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Physical Development in a Montessori Preschool

Unlike traditional preschools, a Montessori preschool focuses on developing every aspect of the whole child. This includes a child’s physical development. From the enhancement of hand-eye coordination and sensorial abilities to the development of gross and fine motor skills, a Montessori preschool will make sure that each child develops the skills they will need to gain a sense of order and independence.

Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination

In the Montessori preschool classroom, children participate in practical life activities, which are known to improve a child’s fine motor skills (coordinated small muscle movements in the hands, wrists, and fingers) and hand-eye coordination (the use of the eyes to guide movements). Actions, like grasping, reaching and releasing an object, and turning the wrist, are the types of fine motor movements that children learn in a Montessori preschool, in order to prepare them for the daily tasks of life. Fine motor development begins almost right away in babies, as they use their reflexes to grasp a rattle or your finger.

As children grow, they will be able to engage in sewing and weaving activities, which develop their manual dexterity. The action of picking up objects with small tongs or tweezers develops a child’s pincer grip, which is a necessary precursor for learning how to write later on.

Gross Motor Skills

To develop the large muscles of the body, it’s important to reach gross motor milestones – such as walking, running, jumping and climbing. Montessori preschools recognize how gross motor development presents many health benefits, boosts confidence and self-esteem, and the ability to assess risk. That’s why Montessori preschools provide many activities that build muscle memory, creative movement, and motor planning.

Sensorial Development

In a Montessori preschool, one of the main focuses of the curriculum is on refining all of the child’s senses including visual, tactile, thermic, auditory, baric, stereognostic, olfactory and gustatory. The purpose of this is for the child to gain a sense of order by making clear and conscious classifications of her environment through the senses.

For example, children learn to sort tablets by slight differences in color and shade, which is done in order to sharpen their visual perception and sense of order. They also learn to sort fabrics by touch, thus enhancing the child’s tactile sense.

Physical Development at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we provide a beautiful preschool environment filled with practical life materials to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. We encourage the exploration of the senses through music and movement accompanied by freedom of choice. Our toddlers and primary children have the opportunity to jump around, balance, crawl, and skip to enhance gross motor skills. Our primary students engage in many sensorial activities in order to begin understanding the world around them during these formative years.

The Importance of Sensorial Materials in Montessori Preschool

One of the things that set a Montessori preschool apart from normal daycare is the materials that are used in the classroom. In a regular daycare, children are usually given a variety of toys or educational games to keep them entertained throughout the day. In a Montessori preschool, however, the children are provided with unique learning materials that are designed specifically to foster sensorial development.

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children began having sensorial experiences at birth. According to Dr. Montessori’s studies, as children grow up, they explore and learn by interacting with their environment through their senses.   This unique period in a child’s development happens between the ages of birth and six years old. To help children express, classify, and broaden their sensory experiences, Dr. Montessori designed the Sensorial materials.

The purpose of the Sensorial materials is to aid the child in refining the child’s pitch, temperature, and weight and is utilizing language in describing these qualities. These materials are an integral part of developing the whole child — directly building the “mathematical mind” and indirectly preparing for writing.

 

Below are some of the Sensorial materials used in a Montessori preschool.

Visual

  • The Pink Tower, the Brown Stair, and Red Rods are used to develop discrimination of differences in three, two and one dimensions respectively.
  • Cylinder Blocks (Knobbed Cylinders) are used to develop the child’s visual discrimination of size, which prepares the child for later work in math. Handling these knobbed cylinders also indirectly prepares and strengthens a child’s hand for writing. 
  • Knobless Cylinders develop a child’s visual discrimination of gradations of size in a series. The Knobless Cylinders also fine tune a child’s muscle coordination and sharpen concentration skills.
  • The Color Boxes come with matching, as well as gradient style color tablets that the children manipulate in order from darkest to lightest. This helps children identify colors and develop visual discrimination.
  • The Geometric Cabinet includes trays that contain insets of a variety of plane figures, which help children develop visual discrimination of shape as well as learn the names of the various figures.
  • Constructive Triangles are used to form plane figures and help prepare children for geometry by refining discrimination senses.  
  • Binomial and Trinomial Cubes develop a child’s appreciation for the beauty of form in three dimensions. The cubes also indirectly prepare the child for mathematical concepts involving the binomial and trinomial theorems. 

