Montessori Schools of Fremont

Providing premium Montessori education since 1974

Importance of Play-Based Learning — November 19, 2017

Importance of Play-Based Learning

It is becoming more and more common for traditional education programs to put more focus on academic, instructed learning. At the same time, research is adding up which says that play is an important part of early education. In the Montessori classroom, play-based learning has always been important, viewing child-centered activities as a vital component in early childhood development. In addition to accelerating learning, play-based activities offer children benefits which go beyond the traditional classroom and embrace a more well-rounded development program.

Motor Control and Play

Physical activity is critical for early development. During play, children are also learning hand-eye coordination, muscle control, and building physical stamina. But it is also important to note that play does not mean wasted time, as the Montessori environment makes it possible for the play of children to be equally educational. For preschoolers, the benefits include building fine motor skills and coordination.

Learning Cognitive Skills

Many childhood games, including such common activities as playing with blocks of different colors and shapes also help children learn important problem solving skills. Encouraging the use of logic and information processing can be tedious in the purely instructional classroom, but Montessori combines the lessons with play, and that helps with both retention and enthusiasm for the children.

Play, Creativity, and Curiosity

Play-based learning encourages children to be inquisitive, such as asking questions in order to solve problems. By playing with appropriate objects or games, children make education fun, and learn important processes of deduction and comparison, along with the basic skills of math, shape recognition, and even reading. The idea of play-based learning is fundamental to Montessori learning, where everything in the classroom is geared towards the child, and focuses on helping the child remain focused and engaged.

Exercise and Education

There are also studies which show a direct link between physical exercise and mental performance. Laughing and playing and moving about stimulates blood flow and creates endorphins which stimulate the mind. Play-based learning is also helpful in keeping a child’s attention, which means that the child is more likely to learn because they are interested in what they are doing.

Combining Education and Development

The concept of play-based learning is not new. Before the development of standardized educational programs, children were gathered in small, mixed-age groups, and learned how to solve problems, read, calculate and more, all while playing. This was a basic observation by Maria Montessori, including mixed-ages in the classroom and play-based education. With the natural order of things as her guide, she developed the Montessori method, incorporating natural methods from daily living into a structured learning program.

To put all of this together, play-based learning benefits children’s mental, physical, and emotional health. It fosters an interest in learning, and teaches children all manners of important life skills. Despite a disturbing move away from play-based learning in traditional schools, a growing body of research points towards it as an excellent educational and developmental tool.

Learning through play and hands-on activities are key components of the Montessori Method.  This type of learning is incorporated into the daily curriculum at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus.  Visit our school today to see the difference between Montessori learning and traditional learning firsthand. 

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Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving —

Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving

Many children think of Thanksgiving as a break from school when they get to eat a lot of awesome foods. They realize it is a time for aunts, uncles, and grandparents to share one big dinner, but there’s more that they can learn about sharing. Thanksgiving is not only about inviting others over for fantastic foods; it’s also about gratitude, community, and having compassion for others. This holiday is a great time to begin teaching your child what true ‘Thanksgiving’ means.

Teaching your Child about Thanksgiving

There are a lot of great Thanksgiving-themed activities to engage in with your child. Lessons that can help your child understand kindness, generosity, and gratitude all while enjoying time with you. Plan to spend some time with your child this holiday season with some of Montessori’s favorite Thanksgiving-inspired activities and help them understand the meaning behind the celebration. This bracelet is one activity to cover many meanings.

Story Re-Telling Bracelet

The story re-telling bracelet can be used to help your child understand the first Thanksgiving. Begin with a pipe cleaner that has been bent up on one end so the beads will stay on. Take a variety of beads and place them in cups your child can easily remove them from. The different colors represent a different part of that first meal. The brown bead represents how the pilgrims left England to gain religious freedom. The white bead will tell how they sailed aboard the Mayflower. Use three blue beads to describe the long journey across the ocean. A green bead represents the pilgrims finding land. Use three white beads together for all the snow they had to endure that first year. A light green bead will tell about spring coming. Another brown bead will represent the pilgrims meeting their friend Squanto, and the last four beads will tell about the foods they ate. The food beads will be red for cranberries, the yellow for the corn shared, brown for the turkey that was served, and orange for the pumpkins.

