by Maria Ingram, Toddler I Parent
Maria Montessori said “The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.” When I read this it made me think about some students I taught in high school who were completely lacking in curiosity. When I asked students why they thought something happened or was a certain way, I got “It’s not in the book.” When I asked, “What do YOU think?” They seemed almost startled I wanted their opinion. How do kids reach that point? How does one child get from the “why” stage we are familiar with to a glazed over blank stare when asked for their opinion?
They get there because they are given facts to memorize, told what the right answer is, and are never asked their opinions or allowed to explore. If we let them use their natural curiosity, and just get out of their way, kids will be curious and they will want to learn.
A toddler wants to know everything. What something is, how it works, why it Is that way. Once they learn these things they are so excited about the discovery, and want to make sure you know about it too. If we allow them to move at their own pace rather than imposing our hurried pace on them, they will explore their environment and everything in it. They won’t be able to stop themselves.
We may tell a child not to touch something, but we need to think about why we are saying that. Will it kill them, hurt them? Or is the “no touching that” for our own convenience? If they open and close the drawer in the bathroom 12 times while you’re trying to brush your teeth, the question is, why? Maybe they want to see how the sliding mechanism on the side of the drawer works. If we let them slow down and figure it out, not only will they be happier and able to move on with their lives, we will get to brush our teeth in peace. Because, as well all know, toddlers don’t just let things go when they want an answer.
Too often I find myself trying to hurry, but a toddler won’t allow it. They are too busy taking their time. Allowing for extra time helps them and me. Having a house that’s free or limited in its “untouchable” items or restricted spaces makes every space in their world a place where they can learn and be curious. Montessori’s quote isn’t just an inspirational one for school, it’s an inspirational one for life.
It has been a pleasure working with the kindergarten, upper and lower elementary art students at MSH. The Montessori-method proves to encourage creative exploration and divergent thinking skills. This assertion has never been more apparent to me, than when facilitating the art classes here at MSH. Witnessing student’s degree of creative focus and aesthetic awareness has been greatly inspiring.
It is bittersweet to announce that at this juncture, I have accepted a full-time educational research role and will have to cut my time with the art students at MSH short. I am truly grateful for the time I was able to spend, and would like to thank parents and teachers for sharing your children.
It has been a lovely artful experience, and the students have accomplished much in the areas of visual representation. Some of the concepts implemented include, but are not limited to; conceptualizing artistic design, organizing and formatting various forms of media, analyzing and interpreting art, responding to and evaluating art. For more information on visual art standards you can visit the National Art Education Association website.
I will still be collecting art work from students that wish to submit work for the Endangered Species Youth Art Contest sponsored by The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC). I will need any completed work as well as a signed permission slips by March 1st in order to submit art to be considered for the contest. Thank you to all the teachers for helping with research of the many endangered species currently on the list. For more information on the ESC or the Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, you can visit their website.
Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions.
Dr. Laticia Hequembourg
I’m really pleased with the music classes at both campuses this year, both in how the groups are coming together to learn new things, and in what they are actually learning.
Toddlers are delightfully involved and interested in their singing, movement activities, and instruments. They are participating and eager in every class, and are keeping a steady beat in different tempos.
Preprimaries are singing in their singing voices, high and light, and are moving expressively to music, often using instruments. They especially enjoy circles dances.
Kindergarten and 1st grade glockenspiel students are beginning to read notes in treble clef, know the note values from whole notes through eighth notes and how to count them, are finished with 1st semester preparation and are beginning to play their glocks now.
2nd and 3rd grade recorder students have nearly completed their entire lesson book and are learning music theory, including note reading, rhythm, various time signatures, musical markings, etc. They have played dozens of songs from their book, starting and ending their playing of each song together, and playing with a good tone and correct fingering.
Come to the Multicultural Festival on April 1 to hear us!
Thank you for the privilege of working with your children!
Ms. Kathy Fisher
I want to talk about Montessori in a way that’s less sensational, less sexy, less focused on immediate marketing strategies. I want to start a conversation about a Montessori education and it’s possible impact on the aging process.
On November 11, 2015, I had a stroke. I was 33; this was very unexpected. My stroke was mild and I liked to think my recovery was going very well, thanks to my amazing support system and speech therapist. However, I spent several weeks with moderate-severe Aphasia.
Aphasia happens during any brain injury to any one (or many) specific parts of the brain that control language. Aphasia doesn’t affect cognitive intelligence, but it affects one’s ability to communicate. There are many different types of Aphasia. In my case, for the most part, I could understand others, but could not adequately speak back.
During my time struggling with the depths of Aphasia, visual imagery was my primary way of understanding the world. While I have always strongly tended toward visual thinking over linguistic thinking, the absence of language altogether was immensely frustrating and debilitating. (As a Montessori toddler teacher, I have new compassion for this common struggle among toddlers!)
