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Tips for Montessori Educators – Working with Toddlers

Montessori educators working Toddlers

When working with small children, there are highs and lows – for educator and child alike. Sometimes, it can be difficult to ride the waves of emotion, progress, and change. Despite the challenges, working with toddlers is an incredible experience – one that can be just as rewarding for the educator as it is for the child. To help you make the most of your experience as a Montessori educator, read on for some practical, Montessori-inspired tips for working with toddlers.

Keep Them Engaged

Toddlers are high-energy, curious little people who are always looking for something to get into. When a young child is misbehaving, it could be that they need stimulation. You’re well aware that the Montessori classroom is a very child-centered environment with a lot to offer young minds. But, there are some things you can do for children who need a little extra engagement. One tip to try is to create “busy bags” or other activities that are not within reach, so you have something fresh to offer.

Set Simple, Consistent Rules

Toddlers need structure and simple boundaries. Keep rules easy to state and remember, repeating them as often as necessary. Don’t set too many rules, otherwise the child will be overwhelmed. Young children have difficulty with cause and effect, so explaining the details of why the rules are in place might not be the best idea at this age. Instead, use easy to understand phrases to get the idea across. Create a few simple rules, and make sure to consistently enforce them so the child knows what is expected of them.

Teach Story-Time Lessons

One of the best ways to show children how to handle difficult situations is through story. From learning how to share to developing bathroom independence, storytelling is a great way to engage children while teaching them valuable life lessons. Involving the children in the story by talking about it afterward is a great way to fortify the “moral of the story” while growing reading comprehension skills.

Use positive language

One of the greatest challenges Montessori educators face when working with Toddlers is learning to say “no” without actually saying it. Though it’s important to set boundaries, saying “no” too often can lead to an increase in defiant behavior. Instead, try phrases like, “That isn’t for (child’s name),” and “Let’s try this instead.” Redirection is a great way to avoid tantrums while teaching the child what is acceptable and what is not.

Encourage Their Need for Independence

If you’re around toddlers for long, you’re sure to hear phrases like, “I do it myself,” and “that’s mine!” This is completely normal as a child moves from being a completely dependent infant into an independent toddler. Encourage this while helping the child to express themselves in a positive and respectful way. Allow the child to help prepare snacks, clean up around the classroom, and do as much for themselves as possible. Forging independence and a “you can do it” atmosphere is an essential Montessori element, one that toddlers crave.

The Montessori method of education offers great insight into the growing of young minds. With a foundation of individual attention, child-centered learning, independence and social development – your role as a Montessori educator is very important as you learn and grow together!

January 25th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori Education, Tips, Uncategorized

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Our Children and the Importance of Sleep

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As a working Mom, I ask myself; is my child getting enough sleep? Wake up at 7:00, get my son up; all ready; out the door to Montessori school by 9:00 am. Normally; we are home by 6:00pm. After dinner, we play and talk (as least as much as you can with a 4 year old). As a working Mom, I get to spend time with my son in the evening. I must confess; 2 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time, so he goes to bed between 8:30-9:00 pm. As a concerned parent; I decided to do some research on how much sleep a child really needs.

Here is what I found on WebMD

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children#1

AGE AND TOTAL HOURS OF SLEEP NEEDED

1-4 months old: 14-15 hours per day, including naps
4-12 months old: 14 -15 hours per day, including 1 or 2 naps
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours per day, including a nap
3-6 years old: 10-12 hours per day, including a nap

Sleep deprivation can cause behavior-related problems that affect your child’s daily interactions with others. A child’s body and brain need sleep. When their little bodies don’t get enough rest they may feel tired and cranky. They may not be able to think clearly and have a hard time following directions. A school or classroom activity that is normally easy may feel impossible to the child and they may become agitated and disruptive.

Sleep is not only important behaviorally, it is also crucial physically. Researchers agree that if children are sleep deprived, they may not grow and develop fundamentally on task for their age range. You’ve probably had mornings where you’ve sworn your baby got bigger overnight, and you would be right. “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to weakening of the immune system.

