannot be overstated. One of the worst mistakes, where education is concerned, is to leave your child’s education entirely up to people outside the home.


Building Vocabulary and Pronunciation

Reading builds vocabulary. The average 3 year old has a vocabulary of around 300 words, but reading to them at home can increase this number dramatically. Additionally, reading to your child teaches them to pronounce words correctly and introduces them to the rules of the language. Once the rules of the language have been learned, the sky's the limit when it comes to what your child can learn.


Establishing a Knowledge Base

We use the written language as a method of storing information. Reading to your child encourages them to want to read as well. In this way, reading aloud to your child teaches them the importance of language as a tool for communication, and gives them the tools to learn about anything that interests them.


Imagination and Creativity

Reading to children teaches them to be imaginative and creative. Picture books encourage kids to think about what is going on behind the scenes or to anticipate what is about to happen. This leads to both critical thinking skills and the ability to know reality from fantasy. Reading to your kids and discussing the words being read instills the power of language and helps them use it to their advantage.


Literacy and Education

Books are the most common method of imparting knowledge on young minds. Teaching them that reading is the key to knowing why the sky is blue or learning about the ingredients in ice cream empowers children to find out more about their world. Just as importantly, most of your children’s education will be spent learning from books, so giving them a headstart on the written language is equivalent to helping them do well on every knowledge test they ever take.


Reading Encourages Writing


Reading to your child encourages them to enjoy a good story. Enjoying a good story leads to wanting to share their own experiences. And since the written language can be used for sharing information, the eventual outcome is a child who is better able to express themselves in a manner that can be passed from one person to another.

Day Star Montessori incorporates reading from the beginning of a child's enrollment at the school.  While it is mostly teacher led, children are able to hear adults reading to them, learning about vocabulary and different story types. Once they learn to read on their own, they are able to think creatively and use their skills from reading in all facets of their education and beyond.  In the Montessori environment, as students learn through peer interaction, they can be taught additional reading skills by their fellow students and families at home.  Contact us today to see how reading is incorporated into the Montessori curriculum.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How to Make a Butterfly Habitat

Hatching butterflies is a wonderful science project that teaches kids about life cycles, as well as other skills such as research and responsibility. If you are interested in trying this with your child, here are a few tips to help you pull it off smoothly.


Planning for Your Butterflies

Researching and planning is a fun and important part of this learning experience, so be sure to use it to engage your child. Together you can research what butterflies are native to your area and where you can order them in the caterpillar stage. Be sure to also find out what they like to eat in each stage. You don't want to offer your guests the wrong food!


Building the Habitat

Mesh butterfly habitats are available for purchase, most of which are built with wire so that you can collapse them to save space when the project is over. If you want to involve your child with every step of the process, though, you might choose instead to build the habitat together.

Use a piece of plywood for the base. A frame for a simple cover can be built from slim pieces of wood. Others choose to make a teepee-shaped frame so that it can be collapsed once the project is over. Just make sure you make the frame big enough so that the butterflies have enough space! Use a staple gun to cover the frame in nylon mesh, keeping it snug so that there are no gaps where butterflies could escape and to allow you to see easily into the habitat. The cover can be lifted to allow you into the enclosure, or you can fashion an access panel that can be opened and closed to avoid disturbing any chrysalises attached to the side.


Preparing the Habitat for Butterflies

Prepare the habitat for your caterpillars by scattering twigs and leaves over the bottom. Be sure to include an upside-down lid with a little water in it, and spray the enclosure with a mist periodically. Before the caterpillars go into the chrysalis stage, they will need food, so be sure to research what leaves and grasses your caterpillars may prefer. About 10 days after they go into their chrysalises, just before they hatch, you can add an-upside down lid of sugar water, some fresh local flowers, and a few pieces of fruit to the enclosure for the butterflies.


Releasing the Butterflies

Once your child has enjoyed the butterflies for a couple of days, it's time to release them into the garden to let them breed and lay their eggs. If this project is planned enough in advance, you can be sure to have some tempting plants waiting for them in your garden.


Cultivating a Love of Learning


Engaging kids in fun, comprehensive projects such as researching and hatching butterflies, is a great way to inspire their interest in science and nature. Montessori education incorporates hands-on, self-directed learning into every lesson.  This allows students to engage with the subject being taught through an interactive activity.  For more information about the kinds of projects we do in our classrooms, schedule a tour of Mission Valley Montessori today.

Monday, March 13, 2017

STEM Activities for Middle School Children

Science, technology, engineering, and math are the major components of a middle school STEM curriculum. The idea is that students need to have more emphasis on these subject areas to make them more competitive in today’s increasingly technological society. Because a STEM curriculum often revolves around hands-on activities, these subjects are especially well-suited for the Montessori learning method. The kind of projects that may be restricted to science fairs in public education become daily experiments for individuals and teams in the Montessori learning environment.


