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The Brown Stairs To Where ? A Montessori Overview By John Felageller.

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1 The Brown Stairs To Where ? A Montessori Overview By John Felageller

2 The questions are asked… What is “Montessori”? What are my kids doing all day? Are they really learning anything? Why do we use all those funny blocks and things? Is this getting them ready for “real school”? Isn’t this kind of classroom for “babies”?

3 Things People Think About Montessori… “It’s another name for Preschool.” “It’s only for little kids, not older ones.” “They only play with toys and don’t learn anything real.” “ That’s religious or Catholic/Christian school.” “They let the kids do WHATEVER they want.” “Isn’t that the cult like school where they wear the weird robes and beat the kids?”

4 Who Was Maria Montessori? Montessori was a 19 th century Italian Physician who initially worked with mentally and physically disabled children. During her time with them she developed a way of teaching them known as “The Montessori Method.”

5 What Did She Discover? All children are capable of learning when their environment is conducive for it, meaning it should “make sense” for them. Children learn best when they are given “Real Life” or Concrete examples of ideas or concepts instead of Abstract ones. A sense of Responsibility needs to be fostered even with very young children in order to help develop Self-Direction.

6 So How Do We Teach? Montessori Classrooms are designed with the “Prepared Environment” in mind, so the physical setup is easily manageable. Physical hands-on materials allow for students to learn concepts from a Concrete standpoint first, and aid in developing self-direction. Teachers help to foster a sense of responsibility for themselves and the environment; facilitate peer mentoring.

7 Montessori in the U.S. Montessori first visits United States in 1911, one early famous supporter is Alexander Graham Bell. Although popularity spread, Montessori had several critics, including education reformer John Dewey. Montessori education would not gain traction in States until after her death in 1952, carried on by her son Mario.

8 Founding of AMS In 1960, Nancy McCormick-Rambusch founded the American Montessori Society (AMS). Currently largest Montessori organization in the world, with 1,300 member schools and over 100 training centers. About 400 programs in public (charter) schools in several states; Chicago has three in CPS.

9 Montessori in Chicago First Montessori was Alcuin in Oak Park (1961), later followed by others in the late 1960’s (Countryside and Deerfield Schools). Over 70 member schools (AMS)in Chicago and Suburban areas, many smaller unaffiliated programs. Chicago boasts Primary, Elementary, Middle School and even a high school (Beacon Academy).

10 Curriculum: Practical Life Although Practical Life is skill oriented, its purpose is not to master these tasks for their own sake but to help in the development of… Organization Independence Focus Left to Right Hand-Eye Coordination Motor Skills Needed For Reading And Writing

11 Curriculum: Sensorial Sensorial Works are designed to help strengthen and develop a child’s senses and acuity of their senses. Works cover every quality perceived by the senses including size, shape, weight, touch, smell and many others. Activities help develop motor skills specific to later tasks and also lay groundwork for concepts in other subject areas.

12 Curriculum: Math Math concepts are always taught from the CONCRETE first and then and then move to ABSTRACTION. Use of manipulatives is consistent from Pre- Primary through Elementary Curriculums (Ex.: Green, Blue, Red). Materials used to teach all aspects of curriculum from initial number sense to Algebraic Equations.

13 Curriculum: Language Montessori approach to Language is unique in that it teaches WRITING as foundation for READING (usually Cursive first). Letter sounds are learned with emphasis on tactile (sandpaper letters) and auditory input to help integrate concept. Students begin with short vowel sounds, then long vowel, silent e, blends, digraphs and eventually sight words.

14 Curriculum: Science Montessori used idea of storytelling (Great Lessons) to explain large scientific concepts in an engaging and meaningful way. Students learn many concepts from “authentic learning” experiences within and outside of the classroom. Students are introduced to foundations of Botany, Zoology, Physical and Natural Sciences.

15 Curriculum: Cultural The Montessori Philosophy emphasizes the importance of awareness and respect for different cultures and backgrounds. Students are introduced to various Geography and Social Studies concepts including Continent and Country studies, physical characteristics of the world and Holiday Celebrations from around the world (!!!Cultural Fair!!!).

16 How We Compare: Play-Based Education Most traditional Preschools follow “Play- Based Model”, with focus being on socialization not academics. Montessori emphasizes MEANINGFUL Work- Based activities and lessons that are developmentally appropriate. Montessori students benefit from SAME level of socialization, however in the context of structured learning experiences.

17 Quotes From Competitors “Our curriculum blends child and teacher directed activities and incorporates smooth transitions between activities. We recognize there is no cookie-cutter approach to development. Each child is unique and develops at his/her own pace. We look for signs each child is progressing along a sequence of developmental benchmarks. This allows teachers to approach each child at the appropriate developmental level.” “…teaches children life skills that go beyond reading, writing, and math. Playing with toys helps develop motor skills and teaches lessons about sharing with friends. Singing songs while washing hands instills an interest in the arts while forging social bonds and educating children about the need for good hygiene. “ “As children are growing, they are more inclined to sit and concentrate. To take advantage of this newfound focus, we introduce more tactile activities, such as... This system promotes problem-solving by using top-to-bottom, left-to-right directions and allows children to become familiar with the basics skills associated with reading, writing, and comprehension.”

18 “Does a parent have to choose between learning and fun? We don’t think so. In our view, the learning vs. fun trade-off is a false alternative, and in practice the most profoundly joyous childhood environment is precisely the one which best satisfies a child’s cognitive needs. Children by nature are curious about the world. They are capable of an astounding amount of early learning when given the freedom to explore to their heart’s content, particularly in an environment of carefully prepared engaging, meaningful explorative activities. In such a setting, learning so-called academic skills, such as handwriting or arithmetic, is experienced as a playful, enjoyable activity. The pleasure and deep satisfaction of such concentrated engagement is natural and to-be-expected because it is consistent with the actual needs of the child. Psychologically, the satisfaction derived is exactly the satisfaction that comes from play. As Maria Montessori put it, “play is the child’s work.” ---From “Play vs. Work: A Wrong Alternative”, Heike Larson,

19 How Will Your Child Do In Public School? Answer: Just Fine! Many Public School Curriculums incorporate Montessori influenced concepts or approaches (e.g. Everyday Math). Common Core standards based on “authentic learning” models which is fundamental to The Montessori Method. Montessori Training Centers now linking to these standards.

20 What Choices Are There? Investigate your options, speak to your Home School District, attend Curriculum Nights/Meetings, ask questions! Visit Montessori Elementary schools in your area, request tours, meetings, and ask how they compare with Public Schools in the area. If all else fails…

21 ASK MY DAD!!!

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