Montessori Schools of Fremont

Providing premium Montessori education since 1974

Preschool Behavior Strategies — March 7, 2018

Preschool Behavior Strategies

From her earliest research, Maria Montessori worked to bring order into disorder, and sought to educate the unteachable. She recognized many behavioral problems in young children as being a lack of purpose or the freedom to make choices. She looked at behavioral issues as symptoms rather than problems, and she worked to treat the underlying cause, which was often boredom or frustration. For Maria Montessori, gaining the attention and enthusiasm of the child was the first step in managing behavior problems.

Providing Choice and Options

A large percentage of behavior issues stem from boredom or misunderstanding. In the Montessori classroom, every step has been taken to eliminate boredom by offering a wide variety of activities and interactions. Where a traditional classroom offers only one option for all students, the Montessori classroom offers multiple options for all students, expressly because of the importance of keeping children involved and interested.

Montessori and Conflict Resolution

In a Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to practice conflict resolution. Rather than an adult moderator, children are taught how to examine the situation and look for alternative solutions which avoid direct conflict. The role of the student guide is not to intervene in a dictatorial fashion, but to offer possible ways the conflict could be resolved without adult intervention. The concept, repeated in various ways throughout the Montessori Method, is to provide children with the necessary problem solving skills and tools they need. This is not done to take responsibility away from the adults in the vicinity, but to build responsibility in the participants themselves.

Guidance Over Directives

Encouraging children to solve conflicts themselves helps them learn to apply logic and reason. Instead of the adult commanding a swift resolution, children are presented with possible ways the problem can be solved, and children are encouraged to work out an optimum solution. This instills a sense of both personal responsibility and freedom, as well instilling children with the idea that they can solve their own problems without outside interference.

Encouraging Positive Behavior

All too often, children are presented with criticisms of their behavior. A better idea is to influence behavior with positive, friendly information. Teaching young children to be more accepting and less expecting of others is a practice that will carry over into other activities. Positive thinking and a constructive approach to conflict provides the tools of diplomacy, which children can be encouraged to apply to all facets of life, not just personal conflicts.

There is no single strategy to solve all behavioral problems. Instead, supervising adults should be prepared to look at the options available, and then guide the children towards a change in behavior that is neither disruptive to the class nor authoritarian to the child. There will still be times when an adult has to take action, but the ultimate goal is to teach the children how to resolve conflicts themselves.  The teachers and staff at Mission Valley Montessori encourage positive behavior and positive interactions among students.  To see if Montessori education is a good fit for your child, contact us today and schedule a tour.

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Preschool Valentine Crafts — February 12, 2018

Preschool Valentine Crafts

Preschool is a great time to get into crafting because kids start focusing better and developing important motor skills like folding, sorting, and drawing straight lines. This Valentine’s Day, take advantage of the season and create some fun, festive crafting opportunities for your preschooler. Here are a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day crafts for little hands:

Wreath of Rainbow Hearts

Cutting, folding, taping, and stapling are the only skills required to make this colorful wreath of hearts, and a parent or teacher can take care of the first and last steps to make it a preschool-safe activity. The end result will be a wreath of hearts in any size or combination of colors – it’s all up to your child to get creative.

To start, grab scissors, clear tape, a mini-stapler, and a stack of construction paper or cardstock paper in various colors. Then fold each piece of paper, cut it horizontally into one-inch strips, and have your child follow these steps:

  • Grab a few handfuls of colorful strips (as many or as few as they want)
  • Form one strip into the shape of a heart (folding in both ends until they meet)
  • Tape the strip together (place a piece of tape around the ends, giving the heart its curves)
  • Repeat for the rest of the strips
  • Arrange all the hearts into a circle, with the bottom tips pointing toward each other in the shape of a wreath

After the hearts are ready to become a wreath, use your mini-stapler to attach each strip to the one next to it.

Colorful Heart Suncatcher

Another colorful, heart-shaped craft with room for creativity, the tissue paper suncatcher is also a great opportunity to learn about sunlight and shadows. This craft can be red and pink or every color of the rainbow, heart-shaped, or circular. As you gather your supplies, make sure you give your child freedom to choose.

All you need is some contact paper, a stack of tissue paper in different colors, some scissors and tape, and a permanent marker. Start by cutting the tissue paper into tiny squares, placing them into different piles or bowls according to color. Then follow these steps with your child:

  • Choose a shape (heart, tree, circle, etc.), then draw the outline right on the back of the contact paper
  • Peel off the top sheet and tape the corners of your contact paper (sticky side up!) on a table or window
  • Let your child grab all their favorite colors and stick the squares onto the paper

After the adhesive paper is covered with colorful squares, cut out the shape by following your outline on the back. Now you have a colorful heart (or triangle, circle, etc.) that casts colorful shadows on the floor when you hang it in a window.