As your child is placing these beads on the pipe cleaner, you will tell the story behind each color to demonstrate how the pilgrims shared back then and compare to your own family’s sharing. Kindness can be learned from Squanto’s actions and how he helped as compared to how your child helps his or her friends. There is a wealth of teaching opportunities with the bracelet and showing them about the meaning behind Thanksgiving. It will also reinforce your child’s knowledge of colors and help with motor skills as they place the beads onto the pipe cleaner.

Day Star Montessori believes in community and allowing your child to learn through hands-on prepared learning environments. It is an approach to education that promotes the development of your whole child – physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Contact us today to learn how your child can begin an education in a supportive environment that will ignite their eagerness for knowledge.

Helping your Child learn to Read —

Helping your Child learn to Read

Watching your child discover the joys of reading is an unforgettable experience. Seeing their eyes light up as they turn each page makes you realize how much they’ve learned in such a short amount of time. And as they continue to grow, they will use this all-important skill to navigate their way through each step of life.

However, teaching children how to read isn’t as easy as it sounds. This is especially true nowadays considering the overwhelming amount of information that is out there on this subject, with each one telling you something different than the last.

The truth is, helping your children learn how to read doesn’t require a lot of energy or financial investment – you just need to understand how to awaken their natural love of learning and reading.

Here are some quick tips you can use at home when helping your child learn how to read:

No. 1 – Turn it into a Game

First, it’s important to understand where your child is at in their development so you aren’t giving them lessons too early or too late. But assuming you have a good grasp on that – you can start teaching them how to read by turning it into a game.

You can choose from a variety of reading games – just make sure whichever one you choose incorporates as many sensory experiences as possible. If they can see it, touch it, and hear it, it will help develop sensory-motor skills and other cognitive abilities.

No. 2 – Give Them Structured Freedom

The Montessori approach to learning is to value each child for the individual they are. That’s why it’s so important to allow your child to explore their world on their own terms, while of course keeping a close eye on their progress the whole time.

If you see a particular subject really sparks their interest, focus on that subject moving forward and give them the opportunity and resources they need to follow that interest.

For example, if you notice them talking about animals a lot or if their favorite trip is going to the local zoo, pick up some multi-sensory reading materials about wildlife and domestic pets to encourage them as an individual.

No. 3 – Sandpaper Letters

If your child is enrolled in a Montessori program, chances are they will be using sandpaper letters when learning how to read. But if you’re still unsure about enrolling your child or don’t have the opportunity to, you can use sandpaper letters at home as a fun way to teach them reading skills.

The bottom line is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when teaching children how to read. Taking a unique and individual approach with each child is what allows them to grow and blossom throughout the learning process and into adulthood.  At Mission Valley Montessori, we recognize each child as an individual, and will work with each student at their pace to help them in learning to read.  Contact us today to schedule a meeting with our teachers and take a tour of our school.

Halloween Alternatives: Kid Friendly Options — October 25, 2017

Halloween Alternatives: Kid Friendly Options

Halloween is a fun time a year. Creating non-scary alternatives allow all children to participate without fear or worry of the Halloween materials. Implementing pre-planned, kid-friendly Halloween options provide entertainment and learning experiences for your child to enjoy.

Different Kid-Friendly Halloween Options

Using Halloween themed objects is the best way to implement kid-friendly options into daily learning.

  1. Math Activities

Your child encounters math on a daily basis. Implementing Halloween themed math activities allows your child to learn the basics in a fun, entertaining manner.

  • Use brightly colored spiders or pumpkins for counting math sequence. Encourage your child to place the correct number of objects on the matching card.
  • Place spiders on webs to correspond with basic math problems.
  • Counting pumpkin beads or orange beads onto black pipe cleaners.
  1. Sensory Activities

Focusing on the different senses, sensory activities allow your child to use fine motor skills to enhance muscles in the wrists and hand. Later the muscles will be an integral part of learning to write.

  • Place beans in a tub. Add Halloween themed objects for exploration. Skeletons, spiders, pumpkins, small cups, and scoops allow your child a chance to explore through touch.
  • Set small pumpkins in a tub with a small amount of water. Supply different size cups and clothes. The activity shows your child the different textures of wet and dry, buoyancy, and the love of playing with water.
  • Make homemade slime or play clay with plastic cookie cutters and other child-safe tools. Use bright Halloween colors. Place the material on a tray for containment.
  1. Art Activities

Halloween art activities are endless. Supply your child with different mediums to create. The process increases imagination, critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and socialization. Art is a great medium for expression.

