Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dr. Montessori!

Dr. Maria Montessori was born August 30, 1870 in Italy. Today, we celebrate her work not as a philosopher but as an educator for young children. She was influenced by the works of Jean Itard, Edouard Seguin, Friedrich Frobel and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, all of whom emphasize sensory exploration and manipulations. She believed that when a child is presented with a rich environment of color, texture, shapes and sounds s/he gets enthralled with learning. Learning is a skill; it is a process of touching, feeling and comprehending with our senses. Dr. Maria Montessori began her work in India in 1939 and her work in India was continued by her students A.J. Joosten and S.R. Swamy. I was fortunate enough to be trained by Mr. S.R. Swamy.

Today on her birthday we would like to recognize her contribution to early childhood education and creating this method that she presented during a time of great change. Her teaching methods have influenced generations of children to actively learn and explore the world around them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Everyday Montessori: Folding a Napkin

In today’s Everyday Montessori, we are focusing on the practical life skill of folding a napkin. Even though it sounds simple, folding a napkin can help a child feel like part of the meal process while improving his or her coordination. To do this at home all you need is a wrinkle free napkin.

1) Place your wrinkle free napkin flat on the table

2) Ask the child to smooth the napkin with his or her thumb from left to right.
3) Draw your child’s attention to the 4 corners of the napkin
4) Make an imaginary line from left top to the right end
5) Make an imaginary line from right top to the left end
6) Fold the right top corner w\ the index and thumb to the left bottom corner

7) Now smooth it nicely
8) Go to the left top corner and gently bring the corner to the bottom right corner

9) Now smooth it nicely
10) Keep your left palm flat pick up the napkin with your right hand and put it on the left hand
11) Gently place on the table next to the plate

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Everyday Montessori: Holding and Carrying a Knife

In today’s Everyday Montessori, we are focusing on the practical life skill of holding and carrying a knife. Teaching your child how to handle sharp objects is important for ensuring both safety and fun in the kitchen. For this exercise all you need a child’s knife or a blunt edged butter knife.

  1. Have your child stand up with you 
  2. Hold the knife by the handle keeping the sharp edge facing left
  3. Hold the knife about 2 inches away from the 
  4. Carry the knife
In these four simple steps, you can teach your child both independence and responsibility for themselves and others. We hope you and your child have a safe and fun time in the kitchen! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reflection: Building Blocks for Future Learning

I graduated from Evergreen Montessori House (EMH) over 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned during my time there still impact my daily life. During my four years at EMH, Ms. Gargi supplied me with the tools and guidance to choose my own course of learning; nothing was out of my reach. By directing my own course of learning, I floated into the distant galaxies of the solar system and traveled to the Amazon rainforest, where I befriended sloths and swam with pink river dolphins. Math was not an abstract concept. I could see how each number got bigger as I counted my way to one hundred (see post “The Montessori Method and Math”). Nothing has changed at Evergreen Montessori House; students are still empowered to take control of their education. 

My experience at Evergreen Montessori House created a desire in me to learn and investigate the world around me. We never truly stop learning and never stop using our imagination; even today I explore the universe and swim with dolphins. My time at Evergreen Montessori House helped establish a firm foundation upon which I continue to build my library of knowledge. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

National Poetry Month

February is considered to be the month of love, so it is only fitting that it is also national poetry month. Over the past 20 years, we have found that poetry is an amazing tool to teach our preschoolers and kindergarteners about rhythm, rhyme and different cultures. For example, the following poem is from the late Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974):

Early Bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

When we discuss this poem in class, we highlight that the words “plate” and “late” have the same ending sound and therefore rhyme. Then, we talk about other words that end in “-ate” such as “mate” and “state”. “Early Bird” is a great poem to also demonstrate that every line of a poem does not have to always rhyme. In this instance, every other line rhymes. The next point is to highlight the meter or rhythm of this poem. It may be difficult to explain the importance of meter but by reading the poem aloud and changing the tone of your voice, you and your children can create different meters together.

Poetry is also a great tool to introduce children to different cultures. The most accessible way to introduce children to international poetry is through global nursery rhymes. The following nursery rhyme is translated from Russian (Wright):

Hush You Mice                                                        

Hush you mice! A cat is near us,                                
He can see us, he can hear us...                               
--What if he is on a diet?--                                        
Even then you should be quiet!                              