You may say, “this is good information; but my child just won’t sleep. My child refuses to sleep when I put him to bed”. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your little ones close their eyes and send them off to dreamland.

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine- Routines are especially important for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Creating a specific routine before bed, such as bath and story time, signals to your child what’s coming next. Knowing what comes next is comforting and relaxing. Before long, your child’s body may automatically start to become sleepy at the beginning of their routine. End the routine with turning the lights down and saying, “goodnight.”
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment- Your child’s room should promote sleeping. It’s best to keep their room dark, quiet, and cool. Some children feel more comfortable with a little light; a nightlight is perfectly acceptable. If they can’t sleep in silence from other parts of the home; use soft soothing music or a fan to create rhythmic, steady sounds.
  • Allow only 2 comfort items- While a stuffed animal may make it easier for your child, too many toys can be considered a distraction.
  • Protect them from their fears- Instead of dismissing bedtime fears, address them. If simple reassurance doesn’t work; try buying a special toy to stand guard at night.
  • TV Time- turn off the TV 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine- The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children not consume caffeine.

Bottom line: Children who are well rested are better prepared to regulate their emotions, think clearly and enjoy their day!

September 20th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorized

Montessori Educators: Are They ‘Teachers’ or ‘Guides’?

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It may take a moment to spot the teachers within the environment.

The Montessori teacher’s role is quite different from the role played by teachers in many schools. They are generally not the center of attention, and they spend little time giving large group lessons. Their role centers around the preparation and organization of appropriate learning materials to meet the needs and interests of each child in the class. Montessori teachers will normally be found working with one or two children at a time, advising, presenting a new lesson, or quietly observing the class at work. The focus is on children learning, not teachers teaching. Children are considered as distinct individuals in terms of their interests, progress and growth, and preferred learning style. The Montessori teacher is a guide, mentor and friend.

Students will typically be found scattered around the classroom, working alone or with one or two others. The children become so involved in their work; visitors tend to be amazed at the peaceful atmosphere.

Montessori teachers goal is to intrigue the children, so they will come back on their own for further work with the materials. Lessons center around the simplest information necessary for the children to do the work on their own: the name of the materials, its place on the shelf, the ground rules for is use, and what can be done with it.

The teachers present the materials and lessons with precision. They demonstrate an initial exploratory procedure; encouraging the children to continue to explore further on their own. These presentations enable children to investigate and work independently. The goal is for the child to become self-disciplined, able to use the materials and manage the classroom without minimal adult intervention.

Children progress at their own pace, moving on to the next step in each area of learning as they are ready. Initial lessons are introductions, after which the children repeat the exercise over many days, weeks, or months until they attain mastery. Interest leads them to explore variations and extensions inherent within the design of the materials at many levels over the years.

Dr. Montessori believed that teachers should focus on each child as a person, not on the daily lesson plan. Montessori teachers are taught to nurture and inspire the human potential, leading children to ask questions, think for themselves, explore, investigate, and discover. Our ultimate objective is to help the child learn how to learn independently, retaining the curiosity, creativity, and intelligence with which they were born. Montessori teachers do not simply present lessons; they are facilitators, mentors, coaches, and guides. To underscore the very different role played by adults in her schools, Dr. Montessori used the title Directress instead of teacher. In Italian, the word implies the role of the coordinator or administrator of an office or factory. Today, many Montessori schools prefer to call their teachers guides.

