Why Montessori classrooms LOOK different than other preschools and public schools.

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2 Congratulations! You have decided to explore a new and exciting educational op re probably looking for something different something that will save your child from what the media calls the mediocrity of public education. You want your child to be prepared for the future a future that seems to be changing almost daily! And here you are, looking at a Montessori education and hoping it will meet your expectations. Well, we are happy to say that a Montessori education will not only meet your expectations, but exceed them. Your child will graduate from a Montessori program, at Kindergarten or some time afterward, with a passion for learning, a sense of self worth and confidence and the academic abilities necessary to succeed in any academic environment. However, there are a few things you need to know as you consider Montessori for your family. Make no mistake you are choosing an educational method that will change imagine. Making a conscious, informed choice for a better tomorrow for your child and for you is the first step. We have compiled a list of 7 things you should know when selecting a Montessori education. We hope that this will not only create a deep fascination with Montessori (and a desire to learn more!), but also help you choose the RIGHT Montessori school for your family. 1 Why Montessori classrooms LOOK different than other preschools and public schools. walls of the classroom. The first thing you will notice as you walk into a Montessori environment is that it looks very different than any other school. In fact, it may very well paint and window treatments. There will be an absence of brightly colored letters and posters. The furniture will be small, to accommodate the ages of the children. In a Primary (preschool) classroom, there will be shelves under 30 inches high, a mixture of tables of varying heights and chairs to fit each. The tables will not be desks, but rather may seat one to 4 children, to allow for working alone or in groups. There will be large open sections of flooring to allow for working on the floor. The shelves will be attractively arranged with a variety of interesting materials. These of natural materials wood, metal, glass and each will have a unique purpose in helping the children to learn. 2

3 There will be no sign of worksheets, but only materials that require the use of the hands and the mind. There will be many children as many as 30 or more! Because Dr. Maria Montessori believed in children learning from other children, there will also be mixed ages. Typically in a Montessori Primary class, there will be ten 3-year-olds, ten 4-year-olds and ten 5 or 6-year olds (Kindergarteners). In this way, there will always be enough children for everyone to have not only a peer group by age, but also a group with which to share common interests. This idea of large, mixed-age classrooms carries through all Montessori grades. There will be only one Montessori-trained guide ials, not from the adult. The adult is present only to excite the children about more and more learning and to monitor their progress. Additional adults will be present only to see that the children are safe and the environment kept beautiful for the children. 2 Montessori schools? As you sit and watch a Montessori environment, you begin to notice how differently the children work. The children can CHOOSE their work without adult guidance. As a result, at any time of day, you will see children learning letters, children working with mathematics, children assembling puzzles of the world and children reading. You will also see children preparing food and washing dishes, spilling water and mopping the spill, figuring out how to handle disagreements with their words without adult help and children helping other children learn. We are frequently asked if child sary rules of the classroom (much as in every day life) and then are free to choose their work within those limits. The children will also work for different lengths of time some very short and others very long. It is not unusual to see a child take a lesson off the shelf, do it in 2-3 minutes and then put it away. However, it is just as likely that a child will take a lesson and stay with that work for minutes. We have seen children stay with one lesson for an entire morning, mastering the concepts of math or geography or writing a book. By choosing the length of time a lesson takes, the children are allowed to develop their concentration working harder on those things that require more time. Unlike some traditional classrooms, Montessori guides do not call a group of children together for a lesson. Instead, the guide sits with children individually to give a lesson. In this way, the guide can assess how each child does with the new concept and can 3