Allow your child to pick an art project – consider creating an art box with various Halloween themed materials.

  • Thread colored straw pieces on a pipe cleaner for a bracelet or necklace.
  • Glue eyes and other materials onto small pumpkin shaped gourds.
  • Stick Halloween colored stickers, yarn pieces, and other art materials on orange plates to create a one of kind pumpkin.
  • Glue colored sand on paper.
  1. Large Motor Skills

Halloween time is part of the autumn. Being outdoors in nature is the best way to enjoy the changing season. Outdoor activities increase large motor skills.

  • Go for a nature walk.
  • Visit a pumpkin patch.
  • Go to a farm.
  1. Books

Find Halloween related books on your child’s reading level. Books do not necessarily need to focus on Halloween. If you notice your child’s interest in the pumpkin patch or farm, place age-appropriate, reading materials out for your child to find. Enhancing your child’s curiosity is the main goal.

Creating Halloween alternatives by implementing different themed projects provides your child with choices. Embracing the opportunity to learn, your child’s natural born curiosity will welcome the educational, fun activities. At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our teachers recognize that not all families celebrate Halloween.  We encourage parents to incorporate other hands-on activities to still allow their children to enjoy the season. Hands-on activities are part of the daily curriculum at our school; contact us today to schedule a tour and see the Montessori Method in action.

Preschool Craft Ideas to try this Fall — October 23, 2017

Preschool Craft Ideas to try this Fall

Fall is a beautiful time of year, and the crisp weather can be a welcome respite after the heat of the summer. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings shorter daylight hours and more indoor days.

If you’re looking for great indoor crafts and activities to do with your preschooler this time of year, here are a few classic projects that will help you bring the season into your home, no matter what the weather is like outside.

  • Leaf prints: Bring nature into the craft room! Go for a walk and collect as many interesting leaves as possible. Look for supple leaves with interesting shapes and textures. Take the leaves home and paint them with tempera paint in autumn colors, then use the painted leaves to stamp prints across a piece of paper.
  • Leaf wreaths: Bring autumn into your home with these pretty decorations. Use a paper plate to form the shape of the wreath by cutting out the center of the plate, leaving just the outer ring. Then have your child glue on “leaves” in fall colors. These could be anything from fake leaves from a craft supply store, to squares of tissue paper or fabric scraps in fall colors.
  • Paper bag pumpkin: For a folksy alternative to pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, try these simple paper bag pumpkins. Stuff a brown paper lunch sack with crinkled newspaper to give it a full shape, then twist the top of the bag and tie it off with twine. The resulting “pumpkin” can be painted orange and the twisted top green. A jack-o-lantern face can be added using black paint or shapes cut from black construction paper.
  • Paper plate spider web: Looking for a craft that’s slightly more spooky? Take a paper plate and use a hole punch to put holes at intervals all around the outer edge of the plate, then tie a long piece of white yarn to one hole. Work the other end of the yarn through a bobby pin, which can be used as a needle or shuttle. Show your preschooler how to lace the yarn back and forth across the plate, weaving in and out to make a web. Don’t forget to add a spider when the web is done!
  • Hand print turkeys: Paint your child’s palm and thumb with brown tempura to make the turkey’s body, neck, and head. Then paint each finger with a different color to make feathers, and have your child leave his hand print on a clean piece of paper. Once the paint dries, the “turkey” can have details like a waddle and feet drawn in with marker. Glue on googly eyes, colorful feathers, and other finishing touches to complete the turkey.

Children love watching the changing seasons and learning about the world around them, and themed crafts like these offer excellent opportunities to explore and celebrate fall. The Montessori method encourages children to be creative and explore on their own, with the guidance of teachers and their older peers.  To see a sampling of the activities our students do, contact the Day Star Montessori School today and schedule a tour.

Teaching your Child about Nature through fun fall Activities — October 4, 2017

Teaching your Child about Nature through fun fall Activities

When summer comes to an end and it begins to get cool outside, it doesn’t mean that it is time to start staying indoors. As long as you and your children dress warm, there are plenty of fun and educational things that you can do outdoors. If you want to teach your child about nature and have fun in the process, there are a few outdoor activities that you should try.

