Incorporating Montessori Principles into Your Daily Life

Montessori is much more than an educational style. It’s a unique way of life that extends beyond the classroom walls. It’s important that parents recognize what a Montessori lifestyle is so that they can connect the gap between home and school. As a Montessori parent, there are several key Montessori principles that you can incorporate into your daily life.

Environment

When you walk into a Montessori classroom, there is almost always an unmistakable atmosphere of peace. This is marked by certain features such as the peace corner, the peace rose, or the peace table. Parents can cultivate the Montessori principles of peace at home by getting into a regular routine so that children do not face the anxiety that comes with uncertainty. Another good way to reinforce mindfulness at home is to model meaningful, courteous behavior, such as saying “good morning” or “please.”

Spending time in nature also helps to improve a child’s sense of peace. This connection to nature can be felt by taking the time to stop somewhere with your child in order to observe nature, such as animals rustling through bushes or the sky changing as the sun sets.

Discipline

Child guidance and positive discipline are important Montessori principles to practice at home. These Montessori principles teach children responsibility, help them make good choices, and promote self-control. To prevent misbehavior in a child between the ages of 3 and 6, a Montessori parent can use positive discipline by acknowledging how the child feels, asking them how they would solve the problem, and then suggesting what they could do in a similar situation that arises in the future.

For example, a conversation with your child could go something like this: “I see you’re frustrated because you wanted to have a turn playing with the truck. When you want something that someone else has, what can you do?” This problem-solving approach to disciple corrects the child’s misbehavior, while improving their critical thinking skills and guiding them in the direction of self-discipline.

Activities

There are five types of developmental activities for children that are based on Montessori principles. All five of these can easily be incorporated into your daily life.

  • Practical life activities include responsibilities such as cleaning, making snacks, washing fruits, watering plants, and scrubbing dishes.
  • Eye-hand coordination activities include tasks that involve using hands in different ways. For example, pouring water, threading necklaces, solving puzzles, and using a lock box or latch board.
  • Arts and crafts activities include painting, sewing, drawing, cutting shapes, and molding clay.
  • Language activities include reading books that focus on daily life and using baskets filled with classified objects.
  • Gross motor activities include outdoor activities such as running, jumping, and sliding, as well as indoor activities like yoga and balancing.

At Silverline Montessori, we offer children a carefully prepared learning environment rich in learning materials and experiences. We provide our students with an authentic Montessori experience that helps them become independent, learn concentration skills, and master coordination and movement. Our students learn how to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers. We believe that with the proper guidance, what your child learns in class can be reinforced at home with the right environment, discipline, and activities.

The Use of Uninterrupted Work Periods in Montessori

One of the main principles of the Montessori approach to education is the use of uninterrupted work periods. In these periods of time, students are able to work through various tasks at their own pace. No matter which age group a child is in or what concept they are working on, each child is given uninterrupted work periods. Through Dr. Maria Montessori’s extensive research, she discovered several benefits to these uninterrupted work periods.

Learning at Their Own Pace

Every child learns differently. For example, a concept that might come naturally to one child, could take a different child twice as long to understand. If a child is confused about a lesson and the teacher simply rushes through it, the child might feel stressed and discouraged. At Silverline Montessori, we understand that some children need more time to master a subject, which is why we allow our students to work at their own pace.  During their work period, children are able to focus on their own individual tasks for as long as they want, without fear that the other students will finish the task before them and leave them behind.

More Meaningful Work

Giving children a set period of time to work on their chosen lessons and tasks helps them produce more meaningful work. When students know that they will be leaving the classroom soon for an activity such as art or physical education, they tend to focus on easy “busywork” in order to make the time go by faster. This leaves students unable to concentrate, which can be detrimental to their learning. However, when a child knows that they have three uninterrupted hours to do their work, they are able to delve deeper into tasks and focus on important learning skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving.

Develop a Love of Learning

When students are given a large block of time to work, they have the freedom to work on several different tasks. The availability of different options ensures that every child will find a task that they enjoy. Children also have time to become more absorbed in their work and reach a deeper level of understanding. Since there is no pressure to finish a task by a certain time, students will begin to select activities for their own enjoyment and interest. When children enjoy their work, they look forward to going to school every day. Learning becomes exciting and alluring, rather than a boring activity that they feel forced to do. At Silverline Montessori, our mission is to help foster this love of learning.

