IMG_2928Do you feel like your child is not getting the attention needed at their pre-school or Kindergarten?
Is your child one of many getting lost in  the crowd of children? Choosing a Montessori school will give your child the personal attention needed to feel safe and comfortable in a nurturing learning environment.

When a child feels safe and secure at his/her school, true learning can then take place.  When  pre-school children are  valued as a unique individual,  they can feel good about themselves, gain confidence, tackle challenges and experience success in their educational experience.

Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, the method  works at accommodating all learning styles. Students are  free to learn at their own pace and level of development. Each child advances through the curriculum as he/she is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan created through teacher observation.

IMG_2918Observation is an integral and continual part of Montessori education

The way that  children can be taught on an individual basis is through teacher observations. Observation is a tool that is used by the teacher to follow the child by assessing  their abilities and readiness. Montessori is a holistic approach that helps develop the child from within, as well as  the academic  skills needed for future education as well as for life!

The Montessori teacher knows  to sit silently and motionless at times to observe children. In our fast paced world, and in the schools that are focused on the curriculum and testing, this is something that  rarely happens. Constant physical motion means teachers are missing out on  physical, verbal, and social cues from the children around them.

In traditional education the teacher is the center of the environment; constantly directing and teaching to the children instead of allowing the children to direct themselves and become motivated learners who can develop a love for learning.  It’s important  for teachers to step back, slow down, and silently view the environment with fresh eyes.

A Montessori teacher knows to sit back and observe where more traditionally a teacher would want to interrupt the children while they are  working.  Are the interruptions really necessary? It’s easy to inject our thoughts and interfere when we see a child struggling with a concept. Our inner impulses to help, to do it faster, to do it more efficiently are unnecessary and take the action away from the child. By sitting back and watching, most of the time a child will figure it out on their own, when left alone to do so. This is true learning!  In the Montessori classroom, the child is the center of the education. By observing children, they are the ones who reveal to the teacher what the step to their learning process that needs to take place.

Sometimes teachers can speak too much. The teacher’s voice can be  constantly interrupting the  work of the child. Are teachers over-explaining materials instead of allowing the child to spend time with the materials and investigate further on their own? Montessori materials are beautiful didactic, self-correcting learning materials that most often do not require excessive speech/language – unless it’s a language lesson!

After sitting back and observing, a Montessori teacher takes notes and records observations for each child and for the classroom as a whole. Which materials are being used and which ones haven’t been used in a long while? Is a child avoiding a particular area and why? What is the atmosphere like? Is a child being successful? If not, why not? Is there a sense of respect and community in the environment?  By asking these questions, the Montessori teacher knows what to do next.

An example of Personalized Education in a Montessori Classroom

At Farmview Montessori Garden, children are looked at as individuals. They are directed and guided to activities that will continue to develop them on a personal level as well as an academic level.  By looking at  a child and his/her personal interest also allow the teacher to help foster learning in a very individual and unique way. The teacher can create lessons for just one child based on his/her own personal needs.

A perfect example of this was a student I onced had several years back. I will call him Branden to protect the child’s real name.

Branden struggled with writing skills. He was 4 1/2 and a Pre-Kindergartner. He and was able to get most of his name written on paper. However, he did not enjoy writing, copying words, making books or anything that did require using his writing skills. He avoided these activities at all cost and complained about doing them.

At Farmview we truly want to see children develop a love of learning, this was distressing to me as his teacher. Through observation, I could see that the strength was there in his fingers and the ability was there. So why did Branden dislike this so much? As I observed, I realized that he had a strong love for football. He seemed quite educated about the sport for a young child. He often talked about it  and loved to draw pictures of people playing football.

One day I approached Branden and asked him if he would like to make a football book? His eyes lite up and I got a resounding “yes”.  I took Branden over to the geography area and we took out the United States puzzle map. He looked at me puzzled as to say “I thought we were making a football book” but he complied. I proceeded to ask him where we lived and we took out the state Ohio. I asked him to take it out of the map and trace around the piece and write the word “Ohio”, he complied. I then asked what football team does he know in Ohio. He said with a smile “the Bengals”. He then copied the word Bengals. I then ask what other teams he liked. He choose the Dallas Cowboys. He took out the puzzle piece of Texas and traced the state, wrote Texas and Dallas Cowboys. Branden then continued to do 4 more pages. He then made a cover and wrote “Football Book By Branden” and stapled it together. He now had his first foot ball book. He was very proud!

The next day Branden choose on his own  to make another football book.  The weeks and months that followed, Branden made many football books using many of the states from the map. He was not only working on his writing skills, he was also learning about all the states in our country. He expanded on his book each time. He started to draw helmets with all the logos and colors of each team and included them in his books. He got many other boys and girls in the classroom excited about football books. We had football books being made all year long. Each becoming more detailed, not only by Branden, but by many other children in the classroom as well!

Needless to say, Branden’s writing skills improved greattly and he was now writing with ease, and was willing to write whatever was asked of him. He left after his Kindergarten year with beautiful handwriting! This kind of creative learning is what happens in a Montessori classroom.

Not all children learn the same way. Looking at children as individuals and helping them learn in different ways is what this method is all about. Montessori said it so well herself!

“It is the child who will prove the value of this method”  Maria Montessori