Build a Sundial

Building a sundial introduces children to a different kind of clock. Since the only materials needed for a sundial are a stick, some markers, and a small space open to the sunlight, this project provides a great deal of educational opportunity without much, if any, expense. Among the lessons to be learned from a sundial are:
·        Affects of seasons on daylight hours
·        Understanding time segments
·        Sunlight variations based on geographic location


Variations on Volcanoes

Building a volcano is a popular and simple project that teaches children about earth processes, chemistry, and object modeling. The basic design uses a clay, paper-mâché, or other “volcanic” peak, and the eruptions can be created using combinations of household chemicals. There are a variety of ways to build an experimental volcano, each with its own unique properties to be discovered.


Experimenting with Water Filtration

Allowing children to work with different types of materials to create a water filter teaches them about the density and porousness of material, the importance of clean water, and the importance of natural filtration systems such as ponds and swamps. Basic filters can be designed with a plastic bottle, some moss, and ditch water, which makes an excellent jumping off point to learn about larger systems, reverse osmosis, and particle filtration.


Understanding the Block and Tackle

The invention of the block and tackle transformed the way people work by allowing them to accomplish more with less energy expenditure. Because pulleys are such an important part mechanical engineering and technology, experimenting and understanding the principles is vital to a well-rounded education. As part of an educational foray into horsepower and work potential, the block and tackle will give middle schoolers a fun and informative insight. Other important and basic tools in this category include the inclined plane and levers.

In Montessori learning, students are encouraged to investigate cause and effect, which in turn enables them to master the basic principles of the physical world. Everything from building sandcastles to designing a working soapbox racer are more than just fun activities - they are teaching children how science, engineering and technology, all of which are shaped by mathematics, make their world a more comfortable place to live in a way that is engaging and exciting.  

Middle school students at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus learn about STEM through activities in their daily curriculum.  This introduces students to wide variety of ways STEM is incorporated into their lives and could serve as inspiration for furthering their education in these fields once they have completed high school.  Call us today to see the difference of the Montessori curriculum.

How a Child Centric Model Works in Preschool

The child centric model is recognizing and making sure your child is first before anyone else. Any person who works with children from the nursery nurse, play worker, preschool teacher, or anyone directly in charge of a young child has a tremendous responsibility. It is their job to make sure each child they work with is safe. A child centric model is when your child is able to connect and communicate with the people working with them with an approach that makes it beneficial for them to learn.


How a Child Centric Model Works in Preschool

In the Montessori preschool environment, your child's individual needs will benefit along with the others. Each child is recognized as a unique person who will respond differently to certain approaches. Using the right approach for each child is important so their chances of success can increase. Children strive for respect and want their views to be heard, and they desire to attain a stable relationship with adults. This approach is the child centric model and what your child will benefit from in the Montessori preschool.


Definition of a Child Centric Model

The idea behind the child centric model is to allow your child to develop social qualities instead of just having them gather provided and general information. Your child is allowed to control his or her own learning. The teacher will support this learning, but your child will determine the direction and follow their natural curiosity, passion, and interests.


Choosing their own Interests

In the Montessori classroom, your child will be encouraged to pick different activities that interest them. Teachers do not choose what your child will explore. This independence helps your child think for themselves. The benefit of their choices is they can work independently and display their potential. Teachers will guide, but not decide for your child. Your child will investigate their world as the teacher observes their growth. When it is determined your child has mastered the material out for display, new material will be introduced so there is continued growth in knowledge.


Active Learning

Active learning is an approach to your child's education that looks to meet their needs on all levels. The social, physical, emotional, and cognitive levels are taken into consideration as the child centric model is implemented to track your child's progress. The active learning approach ensures your child stays mentally and physically active. They will be encouraged to use their whole body and all of their senses to learn about their world through exploration.


Play Time is Work

It may appear as though your child is only playing; in the child centric model, play time is work. During this period, your child will be questioning, testing, and planning experiments to construct. They will build on their knowledge of what they learn about objects, events, ideas, and people.


The child centric model implemented in the Montessori preschool will help your child become more independent, confident, and responsible.  At the Montessori School in Newark, our teachers focus on the child as a whole, fostering their learning and independence while allowing them to choose and explore items on their own.  To see the child centric model in action, contact us today and spend a day in our preschool classroom.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Taking Your Child to the Zoo? Read Our Tips for Every Age

The zoo provides a place of wonder for young children and adults. Going to the zoo can be a fun family outing at any age. Along with hours of enjoyment, a trip to the zoo is a learning experience. Viewing animals and their habitats provide inspiration for continuous learning.