Leaf Prints

Creating leaf prints is a great fall project. Finding the leaves and creating the prints are equally as fun. Start by going outdoors and taking different types of leaves from different types of trees. You should let your children choose the leaves that they love the most. When your children have collected enough leaves, it is time to create the print using air dry clay. When your children press the leaf into the clay, it will create an identical print. Before the clay dries, your children can carve their name into the clay, and they can create a design on the back. The final product will be a keepsake that you can have forever.

Leaf Rubbing

Another fun project for children is leaf rubbing. Before you start the project, head outdoors to collect different types of leaves. The more types of leaves your children collect, the nicer the picture will be. To rub the leaves properly, you will need a thin sheet of paper. Next, put the leaves on the table with the bottom facing up. Give your children a box of crayons and have them color gently on the paper with different colors. This will cause the leaf shape to appear. When your children are done, have them sign and date the back of the page to commemorate the experience.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

A nature scavenger hunt is a fun way to spend the day outdoors. Create a list of things in nature for your child to find. Some good examples of things to look for include:

  • Red leaves
  • Green leaves
  • Yellow leaves
  • Orange leaves
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones
  • A pretty rock
  • A small stick
  • A piece of bark
  • Animal tracks

Each time your children find something on their list, they can check it off. When the scavenger hunt is over, you can reward your child.

Nature Hike With Photos

Taking a nature hike can be a lot of fun and it is a good way to bond with your children. You should take a camera on your hike. If your children spot bugs, trees, leaves, or animals, let them take a picture. After the nature hike, print out the photos and help your children create a photo collage to hang on the wall or a decorated photo book that you will have forever.

As the seasons change, nature changes as well. The activities listed above are fun and educational ways to spend some time with your children outdoors this fall.  At Mission Valley Montessori, learning through nature is incorporated into the Montessori curriculum for all of our students.  We encourage children to explore and learn through the world around them.  To see how we incorporate nature into our teaching, contact us today to schedule a tour.

Special Needs Children and the Montessori Environment — September 29, 2017

Special Needs Children and the Montessori Environment

Montessori education is a different approach to teaching children. It has shown to be successful with all kids, but has a special significance for children who have special needs. From the materials used to the method employed in the classroom, the Montessori environment is innovative and inclusive, putting a focus on children and encouraging them to enjoy learning and classroom activities.

The Origins of Montessori

Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method, began her career working with special needs children and those labeled by the society of the time as handicapped or even unteachable. She discovered that these children, far from being impossible to teach, were able to perform much better when their education was paired with their individual interests. Later, when the first Montessori schools began to open, Maria’s Montessori method became a cornerstone of the educational process, including the arrangement of the classroom, the materials used, and fostering the relationship between children and their instructors.

Classroom Layout and Materials

The Montessori classroom is designed around the children. To begin with, everything is built and arranged to fit child-sized bodies, including the desks and tables, pictures on the walls, and other furniture. Next, interest centers are spaced around classroom, each containing a different assortment of activities and educational tools designed for specific subjects or interests. This allows children to spend more time at learning centers they are comfortable with and slowly move to new and different interests centers as they progress.

Engagement is Crucial

Keeping special needs students involved in a positive and informative way is the critical aspect of the Montessori classroom. With the Montessori method, special needs children are engaged and empowered. They are encouraged to explore ideas and form classroom interactions in ways that traditional classrooms are not prepared for. The result is a child, whether they have special needs or not, that considers himself an important and productive part of the classroom.

Special Needs and Inclusive Environments

Because the prepared Montessori environment provides a consistent framework, it is appealing to children affected by autism and other attention-deficit conditions. It works exceptionally well, for example, with children who are autistic because those children are resistant to – or even rebellious against – change. Montessori allows them to experience regularity in daily activities and gives each child the reassurance that the entire environment is friendly and comfortable.

From classroom design to innovative tools and a child-focused teaching process, Montessori schools have great promise in helping special needs children learn. Even the smaller class sizes mean that educators are able to spend more time with each child, which helps special needs children learn and grow.

The teachers and staff at Day Star Montessori School see each child as their own unique person and are ready to support students of varying abilities.  The Montessori method encourages inclusion and self-guided learning, which works well for children with special needs.  To learn how our school embraces every student, contact us today to schedule a tour.