At Day Star Montessori, we understand how important it is to fill a child’s day with enriching and stimulating activities like hands-on crafts. Contact us to learn more about our educational opportunities for preschoolers.

George Washington: Learning about our First President — February 11, 2018

George Washington: Learning about our First President

George Washington was a very important man. His birthday is honored in February, and this is a good time to learn more about the first President of our country. Already surrounded in legend, we owe it to our nation’s heritage to keep Washington’s legacy alive and remind each new generation what the man stood for.

The Declaration of Independence

Although he agreed with the Declaration of Independence, George Washington did not sign it. He did attend both the First and Second Congressional Congresses – the 2nd dressed in military uniform. On July 4, 1776, George Washington was in New York serving as a general in the brand new army and had been appointed the country’s very first Commander-in-Chief. While the Declaration of Independence was being signed, George Washington was preparing the revolutionary militia for the upcoming war with Britain.

Creating the Presidency

It was up to George Washington to figure out how our Presidency would work. As the First President, he only had the guidelines of the Constitution to go by and only limited previous experience. From the beginning, he chose to make the role one of dignity and able to stand as an equal to kings from other nations. At first, he didn’t even know how many people he would need to assist him in his duties or how to interact with Congress.

The President’s Home

One disadvantage with being the First President was that the White House had not been built yet. Instead, Washington lived in 3 different homes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during his presidency, upgrading each time to provide more room for family, servants, co-workers, and diplomatic meetings. John Adams lived there after Washington, while Washington, DC was established and the White House was being built.

George Washington as President

For George Washington, being President meant creating the role. It was up to him to determine how a President should act, what kind of powers he should use, and how he should stay in touch with the people he served. Before then, the people had not had a voice in their government and the whole process had to be developed and accounted for, even figuring out how government employees should be paid and where that money would come from.

George Washington as a Legend

Because George Washington tried to make the right decisions for people, he became associated with honesty and virtue. To describe his honesty, someone made up a story about a cutting down a cherry tree. A parable, the story uses an imagined wrong in order to describe the correct way someone should respond. And even though the story itself is make believe, George Washington and the Cherry Tree is a popular way to describe our First President.

Older children might enjoy stories like crossing the Potomac or outwitting the British forces, and those stories are part of George Washington’s legacy as well. He was, indeed, a very special man, and what he set in motion for our country should never be forgotten.

At Mission Valley Montessori, our teachers are always using history to teach students about the past and how it affects our present and future.  With George Washington’s birthday coming up, it’s a great time to teach preschoolers about our First President.  To learn how we use the Montessori Method to teach our students, contact us today to schedule a tour.

Preschool Craft: Making a Kaleidoscope — January 15, 2018

Preschool Craft: Making a Kaleidoscope

A kaleidoscope is a wonderful way to enjoy learning about the properties of light and vision. Preschoolers will require assistance on some steps, but should be allowed to do as much as they wish. To speed up the process, an adult can make all necessary cuts and the inner lens ahead of time. Allow appropriate drying time for glue steps.

Tools and Materials

Scissors Aluminum foil
Hammer and nail Clear freezer bag
Pencil or cotton swab Construction paper (2 sheets 8 ½ x 11)
Clear craft glue Glitter and shapes (stars, circles, etc)
Washable markers or paints Tissue or crepe paper (multiple colors)
Round chip container w/ clear Lid (Pringles)

Make the Tube

  • Using the hammer and nail, make a view hole in the bottom center of the container.
  • Glue aluminum foil to one sheet of construction paper. Trim foil to fit.
  • Roll the long side of the paper with the foil side facing inward.
  • Slip the rolled paper inside the chip container until it touches the bottom of the container.
  • The paper should unfurl to fit snugly. Glue in place, if necessary.
  • Create a “shelf” by placing a thin ring of glue around the upper edge of the construction paper.
  • Allow glue to dry. Repeat, if necessary, to achieve a noticeable ridge.
  • Decorate remaining sheet of construction paper with markers or paints.
  • Lines of glue can be added and sprinkled with glitter.
  • With the decorated side out, wrap the container with the paper.
  • Apply glue along the container-facing edge of the paper to secure it in place.
  • The container is slightly longer. Color the exposed portion with a marker, if desired.

