Thursday, October 28, 2010

Montessori and Imagination: the Second Plane of Development

NAMC montessori second plane of development and imaginationThe Montessori elementary child is exposed early to the story of the universe. Notice, I said “story” and not lesson. This is because the explanation as to the creation of the universe and every living and non-living thing is told to them in a series of imaginative stories we call the “Great Lessons”. Usually told during the first eight weeks of school and for all six years of the elementary cycle, the Great Lessons are the catalyst for learning and discovery throughout the Montessori elementary years.

With the Montessori teacher in the role of the story teller, not lecturer, the First Great Lesson unravels the great mysteries of the universe. Abstract concepts such as The Big Bang, stellar nucleosynthesis, gravity, magnetism, composition of the earth and other planets, and plate tectonics all come alive through the power of IMAGINATION! Using impressionistic charts and simple experiments, the Montessori teacher-story teller weaves a story which spurs the imagination of the children around her and lays the foundation for physics, astronomy, physical science, chemistry, and physical geography.

Pretty heavy-duty stuff for a first grader! But Montessori believed, that at this sensitive period, we are to give children the keys to unlock their potential. We do this by grounding them in reality while allowing them to imagine things that are bigger and more abstract than the world around them.

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, October 28, 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Montessori and Imagination: The First Plane of Development

NAMC montessori first plane of development and imagination boy with dollImagination is the real substance of our intelligence. All theory and all progress comes from the mind's capacity to reconstruct something. (Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World p.48).

The Montessori curriculum is well grounded in the realities of the universe. This is not to say that Maria Montessori discouraged imagination. She was a big believer in the child imagining the greater truths of the universe. Indeed, the Montessori Great Lessons curriculum first presents the creation of the universe with having children close their eyes imagine the coldest, darkest place they can think of. This, Montessori says, can’t begin to compare to how cold and dark space was before the universe was created. Montessori stated that “Reality is studied in detail, then the whole is imagined. The detail is able to grow in the imagination, and so total knowledge is attained.” (Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence, pg. 18).

Montessori believed that the universe is a wonderful creation and the Montessori curriculum presents all its wonder to the child, from birth to six years. Children in this first plane of development are grounded in concrete reality. Their ability to discern what is real and what is not real is not yet in place.

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, October 26, 2010.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Praise Versus Encouragement: Montessori Preschool Students Developing Independence and Confidence

NAMC montessori preschool praise versus encouragement developing independence confidencePraise Versus Encouragement
Let’s take a look at the implications of using praise versus encouragement. A few years ago, I was approached by a parent who requested a meeting with me after school. We sat down together and I could tell she was clearly angry about something. I remember the conversation vividly and it began with the mother saying, “I am feeling angry because Larissa tells me that you don’t like her artwork. She comes home daily telling me that you don’t like what she creates and this is very upsetting for her!”

I was definitely taken aback but quickly had to gather my thoughts to provide an explanation. The little girl was new to the preschool and almost five years old. She was a lovely child, full of spirit and creativity but was constantly looking for recognition and complimentary feedback. What was happening in the classroom is simple. Every time Larissa completed a creative project, she would approach me and ask, “how do you like it?” I would always reply with an encouraging phrase instead of direct praise by saying something like, “you really worked hard on your picture. Are you proud of your drawing?” or, “Wow, look at all the colors you used.”

I explained to the mother my views on praise versus encouragement but because I didn't respond by saying, “I love your picture or what a beautiful drawing”, Larissa felt I didn't like her art work. It took several months before Larissa started to feel that internal sense of satisfaction and no longer felt the need to ask me or the other Montessori teachers if we liked her work.

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, October 20, 2010.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Importance of the Work Mat in the Montessori Prepared Environment

NAMC montessori prepared environment importance of work mat This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

The Montessori Work Mat
You could travel to a Montessori school anywhere in the world and you will see Montessori students working at floor mats as well as at child-size tables. The purpose of the floor mats and tables is to define the student’s workspace and to reinforce Montessori's principle of "freedom within limits". There is such an element of respect with having that defined workspace and it is something that the students take very seriously.

The Montessori preschool students are shown how to walk around the mats, how to place their work on the mats and how to respect one another’s personal workspace. They also learn that it is never okay to disturb a classmate’s work or join a classmate’s work unless permission is given by that student.

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, October 18, 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Montessori Moment: The Three Period Name Lesson

NAMC montessori three period name lesson funny boy and teacher
This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

A Humorous Montessori Moment
I would like to share with you a story of what happened today while working with the Montessori Color Tablet Box 1 (red, yellow & blue tablets). Jordan and I had been working with the red, yellow and blue Color Tablets and when it was time to provide a three period name lesson with all the three colors, the funniest thing happened:
  • Period 1: Introduction (This is…) I pointed out the three colors while naming each one for Jordan (this is red, this is yellow, this is blue).
  • Period 2: Association/Recognition (Show me…) Then I asked Jordan to point out each of the three Color Tablets (show me red, show me yellow, show me blue).
  • Period 3: Recall (What is this…?) The final period is confirming the student’s knowledge and asking for the actual name. I pointed to the red Color Tablet and asked, “What is this?” and Jordan gave me the funniest answer:“Teacher Bree, if you don’t know your colors by now, maybe I should be giving you a lesson!”
I had such a hard time keeping a straight face because he said it with such seriousness. Jordan really felt I was asking him to tell me the color because I couldn't remember what it was……after 18 years of Montessori teaching, that was a first for me!