4 jump ahead as necessary. Every child has his or her own unique curriculum and children are free to learn as quickly as they are able. Children also have the opportunity to learn from each other. A brand new 3-year-old may love to watch the older children as they master reading or math and that child learns the finer points of the lesson as she observes. We have seen young children watch day after day for months, all the while wondering if that child was learning anything. Then finally one day, the child decides to DO something and not only CAN he do it, he can do it PERFECTLY. A child may also require help when tackling a new skill sweeping or counting or polishing you that in teaching something, we determine just how well WE know the subject ourselves? Finally, in a Montessori environment, the children learn practical skills for life and each of those skills has a deeper purpose in the educational process. Scrubbing a table to get it clean is important. But scrubbing a table using a step-by-step process of 60+ steps proves to a child that not only can she clean a table, she can focus on a task, concentrate for long periods, remember the correct order of the steps and finally produce something of value. Try thinking of those skills the next time you polish a piece of furniture or work an Algebra problem! 3 Did you know the Montessori Method is based on science? Dr. Maria Montessori was not an educator. She was a trained pediatrician and psychiatrist who discovered that there was a different way for children to learn. She dedicated her life to watching children in school settings and seeing what lessons they would repeat and what lessons they would never touch. She wrote many books about what she saw and developed many theories about why the children did what they did. In the last 20 years or so, scientists have developed equipment that allows us to see the brain as it grows. We can look at the infant brain and now we know that humans are born with about 90% of the brain cells (neurons) they will ever have. What does NOT exist at birth are the billions of connections that make the brain cells work. These connections and the tissue surrounding the brain cells store our memories and carry our thoughts. By the time a child is 6 years old, 90% of all the connections have been made. As a result, parents and teachers need to give these young children as many opportunities to learn as possible. So, you could say that it has taken 50 years for science to catch up with Dr. Montessori. Dr. Montessori wrote many theories of child development that we now know to be true. 4

5 For example, huge amounts of information between birth and six years. We now know about the times when an excellent book called Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, which explains on what children WANT to know, not what adults think they NEED to know. It turns out that children are inte prefer to learn those things that interest you? 4 Academics is not the focus of the Montessori classroom just one of the many results and benefits All parents want their children to succeed in life. We want them to have the skills they need to be successful reading, writing, mathematics, science. And we want them to have them as quickly as possible because everything we read or hear tells us that the children of the United States are falling behind. In Montessori, we share your desire for your child to be everything he was born to be, but we also understand there is a lot more to life than reading and math. We believe that every child is born wanting to learn. Just try to keep a baby from sitting up or crawling or walking! Try to keep a 2 year old from talking! As parents, we say, and we have no idea of the huge amounts of information a child can learn. The same is true of all the academic skills. Every child wants to read. Every child wants to work with numbers. Every child wants to learn about the world around him. Children know no bounds they will learn anything and everything they see, hear, feel, taste or smell. It is adults who put limits on children. We say, Our intentions are good we want our children to be safe and we know everything they want to know NOW! But these simple statements send powerful messages to our children Children take these messages to heart and start to limit themselves, with fear, hesitation, confusion. 5

6 In the Montessori environment, we say things like, We try to help the child determine the best approach to every situation and provide assistance as needed. As a result, the children try things that are a little too hard and if they do not succeed at first, we try to find a better way. Life is all about finding new and exciting ways to do things, right? Ask the Google guys how they came up with an amazing Internet tool. ontessori! So yes, Montessori students learn reading and math and geography But they also learn life skills like problem solving, confidence, concentration, initiative and manners. In the process they learn that there are consequences to our actions and responsibilities for our choices. And most importantly, your child will learn that it is FUN to learn! 5 How many years should you expect to send your child to Montessori? We keep going on and on about how wonderful Montessori is for children. However, there is one thing that is important to note when you are thinking about Montessori for your child.. We have said that the children in a Montessori classroom are free to choose their work, based on their interests at that moment. We have said that all children are excited about learning all the academic skills they need to be successful. Both of these are true excited by any particular subject, the child must be given long periods of time to master ALL that she wants to know. In a Montessori classroom, the children work in one environment for 3 or 4 years before they have done everything and it is very important that we, as parents, give them the time they need to finish what they have begun. To be clear, that means if you start your child in preschool at 3 years old, the child will not be finished until he has completed Kindergarten. If you start your child in the Lower Elementary in first grade, she will not be finished until she has completed third grade and so on. In addition, there are SO many lessons to learn, your child will have only begun to explore them all in one year. It takes 3 or 4 years to get to all the wonderful materials available. How sad a child must feel to anticipate all those lovely lessons and then to be pulled out of the classroom to go somewhere else! 6