Make the Inner Lens

  • Place one end of the tube on top of the clear freezer bag.
  • Create the outline of a circle by tracing around the outside of the tube with a marker.
  • Cut along the circular line, through both sides of the bag, creating 2 circular pieces.
  • Place a ring of glue around the outer edge of one plastic circle.
  • Lightly sprinkle glitter and shapes inside the ring of glue. Too many pieces will obstruct vision.
  • Place the second plastic circle over the first, pressing down to seal.

Make the Outer Lens

  • Cut or tear several small shapes out of the different colors of tissue paper.
  • Cover the outside of the container lid with a thin layer of glue.
  • Arrange the shapes on the glue, covering around ¾ of the lid surface.

Final Assembly

  • Put another line of glue inside the container on top of the “shelf.”
  • Carefully place the inner lens into the container so that it contacts the wet glue.
  • Use a pencil or cotton swab to press it gently into place.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Place the lid on the container.

That’s it! To use, point the kaleidoscope toward a bright light and turn the lid while looking through the view hole.  Montessori education embraces each child and their unique and creative spirits.  The teachers at Day Star Montessori allow students to work at their own pace and a promote a positive and collaborative learning environment.  To schedule a tour of our school, give us call today!

Benefits to using Storytelling to Teach your Preschooler —

Benefits to using Storytelling to Teach your Preschooler

Storytelling has been an important instructional tool since before the invention of writing. In many cultures, histories and life lessons are still verbally handed down from one generation to the next. The benefits of storytelling for preschoolers are many, including some aspects you may not have previously considered.

Because “You” Matter

Storytelling can be enhanced using using general pronouns such as “you,” “I,” or “we.” These pronouns encourage the listener to imagine themselves as part of the story. Fostering a sense of belonging is a major tool used to get people of all ages involved, invoking a sense of personal identification. If you say, “I am going to tell you a story,” and then continue using the 2nd person voice, the listener identifies more personally with the story you have to tell.

Storytelling as a Social Mechanism

We all have our stories to tell, and there have been volumes written about the importance of voicing your feelings, reservations, and experiences. Storytelling helps relieve stress for the storyteller, and promotes a better understanding of others in the listener. Just as importantly, telling a story gives a child a sense of importance, knowing that they have become the focus of attention. For example, every child has a story about losing their first tooth, but the experience will be slightly different for each individual.

Storytelling Shares Experience

Not all stories have to be personal in nature to accomplish an educational goal, including the use of parables to teach common lessons. The telling of the story defines an experience or perspective. It provides the preschool student with a means of committing information to memory in an easily relatable way. By listening to the story, comprehension is emphasized, especially when the story is accompanied by visual cues such as artwork or tangible objects.

Storytelling Builds Community

Learning to function as part of a larger group is an important step in education. Storytelling assists children with that lesson. When you tell a story to the whole classroom, you can invite the class to ask questions, act out the story as it progresses, or become personally invested in other ways. The end result is that kids learn something together, but each in their individual ways.

Working Together to Tell a Story

Another aspect of storytelling is when storytelling is used for group interaction. There are many ways to have group storytelling sessions, including taking turns adding to a story, or asking each student tell a short story based on a single item or image. No one knows exactly where the story is going to end up until it has completed, but the whole class gets to participate in making it happen.

Storytelling is as old as language and was once the sole method of passing information on from one person to another. For preschool children who are still learning the art of communication, it is as vitally important today as it has ever been.  Montessori education uses a creative approach to teaching children and encourages students to tell their own stories.  Teachers at Mission Valley Montessori serve as guides as children navigate through different learning opportunities.  Contact us today to hear our story!

Five Holiday Books to Read this Month — December 20, 2017

Five Holiday Books to Read this Month

What new adventures will your kids have this winter? As long as they have books, they could find themselves anywhere from a snowy forest to a magical train bound for the North Pole. Every season is full of new reasons to crack open a book, but the end of the year inspires some of the most heartwarming and memorable children’s literature. Here are five of our favorite recommendations for little readers this winter.