  1. Montessori teachers are the dynamic link between children and the Prepared Environment.
  2. They observe their students and interpret their needs.
  3. They are constantly experimenting, modifying the environment to meet each child’s needs and interests, and objectively noting the result.
  4. They prepare an environment meant to facilitate children’s independence and ability to freely select work they find appealing; selecting activities that will appeal to their interests and keeping the environment in perfect condition, adding to it and removing materials as needed.
  5. They carefully evaluate the effectiveness of their work and the design of the environment every day.
  6. They observe and evaluate each child’s individual progress.
  7. They respect and protect their students’ independence. They must know when to step in and set limits or lend a helping hand, and when it is in a child’s best interests for them to step back and not interfere.
  8. They are supportive, offering warmth, security, stability, and non-judgmental acceptance to each child.
  9. They facilitate communication among the children and help the children to learn how to communicate their thoughts to adults.
  10. They interpret the children’s progress and their work in the classroom to parents, the school staff, and the community.
  11. They present clear, interesting and relevant lessons to the children. They attempt to engage the child’s interest and focus on the lessons and activities in the environment.
  12. They model desirable behavior for the children, following the ground-rules of the class, exhibiting a sense of calm, consistency, grace and courtesy, and demonstrating respect for every child.
  13. They are peace educators, consistently working to teach courteous behaviors and conflict
  14. They are diagnosticians who can interpret patterns of growth, development, and behavior in order to better understand the children and make necessary referrals and suggestions to parents.

Sources: Tim Seldin- International Montessori Council- Anne Burke Neubert, in A Way Of Learning (1973), listed the following elements in the special role of the Montessori teacher

September 20th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorized

Separation Anxiety Tips for Preschoolers, Toddlers, and Their Parents

sep-anxIt’s the night before your child’s first day of preschool, you have picked out their uniform, undergarments, socks, and shoes. You are getting ready to tuck them in, read them a bed time story and kiss them goodnight. You are going through the motions just like every other night, however tonight you have a knot in your stomach and your mind is going a million miles a second thinking, “I hope my baby doesn’t cry all day,” “I hope I don’t cry,” “I hope they have a good day,” “I hope they make lots of friends,” “I hope their teacher is nice,” and “I hope they know I will come back for them.” These thoughts are perfectly normal and educating yourself and your child will make a world of difference to ease your “parenting” mind.

Separation anxiety is often caused by the fear of the unknown. The first few weeks of a Montessori preschool are always a time of adjustment, not only for the child, but also, for the parents and teachers. Saying “Good-Bye” to your child can be heart wrenching for both of you. Children tend to feed off our anxieties. Try your best to be strong and positive. Montessori teachers and parents have come together to help us “New” Montessori parents out there with a few tips to help ease the transition into preschool for you and your child.

  • Make Your Good-Bye’s Prompt and Positive: As a parent, the best thing you can do is give your child a kiss and hug, say “I Love You” and assure them you will be back to pick them up.
  • Have a Good-Bye Routine: You should try to have a steady routine in the morning. Montessori parents who establish a consistent goodbye routine usually have better luck with successful goodbyes.
  • Make a “Comfort Bag”: A comfort bag consists of a few items from home that will remind your child of home and will offer comfort during anxious times. Some items to include would be family photos, a favorite book, a stuffed animal, a favorite small blanket, etc.
  • Trust Your Child’s Teacher: Montessori Preschool teachers have made it their priority and profession to teach. They love children and have a special place in their heart along with extensive training to help ease your child into the new classroom, as well as creative strategies specifically designed to help children with separation anxiety. It is very important to communicate with your child’s teacher. You can always ask your child’s Montessori teacher to step in to help with goodbye’s when you give them a sign that you are ready to go.
  • Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings: It is so very important to understand and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to be sad when you leave but remind them they will have a GREAT DAY and you will be back soon to hear all about the fun things they did. Learning to cope with sadness is an important learning process for your child.
  • Always Be on Time (My personal favorite): Children tend to become more anxious when being rushed. Giving yourself extra time in the morning will put you, in a calmer state of mind as well as allow your child the ability to mentally establish a routine without chaos, and lessen the chances of separation anxiety. It is also so important to set a pick up time and stick to it. If you are late, it can cause your child even more anxiety which can make the days to come more difficult.

Separation anxiety is a phase, and though it may be the most difficult thing you and your child have to go through, it is perfectly normal and this too shall pass. Good Luck Parents! Try to get a good night’s sleep, because when you pick your child up they will be talking to you all night long about how much they loved their day at their New Montessori Preschool.

August 19th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorized