Monday, May 31, 2010

Academic and Social Competition in the Montessori Classroom

A grade is an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown proportion of an indefinite amount of material. ~Paul Dressel, Grades: One More Tilt at the Windmill, (1976)

…our emphasis should be less on student achievement (read: test scores) than on students’ achievements. ~ Alfie Kohn, “Debunking the Case for National Standards: One-Size-Fits-All Mandates and Their Dangers”, Jan. 14, 2010

NAMC montessori academic social competition classroom girls looking at hands
It happens every year. Even though it has been explained from the very first inquiry about the Montessori school and is in the school contract and handbook. Even though I make sure to cover it at Back-to-School night, I guarantee it will happen at least once during the year, usually during parent conferences. A parent leans in a little closer, conspiratorially, and says “Come on. This Montessori stuff is all well and good, but seriously, what grade would you give my child? I won’t tell anyone you said anything. We’ll keep it between you and me.”

Grades… A tangible descriptor that measures the level of knowledge in a standard course of study, relying on some sort of subjective interpretation of student performance and achievement. Most of us went through school “being graded”. Students are even told that they reason they go to school is to get good grades. In fact, parents teachers use getting “good grades” as an extrinsic motivator; children are rewarded for their achievements and punished for their failures. Yet studies, some dating back 100 years, show that people who are “graded” learn differently from those who aren't. They tend to prefer to find the easy way out, quickly lose interest, and, when all is said and done, forget what they've “learned”. Getting an education becomes more about competition than 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 Monday, May 31, 2010.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

World Environment Day Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities world environment day playing in grass

I have found that my Montessori students are easily engaged with and interested in environmental concerns. Environmental studies easily incorporate into a Montessori curriculum; I try to incorporate environmental awareness into our studies all year, across all Montessori subject areas as much as possible. Some of the ways I do this are by reading stories and poems that stress an appreciation for the environment, incorporating nature into our art work in the Montessori classroom, and pointing out the interconnectedness of all things whenever possible. I may particularly stress environmental topics on certain days like Earth Day and World Environment Day.

World Environment Day will be celebrated on June 5, 2010. The United Nations Environment Programme aims for World Environment Day to be the largest and most widely celebrated day for environmental action. World Environment Day has been celebrated since 1972. 2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations and this year the theme of World Environment Day is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” Here are some great activity ideas to share with your Montessori classroom!

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, May 27, 2010.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Montessori Cosmic Education and Peace: The Outdoor Environment

Recess and outdoor activities are opportunities for a Montessori teacher to show her/his students how Montessori Peace and Cosmic Education lessons translate into the everyday life of the playground and schoolyard. As a teacher in an early childhood Montessori classroom, your work includes the Practical Life lessons of grace and courtesy and other character values.

When children play, some essential themes present themselves, such as friendship, compassion, cooperation, and kindness. (These four themes are further discussed in Charles A. Smith’s The Peaceful Classroom.) These themes and values can be introduced, encouraged and expressed through many activities in the Montessori classroom and fostered again in the community atmosphere of the Montessori playground.

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, May 26, 2010.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Montessori Language Arts to Engage Your Students Through Summer

NAMC montessori language arts summer time girls writingAh, summer – a time for rest, relaxation, and recharging. I always have a full list of personal activities for this time away from the Montessori school schedule. Here are a few ideas for keeping your Montessori students engaged and interacting on new levels through the summer break.

Summer “homework” may help prevent your Montessori students’ minds from going “mushy,” and may also provide a springboard for starting the new school year in the fall. Besides the academic benefits, summer homework can help you keep in touch with and get to know your students on another level during the summer.

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, May 21, 2010.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Montessori Practical Life Activities for Sensory Processing Disorder

This is the final of a four-part series on Sensory Processing Disorder. For related NAMC blogs, please click on the links at the end of this article.


NAMC Montessori Practical life activities for sensory processing disorder children jumping rope
Children with proprioceptive dysfunction struggle to be aware of the ‘position in space’. They are unsure of where their bodies are in relationship to others or objects. They struggle making physical judgments regarding movement as well as with regulating their bodies. They may seem “wired” or always on, moving or fidgeting. They may be the ones who continually bump or crash into things, trip and fall, or generally be ‘unsafe’. These children are looking for ways to calm their bodies and their nervous systems.

