Friday, February 27, 2009

Montessori Parent / Teacher Communication and Collaboration: An Education for Life

NAMC montessori parent teacher communication education children dissect leaves
I recently participated in a parent conference where a parent argued that a teacher’s purpose is to educate his child, not to teach the child to be responsible. I was quite taken aback! After all, one of the basic tenets of Montessori education is to “foster competent, responsible, adaptive citizens who are lifelong learners and problem solvers”. (American Montessori Society)

For me, it was a difficult moment. As a Montessori teacher, I am dedicated to my commitment of the education of the whole child. This tenet goes beyond the idea that the curriculum in my Montessori manuals is the only thing to be taught in the classroom. Indeed, so significant is the well-being of each child, that my preparation of our Montessori environment takes into consideration the development of social skills, emotional growth, physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation of each child on a daily basis.

I somehow had to relay to this parent that although it was true enough that his child was here to acquire knowledge in the general curriculum areas, the responsibility to learn and do the work lies with the child. If we take this away from his child, and place the responsibility on the parent, what life skill is the child learning?

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, February 27, 2009.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Montessori Teachers and Restraint: Reflections on Purpose, Freedom and Ability

Every useless help given to the child becomes an obstacle to his development- this is not merely philosophy but a fact to which we attach fundamental importance.
- Maria Montessori, Creative Development in the Child, Volume One


NAMC montessori teachers restraint purpose freedom ability girl and baby
I grew up in a family of two children. As the oldest, I kept a watchful eye on my younger sister. When she was learning to speak, I was the one who understood what she was saying. When she started biting everyone, I took it upon myself to bite her back to give her a taste of her own medicine, so to speak. Of course, that one landed me in a lot of trouble. (Truth be told, she never bit me again.)
As she grew older, I became more protective. After all, I had already gone through those aches and pains of growing up. Shouldn’t she benefit from my experience and wisdom? I remember time and time again, my mother telling me that my sister had to experience things herself if she was really going to learn. If I kept fighting her battles and telling her what to do, she would never grow to be a competent adult.

I mention this because I recently read a paper titled, A Change Within: Removing Obstacles to Development, by Lynne Lawrence, written in 2005 for the 25th International Montessori Congress in Sydney, Australia. Lawrence reminds us that to truly help the child, we must remove all obstacles to the development of the child. Oftentimes, that obstacle is the teacher.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Modeling Montessori Behavior in the Home: Through the Eyes (Ears, and Nose) of a Child

modeling NAMC montessori behavior at home familyGrowing up, I remember my grandmother cautioning “Little pitchers have big ears”. I always wondered why “pictures” needed ears! When I was older, I understood she meant that the children were listening, but I wondered again why she called us pitchers. After all, none of us played baseball. It wasn't until I was an adult when I learned that the adage refers to the large handles or “ears” that are sometimes attached to small vessels, such as a pitcher. Ah ha! At last I understood the connection.

Maria Montessori would have cautioned that children not only hear everything, but they also see, imprint, and even mirror our behaviors. The child is watching the adults around him from birth. Everything we do, everything we say is locked away in her/his memory. In her book, The Child in the Family, (1956) Montessori makes her point very clearly:

The child is sensitive and impressionable to such a degree that the adult ought to monitor everything he says and does, for everything is literally engraved in the child’s mind. (p 40)

As a Montessori teacher, I've been in the uncomfortable position on a few occasions where I have had to call parents to inform them that their child had shared information of a personal and inappropriate nature at school. The response is usually “I don’t know where she heard that!” It is very difficult to be the bearer of this news. It is a delicate situation and not one I relish.

Parents in your Montessori school need to understand how important behavioral modeling is for their children.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, February 19, 2009.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black History Month: Honoring Diversity in the Montessori Classroom

montessori culture studies black history month diversity children studying
The needs of mankind are universal. Our means of meeting them create the richness and diversity of the planet. The Montessori child should come to relish the texture of that diversity.
- Maria Montessori

One of my favorite aspects of the Montessori curriculum is the integration of peace education and tolerance. I have noticed this is often a daily work in my Montessori classroom. Helping the students embrace each other's differences, however minor they may be is a vital role for the educator. Sometimes a special occasion, historical or cultural celebration, or holiday can be a useful tool to assist in building these skills.
African American History Month (also known as Black History Month) provides a unique opportunity to integrate a number of disciplines across the Montessori curriculum, such as History, Geography (physical and cultural), Language Arts, and Peace, reinforcing Dr. Montessori’s philosophy relating to Cosmic Education. (See previous NAMC blog on Cosmic Education.)

