Why Montessori – Our Top Six Reasons!
Posted by Helena Eddings
Thank you, Maria:
Montessori is based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor, teacher, philosopher, and anthropologist who noticed a link between the children she would see in her practice and their educational experiences. Maria set out to bring forth a way of learning that would engage children freely while nurturing their natural development. This “new” method of learning, the Montessori Method, allowed children to empower and educate themselves.
We know that all children are different. When we understand and practice the belief that all children are different, that means we truly accept that all children learn differently. Because of this, our Montessori teaching allows us to build an environment that encourages independence, observations, and preparation. Our teachers take the time to observe their students, allowing them to understand their learning patterns and characteristics. This allows us to prepare our learning environments based on how our students best learn.
We are all one:
As a school, we are preparing children for adulthood – even if that may be years down the road. This means that we treat our students the way we want to be treated. We use manners. We calmly express how we feel. We take time to work through our problems. We know that we are not perfect and we accept ourselves and our students. We trust and respect one another. And, through doing this, we help teach our children how to be mindful, graceful, and courteous.
Rewards – not here:
Some parents are often surprised by the fact that we don’t use rewards or punishments for compliance. That’s because our students develop self-discipline. A behavior or action is a response to a stimulus. If we were to snap at our friend, there is a reason behind that – maybe we are tired, overworked, or hungry. Well, in Montessori education, we understand this and first work to find the stimuli and help our students develop skills to problem-solve the situation. This instinctively helps the child understand how to handle the situation in the future.
Yup, we use rugs:
Our classrooms are not filled with rows of desks. That is because children are mobile creatures and need room to move and grow. A desk constricts a child to one spot and we believe learning is based on exploration. At BCMA, we use various tools to help children learn concepts. If a student wants to learn to count while standing – then they are encouraged to stand. If a student would rather sit cross-legged on the floor, then they are able to sit. Learning is not stationary. Our brains need different tools and textures, and our bodies need space.
The classroom, home, life, Earth… We are always practicing peace and the creation of peace. We believe we can change the world and make a positive impact through being peaceful. We encourage the same from our students.
Montessori education is so special and unique; that’s why it is so important to observe in a Montessori classroom.
By Jessica Eldridge
How to Understand Toddlers!
Posted by Helena Eddings
More than 100 years ago Dr. Maria Montessori described “the absorbent mind” of children during their first three years of life as the most critical period in each child’s brain development. Recent research reveals that babies have an innate moral code and make decisions about themselves and others from a very early age. This insight reinforces the Montessori perspective that humans have astonishing mental capacity from birth.
How can parents support each child’s explosive brain development? Become a skilled observer – an expert on your child’s needs. Young children telegraph their needs very clearly. Fortunately, most parents naturally respond to their babies’ babbles and cries, their grasping for things to touch and their urge to explore. Children need to move, to have multiple sensory experiences in order to understand the world around them.
Building muscles is critical to building coordination, which is critical to developing concentration and independence. Let your toddlers push, pull, climb, and roll. Let them get dirty. Let them play outside. Let them run and when they fall, pick them up, brush them off, and send them back to play some more. Overreacting sends the message to the child that they need you to protect them. It robs them of the courage to fail and try again. Parents who stress over normal bumps and scrapes and strive to keep their toddlers safe at all costs deprive them of the most natural and critical learning possible.
Curiosity and persistence are character traits that parents can influence in their children in order to help develop resilient, healthy adults. Become an expert on your child’s development by observing and providing a myriad of experiences to meet their demonstrated needs. It’s the best way to maximize individual brain power and give your child a leg up in an uncertain world.
Head of School
When NOT to Help Your Child!
Posted by Helena Eddings
When NOT to Help Your Child
Your child is capable of doing so many things for himself. Of course, as a parent, you want to help your child when he is struggling or frustrated.
But for your child’s development, confidence, and independence, it’s important to pause a few seconds before stepping in. Observe if your child is actually struggling, or just developing new skills.
Here are a few situations in which you might need to ‘sit on your hands’ rather than jumping in to help right away:
- Your child is working on zipping up his coat. He makes a few attempts, doesn’t get it right away, and turns to you. Instead of zipping the whole thing up, get the zipper started, working slowly so your child can watch, and let him zip the coat to the top. Next time, perhaps ask your child, “Remember how I did it?” and guide him with words. Eventually, your child will no longer need you!