For children with proprioceptive (muscle and/or joint) processing difficulties, activities involving “heavy work” is recommended. Heavy work has been shown to increase attention and decrease sensory defensiveness. Using activities which provide heavy resistance to the muscles and joints helps the body assimilate process movement (vestibular) and touch (tactile) information. Heavy work in the Montessori environment is generally found in the Montessori Practical Life 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, May 18, 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Montessori Education: Ideas for Preschool / Kindergarten Graduation

NAMC montessori classroom ideas for preschool kindergarten graduation
Although not every school has a “graduation” for their Preschool / Kindergarten classes, it is common to mark the end of the year with a day where parents, teachers and children can celebrate the young students’ accomplishments. If incorporating a graduation ceremony for Kindergarten-aged children seems to fit, this also provides such an opportunity. We hope the following personal account gives you some helpful ideas.

My son loved his kindergarten year in Montessori. As the end of the year approached, he came home excited about having to make a speech for his kindergarten graduation. When I offered to help, he told me it was a ‘surprise’ and I’d hear it on the big day.

Like birthdays and the traditional Montessori “Walk Around the Sun", the passage from one plane of development to another can be marked by an intimate and informal tradition.

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, May 13, 2010.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Montessori Sensorial Activities and Material for Sensory Processing Disorder

…To lead the child from the education of the senses to ideas. ~Edouard Séguin
NAMC montessori sensorial activities materials for sensory perception disorder
The studies conducted by Edouard Séguin and Maria Montessori, both physicians and educationists, have given us proof that children need sensory experiences to grow and learn. This is all the more true for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Carol Kranowitz (The Out-of-Sync Child) says that "Just as the five main food groups provide daily nutritional requirements, a daily sensory diet fulfills physical and emotional needs”. Studies have also shown that stimulation of the tactile (touch), vestibular (inner ear), and proprioceptive (muscle and joint) senses help develop and grow dendrites and synapses in the brain.

So what about the children who have difficulty processing sensory information? These children need a way to have their needs met. Developing the senses improves energy, focus, and the ability to self-regulate behavior. Sensory activities facilitate whole brain learning and children will be more successful academically and practically. A child with hyper-sensitivities may need more calming sensory input while children with hypo-sensitivities will need more arousing input. Such activities help restructure the nervous system so that, over time, the child is better equipped to:

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, May 12, 2010.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Observing Sensory Processing Disorder in the Montessori Classroom

The education of early childhood should be based entirely upon this principle: Assist the natural development of the child. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child.

NAMC montessori classroom observing sensory processing disorder boy walking red rod maze
Maria Montessori developed an early childhood education method and curriculum around the understanding that infants and young children first learn experientially, through the senses. But what can Montessori parents and educators do when a child’s sensory experience is different from others? This is the second of a four-part series designed to share some insight into Sensory Processing Disorder.

It is generally held that we have five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. We often take for granted the ability to see clearly, to taste good food, to distinguish between right-side-up and upside down. Imagine living in a world where your senses didn't function together, where the information that was sent from your senses to your brain was ‘misinterpreted’ and you didn't experience the world the way others did.

Imagine being told how good something smelled, only to be repulsed by it. Or gagging on something described as “absolutely delicious”. Or being afraid to have your feet leave the ground because that was the only way your body knew it wouldn't float off into space. Or being afraid to grow because that meant getting new clothes that hurt to wear because everything new was too rough for your skin.

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, May 5, 2010.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Year End Preparation for Montessori Teachers and Schools

NAMC montessori teacher school year end preparation loking at girl's workThe end of the school year is drawing near and it is never too soon to start preparing at your Montessori school. Here are some ideas to help you and your Montessori students prepare now to have a smooth and seamless transition into summer.

Be aware of what will be required of you by your Montessori school and supervisor. When will your final student progress reports be distributed and what will you need to do to prepare? Is your Montessori school required to administer standardized tests or an end of the year test? Plan your schedule accordingly and communicate/prepare your students well in advance.

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, May 3, 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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