7 The other reason to consider is the development of the brain during the three years. rapidly. The 3 year old looks at silver polishing and sees the process of smearing polish the piece of silver looks when he is done, he just enjoys doing it. Now watch a 5 year old go through the same process. First, she looks at the piece of to every bit of silver. She wipes and wipes until no polish is left. Finally, she rubs the silver with a clean cloth until it shines like new. She admires the beautiful, shiny thing she has created. This 5 year old loves the product. These are very different needs in If you are considering Montessori, make a promise to your child and yourself that you will allow your child to finish the process so that both of you will be happy with the results. 6 What are parents committing to when enrolling their child in Montessori? We believe that EVERY child is born with the desire to learn and with the ability to learn unlimited amounts of information. This means, every child can flourish in a Montessori motivated. All of those things come through doing the work. However, not every parent is meant to be a Montessori parent. In order to successfully parent a Montessori student, you must be willing and able to give up any of your beliefs about how education works. If, like most of us, you were raised in a neighborhood school or even an elite private school, you most likely experienced education as something that was done to you the teacher stood at the front of the room and fed you the information you needed to know. That is how you tion works. You must open your mind to new possibilities. To be a willing Montessori parent, you also will need to believe that you, too, can learn in a new way about new things. Montessori parents attend Parent Workshops that help them to understand how and why their children are learning the way they are. With an open mind, you will find yourself constantly wishing that you had had the opportunity to attend a Montessori school! Finally, to be a supportive Montessori parent, you must be willing to get involved. most interested in at that moment. By volunteering in the classroom, you will meet 7

8 other parents and also have the opportunity to show your child that his school is important to you too. By attending Parent Workshops, you will learn how your child learns and also learn how to talk about the work your child does in school. 7 Who can open a Montessori school? And what questions to ask when considering sending your child to a specific Montessori school? One final thought that you must consider in choosing a Montessori school. ANYONE CAN OPEN A MONTESSORI SCHOOL. Anyone. No requirements for training. No requirements for understanding the method. Nothing. You can buy the materials online. You can even get a teaching certificate online. But you will not have any understanding of the principles and theories of Dr. Montessori. You will have no practice working with the materials or with children. How is this possible? In 1967, the United States Pat could not be registered for exclusive use by any one organization since it was now in the public domain as a generic term. That ruling allowed anyone the right to open a s name, without regard to qualifications. As a result, you as a parent must make careful choices. Ask about teacher qualifications with more than 500 hours of training. When you ask about teacher training, does the Director answer directly or avoid the question? Look at the classroom environment. Is it clean and neat and beautiful? Are the materials in good repair or are they damaged and broken? Is the furniture lovely? Is the program itself certified by a Montessori authority? There are a number of organizations that certify the quality of Montessori schools. Good schools seek out this certification because it requires the teachers and the classrooms to be constantly improving. Ask questions about the Things You Need to Know and see how the answers compare with the answers above. Finally, trust your gut and trust your child. When you visit, how does the environment make you feel? Can you see yourself enjoying the time you spend there? If your child visits, how does your child act? Is he his usual self? Or is he showing you signs that he is uncomfortable? These instincts will give you your answer. 8

9 We hope this ebook has given you some insights into Montessori education. We know that if you decide on a Montessori education for your child, you are opening the doors to a wonder-filled future for your entire family! ve Waited Long E Schedule a complimentary walk through visit at Aldea Montessori by calling our friendly staff today at (602) or visit our website at to learn more about helping your child grow. 7 Things You Need To Know Before Selecting a Montessori School for Your Child was created by Aldea Montessori an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)-accredited school in North Phoenix that nurtures and educates children ages 18 months through 9 years (Preschool through 3 rd grade) in the tradition of Dr. Maria Montessori. 9

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