A few of our primary friends got to experience the musical talent of Ms. Marlie today! Sharing our passion with our students is a wonderful thing!We got to listen to the different notes and scales produced by the trumpet, and feel it’s brassy exterior as the sound vibrated through the horn. We learned how a “mute” works by making the sound softer. Ms. Marlie showed us how to assemble and disassemble the instrument, and how to properly clean and care for all of its parts.A child’s curiosity is a beautiful thing! I see a few musicians in the making!
While assisting in the classroom this afternoon, I had the opportunity to observe a few students hard at work. They had completely put together a puzzle up-side down, from memory. I asked them what their strategy was, and they simply replied, “we just place the pieces that fit together.” This is a true example of Montessori students hard at work, finding variations and challenging ways to complete a work that’s been done many times before. A camera-worthy moment if I’ve ever seen one.
“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.
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.
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.
“the task of the child is the formation of man, oriented to his environment, adapted to his time, place and culture.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
From early infancy, our children are preparing themselves for the more complex works and materials in the toddler and primary communities. In Montessori, we believe that “the task of the child is the formation of man, oriented to his environment, adapted to his time, place and culture”. Therefore, it is our job as Montessori educators to protect the child’s “task”, aiding in their development as they continue to form the person they will be for the rest of their lives. In order to do that, we need to understand the purpose that each Montessori material holds, and recognize the important role that they will play in the child’s development. For instance, the pink tower, while simple in appearance, helps prepare the child for a diversity of life skills, such as visual discrimination of dimensions in height/width, and adding the cubes together (math), refinement of voluntary movement which helps control muscle movement as they grow older, they’re also learning visual-motor coordination which is called upon to concentrate. This lesson goes far beyond introducing them to math. That is how many of the materials in our school work; they introduce and build upon lessons that the child will receive as they grow older. Each one serves a specific purpose in the child’s development. Continue reading
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.Setting 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.
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.
Our HBMH friends have been enjoying this week’s Summer Camp theme, “Learning through Sensory Discovery”. With so many options to choose from, they are invited each day to pick and choose which sensorial materials they would like to work with, then given the opportunity to create and manipulate a masterpiece of their own. It is truly amazing to see their creativity unfold as they put their minds (and hands) to work.
Our camp themes were designed to feature creative hands-on activities that build skills, bodies, and excitement. We offer an environment that fits the needs and interests of all our children, incorporating Montessori principles that foster independence and freedom with responsibility. I’m hoping to update our blog all summer long to show the children as they progress through the different themes.
Children use their senses to learn. At a very young age, they have a natural desire to discriminate objects by their similarities and differences, using their visual, auditory, tasting, olfactory (smelling) and tactile abilities. Each sensorial material in the Montessori classroom was designed to better define these abilities, not to mention all of the abstract lessons the child is learning from the same work such as introduction to language, reading, writing, math, and so forth. Children are given the opportunity to exercise their senses through working with different textures, colors, shapes, dimensions, masses, tastes, smells, temperatures, pitches and intensity of sounds. Not only do these works advocate creative expression, but they also promote abstract thinking.
Resources: The Namta Journal, Volume 37, Number 1, Winter 2012
It’s not uncommon to see small flower arrangements adorning tables in a Montessori classroom. This is a work called “flower arranging”, and is a favorite for any young child. Each week, our families participate in a “flower basket” program, and bring fresh flowers for the classroom on a rotating basis. The flowers are then used for flower arranging. It’s impressive to watch a child carefully engage in this exercise. They start with putting on an apron, and then fetch water in the small pitcher provided. Now, they must control their movement while walking across the room without spilling water. If there is any water left in their small pitcher, they pour it into the tiny funnel placed in a small vase. They repeat this step several times until the vase is full. Once the flowers have been arranged, the child will display them on the shelf. Sometimes, they change the location of the vases throughout the work cycle. Now, they must restore the work area in it’s original condition. Cleaning up is a big job. They must dump and wipe up all extra water on the table, then Swiffer the excess water from the floor which is usually a large area. It’s not uncommon for a child to be engaged in this work for over an hour.
What are they learning while arranging flowers? They are refining gross and fine motor skills, concentration, self-regulation, control of movement, sequencing, eye-and-hand coordination and practical life skills.
In the toddler community the focus is on “care of self”, “care of environment” and “grace and courtesy”. Activities such as this help the children work with purpose and concentration as they move about the classroom.
“A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” -Dr. Maria Montessori