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How is testing used in a Montessori classroom? March 31, 2015

Filed under: Child Development,Montessori education — bevfollowsthechild @ 11:03 pm
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Students in a Montessori elementary classroom are expected to show mastery of the material which has been presented. This is a cue for both teacher and student that it is time to move on to new material. For example, a student has been independently working on learning the names of states of the USA. He or she has been learning and practicing the names of the states by region. The student will demonstrate mastery in various ways, such as verbally naming the states as he points to each puzzle piece in a puzzle map of  the USA. Another student may want to show mastery of skip counting by twos by showing the teacher how he or she can count by two . . . 2 4 6 8 10, etc.

These are just two examples of many opportunities that our students have to show what they know. This is our major way of testing. The time and means of testing are often in the hands of our students.

However, we also realize that state and nationally normed tests are a part of our current educational landscape. By third grade, we will expose our students to such tests, in preparation for future tests they might take. In preparation, we will teach test taking skills, such as evaluating choices in multiple- choice test formats. Developing problem solving skills is a major part of our elementary curriculum that indirectly prepares students for tests, but more importantly, directly prepares our students for life..


How is homework handled in a Montessori elementary program?

Filed under: ; homework,Montessori education,Reading — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:17 pm
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What about homework? At our school, like many Montessori elementary programs, homework is rarely or never assigned. Our philosophy is that our children do their best work all day, from 8:30 to 3:30, and that after school is time that is precious family time. Children need time to relax, daydream, imagine, read, hang out with siblings and friends, play in the back yard . . . They need time to participate in their favorite enrichment activities, such as sports, gymnastics, dance, theatre, music . . .

We do encourage our students to take home books to read to and with family members. Reading together is a wonderful activity that not only helps develop the child’s literacy skills, but also a love of literature.

Sometimes children do request being able to take home work to complete, or independently do research at home about a topic that interests them. That is so different from being assigned homework.

That is what I am doing here. I worked hard all day, but this topic interests me enough to think about it and write about it at home, in my free time. That’s part of the Montessori difference ~ dedication, choice, following topics that interest you.


Three Favorite Things March 19, 2015

Filed under: Child Development,Montessori education,Reading — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:56 pm

DSCN4797My current three favorite things for today:

  • Spontaneously being gifted two pieces of art work
  • Hearing, “Ms. Bev, you are my best friend.”
  • Watching a child take off with skip counting through the bead chains. She was so ready for this work!

Lately, I have been asking the children to tell me their current three favorite things at Montessori. Then I pass this information on to the parents – in either a note or an email. This is my second month to complete this activity and I am noticing some trends.

  • For three year olds, whatever they are doing at that very moment is likely to feature in their list of three favorite things. They live in the moment.
  • The children’s personalities and learning styles come shining through. For some children their favorite things include helping others, playing with friends, eating snack, making people feel better . . . This suggests to me that these children are the social learners. Other children may have very specific favorite works ~ golden beads for addition, the pink tower, metal insets.
  • The older children in Maple room (kindergarten and first grade) tend to choose favorite curriculum areas – cultural, math, language.
  • Bob books are favorites in Aspen, Willow and Maple rooms. Reading books to a teacher is a top favorite. Our reading program is going well.
  • wedgitsThe wedgit building materials are also a big hit in the Oak, Willow and Aspen rooms.

Transitions and change March 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 10:44 pm

Transitions and Change

We all cope with transitions and change in our own ways. Some of us are very flexible, while others prefer routine. We even differ in our ability to cope with change at different times of our life, even different times of the day. In my home, for example, we are set in our way when it comes to breakfast. My husband has eaten the same brand of cereal for longer than I have known him, and that’s about 37 years! He even eats his breakfast in the same order each day – orange juice, cereal with milk, followed by two mugs of black tea, with milk added after the tea! For me, breakfast is the quiet time of my day. I prefer to read the newspaper rather than talk. However, dinner is looser ~ more choice, and eaten any time between about 6:00 and 10:00, with lots of talk.

One thing I have noticed at our school is that sometimes the thought of change is worse than the actual change. When the change occurs, we all settle down and make the best of it. It’s a little like waiting at an airport, and dreading the moment when you have to say goodbye. That’s the worst part. Once you’ve said the goodbyes and given the hugs, and gone though the security check, you are busy with finding your gate and preparing for your journey.

That’s how I feel about the two women who have recently begun their maternity leave. I miss you every day, but I am also excited for you, for the joys and challenges you will face in the next part of your journey through life. Now one of you is already a Mom, and the other will deliver her baby girl within the next few weeks. How exciting! That is change in action!

But what of the children? Preparing and learning to cope and make the best of change is a life skill I hope all of our students will learn. We prepare them for change, acknowledge and talk about it. We support them through the changes. We also prepare our new staff, whenever possible, by allowing a long overlap with the staff member who is leaving. The new staff member has time to observe, job shadow, ask questions, learn the routine, get familiar and comfortable with the environment, the routine and the children and parents. This is a gift that the staff member who is leaving gives to the new staff member.

I also would like to give a big shout out to the Montessori environment and routine. When all else changes, the environment and the routine remain the same. This similarity also supports children who move from one area to another, and from one Montessori school to another. In most cases, the similarities outweigh the differences.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge our parents. This year I have been so impressed with our parents’ planning for change within their own routines, and their coordinating with the school to make changes such as going from a half day to an all day schedule as gradual and easy as possible.

Soon, we will be preparing students (and their parents!) for transitions from one environment to the next ~ from our toddler program to the 3 – 6 environment, and from the 3 – 6 environment to our elementary program, and from Montessori into the local public school and riding the school bus . . . You can help yourself, as a parent, to prepare for change by observing the new environment, and meeting, if possible, your child’s new teachers.