Friday, February 26, 2010

Studying Maria Montessori for Women’s History Month in the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities women's history month maria montessori
March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. (In Canada, Women’s History Month is celebrated in October.) As a Montessori teacher, this is a wonderful opportunity to share important history with your students while incorporating activities across a variety of other curriculum areas. Montessori students of any age will enjoy hearing about Maria Montessori. This will help students to continue to build a feeling of ownership of their school and knowledge of why their education is unique.

Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from medical school in Italy. Besides hard work, she had to be quite persistent in her efforts to even be admitted to medical school. Dr. Montessori’s approach to education was revolutionary and at times was met with resistance. She helped to create educational environments and completely new materials that were child-friendly. She helped to redefine the teacher’s role and wrote several books.

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 26, 2010.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holi Festival of Colors: Colorful Spring Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities holi festival of colors spring powdered paints
This year Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors, will be celebrated on or around March 1. It coincides with the full moon day of the Hindu lunar calendar month called Phalgun. It is also known as the Festival of Colors or the Spring Festival celebrating the joy of the season and the triumph of good over evil.

Last year, I wrote about the Holi tradition of dressing in old clothes and throwing brightly colored paint on each other. I suggested that depending on your climate and accessibility to an appropriate environment, Montessori students could partake in this tradition. Of course, for a lot of us, it is probably too cold to do this activity outdoors which is more than likely the most appropriate place for this activity. If it is warm enough to do this in a grassy area near your Montessori classroom, make sure students have enough notice to bring in old clothes and please use non-toxic paints that will not hurt the grass, water shed, and outdoor wildlife. There are many other options for celebrating this colorful, fun holiday with your Montessori students as a way to get excited for spring!

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 24, 2010.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Montessori Walk the Line Activity: Helping Reading and Writing Development

NAMC montessori walk the line activity two students walk the line
Practical life activities in the 3-6 Montessori classroom nurture concentration and self-discipline, develop and encourage motor skills, and allow the Montessori student to gain independence. The Montessori classroom is ripe with opportunities to learn and practice language skills in all areas, including time spent walking on the line or at circle time.

The Walk the Line activity in the Montessori environment provides numerous opportunities to advance gross motor skills to fine motor skills. Language and communication are present in every aspect of life, and this activity offers opportunity for well-planned, structured, coordinated movement that serves to develop the fine muscles needed for writing. Through the Walk the Line activity, the Montessori student not only develops motor control, but practices listening skills, balance, coordination, body awareness and sense of inner discipline. The student will also work on the visual skills of left to right orientation and visual span.

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 22, 2010.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Montessori Values Explained: The Importance of Precise Language in the Prepared Environment

One should not aim at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand. ~ Quintillion, Roman Rhetorician, the first century C.E.
NAMC montessori values explained importance of precise language teacher and student
The main purpose of language is to let others know what we are thinking by communicating our thoughts, ideas and feelings, analyzing previous experiences, and generating new ideas. The ability to order our world and communicate our cultural ideas separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Montessori believed that language is an innate ability and that the sensitive period for language begins in utero and lasts until the age of six. During this sensitive period, the child absorbs language through listening to the sound of her environment. Through every conversation, every book read aloud, every song that is sung, and every new word that is taught, the child is learning language.

It is, therefore, crucial that adults are mindful of the precision of language they use. Just as the environment is carefully prepared for the child, our words must be precisely thought out as well. During the first three years of life, patterns of speech are formed which will be the basis of speech for the rest of a child’s life.

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 19, 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Montessori Leadership Guide: Mission Statement and Guiding Principles – Your School Compass

NAMC montessori leadership guide mission statement guiding principles school compass community meeting
In our previous Montessori Leadership Guide article, we introduced the concept of describing your Montessori school’s identity – the characteristics and nature that uniquely define your school from any other. If you have begun this process, you are on your way to further exploring and defining the values and goals of your Montessori school.

Today most institutions, educational or otherwise, are creating a mission statement that briefly illustrates the purpose and aim of the organization. In a nutshell, a mission statement should be succinct, honest, inspiring and motivating to those connected to the organization. It should convey, using dynamic language, the organization’s unique identity, core values, and primary goal. It can be put into individual and collective action every day.

Display your Montessori school’s mission statement in a prominent place where you, your faculty and your families can easily see it. Include it in promotional material and public documents, such as your Montessori parent and employee handbooks. Keeping your mission statement clear and visible serves to focus everyone’s efforts toward that mission.

By engaging your staff and families in your Montessori school’s mission, you send a clear message of intent to maintain the standard that the mission implies. At the same time, the mission sets a foundation from which to build a strong Montessori community that is ultimately dedicated to the same goal – the success of your students, both in school and in life.

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 18, 2010.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Montessori Values Explained: The Importance of Tone and Voice Level in the Prepared Environment

NAMC montessori explained importance of tone of voice level mother and child
A few years ago, my family and I were fortunate to spend the Christmas holiday at Disneyworld, ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’. Sadly, for many children, it was not a happy place. Time and time again I heard parents yelling, shouting, and even screaming at their children. What should have been a magical time was indelibly etched into their memories of one of pain, shame, and humiliation.

Children are tender creatures. They are acutely sensitive to the world around them and are much more apt to pick up on how words are said rather than the words themselves. They hate to be shouted at and even if the words are well intended, it is the volume of the message that they hear. One only need witness a cringing child to know that voices raised in frustration or anger can do as much emotional harm as a raised hand inflicts physical pain.

The expectation in the Montessori environment is to speak in a quiet, respectful voice at all times. Using a quiet voice models appropriate inside voice level, limiting the noise level of the Montessori classroom as well as provides a quiet working environment that allows focus and concentration to be on the works.

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 16, 2010.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Montessori Leadership Guide: Building a Montessori Community

NAMC montessori leadership building community boy and father
This is the time of year when many Montessori schools are preparing to promote Fall 2010 enrollment. We turn our attention to updating and revising communications vehicles such as websites, brochures, newsletters and advertisements. We set out housekeeping plans to upgrade or update physical space. We look at scheduling regular open houses for prospective parents. All this is necessary and effective in terms of getting the word out and demonstrating that we are ready to welcome new students through our doors.

But what will make them stay?

Attracting and retaining students is really about attracting Montessori families. Enrollment success is very much dependent on attracting families that match your Montessori school’s values, philosophy, and commitment to quality education for children. Here are some tips on how you can help your Montessori community flourish.

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 12, 2010.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Montessori Values Explained: The Importance of Eye Contact in the Prepared Environment

I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart. ~ Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
NAMC montessori explained importance of eye contact prepared environment grandpa looks at toddler
One of the greatest joys of a new parent is when their baby makes and maintains eye contact with them. At birth, babies tend to look at the borders of objects and will look at the hairline or edge of the face of a person who is talking to them. Between 6 and 8 weeks, infants begin to focus more on the internal feature of the faces and are able to make eye contact and by 3 months, prefer to look into a person’s eyes over any other part of the face. By the age of 4-5 months, infants are able to distinguish their caretakers’ faces from all others.

It is often said that they eyes are the window to the soul. Indeed, making or maintaining eye contact often communicates the real intent of our verbal message. In western societies, people who make eye contact come across as confident and honest. People take you more seriously and believe that what you are saying is important. Eye contact also provides an emotional connection between the speaker and the listener. Eye contact is an important non-verbal means of communication, and is a critical component for creating an ideal Montessori learning environment.

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 11, 2010.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Books, Activities and Resources for a Valentine’s Day Montessori Circle Time

NAMC montessori activities resources Valentine's day circle time
I have found that students (especially preschool and kindergarten students) can be particularly titillated by holidays. It is my belief that it can be much more manageable to incorporate the holiday into a circle time or lesson than to try and pretend it is not happening. Though some sensitivity and awareness is necessary when planning the incorporation of holidays into the Montessori classroom (not all families will share the same beliefs), discussing holidays in the classroom is the perfect opportunity to plan a cross-curricular activity and cover important concepts such as peace, love and friendship.