- Opening a container or lunchbox. Odds are, you’ve chosen a lunchbox that your child can manipulate by himself. Of course, some are trickier than others, but let your child develop hand muscles and coordination by trying to open the container independently. If he needs a hand, only open the very corner, and let your child pull the lid the rest of the way!
- Putting toys away. “I can’t do it!” might mean “I don’t want to do it.” We all run into these times in our lives, even as adults with a pile of dishes in front of us. If your child is claiming he isn’t capable of picking up a pile of legos, just ‘sit on your hands’ by being present for your child. “I’ll be right here while you pick up your toys.” or “Let’s do this together, because I understand that you’re tired after playing and might need some support.”
In other words, only give the help that is absolutely needed. Start to observe your child carefully. Does he need help, or does he want help, or has he become accustomed to help because it is always present?
How to Avoid the Assessment Trap!
Posted by Helena Eddings
Young children are excited to pick out a new backpack or pair of shoes in anticipation of the new school-year. They are full of hope – that their teachers will be nice, that they will have lots of friends, that school will be a positive experience. They are not thinking about the core curriculum, minimum standards, or constant assessment by teachers, administrators, the State, and the Nation’s Report Card.
Parents understand that the pressure to succeed in school builds quickly each year and many children will be discouraged if they can’t measure up. Other children will be bored with the drill and repetition teachers employ to ensure constantly improving test scores.
What can parents do to support their children in the pressure cooker learning environment that is the reality in many schools today? How can you nurture your child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn – to keep the flame alive?
Resist the urge to constantly evaluate your child. Stop the continual praise. It sends the message to the child that to please you he must always perform at a high level. Instead, encourage effort, support their passions, listen to their concerns. When schools and parents focus mainly on results and not on the well-being of the child, it diminishes self-esteem. The primary task of parents and educators is to help children find themselves, so they are comfortable and confident discovering their own way. Parents must provide the balance in their children’s lives with warmth, humor, and loving support. Don’t get caught in the assessment trap!
Head of School
How to Help Allay First Day Jitters!
Posted by Helena Eddings
By Bettina Tioseco
With September fast approaching, many families are getting ready to send their children to school for the first time. Along with the pride and excitement parents feel during the lead up to this milestone, many are concerned with how separation anxiety and those first-day jitters may affect their children. Here are some insights into making the transition from home to school a happy one.
Very young children starting school for the first time experience a range of emotions. Some may be excited while others experience difficulty and anxiety. Although it is disheartening to see your child feeling unsure, remember that this time shall pass and may last from only a few days to a few weeks.
Anxiousness passes as children begin to feel confident, secure and happy in the classroom environment. One way to help encourage these traits is to read books together about starting school. Some of my personal favourites are “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, where Chester Raccoon learns from his mother a secret way of carrying her love with him to school, and “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg, where Sarah Jane hides under the covers, reluctant to start her first day at her new school. We find out at the end that she isn’t a student, but the teacher!
When saying goodbye to your child at the door, I always share with parents the advice of Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Developmental Psychologist. Dr. Neufeld recommends that your last words describe the next time you will see one another, so that your child has your reunion to look forward to. Saying “see you in a few hours” or “I’m looking forward to going to the park with you after school” are just a couple of examples.
Trust that you are leaving your child in capable hands. Teachers that work with young children know that there may be tears at the door and are ready with lots of tricks and skills to comfort the children and help them feel at ease. Once the parents have left and the classroom routine has begun, children generally settle down very quickly.
Find small ways to help your child form a connection with school. If the school is in your neighborhood, make a habit of pointing it out when you walk or drive by. Mention the teachers’ names in conversations with your child and share things you know about them such as what they look like or skills they may have. Make the start of school something that is filled with wonder and count down the “sleeps” until the big day. Speak positively about school, without any signs of nervousness or anxiety, for example, “Ms. Bettina loves animals and has chinchillas in your classroom that you will get to see every day. Isn’t that exciting?”
Never underestimate the power of rest. It is so important to have strong bedtime and morning routines in place. Encourage 10 to 12 hours of sleep and make sure to have time in your morning for a healthy breakfast too. This will help your child to have the fuel to have a great day at school. Arriving a few minutes early helps your child to take in the new surroundings, socialize with new friends and come to class calm and ready.
Congratulations to all the families embarking on the wonderful adventure that comes with a child attending school for the very first time. We encourage parents to set the tone to the start of their child’s formal schooling by projecting a happy, confident and excited attitude towards this very special milestone.