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, October 15, 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Daily Greeting: A Respectful Routine for Your Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori classroom routine daily greeting shaking handsRules and Routines: The Daily Greeting
The daily greeting between a Montessori preschooler and teacher is a special moment. It is a key transition of the day and must be carried out with respect, care and consistency. The initial greeting can often set the tone for the day ahead, therefore, it is important to make the initial greeting a joyful one so that the child feels welcomed, and respected. Upon the daily departure a similar routine should occur and again; each Montessori student should feel genuinely cared for and know that you will be looking forward to seeing him/her again.

Some children are very responsive to the daily greeting while others are shy and more reserved. I find role-playing during circle time is a great way to reinforce respectful greetings and handshake routines. My Montessori students really enjoy it when I choose one of them to be the teacher and they take their role very seriously. The “Montessori teacher” stands at the door while the rest of the children line up outside the door and demonstrate a proper greeting one by one.

I usually make a comment after each greeting to reinforce the desired behavior. For example, “Ben, it is nice to see that you remembered to look in the teacher’s eyes” or “Dima, thank you for remembering your walking feet when you came into the classroom” or “ Gemma, you waited so patiently in the line for your turn to shake hands - that is a very respectful thing to do”. Role-playing is such an effective strategy for reinforcing rules and routines as well as important grace and courtesy lessons.

The daily greeting is such a nice way to start the day as well as bring closure to a school day, and below is a general presentation detailing how to do it.

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, October 13, 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Montessori Moment: Observation and Following the Child

NAMC montessori observation following the child using cylinder block This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

A Montessori Moment
A “Montessori Moment’ is any moment in a Montessori environment that is particularly fulfilling or touches your soul in an especially impactful way. Today I experienced a moment that was very special and I would love to share it, but first a little background information.

Kasia is a little girl who is three years old and new to our Montessori preschool. She is still very timid and reserved and has only spoken a few times. She is having a very difficult time engaging with the other children and struggling to find “work” on the shelves. I have tried to spark an interest in several different Montessori materials, but so far nothing has worked. She will come with me and watch the presentation, but as soon as I leave the mat or table, she quickly puts everything away and returns it to the appropriate place on the shelf.

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, October 12, 2010.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Montessori Toddlers Who Are Not Yet Peaceful: Dealing With a Tantrum the Montessori Way

This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

NAMC montessori way dealing with tantrums toddlers not yet peacefulToddlers Who are Not Yet Peaceful
Toddlers and tantrums tend to go hand in hand, and it is important to remember that this phase will pass. A temper tantrum is usually a result of the child not being able to effectively express himself verbally, which leads to intense frustration.

I have had young Montessori students over the years who battle with temper tantrums; it can be a helpless feeling for the Montessori teacher at times, especially when you feel like you have tried everything! I have found that the more consistent you can be, the quicker the phase passes.

It is vital to figure out what works for the individual child. Here are a few examples to give you some further insight into different situations and how they may be handled by the Montessori 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 Thursday, October 7, 2010.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Typical Day in a Montessori Preschool Classroom: Daily Schedule and Routine Planning

NAMC montessori preschool classroom routine schedule planningOur Typical Daily Schedule
I have had several questions from readers wondering how the day is structured at my school so I felt it would be a good idea to give you some insight into a typical day in my Montessori classroom.
Prior to teaching at the school where I am currently working, I was accustomed to having a morning and an afternoon group with each class being two-and-a-half hours in duration. The afternoon class came four days per week and the morning class came five days per week, which worked beautifully.

In the class where I am currently teaching, the routine is very different. The need for the local community was to have classes in session longer than 2 ½ hours and also provide greater flexibility as to how many times the students attend each week. Being sensitive to the needs of the community, the owner opted to create a four-hour program (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) and to give parents the choice of enrolling their child 2, 3, 4 or 5 days a week. It definitely makes things a little more challenging as there is often a different group coming each day and obviously it takes a lot longer for a child coming two days a week to learn the routine than it does for a child coming four or five days a week.

The new Montessori daily schedule was an adjustment for me initially, but like most situations I have learned to adjust, embrace and enjoy the new program routine. Now, I love having the same group of students for four hours each day, as I really get to know them, the day doesn't feel nearly as rushed and the additional time enables me to create a special bond with each child. I also like the fact that so many grace and courtesy skills can be reinforced during lunch time when everyone is sitting and eating together. I have included below an outline of a typical day in my Montessori preschool classroom and I hope you find it helpful.

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, October 5, 2010.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Montessori Peace Place: An Important Part of the Classroom

NAMC montessori peace place important part of the classroom girl holding flower
This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

The Peace Place
Dr. Montessori recognized children as the redeeming factor in the evolution of humankind. The Peace Place is a designated space in the environment where children can go to take a moment, calm themselves and work out a problem in a peaceful way.

Our Montessori classroom is small so it has been a challenge to find the perfect spot for the Peace Place, however, I am happy to say that I did! The table I chose is away from the busy work area and right by a big window. The table is just the right size; there are two chairs and on the Peace Table I have placed a beautiful vase with a single rose.

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, October 1, 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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