The Role of Guides in Montessori Schools

In a Montessori classroom, teachers play a unique but important role. We refer to our teachers as guides because they do more than just teach. Montessori guides do not stand at the front of the classroom reciting facts to the entire group of students. Instead, they migrate around the classroom, observing and interacting with students individually. Our guides at Silverline Montessori are specially-trained to detect what each child needs in order to reach their full potential.

Creating the Perfect Learning Environment

One of the roles of Montessori guides is to ensure that their classroom is properly organized with specially designed learning materials that are accessible to children at all times.  Montessori materials are interrelated and follow a sequential order.  Guides serve as a link between the environment and their students. Through observing their students, a guide learns which materials a child is ready to be presented so that students are constantly challenged.  A guide also makes sure that the classroom is neat and everything is in order. This sense of order is important because it establishes consistency and independence, as children are able to find learning materials on their own.

Helping Children Discover Their Strengths

Since Montessori guides typically stay with children for multiple years, they are able to form a connection with their students and an understanding of each child’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to create a daily lesson plan for each child. This lesson is brief and given individually or to a small group of children, rather than the class as a whole. Instead of telling a child what to do, the guide shows a child how to use a specific material and what can be done with it. The guide will then step back and let the child take control of their own learning. If a child has a question, the guide asks them how they would solve the problem, allowing the child to develop critical thinking skills and creativity.

Establishing Trust

In order for a child to reach their full potential, they must feel comfortable in their learning environment. This is why Montessori guides aim to establish a trusting environment where children feel free to be themselves. Guides will never criticize a child’s work or scold a child for not doing their work properly. Additionally, guides will not reward a child for good work, as a Montessori education seeks to establish an intrinsic love of learning. Because a child is not being judged, they begin to trust their guide and feel more at ease doing their work.

Serving as a Role Model

Students view their guides as role models and mimic their behavior. Guides practice what they preach by displaying important character traits, such as respect towards others and offering assistance to those who need help. When a guide is helping a younger child, other children observe this and begin to model their behavior after their guide. This encourages them to help other children with their tasks, which strengthens their confidence, as they feel a sense of pride that they have accomplished something meaningful.

 

 

Developing the Whole Child

One emphasis in Montessori education is on the development of the whole child. While traditional schools tend to focus on developing a child’s cognitive abilities, the Montessori method aims to develop every aspect of a child. There are four main elements that make up what Montessori refers to as the whole child: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive.

Physical

As children grow and mature, their bodies go through many changes. Staying physically active benefits children at every stage of development. In a Montessori classroom, there is a great deal of movement offered through a variety of activities.  Children who are physically active throughout their day develop stronger muscles and bones and tend to have an easier time falling asleep at night. When a child plays outside, they are exposed to all of the beautiful things nature has to offer. Since young children learn using their senses, an outdoor environment filled with plants, animals, and objects can serve as a classroom as well. At Silverline Montessori, all of our students participate in weekly physical education classes and have the option of taking yoga classes as well.

Emotional

Learning how to recognize and manage emotions is a very important life skill. Many conflicts in life are a direct result of a person feeling hurt by another’s actions. Children can learn from an early age that their actions can affect other people. Respect for others is strongly emphasized in every Montessori classroom. When students get into a disagreement, they learn how to talk about their feelings in order to resolve the issue peacefully. Children also learn how to recognize what emotions others are feeling. They are taught to look at body language and facial expressions in order to determine how someone else is feeling. Developing this emotional intelligence helps children form stronger bonds with others.

Social

The Montessori method recognizes the importance of social interactions in developing the whole child. Multi-age classrooms are one of the main features of a Montessori education. In these classrooms, children are grouped based on the plane of development that they are in, rather than their exact age group. This allows children to interact with students of different ages, helping young children feel more comfortable with older children. Older children strengthen their leadership skills by serving as mentors to younger students and assisting them with their work. Students learn important social skills such as communication, collaboration, and kindness towards others.