Tactile

Geometric Solids help a child develop the muscular-tactile sense as well as sharpen the visual perception of solid figures. Geometric solids also indirectly prepare a child for geometry and its language.

Touch Tablets, Thermic Tablets, Fabrics and Thermic Bottles develop a child’s tactile senses as they touch and feel varying degrees of roughness, softness, temperature, and texture.

Auditory

Sound Cylinders and Bells develop a child’s auditory sense as they learn to distinguish volume and pitch and become more sensitive to sounds in their environment.

Olfactory and Gustatory

Smelling Bottles and Tasting Bottles allow a child to discriminate one smell from another or one taste from another. The child then applies this knowledge to other smells or tastes in the environment.

Montessori Materials at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, you will find an extensive collection of Montessori materials. Unlike your average daycare, Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs is focused on enhancing each child’s sensorial experience on a daily basis. We take extra care in providing the most age-appropriate Sensorial materials in each of our classrooms.

 

 

Montessori Philosophy: Celebrating World Holidays with Your Child

As a Montessori parent, you may be looking for new and creative ways to incorporate the Montessori philosophy into your family lifestyle at home. One of the ways you can do this is by developing an appreciation for different cultures by celebrating world holidays. Culture is a major topic of study in the Montessori curriculum and by celebrating world holidays, you can easily teach children about the various traditions and rituals that people celebrate around the world. Here are just a few of the holidays that you can adopt at home to teach your children about the beauty and value of other cultures.

Diwali              

Also known as the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated by people in Fiji, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representing the renewal of life, Diwali is a holiday filled with many rituals that honor this tradition – such as lighting diyas (lamps), cleaning homes, opening windows, and wearing new clothes.

Chinese New Year

As one of the most prominent and celebrated festivals in the world, the Chinese New Year is celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Each year is characterized by a different symbol in the Chinese Zodiac, such as the Year of the Tiger or the Year of the Dog.  The Chinese New Year is often celebrated with many different traditions such as cleaning, having dinner with family, repaying debts, playing games, and consuming special foods. It is also customary for children to receive red envelopes filled with money in honor of the Chinese New Year.

Kwanzaa

A celebration of African-American Ancestry, Kwanzaa is all about honoring ancestors through food, gift sharing, community service, history, and family. The week-long celebration dedicates each day of the week to a different principle:

  • Umoja -Unity
  • Kujichagulia – Self-determination
  • Ujima – Working together
  • Ujamaa – Helping our neighborhood grow
  • Nia – Purpose
  • Kuumba – Creativity
  • Imani – Faith

Hanukkah

Also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is observed for eight nights and days. Hanukah is celebrated by lighting a candelabrum each night called a menorah, eating fried foods such as potato latke (pancakes), playing a game with a dreidel (a four-sided spinning top), and giving gifts.

Earth Day

This special holiday is celebrated annually with worldwide events on April 22nd. This holiday is celebrated in order to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Celebrated in 193 countries, Earth Day has a different theme each year, such as “End Plastic Pollution,” “Environmental and Climate Literacy,” and “Clean Earth – Green Earth.”

How We Celebrate Culture at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we have found many ways to integrate culture within our practices of the Montessori philosophy. Along with celebrating numerous world holidays, such as the Chinese New Year, MASS students also participate in the Model United Nations conference – a forum that provides students with the opportunity to learn about other countries and hone in on their diplomacy skills.

Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs also offers a new international, multi-language extension program called the Global Language Academy at Sharon Springs (“GLASS”). The GLASS program provides young minds with the opportunity to learn a second language and understand different cultures while growing in the era of globalization. Courses in Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Farsi, German, French and ESL (English as a second language) are all offered under the GLASS program.