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg

Families come in many sizes, colors, and faiths, and this holiday tale is a celebration of the spice of modern life. The stars are a brother and sister who share an Indian mom, a Jewish dad, and a home full of blended cuisines and cultures. Join them in their hectic but heartwarming Hanukkah preparations, which spread out across multiple pages as the pile of pots and pans gets bigger.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Frosty isn’t the only famous snowman who came to life and befriended his creator! Overseas, The Snowman is known for the British cartoon it inspired, but this illustrated book about a real live snowman is still a timeless tale that stands on its own as a classic choice for kids. Precious illustrations accompany a sweet story about outdoor playtime and scientific phenomena (from the Northern Lights to motorcycle parts that melt snowman thighs). There’s even an appearance from Father Christmas himself.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

An award-winning book about a cold winter night, Owl Moon just might inspire some vivid, beautiful dreams if enjoyed before bedtime. The main character is a little girl who takes off into the snowy, silent woods with her dad in pursuit of a mysterious owl. The language itself is as beautiful as the snowy illustrations by John Schoenherr, who captures the father-daughter hike in vivid detail. At its heart, this is a story about the special connections we share with each other and with nature.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

This holiday classic is popular for a reason. Join a little boy on a train ride to the North Pole, where he gets the very first gift of Christmas and learns about the magic of childhood too. While the fantastical train is the star of this book, the message is about the wide-eyed curiosity of children, and how important it is to nurture their faith in the unbelievable.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

If your kids love animals, they’ll love spending the holidays with this sweet family of illustrated llamas. Anna Dewdney’s story teaches the virtue of patience in a fun, festive way, as little Llama Llama endures all the build-up to the Big Day before realizing he’s been celebrating all along. Holiday festivities are a wonderful break from our everyday routines, but this book helps kids appreciate the little moments with their loved ones too.

The teachers and staff at Mission Valley Montessori invite children to explore and learn through reading.  Using the Montessori Method, we teach students to work at their own pace while working with older students to guide them along in their academic journeys.  Contact us today to learn more about our fun educational opportunities for young minds.

Importance of Setting a Sleep Routine for your Child and How it Effects their Learning — December 17, 2017

Importance of Setting a Sleep Routine for your Child and How it Effects their Learning

Research demonstrated the importance of sleep on education decades ago, and the link between a rested child and their overall performance at school continues to be confirmed today. A lack of sleep, or just not resting while they sleep, effects everything from how well your child will perform during the day, but also how well he will be able to retain lessons, or simply behave in the classroom.

How Much Sleep is Enough?

There is an ongoing discussion regarding the amount of sleep children need. Children require different amounts of sleep as they get older, and factors such as activity level and napping will also have an effect. The most widely accepted sleep requirements for children are:

  • Toddlers – 9 to 10 hours at night, plus 2-3 hours of naps
  • Elementary and Middle School – 9 to 11 hours nightly
  • Mid-teens through Adulthood – 7 to 8 hours a night

Memory Processes and Consolidation

There are 3 major processes involved in committing information to memory: Acquisition, or when new information is made available is the first. The second is consolidation, or storing the information in memory. Finally, recall is the process of retrieving stored information. It is widely accepted that all three of these processes work best when the child is well-rested, while the consolidation of information into the brain is mainly done during the REM period of sleep itself. A lack of sleep may cause information to be retrieved incorrectly or mixed up with other memories, resulting in confusion or uncertainty.

Creativity and Abstract Thinking

Sleep is important to communication skills such as verbal creativity or understanding abstract concepts. Symptoms of insufficient sleep may include a reduced vocabulary or difficulty in perceiving the connection between events. A well-rested child is more aware of what goes on around them and how they fit into a given situation.

Sleep Affects Mood and Performance

The behavioral effects of insufficient sleep are plentiful. Moodiness or aggressiveness have been connected to lack of sleep, for example. Other symptoms can include impulsive behavior, a short temper, or even becoming easily frustrated with projects that normally do not pose a difficulty.

Reinforcing Scheduled Sleep Patterns

Parents can help their children sleep better by sticking to a moderately rigid sleep schedule. They can also follow a few simple sleep tips, such as a wind-down period before bedtime, removing or turning off lights and electronic devices, and allowing children to fall asleep naturally. Similarly, if your child seems to be tossing and turning a lot during sleep, they may not be resting even though they are sleeping, and the solution could be as simple as sleeping on a different mattress.

While all of the benefits of a good night’s sleep are still not fully understood, the fact that our brain uses the sleep period to perform maintenance and upkeep has been understood for years. When children fail to get enough rest, it becomes apparent in all aspects of their waking life, affecting everything from appetite to vocabulary.

Particularly during middle school years, it is imperative that your child get adequate sleep.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa campus, we are working to prepare our middle schoolers for the transition to high school, which can be a great change.  To learn about other ways we prepare our students to be successful for high school and beyond, contact us today.