During this time, I could recall blank sentence diagrams. One of my favorite teachers I have ever had was Mrs. Esneault. Many years ago, she was my English teacher for both 7th and 8th grades. (She must be good, because I’m a math girl at heart.)
I don’t think it was a part of the curriculum she was asked to teach, but Mrs. Esneault taught us how to diagram sentences. When words were coming back after my stroke, I could tell that my sentences were just on that straight line, like this:
And I was missing those diagonal lines altogether, like these:
And I knew I did not have a handle on these little spaces, missing here:
I practiced diagramming sentences along with my intensive speech therapy and I strongly believe this aided my recovery.
BUT ONLY BECAUSE I HAD BEEN TAUGHT IT BEFORE.
All this got me thinking more about Montessori education (as if I ever need an excuse).
Montessori does more than offer two places to put something in your brain, like words and a diagram.
Montessori is tactile;
In short, that new sucker is “in there”.
In fact, many of Dr. Montessori’s original material designs were for the mentally handicapped or brain-injured children. It was only after these children ended up scoring as well as conventionally-educated “typical” children did she begin to ask: what’s going wrong everywhere else? (Kramer, R., 1976)
In addition to the pictures of the sentence diagrams, I could recall two Montessori language symbols. These two:
(I only know some basics about Montessori elementary grammar — it’s not my area.) But, these were some of the types of words I was having the most trouble with!
I can only imagine if instead of a brief fling with learning about Montessori grammar, I had spent years feeling the 3-D representations of the parts of speech, moving the shapes that represent the parts of speech, using grammar boxes, moving the cards, writing my own sentences, and using colored pencils to denote my own handwritten sentences with symbols, how all of that would have affected my stroke recovery.
… not to mention how my brain circuitry and word recall would have been different had I spent my early years choosing objects and pictures to spell with the moveable alphabet?
Imagine what my brain would have kept then!
So, I get it: when we are choosing a toddler program or a preschool or even an elementary school for our children, none of us think — well, what if my child has a stroke in their 30s? How will this preschool education impact that?
It’s not something we generally think about.
However, every single one of us ages.
You just aged right now. And now.
And, yes, of course we want to plan to make sure our children get a solid education now. We want them to be capable of achieving their dreams!
Dr. Montessori says that it is the young adult in the ages of 18 to 24 who is finding out where his/her interested and education intersect with the world’s needs. We all envision our children asking these questions and struggling to find the answers to them.
But, life doesn’t end when we find our occupation.
I’ll say that again, because I think sometimes we are in too much of a hurry to notice it:
Life doesn’t end when we find our occupation.
We have vibrant family and like-family lives until the very end. I just have to believe that a Montessori education provides much, much more than an education that will give a child a future productive career. I believe it will give them a healthier brain. A healthier brain to enjoy their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.
So, I’ll admit: this isn’t the best advertisement for prospective parents looking for a place for their child to learn their ABCs.
But, I would like to encourage you to think BIGGER about what it is you want for your children. For all of our children.
Small disclaimer: My joy in Montessori is even bigger than healthy brains, although that is a recent event. A Montessori education is much, much more than *simply* a multi sensory education and I feel that I’d be misrepresenting Montessori if you left thinking this.
Montessori education educates the whole child and embeds peace education from the very young in the effort to bring about greater harmony. Hoping for a better, more peaceful world is why I chose a Montessori education for my children and why I want it to be available for more children worldwide.
Hampton Cove Toddler Lead Teacher
Kramer, R. (1976). Maria Montessori: A Biography. New York: Capricorn Books
You always see a lot of joy on children’s faces on the day we have a cooking class. You also hear lot of questions – What are we cooking? Is it time yet? They show lots of curiosity on what happens next.
After all the preparation of watching lessons and working with the practical life materials, it is time now for putting them to use. The kids show excitement in their faces while watching boiling water, melting cheese, frying, baking, toasting, and breaking eggs or turning simple banana to a yummy treat. Even though they are picky eaters, they enjoy eating what they cook because they made those all by themselves. They show a lot of pride in their accomplishment.
Cooking in Montessori class involves all areas of the classroom – practical life, math, language, science, geography, history and culture, and sensorial.
Practical Life activities include Washing hands, Mixing, Rolling, Cutting, Cleaning, Peeling, Pouring, Hand and Eye Coordination, and the use of different kitchen tools such as knives, spoons, forks, egg-beaters, tongs, etc. Also, it teaches how to follow steps in a recipe, and improves fine motor skills.
Math includes activities such as Measurement, Fraction, Numbers, Time, etc.
Language activities include exposure to new words such as names of ingredients, recipes, places, etc.
Science includes activities such as differentiating between hot and cold or solid, liquid, and gas, or boiling and melting, etc.
History and Culture activities involves understanding about the holidays and festivals from different regions of the world.
Sensorial activities involve all the five senses – touch, smell, see, hear, and taste.
Primary Lead Teacher