Last but certainly not least, we have the MASS International Festival.  This yearly event offers a day in which we not only have fun, but also learn and experience many of the cultures found within our amazing community, and beyond.  The event unfolds with a flag raising ceremony followed by the parade of countries. Then, children receive passports – becoming world travelers as they tour different countries while they visit each classroom community. Each country (classroom) offers the child a unique experience with the opportunity to engage in crafts, music, food, or other activities.

Why your child should go Montessori

As a parent you want to find a stimulating learning environment that maximizes your child’s early learning experience, setting the stage for a positive relationship with education. The Montessori curriculum, developed by Maria Montessori, is a child-centered approach to education that treats children as individuals, focuses on the “whole child” and nurtures curiosity, developing students who possess a deep love of learning that lasts a lifetime. Our school offers a close-knit community dedicated to meeting your child’s unique needs in a manner not typically found in a traditional daycare setting.

Here’s what a Montessori education will mean for your child:

Building Independence

Guided individual choice is a key component of the Montessori approach and students are encouraged to work independently on lessons, or work, of their own choosing.  Montessori classrooms contain distinctive learning materials designed for hands-on learning.  Each lesson first teaches a single concept and as students progress to more complex levels, teachers replace materials with ones that ensure that the level of challenge continues to meet a child’s individual need.  A Montessori education allows students to deeply explore subject matter as long as academic value is being gained.

This educational method teaches children to be self-motivated as an active participant determining their own learning path and progressing at their own pace. Montessori classrooms are multi-age allowing students to participate in group activities, learn from and mentor children of different ages. This helps to teach responsibility, cooperation and leadership which are important life skills that benefit all children.

Improving Concentration

Developing a child’s ability to concentrate on tasks is one of the many benefits of a Montessori education. An outside observer may wonder how a Montessori classroom encourages choice as classrooms are meticulously and thoughtfully arranged.  It is this sense of order that sets the stage for learning activity that is focused and calm.  Learning materials are placed on child-height, uncluttered shelves which fosters independence as students can go about their work, on their own with confidence, as a result of everything being where it’s supposed to be.  This creates focus and harmony in students that inspires joyful learning.  

You might observe your child repeating the same task, such as washing a table, sewing a button, or counting small objects.  It is important to know that each of these tasks involves a multi-step process where your child takes out the materials, completes the activity, and cleans up after himself.  These activities instill the mindset that focusing on the details of a task is important. This mindset is necessary for a child to complete more difficult lessons in the future, such as reading or long division.

Learning with Hands-On Materials

Montessori classrooms contain hands-on learning materials. You will not see teachers lecturing on topics to all students simultaneously or asking students to memorize facts; teachers encourage students to see things with their eyes and feel things with their hands. Lessons are taught using materials that are interesting and engaging , such as the movable alphabet to spell words and animal figures to learn about classification.  This interactive, practical approach to learning helps students to understand abstract and complex concepts. In a study published by Psychological Science, students with hands-on learning experience performed better on tests than students with traditional learning experience.
These are just a few examples of how a Montessori school environment delivers an education experience and outcomes that differ from traditional daycare centers.  To learn more about our educational offerings check out the programs section on our website.  We also encourage you to schedule a tour to visit our school, see firsthand the benefits of a Montessori education, and discuss the questions important to your family with one of our certified teachers.

Why Montessori?

whyMontessori

Montessori’s education program is unique. Children are encouraged to make decisions and play an active role in the classroom. A solid foundation at each level promotes strong academic skills and a true love of learning. An authentic Montessori program is based on self-direction, builds a strong sense of self, sustained concentration and development of independence.

What sets Montessori apart from other programs?

• Emphasis on the whole child
• Mainly individual and small group instruction
• Child works at his/her pace
• Children are encouraged to collaborate, teach, share ideas and help each other
• Environment and method encourage self-discipline
• Develop leadership skills
• Mixed age groups

Montessori grows a child’s love of learning by providing an excellent foundation, creating a well-rounded individual that leads the way to a more advanced education.

Would you like to share this content with friends and family who are curious about Montessori or interested in enrolling? Click below to share via email or post to your social networks – or get a printable version here.

