Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Three Year Cycle and its Importance

We are proud to be part of a vibrant and rich learning community here at Kingswood Montessori Academy in Homestead, Fl. We are a small private school that educates students from toddlers, preschool and Elementary. Being a small private school allows us to connect with our families and students, we are lucky to see our students grow both academically and socially in our classsrooms through the three year cycle. Parents come to tour Kingswood Montessori campus and always are curious how the three year cycle works. Below is an article from a Montessori blog that refers to the three year cycle that is very helpful. The three-year cycle refers to an essential element of Montessori education. Children at Kingswood Montessori Academy from 3- 6 years are able to stay in the same classroom, with the same teacher, the same classmates and as a result are able to build a strong, cohesive community. They move through the stages of development experiencing different roles, responsibilities, and lessons and having their developmental, social, intellectual and emotional needs met at each stage they pass through. The physical changes that we witness at Kingswood Montessori during this time are obvious but the mental and emotional changes are visible through close observation of the child. This ‘metamorphosis’ of a 3 year old to a 6 year old is so dramatic that it can be likened to the caterpillar, changing from a pupa into a butterfly. In this paper I will be specifically looking at the changes that occur in the third year or the Kindergarten year that child experiences in a Montessori classroom and how these changes represent the fruits of the child’s labor, and the formation and perfection of traits that will serve the child throughout his life. It’s easy for everyone to understand how the child of 3 benefits from working in a community with older children. The child the Kingswood Montessori preschool classroom is able to observe the more advanced work the older children do, something the child will be aspiring to do some day. He can witness the grace and courtesy modeled in regard to how to resolve a dispute, how to express frustrations and how to use our words effectively. If the child struggles with work he has chosen, then an older child will be ready and eager to help. What’s not so easy to see immediately is how the older child of 5 or 6 benefits from the mixed-age community. Parents have asked me why their child would benefit from staying in their Montessori classroom for the child’s Kindergarten year. I tell them, you have built a house with strong foundations, an excellent structure, and a beautiful interior. You wouldn’t decide to finish you work without building the roof, would you? It is during this third year that the fruits of all the child’s labor begin to grow. Repetition with the materials have led to perfection of skills Ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Perseverance from working with materials that require the child to follow a lengthy sequence and complete a cycle of challenging work. Problem solving skills from the child’s interaction with materials and situations that allow the child to resolve a situation independently. Making positive, independent choices. Long term practice of constructive, purposeful work. The practical life exercises that engage and fascinate the younger children, for example folding, washing, polishing, the dressing frames, evolve into a way of contributing and caring for your community for the third year child. The third year child will be folding the napkins and placemats so they are ready for snack, preparing snack and sweeping up the crumbs left behind after snack. The third year child is taking conscious responsibility to perform tasks that keep the classroom beautiful and modeling this for all to see. In the area of language, all the work he did during the first two years with the sandpaper letters, learning the sounds and the symbols of the letters, and building words with the moveable alphabet by breaking them apart into individual sounds, now forms the foundation for reading. And it’s not just the task of acquiring fluency and comprehension in reading that occupies the third-year Primary child. There’s also work with nouns, articles, adjectives and verbs, etc, the foundation of grammar, perfecting cursive handwriting and writing one’s own stories and so much more. In the math area, the work that the child of three and four has done to count first from 1 to 10, then to 100, then to 1000, and her concrete experience with the decimal system prepares her well for the beginnings of abstraction in the third year of Primary. Now she can work with the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a variety of ways and she can memorize math facts. We all know your child will undoubtedly learn to read and write and will learn to do the mathematical operations and these are all important skills, but I believe that these are not the most important things a third year child will learn. The greatest skills or gifts that the third year Primary child receives are the qualities of character the child creates. Self-confidence, self-motivation and responsibility for the community among others. These character traits are practiced and perfected each day, practicing empathy, showing love and affection for others of all ages and for oneself, exercising leadership skills, and being a positive role model to others. As a Montessori Primary guide at Kingswood Montessori we feel sad when I hear that my third year children are leaving the community for traditional school. The third year is the opportunity to complete the full cycle of activity with the classroom materials and curriculum, and the chance to be the leaders that they themselves had looked up to those previous years. With your guidance, they have laid the foundations, built the structure, made their interior beautiful and now it’s time to put the roof on their house. Thank you Polly Goode Primary Guide in Thyme class for sharing this article with Kingswood Montessori Community