Celebrated in February in the USA and Canada, and October in Britain, African American History Month is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans and those of African descent. This month of reverence and acknowledgement is the perfect opportunity to honor history and cultural diversity with students.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Celebrating Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial: Montessori US History

NAMC montessori activity abraham lincoln president's day
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
- Abraham Lincoln

On February 12, 2009, Americans (and no doubt many others around the world) will celebrate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest American presidents. Young Abraham Lincoln feared that he would achieve nothing during his life to make him remembered. On the contrary, in September of 1862, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared freedom for all slaves in the Confederacy. The American Civil War that ensued lasted for four years (1861-1865) with a loss of over 620,000 lives. These casualties exceed the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam Conflict. The Confederate States of America (the Confederacy) lost to the United States of America (the Union) in 1865, ending slavery in America.

Lincoln is remembered and celebrated for this historic human rights achievement. As this year marks the special occasion of his 200th birthday, your Montessori classroom can share important history and fun activities.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, February 12, 2009.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eco-friendly Valentine's Day: Paper Making Montessori Practical Life Activity

eco-friendly valentine's day NAMC montessori practical life activity making paper valentine
As Valentine’s Day approaches each year, I find myself eagerly anticipating the handmade Valentines cards. I enjoy seeing the creative artwork of my students. You can truly see how much hard work, effort, and time went into each card, making it that much more special than simply signing your name to a pre-printed, packaged card. I feel that it is a wonderful Montessori teaching moment as children realize the more of yourself you put into something, the more reward you will get out of it.

Each year…
  • Globally, about one billion Valentines are sent.
  • Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday. (Christmas is first.)
  • More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of candy are bought.
  • More fresh flowers, especially red roses, are bought on Valentine’s than on any other holiday.
I started thinking about the above statement and realized, even though we are making our own Valentines, maybe we still aren't doing enough to encourage good eco-stewardship. I started thinking “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Random thoughts kept popping in my head: How many Valentine's cards end up in landfills each year? Do people really eat all that heart-shaped candy? How sad that fresh flowers are so short-lived. Boy, the paper recycling bin needs to be emptied. Then it dawned on me! Instead of recycling that paper, we could reuse it to make our own paper, and make our Valentines from that!

Here are some great tips for an eco-Friendly Valentine's Day!

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, February 9, 2009.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What is Montessori Cosmic Education? The Keystone of Montessori Philosophy Explained

NAMC montessori cosmic education explained philosophy heiroglyphs
Since it has been ... necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.... All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
- Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential.

This, simply stated, is Montessori’s statement and reason for her idea of Cosmic Education. Cosmic in this sense means comprehensive, holistic, and purposeful. “Cosmic Education” differs from traditional education as it goes far beyond just the acquisition of knowledge and developmental growth, to encompass the development of the whole person. Montessori believed that children who are given a Cosmic Education have a clearer understanding of the natural world and, thus, themselves. She believed that those children who receive a Cosmic Education in childhood are better prepared to enter adolescence as independent, confident, responsible, emotionally intelligent individuals, balanced in physical, intellectual and social achievements. They are also prepared to make responsible decisions and act on them in a responsible way; to recognize limits and give, ask for, and receive help, as needed.

To better understand the basis for Cosmic Education, it is necessary to understand Montessori’s vision of human development.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, February 6, 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Work / Play Balance: The Importance of Recess – Montessori Perspectives

work play balance NAMC montessori recess children playing outside
I recently read an alarming article from Michael Conlon of Reuters, entitled, U.S. school children need less work, more play: study. Conlon contends that there is a growing trend in U.S. public schools of reducing free time "because many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time committed to recess, the creative arts, and even physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics". In addition, there seems to be "fear of lawsuits if children become injured, a concern over children's safety from strangers around school grounds, and a shortage of people to supervise the children during recess" (Johnson, Dirk. 1998, April 7. Many schools putting an end to child's play. New York Times, p. A1, A16.) Some school districts are even going so far as to build new facilities that do not have playgrounds.

As Montessorians shake their heads at this sad trend, studies are now showing that there are extreme ramifications. Just as adults need to take periodic breaks away from their work in order to re-focus, so do children. Is there any wonder, then, as to the rise in behavior and attention problems in the classroom? Taking away the physical outlet and activity also contributes to the rising obesity problem facing young children.

It made me glad, once again, that we are followers of Dr. Montessori.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, February 4, 2009.
Find What Interests You Easily!

Are you interested in reading back through NAMC's blog articles from years gone by? Are you looking for more information on a specific topic?

Use the menu below to select the year and then the month to narrow down the time frame the articles you are interested in were posted. You can also browse our entire list of categories below; by clicking on one, you will see every article posted under that topic since 2007.

Still having trouble finding what you're looking for? Try our search box (located in the side bar of every page) to search all posts on our site for your keyword. If you require further information, or have comments or concerns, feel free to contact us.

NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog Archive

Post Category Labels

We'd love to hear from you!

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.

NAMC is always looking for feedback and dialogue with our students and other Montessorians. We invite you to contact us if you may have any questions or comments in regards to our blog or articles we have posted here at our Montessori Teacher Training page.

Please note:If you want to learn more about NAMC, are interested in our programs, or are a student, please contact us through the main NAMC site to ensure a timely response from one of our advisors, tutors, or education specialists.

Fill out my online form.