Planning the Outing

Regardless of the age of your children, you should do a little research prior to going to the zoo. For your convenience, almost every zoo has a website. If you cannot find the website, you should take the time to call your local zoo to ask important questions. Planning your zoo outing will help make the day more fun. You should review the following:
  • Hours of operation
  • Price of admission
  • Exhibits of interest
  • Picnic area availability
  • Rules regarding food and beverages
  • Guidelines for strollers or wagons


Tips for a Fun Adventure to the Zoo

As a parent, grandparent or caregiver, you know the necessary essentials to bring to the zoo. Packing snacks, water, sunscreen, and hats are only a small portion of the needed supplies for a comfortable zoo trip. Remember smaller children may need extra diapers, wipes, bottles and a change of clothing to get through the zoo.

As you begin your day out the zoo, keep in mind to be patient. Allow your children the extra time to explore all of the senses. Do not forget to bring a camera. You will want to remember the experience.


Under a Year

At this stage in development, the trip to the zoo is more about the parents, caregivers, or grandparents. Many adults just want a day trip. Spending time with other mothers and fathers is a great way to build a lasting network. Enjoy the different sites and sounds of the zoo outing.


Toddlers and Preschoolers

Children who are two to four years old are curious about the world around them. Going to the zoo at this stage in development is a great way to introduce the animal world to children.
  • Point out the different animals
  • Use proper names
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Allow your child to touch and feel within the guidelines of the zoo
  • Visit the children’s area or petting zoo
  • Remember to simply play - almost every zoo has an animal inspired play area


School Age

At this stage of development, children thrive for more knowledge based on personal interests. A trip to the zoo provides a way to expand existing knowledge. Many zoos offer specific programs for children over the age of five. Enrolling your child in an hourly or day program is a perfect way to continue hands-on learning.
  • Watch presentations about the animals
  • Use guided tour options to allow your school-aged child to ask specific questions from a professional
  • Ask and discuss the animals, habitats, and programs

Continue to build upon your child’s personal interests with books and other educational materials relating to the zoo. Encourage older children to write about the experience in a journal. Create a scrapbook for a lasting memento of your trip to the zoo. 

In Montessori education, nature-based learning is incorporated into the daily curriculum. This includes teaching about animals, their traits, and their unique habitats.  Contact us today at Day Star Montessori and see how using nature-based learning is beneficial for your child.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What to Consider in a Montessori Elementary School

Making the decision to move from public schools to Montessori education requires careful consideration. For many parents, the fundamentals of Montessori learning are a mystery, while others have a lifetime of misconceptions that have to be overcome. When looking at a potential Montessori educator, here are a few things to ask about and be aware of.


Number of Students in Classrooms

Montessori classrooms are kept small for a reason. Allowing the instructor to dedicate more time to each student is the primary advantage. Each instructor is thoroughly trained in all of the subjects they will be teaching, which allows children to spend more time with a single instructor and less of their educational moving between classes. And since the classrooms have mixed ages, younger children are able to learn from older ones to build social skills and educational goals.


Self-Focused Education

The misconception that children have complete control over the learning process sounds intimidating, but it is not a correct picture of Montessori learning.  Children are encouraged to develop their own schedules, but class time is still divided into blocks, albeit longer ones, which give each child more time to spend on subjects and projects.  The environment is self-directed, but still follows a well-rounded curriculum. 


Montessori Curriculums

Montessori educators are not specialized in the way that public school teachers are. The subject matter being taught is nearly identical to public schools, such as math, language arts, history, and art. The difference is that Montessori education uses an integrated approach that ties the different subjects together. For example, learning about Egyptian pyramids ties to geometry, art, and other subjects. The integration of different subjects into a single process is fundamental to the Montessori process.


Gifted and Special Learning Needs

From the Montessori perspective, all children are gifted, but each in their own way. The Montessori environment allows children to expand on subjects that come more easily or spend a bit more time on the ones that are giving them a challenge. Having mixed ages in the classroom is especially helpful for gifted and special needs children because the older kids provide additional guidance and assistance.


Standardized Testing

Standardized educational tests are a requirement for all educators, including Montessori schools and homeschooling. These tests are used to determine both the educational level of students and the success of the institution. While Montessori children take the same tests, they are taught the materials in a different way that focuses more on integrated skills than rote memorization.


How Well Do Montessori Students Compare?


For years, the comparison between Montessori and traditional education was a difficult call to make. As research has progressed over the years, it has become apparent that Montessori students tend to learn as well or even better than traditional education students, including higher math skills and more complex vocabulary and writing skills.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our students enjoy mixed-age classrooms where they can work together and learn from their older peers.  The self-directed environment allows students to explore on their own, while still being guided by the teacher.  To see the Montessori difference firsthand, call our school today and schedule a tour.