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Montessori At Home

Parents at Kingswood Montessori have often asked how they can prepare their homes to follow the Montessori principles that their children are learning here at the school. Following is a great article form American Montessori Academy: Have you marveled at the remarkable order of the Montessori classroom? Has your toddler told you that at school she pours her own juice? Does your teenager hang or put away all her clothes—without being asked? Encouraging order, independence, and self-motivation are fundamental to the Montessori approach. Carefully designed classrooms allow students to develop competence in caring for themselves and their surroundings. And from the sense of pride that “I did it myself!” blooms the confidence to take on the world. Bringing Montessori principles into your home can be a valuable bridge to what your child learns at school. Here are some ways to build that connection. Create an Ordered Environment Having a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, encourages both independence and self-discipline. Children know where to find what they need, and where to put it when they’re done. An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand. To make things accessible to your young child: Provide low shelves or drawers for clothing; lower the rod in the bedroom closet. Keep a small step stool in the bathroom and kitchen so your child can reach the sink. Arrange toys and games on low open shelves with a particular place for each. Sort smaller items into trays or baskets by category, such as puzzles, art supplies, and blocks. Put healthy snacks and foods on a low pantry shelf so your child can help himself. Pour drinks into small, manageable pitchers placed on a low refrigerator shelf. Keep cups within your child’s reach—along with a sponge to clean up spills. Teach Real-Life Skills Montessori students are taught to take care of themselves and their classroom and to be helpful to others. They wash tables, organize shelves, prepare their own meals, and assist younger children. In addition to mastering real-life skills, they come to see themselves as valued members of the community. Parents here at Kingswood Montessori Academy in Homestead, Fl, have often asked me about how they can prepare their home to serve an extension of the Montessori classroom. Following is a great article for American Montessori Society that will guide you. Having your child help at home can bring similar rewards. Take the time to teach each skill separately and to repeat the lesson as needed. Each task your child masters adds to his confidence and self-esteem. Young children, for example, can peel vegetables, fold their clothes, match their socks, and care for pets. “Tweens” can sort the mail and take out the recycling. And adolescents can prepare the family dinner, read to their younger siblings, help with computer maintenance and home repair, and manage their own bank account. Promote Concentration The ability to focus and concentrate is an important skill for learning. You can help develop your child’s concentration by observing what sparks her interest. Set her up with the means and materials to explore it, and let her work without interruption. While your child’s work environment should be free of distraction, it doesn’t have to be away from family activity. Some children prefer working at the kitchen table or reading in a cozy corner of the living room to holing up in a bedroom or study. Observe your child’s response to various environments, ask questions, and make adjustments as needed. Nurture Inner Motivation Children are most willing to apply themselves when they feel there’s intrinsic value to their work. Some parents use external rewards as motivation, but only pride and pleasure from within has lasting, and meaningful, effects. Montessori teachers refrain from using traditional classroom rewards such as gold stars and merit-based privileges. Instead, they focus on nurturing each child’s personal sense of accomplishment. Even praise is given sparingly—saved to acknowledge a child’s effort, rather than the outcome of her work. By expressing encouragement and appreciation for your child’s efforts, you—like her teachers—help nurture an inner motivation that will serve her for life. Kingswood Montessori Academy is a private school in Homestead, Fl. Kingswood Monstessori is an accredited school serving children Toddlers through Elementary.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Time: Active Bodies and Active Minds

The Summer is finally here! The students look forward to it with such anticipation. A time to take it slow, after all they've worked hard all year, ... right? Well, before you send your child to three long months of relaxation take a moment to think about the possibility of keeping them engaged academically as well... always with fun in mind of course. The long summer months are a great time to reinforce key concepts your child has already mastered,. For the young preschoolers, fine motor skills are so important, older preschooler flashcards with sight words. For Elementary, read, read, read. Visits to the library are so much fun and they always have cool activities and math facts also with Flashcards for those long road trips, The teacher's store is a great resource to find cool workbooks for your child. I can not stress enough the importance of vocabulary building, any activity could be a an opportunity to introduce new words. We have 2 months left, have fun and LEARN! Kingswood Montessori it's a private school in Homestead, FL offering toddlers, preschool and Elementary students education as well as Summer Camp.