Cognitive

To a Montessori student, the world is their classroom. The Montessori method aims to develop creative thinkers, able to solve problems and constantly learn and challenge themselves. Montessori students learn to view themselves as global citizens and recognize the beauty of different cultures and traditions. They understand that they are part of a greater universe and that they have a moral responsibility to protect our planet in the future. They have a profound respect for the natural environment and understand the importance of practicing good virtues. Art and music classes give students an outlet to express themselves, and computer classes help prepare them for our technologically advanced society. Through a combination of all of these subjects, Montessori students develop cognitive skills in several different areas.

Montessori Learning Through Sensorial Work

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, sensorial experiences begin right when a child is born. Children use their senses in order to study their environment. By participating in sensory activities, children can consciously obtain clear information that helps them classify their surroundings. These classifications serve as stepping stones to organized intelligence, which gives children the ability to adapt to their environment.

Why Sensorial Work is Important

Sensorial activities are used in Montessori learning to help children in discrimination and order. They also help broaden and refine a child’s senses. When a child combines Montessori designed materials with sensorial work, it helps them become more logical, perceptive, and aware.

Dr. Montessori developed the concept of sensorial work long before sensory play was put into practice. In Montessori philosophy, the child is considered the “sensorial explorer” and learns to perceive qualities through sensorial experiences.

Sensorial Materials

Many Montessori materials, for example the Pink Tower in the photo above, are designed to assist in visual discrimination by allowing a child to recognize differences in dimension, length, width, and size. Montessori activities such as the Brown Stair, Red Rods, Knobbed Cylinders, and Color Tablets can also enhance the visual sense.

The auditory sense is also developed in sensory materials like Sound Cylinders and Bells, while the tactical sense is sharpened through the use of Touch Tablets and Fabric Feel. A child differentiates tastes by strengthening their gustatory sense through activities such as food preparation and food tasting. Using Montessori materials such as Scent Bottles can help a child differentiate smells with their olfactory sense.

Silverline’s Mission

At Silverline Montessori, we understand that children can obtain limitless amounts of knowledge during their formative years. It is especially important to develop a child’s senses between birth and age 6. This is why we emphasize helping children understand the world around them by using sensory materials in our classrooms. These sensorial activities help develop important lifelong skills such as logic, awareness, and perception.

The Importance of Global Citizenship

As a Montessori parent, you recognize how important it is for your child to become part of the emerging world community, and you want your child to help build that community in the future. Here at Silverline Montessori, we understand the importance of global citizenship and how it is constantly developing, from birth to adulthood. That’s why we make sure that global citizenship is a key focus in our classrooms.

Building a Vision                                                                                        

Starting at an early age, every child should begin to understand that they are a unique individual who is a part of the human species, a member of society, and a citizen of the world. When a parent nurtures this awareness of the world, a child will begin to develop an understanding of the universe and an appreciation for all life on earth.

As Dr. Maria Montessori wrote in her book, To Educate the Human Potential, “Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe.  The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.” This visionary idea was based on her observations of how eager children are to understand themselves, the world, and the role they play within it.

Age-Appropriate Development

Dr. Montessori believed that the proper time a child should be exposed to culture is around six years old. This is the optimal age because this is typically when a child becomes interested and even enthusiastic about different cultures. This process, she believed, is similar to the germination of a seed; it will grow and expand if the idea of culture is introduced at the right time and in the correct way. “A need arises for a special method, whereby all factors of culture may be introduced to the six-year-old; not in a syllabus to be imposed on him, or with exactitude of detail, but in the broadcasting of the maximum number of seeds of interest,” Montessori wrote.

Our Cosmic Task

One important element of a Montessori education is the belief that we have a cosmic task, or a moral responsibility, to protect humankind from the threat of self-annihilation caused by our species’ destructive actions. If we, as Montessori parents, nurture the values of global citizenship in our children, we can help prepare them to successfully handle issues that modern society faces in a peaceful manner.

At Silverline Montessori, we encourage all of our students to use their imaginations to explore cultural diversity and understand how communities around the world work and live differently. Our students learn to develop a profound respect for all cultures and the world as a whole. One of our main goals is to develop a generation of future leaders who value global connectedness and are able to collaborate with people from different cultures and nations easily.

The Benefits of Multi-Age Classrooms

One of the main features of the Montessori method is multi-age classrooms. Montessori specialists place a child in a classroom based on their individual level of development, instead of placing them by their exact age. Typically, Montessori children are grouped according to the plane of development that they fall into. The planes of development include the following age groups: 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18 years old. Dr. Maria Montessori developed these three-year cycles based on her extensive psychological studies and scientific observations of children.