This nursery rhyme is similar to the poem above. First, we would discuss the rhyming pattern and determine together that “diet” and “quiet” rhyme. Next, we would draw parallels between “Early Bird” and “Hush You Mice”. Both poems discuss the relationship between predator and prey and describe a way that the prey can avoid being eaten. This parallel could be used as a bridge to connect similar ideas from two very different countries, and we can talk about each culture. Poetry is an important part of any culture and can be just one bridge between nations.

Work Cited

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends the Poems & Drawings of Shel Silverstein. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. Print.

Wright, Dani. "Russia." It's a Small World. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2014.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Montessori Method: Communication

As we are in the midst of the season of giving, we may sometimes forget that the most important part of the holiday season is simply giving. This can be the most difficult “gift” to give since giving requires one to also lend some time. I often find myself saying “I never have enough time”, and before I know it, time is already gone. One of the most important times in anyone’s life is the time that passes between birth and 6 years old; this is the time when we learn subconsciously, and everything gets soaked up. So for this Montessori Method Update, we will focus on the importance of communicating and applying the Montessori Method of communication into our daily lives with our children.

The Montessori Method emphasizes the importance of treating children with respect and appreciating the fact that no two children are the same. It is this simple truth that highlights the effectiveness of communicating in the Montessori Method. According to this methodology, communicators (i.e. teachers and parents) must be attentive to their words AND nonverbal cues. By using positive words and speaking courteously (i.e. saying “May I?” and “Please), communicators can create an encouraging environment while enforcing respectful behavior. Also, speaking calmly and warmly especially when a child is exhibited “undesirable behavior” will influence your child to react in the same manner. Finally, since children, notably young children, use nonverbal communication often, the Montessori Method calls on communicators to pay attention to the subtle movements that children make. By addressing what children say without words, we give value and a voice to the message the child was silently communicating.

The Montessori Method for communication can be implemented in our daily lives, but the place where it is most often needed but not used is during television. When your children are watching television sit and enjoy the show with them; television programs often contain scenarios and words that are too complex for their young minds to understand. By watching television with your children, you will increase your children’s understanding and also create lasting memories. In addition, you can monitor what your kids are exposed to, limit television time and also explain what is occurring during a program. Watching television should be an enjoyable time for your children, and with you by their side, your children will also gain the priceless gift of your time.

Of course, time is always slipping away, but when you do have a moment, we hope that you and your children are able to create memories to last a lifetime. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Preventing the Flu

As winter is fast approaching, the common cold and the flu are beginning to set in as well. For this week’s health post, we will offer a few great ways to improve your child’s immunity to ensure that the flu does not arrive at your home.

The first step to ensuring your child stays healthy this winter is making sure your child gets the proper amount of sleep. If your child attends a preschool or daycare, it can be difficult for him or her to sleep from all the excitement of learning and being with friends. Still, it is critical that childcare workers, teachers and parents work together to enable kids to get adequate sleep. Children ages 1 to 3 years old need 12 to 14 hours of sleep daily; often these hours are achieved be taking an afternoon nap and then sleeping about 10 hours at night. On the other hand, children ages 3 to 6 years old require 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day, which can be achieved by your child sleep soundly at night.

Another major step for guarding your child this winter season is to feed him or her fruits and vegetables. Great immunity boosting fruits include strawberries, blueberries and cantaloupe, and some great examples of vegetables are tomatoes, broccoli and pumpkin. These fruits and vegetables will strengthen your child’s health by increasing his or her immunity to ward off viruses. Another great food to include is salmon, which is rich in Omega 3 fats; consuming foods that have high level Omega 3 fats increases the production of macrophages, white blood cells that consume bacteria.

Finally, keeping your kids active this winter will not only keep them warm but will help them build up their immunity this season. By exercising or simply having fun, your child’s white blood cells can produce macrophages to fight off possible viruses. Sleeping well at night, eating healthy and getting active are just a few of the steps you can take this winter to keep your child.

These are just a few ways we can protect both our children and ourselves from getting sick this winter.