Third-Year Montessori

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“To prepare our students for world stewardship, we provide them with a foundation of learning that embraces the cultural, social, visual, historical, and physical aspects of life.” – HBMH Philosophy

This philosophy builds the structure of our kindergarten program.

From early infancy, we have been preparing our students for this very moment. Everything leading up to this point has been a preparation for their kindergarten year, and on. The most important commitment a parent can make to a Montessori child is to promise, both to the child and school, that the child will be allowed to complete the full three to four year primary cycle. The three-year old year is a time of discovery. The four-year old year is a time of solidification. The five-year old kindergarten year, hereon referred to as the “third year”, is a time for application of all the child has learned since early infancy.DSC_0286

The primary third year is critical to the development of self-confidence and independence. It is also the last chance to take advantage of the amazing abilities of the Absorbent Mind before it disappears forever.

Montessori children are given freedom to choose their own work. They know the expectations of the classroom, and they treat one another with grace and courtesy. Their work is respected by the guides and fellow classmates. We never interrupt their concentration, allowing them to develop their full potential.

Some parents choose to enroll their child in a new school for kindergarten because they believe this is the norm; that children of this age must go to public school. Montessori primary communities are well equipped for kindergarten-aged students. The curriculum is based upon the expectation that the child will remain in the same program through their 5th or 6th year.

Imagine working on a machine. You know you have six years to complete the project; the last year, you’ll have an opportunity to use the machine in the real world. You spend years perfecting and manipulating each piece of the machinery, preparing it for the last year when you’ll be able to present it to the community. Now imagine being pulled from the project on the 5th year, only to be told that you’re being moved to a new project, in a completely different environment. This is similar to what our kindergarten-aged students experience when they’re pulled out of their school environment before that last, critical year; the “application” year.DSC_0462

Unfortunately, not every school practices Montessori. A child who is used to working independently, getting one-on-one attention from the guide, completing each step at their own pace and not being rushed, working at the table or on a floor rug, and so forth, is now forced to sit at a desk all day, with restricted movements, listening to one teacher speak to the group as a whole. Montessori prepares the child to appreciate learning, develop a passion for discovery and research, use their creativity, problem solve, grace and courtesy, care for the environment, self control, amongst many other things. We want our children to leave our school, prepared to face each of life’s challenges and milestones with optimism and motivation. We want them to be young leaders of this world, tolerant and accepting of all cultural diversities.

In order for the child to succeed, they need to perfect their Executive Functions. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, Executive Functions are a set of particular mental skills that help the child reach maturity, such as memory, mental flexibility, and self control. These skills, along with many others, are embodied in the lessons and materials that our students work with every day.DSC_0620

The primary third year is a time for the child to master life skills; skills that they’ve been working on their entire life. Skills that help prepare the child for the modern 21st Century. Many public/private preschools do not include these skills as a component of their curriculum, which are actually very critical to the child’s development. For instance:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Collaboration and Leading by Influence
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Assessing and Analyze Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination
  • Love of Work

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

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“We need every worker to be a ‘knowledge worker’. How do you do things that haven’t been done before, where you have to rethink or think anew, or break set in a fundamental way, it’s not incremental improvement.” – Hellen Kumata, Managing Partner at Cambria Association

“Our children are allowed to choose, explore, manipulate objects. They are encouraged to formulate ideas, try these ideas out, and accept or reject what they learn.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Collaboration and Leading by Influence

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“My greatest concern is young people’s lack of leadership skills. Kids just out of school have an amazing lack of preparedness in general leadership skills and collaboration skills. They lack the ability to influence versus direct command.” – Mike Summers, VP of Global Talent Management at Dell Computers

“Classroom communities encompass a two-or three-year age span, which allows younger students to experience the daily stimulation of older role models, who in turn blossom in the responsibilities of leadership. Students not only learn with each other, but from each other.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Initiative and Entrepreneurialism

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“Leadership is the capacity to take initiative and trust yourself to be creative. I say to my employees if you try five things and get all five of them right, you may be failing.” – Mark Chandler, Senior VP and General Counsel at Cisco

“We encourage curiosity, creativity and self-directed development. The prepared environment creates innovation competence by means of including trained adults and the correct works and resources. The classroom is organized to support experimentation and learning rather than dictating what will be learnt and what the experiment will be.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Oral and Written Communication

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“We are routinely surprised at the difficulty some young people have in communicating: verbal skills, written skills, presentation skills. They have difficulty being clear and concise; it’s hard for them to create focus, energy and passion around the points they want to make.” – Mike summers, VP for Global Talent Management at Dell Computers

“Our students are encouraged to think for themselves and articulate their own opinions. Socially, they care about others, know how to work well in groups; take a long-term project and break it down into “do-able” parts, and they see assessments as feedback.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Assessing and Analyzing Information

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“There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren’t prepared to process the information effectively it almost freezes them in their steps.” – Mike Summers

“Montessori children are encouraged to observe, explore, question, and investigate everything. They are allotted the freedom and time for the conception of a problem or situation and the discovery of its solution. This gives them the opportunity to produce ideas through flexibility which allows for the ability to switch from one perspective to another.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Curiosity and Imagination

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“I want people who can think – they’re not just bright – they’re also inquisitive. Are they engaged, are they interested in the world.” – Clay Parker, President of the Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards

“Children can compare, find similarities, and refine the powers of discrimination in order to create abstractions. They learn to distinguish similarities and differences, and learn to place these variables into an ordered progression. We foster an environment that inspires “what if” and curiosity.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

Love of Work

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“Children know when their work is worthy and good. They know when it measures favorable against their inspirations, talents, efforts, values, and abilities. They learn to assess themselves and their ideas honestly.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH

HBMH’s kindergarten program gives children the opportunity to perfect all of these skills in a safe learning environment. Every parent must eventually make the decision where their child attends kindergarten. Of course, we respect your choice, whatever it may be. Our goal, as educators and Montessori mentors, is to encourage each child and family to reach and exceed their full potential. We are here to guide you through this decision, and find the right path for your child’s upcoming academic career.