Why this Matters

While children in a traditional school system have a different teacher every year, multi-age classrooms allow children to remain with the same teacher for several years. This ensures that the teacher will develop a deep bond with each student, as well as a deeper understanding of every child’s unique needs. This results in a more effective teaching method that truly works for each student. Children also feel more relaxed around their teacher and their classmates because they have known them for multiple years. When a child becomes comfortable with their surroundings, the child is able to better focus on their education, as they do not have the added worry or stress of having to get to know a new teacher and make friends with a new group of classmates each year.

A Montessori classroom helps to develop leadership skills that will last a lifetime. In a mixed-age classroom, older students have the opportunity to become mentors to younger students. These mentors help to teach their younger mentees ideas and concepts that are slightly more advanced, and are able to answer any questions that their mentees may have. Mentorship learning is beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee, as both parties involved gain valuable skills by collaborating with one another. Older students are able to reinforce their own knowledge base by teaching the younger students, and the younger students benefit from having a mentor who is always available to help them.

Effects on Development

As children pass through the planes of development, they begin to develop certain attributes and needs according to their age group. Since children are grouped in classrooms based on their plane of development in order to maximize each child’s learning, each period of transformation is taken into consideration in the Montessori method. Since children stay with the same teacher throughout their three-year cycle, they gain more understanding and the teacher is able to tailor their education method based on each child’s individual needs.

Being able to interact with other children, either younger or older, helps a child to develop the social skills necessary for future successes. Many times, younger children are intimidated by older children, simply because they have never interacted with them before. In Montessori classrooms, students of different ages interact with each other on a daily basis, so younger children become more comfortable playing and learning with older children. Additionally, by being around children of different ages, a child is exposed to many different levels of all subjects at all times. This creates a constant cognitive stimulation that sparks a great and more organic interest in learning.

Our Mission                                                                                        

At Silverline Montessori, we designed our multi-age classrooms to help all of our students develop confidence in their abilities, leadership skills, and a deep love of learning. Children learn how to get along with others and resolve conflicts peacefully in our classrooms. They also learn the importance of kindness towards others, sharing learning materials, and providing assistance when another student needs help. All of these are valuable skills that will last your child a lifetime.

Learning Through Nature: The Montessori Philosophy

Nature helps to drive the forces of curiosity and exploration within a child, while offering rich sensorial experiences as well. This is why nature is a vital part of the Montessori learning method. A Montessori education focuses on a deep connection between child development and nature. Children in Montessori schools learn to appreciate the environment and enjoy all that is has to offer.

What is the Montessori Philosophy?

The pioneer of the Montessori method is Dr. Maria Montessori. She believed that the outdoor environment was an extension of the indoor classroom, because nature provides endless opportunities for experiential learning. She wrote in The Absorbent Mind, “Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur.”

The Montessori Philosophy emphasizes immersion in nature in order to assist in the development of the whole child. Spending time in nature promotes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development in every child.

Montessori parents and guides can help children become young naturalists by allowing them to spend more time interacting with their outdoor environment. Forming a connection with nature early-on helps children become more environmentally responsible, and this viewpoint extends from childhood into adulthood.

Cosmic Education

Dr. Montessori made it a point to emphasize the interconnectedness of humanity and nature. “The land is where our roots are,” she wrote. “The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Cosmic education is the belief that children should understand that they are a part of a greater universe. By allowing them to spend time in nature, they are able to better understand this concept. “When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.”

Applying Cosmic Education at Home

As a Montessori parent, there are several ways that you can teach your child more about cosmic education at home. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go on natures walks with your child in or around the woods or beach (depending on where you live)
  • Take your child to a botanical garden or zoo
  • Encourage your child to start a nature journal and take pictures of anything that catches their interest

By participating in activities such as these, your child will become more connected to their natural environment and begin to understand their role in the universe.

What is Virtue Education?

The primary focus of a Montessori education is on the development of the whole child. The Montessori method focuses on educating the human potential of each child in a classroom, with an emphasis on character education. We believe that character education is the key to helping every child unlock their own individual potential. Virtue education helps each child understand concepts such as morality and discriminating between good and evil.

What is a Virtue?