Begin your circle time by reminding your Montessori students that it is a special day. Ask them if they know what today is. After they tell you that it is Valentine’s Day, ask them what that means. What happens on this day? Why do we do what we do on that day? Remember to be aware of students who may not celebrate this day. Depending on the interest of your students, you could share a simple story of the history of Valentine’s Day. If necessary, help prompt and elicit the ideas of love and friendship from your students with the help of some fun activities and reading.

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 9, 2010.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chinese New Year in the Montessori Classroom: Activities for Making Journals and Resolutions

NAMC montessori classroom journal resolution activities chinese new year
Chinese New Year falls on February 14th this year, and lasts for fifteen days. 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, a symbol of bravery in the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Tiger represents a fast-moving time of drama and intensity.

Some of the ways Chinese New Year is celebrated include cleaning, dinner with family, and repaying debts. Games are played, special foods are consumed and children are given red envelopes filled with money. I have enjoyed a variety of activities with my Montessori students for Chinese New Year; we have made red envelopes and decorations, cleaned the classroom and read books and stories about Chinese New Year.

Journaling is an activity that can build language and literacy skills while incorporating all areas of your Montessori curriculum. Students are also encouraged to draw in their journals. Montessori teachers can begin or end the day with students’ journal writing, or allow journals to be used throughout the day, or encourage students to work on their journals at home. Making resolutions and creating goals is a worthwhile endeavor to undertake with your students, and even if you did it at the beginning of the academic year, it is important to revisit these throughout the year. Since many of us were not in school for our New Year, why not utilize the Chinese New Year as an opportunity to create or revisit your Montessori students’ individual goals and resolutions, and incorporate these into their journals?

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 5, 2010.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Montessori Musings: Education Reform, Montessori, Public Schooling and Obama

NAMC montessori education reform public schooling obama child writing
The basis of the reform of education and society, which is a necessity of our times, must be built upon…scientific study. ~ Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence, 1949

On the morning of US President Obama’s inauguration, I wrote a blog full of hope. Part of President Obama’s campaign was centered on the promise of early childhood education reform in the United States. In fact, he promised to fund spending in order to bring early childhood education reform to the forefront of education. He said he understood how important a good foundation was in developing lifelong learners and healthy, happy, independent citizens.

In the President’s State of the Union Address last week, I heard no mention of early childhood education. The majority of his comments regarding education were about making higher education more affordable and obtainable. He commented on the need to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as “No Child Left Behind” and the need to increase competition among states to improve American education.

Educational reform is no easy matter. One needs look to Finland for a positive model for educational reform. Beginning in 1960, Finland made the decision to move from an agrarian and industrial society to a Nordic welfare state, or mixed economy. The reform began by looking at where Finnish education was at the time, and having a vision for where it needed to go. With the backing of the government and the support of teachers, Finland’s educational system has moved from a class-based system to one which supports and encourages all citizens of all ages.

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 3, 2010.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 Olympic Games: Culture and Sustainability Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities culture and sustainability 2010 olympic games boy with face paint
I have to admit, my favorite part of the Olympics is not the sports. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching my favorite sporting events, but my favorite part is the opening and closing ceremonies. I love watching the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremonies. The formality and seriousness of the occasion is marked upon their faces. I love hearing how the flag bearers were chosen and seeing their pride as they parade the colors of their countries. I enjoy seeing the small countries, represented by one or two athletes and knowing how proud their families and their countries are of them. Equally, I enjoy seeing how native costume is communicated in modern design.

When Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Movement in 1894, he was inspired by the Ancient Greeks whose Olympic events involved not only the best athletes but the best artists of the time. De Coubertin upheld the belief that adding an artistic component to the Olympics would enhance the understanding of different cultures, promoting peace and understanding among nations. Olympic host cities are required to produce a cultural program that highlights and showcases the culture of the host nation to an international audience.

The 2010 Olympic Games are centered on three pillars: Sport, Culture and Sustainability. The City of Vancouver is rich in the arts, and has chosen to showcase local and international artists as an important aspect of the spirit of the Olympics. Bring these important values into your Montessori Classroom with culture and sustainability 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 Tuesday, February 2, 2010.
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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.

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