Broom Experiment

“The Prepared Environment intrinsically fosters creativity, the foundation for all human progress. Montessori cautions that the power of imagination will develop from whatever the child finds in the environment. It is creative people who will continue to advance civilization. For this reason educators must take care that the precious commodity of creativity is maximized rather than wasted; art, music, literature, poetry, invention, medicine and science are the products of creativity.” ~ Maria Montessori

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Preparing Montessori Children for the 21st Century

(True story from one of our toddler community members, now enrolled in our Primary Program)

Hi there, I’m a little over two years old. I am a student in the Strawberry Community. One evening, while waiting for mom, I decided to assist my teacher with cleaning. After sweeping for a short time, to my surprise, for reasons I’m not sure, I had an urge to try something different.

  • Critical Thinking – Can the broom stand alone, free from my hands?
  • Adaptability – I move and reposition the broom to various locations in the room, does this help?
  • Analyzing & Assessing – Is it possible? Over and over again, I tilt, lift and shift while slowly pulling my arm away
  • Initiative- I trust myself – I have the confidence to try something new, I am in a community that respects and empowers
  • Curiosity & Imagination – I am inquisitive, I want to know, is it possible?

The broom was his “work”. He is in an environment that fosters creativity and independence; he is left alone to analyze and assess as he formulates a plan. He was able to work uninterrupted; concentrating on the task at hand. He remained focused well over 20 minutes showing no signs of frustration or fatigue, he was engaged in “purposeful work”. He was intrinsically motivated, the absence of clapping and cheering allowed him to remain focused. Despite the fact that the broom continued to fall, perseverance triumphed.

This work was assisting in the development of his coordinated movement, eye-and-hand coordination and concentration, he was forming his own ideas relevant to human life, the ability to think and reason coherently and logically.

-Written by Ms. Tami, Owner/Head of School, Healthy Beginnings Montessori House

The Art of Table Setting

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Today, I had the opportunity to witness a few of our primary community members prepare the tables for lunch. Although they carried out this work flawlessly, it did seem quite challenging. They are required to take one item at a time, carrying it from the cabinet to the table, which can take several minutes. It truly did resemble a form of art, placing each item carefully on the table in the correct order.

What impressed me most was the dialogue that was shared between our two, pre-selected lunch helpers.

“Can you help me tie my apron, please?”

“Here, you lay out the napkins while I do the spoons.”

“We need to get the water from the refrigerator, but I need your help.”

“Would you hand me the napkin?”

I enjoyed hearing these two young people interact and collaborate with one another. It was truly delightful! They found pure joy in the work they were doing, and carried themselves in such a way that they knew this was important and purposeful work.

Not once did I see the guides intervene because it was simply not necessary. She didn’t step in to correct their errors, or straighten a napkin that was slightly offset. The task was carried out in full by the two friends, who relied on one another for help.Tabel Setting_4Setting the table can be defined by many adults as a “chore”, but for a child, it is a purposeful, meaningful, and fulfilling work that stimulates all of their senses. Through this work, they enhance their concentration as they focus on each minor detail, self-control as they learn to carry one item at a time, critical thinking through exploring and manipulating different styles of place setting, collaboration, delegation, and leadership skills, care of environment and care of others, and they develop a healthy self-image because the work is real and necessary. And because of this, we cannot call it a “chore” since it is joyful, purposeful work. Just like an artist carefully and meticulously paints or sculpts his masterpiece, so do our children carefully and meticulously complete their work.

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They understand that this is important work, and gain self-confidence as they see the outcome of their efforts; a room full of happy children eating and socializing in a well prepared environment.

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21st Century Education: How Does Montessori Prepare your Children?

The Montessori pedagogy is one that has been practiced for over 100 years. It’s teachings and materials are used to help mold young minds in Montessori schools all over the world. Dr. Maria Montessori developed this philosophy to focus on human development, which is something we embrace here at HBMH.

Many new Montessori parents come to us with the same question, “Will my child be prepared for the 21st Century?” Often times, this is asked while making the decision to remain in Montessori for the kindergarten year, or enroll in public school early. This, of course, is a logical question because Montessori is a more non-traditional practice, however it is one that prepares children to be more academically advanced than their fellow classmates who may have attended a traditional day care/school instead. I enjoy indulging in conversations such as these, because it’s a time to educate my families on the benefits of Montessori; a time to show them all the wonderful gifts and skills their children develop while receiving an authentic Montessori experience every day.

There are so many developmental skills that are embodied in the Montessori curriculum with which our young friends receive every day.

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Collaboration and Leading by Influence
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Assessing and Analyze Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination
  • Love of Work

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

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“We need every worker to be a ‘knowledge worker’. How do you do things that haven’t been done before, where you have to rethink or think anew, or break set in a fundamental way, it’s not incremental improvement.” – Hellen Kumata, Managing Partner at Cambria Association

“Our children are allowed to choose, explore, manipulate objects. They are encouraged to formulate ideas, try these ideas out, and accept or reject what they learn.” – Tami Kinna, Owner/Director HBMH Continue reading