A virtue is a universal behavior that is recognized by people of many different cultures. Virtues are necessary for every child’s happiness and well-being, and once they are learned, a child will follow them for life.

We make sure that all of our students learn the following virtues:

Kindness, patience, hard work, confidence, independence, honesty, responsibility, creativity, wisdom, perseverance, compassion, respectfulness, self-sufficiency, courage, helpfulness, grace, courtesy, joyfulness, sociability, humility, curiosity, and gratitude and service.

Virtues such as these help to build a child’s character and inspire those around them to become better people as well.

Developing Virtues

In Dr. Maria Montessori’s book, The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Montessori wrote, “She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.”

To develop these virtues in our students, we expose them to various experiences and stories that model each virtue and help them to understand how important each one is. Since our teachers are role models to our students, our teachers display these virtues everyday in order to reinforce them. Additionally, there is an emphasis on positive activities in order to prevent any negative character traits from forming in our students. For instance, bad habits such as disorganization and laziness will be quickly replaced by better habits, such as hard work or self-sufficiency.

Developing virtues helps a child to feel that they are leading a more purposeful life. In our classrooms, children participate in practical life activities in order to learn virtues such as service and helpfulness. Some examples of practical life activities that we use are teaching children to care for their environment and collaboration between students, allowing an older student to help a younger student.

Reinforcing Virtues at Home

Montessori parents understand that learning doesn’t start and finish in the classroom. Children are constantly learning new things at all times, so each child’s learning experiences at school should be cohesive with their experiences at home. A good way to form this cohesion is through strong communication with your child’s teacher. It is essential for a parent to know when each virtue is being taught in the classroom. For example, if your child’s teacher communicates that honesty will be the virtue of the week, you could begin incorporating honesty practice at home simultaneously.

A good way to practice a virtue such as honesty is to use role play. Tell your child about a situation that they can easily understand and give them several options of choices they could make if they were put in that situation. Provide some choices that emphasize honesty more than other choices. Explain the possible benefits and consequences of each choice to your child and allow them to select the one that they believe is the best. In addition, explain to them why it is important to be honest in all situations, especially at home and in school.

Montessori vs. Daycare

When considering different child care methods for your child, Montessori preschools and traditional daycares are two popular options. While individual classrooms can be different, even in the same educational system, there are several major differences between the Montessori method and a more traditional daycare method.

Age:

Children normally stay in a traditional daycare system until they are five years old and are then allowed to begin kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers focus on helping students learn necessary concepts such as reading, writing, and mathematics. Montessori children normally start their education at around three years old, giving them an additional two years to learn the necessary concepts that they will need to master in order to be successful in their future educational careers. Additionally, children in a Montessori school will normally have the same teacher for multiple years, allowing them to form a connection with their teacher. The teacher, in return, learns each child’s individual needs, allowing them to create an individualized teaching plan for every child in their classroom.

Flexible Activities:

In a traditional daycare, structure is an important part of the daily routine. Teachers determine what activities the children in their classroom do, and all children do the same activity. The Montessori method focuses on flexibility based on each child’s unique needs. This gives children the freedom to advance at their own pace, work with other children, and learn through activities that they enjoy. If a child finds an activity that they love, they have the option of working on their activity for a longer period of time. This also allows children to fully understand a topic because they are learning at the pace most beneficial to them.

The Whole Child:

A daycare’s focus is on introducing important educational topics and entertaining children while their parents are working. The goal of a Montessori school is to develop the “whole” child, or a well-rounded and successful child with a deep love of learning. Children at Montessori schools learn to develop important social skills by collaborating with others in the classroom and learning life habits early-on. Older students are able to mentor younger students, which teaches them skills such as leadership, cooperation, and kindness.

Freedom:

In a traditional daycare, classrooms need instructor-directed discipline in order to function. Montessori classrooms, on the other hand, allow children to move around the classroom freely, giving them the opportunity to explore and learn through various activities. The stimulating environment of a Montessori classroom and the fact that children are free to explore helps children to develop a deep love of learning as they progress through their educational career. Instead of memorizing facts and concepts, students learn from their environment.

As they grow and mature, each child’s unique educational experiences and styles of learning will help to shape them. If you like the concepts of a Montessori education, enrolling your child in a Montessori school will no doubt be beneficial for their development and their future.