For those unfamiliar with Montessori, walking into one of our classrooms can seem a little overwhelming at first. Unlike traditional schools, a typical scene in our classes includes a huge array of activity. You are likely to observe a scattering of kids; some working at tables around the room, others spread out with mats on the floor, a teacher in a lesson with a handful of students, and if it is after 10am then you can add a couple of students at the snack table. All of these students might be working on entirely different things, and to those of us brought up in rows of desks staring at the teacher, this scene can even feel a little chaotic!
There are many built in mechanisms that allow this seemingly disorganized system to far outperform its traditional counterpart. Top among them is our use of movement and tactile materials in the class. Dr. Montessori recognized that children need to move and touch in order to really internalize their learning. (Anyone who has ever had a toddler can substantiate this!). She developed brilliant materials in all subject areas that allow students to really experience the concepts they are learning about.
Children naturally love exploring with their hands, and often our students are enjoying using the Montessori Materials so much that they don’t even realize that they are learning an academic concept. The materials are designed to be self-correcting, so that students are able to check themselves if they are completing their work correctly. All of this makes it possible for members of the class to be working on different things at the same time.
Check out the article below to see what recent science is saying about movement and materials in the class. Over the past five decades our teachers can attest to the same findings!
“Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn”
When my daughter first started in Casa and came home talking about polishing silver, I have to admit that I had a few hesitations. ‘How outdated is this curriculum? Is this really how she is spending her morning at school?’ It wasn’t until I started training as a Montessori teacher that I really understood the true value of many of the practical life activities, proficiencies that reach far beyond the ability to help polish the silverware before Grandma’s annual visit for the holidays.
There is no doubt that silver polishing was a more readily required skill 100 years ago when Dr. Montessori first designed the preschool curriculum. While I thought it was great the kids were learning useful skills like washing tables and taking care of plants, I wondered why they didn’t just remove the whole antiquated polishing practice and replace it with a more up to date skill; online banking perhaps?
It turns out that Dr. Montessori had hidden intentions when creating many parts of the curriculum, especially in the practical life department. Children love working on concrete skills; they savor the opportunity to complete a ‘real’ job independently. Polishing activities also reinforce the importance of showing respect for your things; not just throwing something out when it gets a little old (perhaps an increasingly important lesson in our disposable culture!).
However, more then this, Montessori recognized that in each task there is a chance to capitalize on academic skills as well. These underlying components of each lesson are referred to as the ‘indirect aims’. Within the polishing work, ancillary goals include working on fine motor skills and strengthening the pincer grip, which are necessary for the many pencil tasks ahead in their schooling career. Students are also taught to remember and follow multiple steps in the process, a prerequisite for future math work. If that wasn’t enough, to trump all of these reasons, there is also the inner-satisfaction the child feels when they complete a piece of work independently, increasing their ability to concentrate and boosting their self-confidence.
So the next time you feel concerned that your child is spending so much time on practical life skills you can relax; the hidden aims they are completing are setting them up for success in future academic work. Needless to say the Casa classes at Dearcroft now have a supply of my previously tarnished silver, and I am happy that it is actually being used and appreciated somewhere!
As many of you know, our annual Dearcroft Christmas Carnival, “A Magical Christmas” was a huge success, in raising funds for the United Way, Oakville. In total, as a community, we were able to raise $2,747.00!! With “The Sprott Leadership Matching Challenge” (matching every dollar for dollar, over $2000.00) met, the total funds raised was $5494.00!! Dearcroft Montessori and our community of parents, children and staff, are proud to be a part of the grand total raised for United Way Oakville for 2014 – a total of $4,250,000! Two of our Dearcroft staff, Mrs. Janine Darby and Ms. Jacqueline Jajcinovic were in attendance at the UWO’s Celebration Night on February 5th, 2015. The evening consisted of awarding the 2014 UWO Spirit Awards, recognizing local organizations and volunteers for their exceptional commitment, leadership and creativity. As well, Rob Lister, President and CEO of Oakville Hydro Corporation, was announced as being the 2015 Campaign Cabinet Chair.
United Way Oakville funds 53 programs in three areas which have been researched to be the most essential foundation for healthy beings and communities: children and youth, financial stability and community wellness. United Way Oakville funds 32 social service agencies within our community, such as ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), Food for Life and Halton Family Services. With the assistance of community contributions through personal donation and fundraising, the United Way Oakville is the largest supporter of the voluntary sector and social services in Canada next to government.
More than 34,000 individuals in our community rely on United Way Oakville funded programs and services. At Dearcroft Montessori, we look forward to continuing to be proud supporters and assist such local programs and services for United Way Oakville.
Dr. Montessori recognized the importance of sensorial work for students. She saw that each human is born with the gift of intellect, but like physical maturity, children’s minds need good nutrition and plenty of exercise in order to flourish. The sustenance needed for brains comes in the form of sensorial exploration, which helps kids form new ideas and abstract concepts. Montessori created a series of brilliant sensorial materials that are designed to isolate each sense, allowing for students to refine their understanding in each area.
Key benefits of children’s work in the sensorial area include the following:
- expands neural pathways and aiding in neurological organization
- trains and refines the senses, building intellect
- creates order and clarity in the child’s world
- develops concentration, coordination, order & independence
- builds appreciation for beauty, attention to detail, and encourages creativity
Check out this blog for great activities that will appeal to all of your child’s senses.
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.
Learn more about Dr. Montessori and her amazing life and work here!