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 4

Today, we conclude our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last three posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, Interest, Choice, Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards, and Interaction with and Learning from Peers. Today we conclude by examining the final three principles, Learning in Context, Communication, and Order the Environment and Mind.

Learning in Context

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori

Create a meal from scratch, or make ice cream from a recipe
Visit a museum – bring a sketch pad and colored pencils and have the child create their own art
Spend time in the garden studying bugs, flowers, and listening to the sounds of peace and quiet
Allow your child to have their own shopping list at the grocery store – have them record their prices and add their total

Communication

“If we could say, ‘We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,’’ we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.” – Maria Montessori

Have family meetings – discuss family expectations regarding behavior and academics
Create chore lists together where each person chooses their assigned chore(s)
Create an annual family newsletter
Involve your child in rearranging their bedroom or playroom
Do things you wouldn’t normally do or do not like to do – children need to see that you are flexible and willing to do new things or do things you do not like to do

Order the Environment and Mind

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, 1966

Adopt the “ten minute tidy” to end of the day
Keep the environment clear of clutter
Have child’s belongings displayed on low shelves and not in toy boxes

Join us on Wednesday as we continue our Montessori primer!

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 3

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last two posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, followed by Interest and Choice; today we move on to examine Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards and Interaction with and Learning from Peers.

Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards

“The prize and the punishment are incentives towards unnatural of forced effort, and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

Challenge children to reach goals
Praise effort in completing a task. Do not over praise; authenticity is important.
Ask the child, “How do you feel about accomplishing…?”

Interaction with and Learning from Peers

“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.” (Maria Montessori, The Essential Montessori, 1986)

Host playdates with friends from school
Schedule outings with other families and observe how the children play together
Host family game nights with another family

Join us on Monday as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 2

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last post, we began with Movement and Cognition; today we move on to examine Interest and Choice.

Interest

“An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1995)

Have different genres of books readily available in basket or on low shelf
Play educational board games focused on language or math skills
Take mini field trips to pet store after researching an animal
Write letters to family members in other areas of the world
Have a basket of interesting pictures available during dinner time and discuss the pictures together
Allow children quiet time to think and develop their own interests

Choice

“No one can be free unless he is independent. Therefore, the first active manifestations of the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

Place a few choice shirts, bottoms, socks, and underwear in drawers the child can reach and allow the child to choose his own clothing
Place a basket in the refrigerator with snack items from which your child may choose
Allow your child to set the table for meals by making place settings (plates, bowls, utensils, cups) available in a low cabinet
Allow your child to serve himself food (small pitchers make serving himself easier)

Join us on Friday as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!

What Is Education For?

Montessori parents and friends Vina Kay (a racial justice activist, writer, and filmmaker) and Jan Selby (an Emmy award-winning documentary producer and director), explore this question in their documentary, Building the Pink Tower. From her own children’s Montessori experiences, Kay remembered the beauty, peacefulness and purpose of everything in the Montessori environment. As she writes in a recent article:

I am a parent who learned from my own children what education can be.

Kay and Selby see Montessori as the vehicle to independence, allowing each person to reach their potential by following their personal passions. Their goal in making the documentary is to share with the world the potential of Montessori to change the conversation and start a movement toward truly meaningful education. Montessori is a buzzword in today’s talk about education reform – peaceful education based on respect and kindness. Couldn’t we all use a little more kindness in this world?

Please enjoy the trailer. We hope to show the documentary at our school in the future.

Montessori’s Brain-Based Approach

Steve Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN is the Director of the Center for Research on Developmental Education and a board certified pediatric neuropsychologist. He is a scientist who speaks about brain development and educates parents about academic, social, and executive functioning. In his talk, “Good at Doing Things,” Hughes highlights Montessori’s brain-based approach to education and its benefits.

A few highlights include:

• More of the brain is dedicated to controlling your hands than any other part of the body

• Human beings learn best through hands-on exploration of the world, especially in childhood

• Montessori’s hands-on education philosophy is based on the idea that the hands are the tools the mind uses to discover the world