Montessori Schools of Fremont

Providing premium Montessori education since 1974

What Qualifies an Excellent Montessori School — June 19, 2017

What Qualifies an Excellent Montessori School

Montessori learning is a different approach to education. Instead of rigid changes in subject matter and location throughout the day, children have goals and the freedom to work on projects without fixed timing. The idea is to give students the ability to focus on educational projects. The factors setting an excellent Montessori school apart underscores what a parent should look for.

Montessori Schools: What qualifies them

Professional Recognition

As a matter of course, an excellent Montessori school will have the affiliation and recognition to demonstrate how well it is doing. This includes school and teacher involvement with professional organizations, recognition from national learning centers, and full licensing by government as well as independent educational associations.

Manageable Class Sizes

A Montessori classroom may have students involved in several different subjects at the same time. To prevent this from becoming a free-for-all, class sizes are generally smaller. In turn, this allows the teachers to spend more time with individuals, offering more guidance for children who need help and allowing children who are doing well to proceed at their own speed.

Child-Centered, Result Oriented

The purpose of Montessori education is to provide children with the tools they need to reach well-defined educational goals. Classrooms are laid out with the materials necessary, in an intuitive manner that children can easily grasp. Instead of a focus on every child learning at the same pace as other children, the focus is on each child getting the most benefit out of their own individualized curriculum.

Multi-Aged Grouping

Another example of how a Montessori school excels over other learning centers is the way that classrooms mix age groups. Younger children look up to older students, and working with younger children builds self esteem and teamwork in older kids. This reinforces previous learning for the older kids, and helps them put what they have learned to productive use as they assist others. It also has the added benefit of taking some of the load off teachers, which means they have a little more time to spend with children who need a little extra encouragement.

Teachers as Models and Guides

Most Montessori teachers are “generalist” educators. Rather than specializing in a single field, they have a well-rounded educational background. This is a necessary trait in an excellent school where children remain in the same classroom for large portions of the day. Some fields, including science or languages, will have specialist instructors, but the aim of the teacher is to assist students in learning, not dictate how each child will spend their day. Teachers are at the top of a hierarchy of educational goals, rather than being the supreme leader in a stagnant pond of subject matter.

Montessori education is not like traditional education, and should not be regarded as such. Although students are still required to take the same standardized tests and meet the same minimum objectives, an excellent Montessori school will spend more of each day focused on the educational goals of individual students than on teaching rote memorization from limited sources.

At Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our public charter elementary school welcomes parents and students to visit our school to see the Montessori Method first hand.  Contact us today and schedule an appointment to learn why our school is an excellent choice for Montessori education.

Activities to Teach your Child about Art — June 15, 2017

Activities to Teach your Child about Art

Introducing art to your young child has numerous benefits. Connecting the development of social and emotional skills, art helps children with future learning. As a parent or caregiver, you want to encourage your child to explore the world. Setting the foundation for continuous hands-on learning, art themed activities encourage self-esteem, inspiration, and creativity.

Teaching your Child about Art through different Activities

Create an Art Area

From painters to storytellers, art covers a wide range of materials. Encourage art exploration by setting up an area to allow your young child to discover and enjoy without too many restrictions. Consider the following list; keep in mind, materials can vary by age group.

  • Construction paper
  • Drawing or plain paper
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes, sponges, and other paint applicators
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Child safety scissors
  • Paper plates
  • Collage materials including pasta, magazine pictures, yarn

The materials for creating art are endless. As your child develops specific interests, you will be able to add and subtract different art materials to continue the learning process.

Paint Pet Rocks

One of the most simple art activities is rock painting. Begin by allowing your child to pick out the perfect rock. Along with paint, provide your child with googly eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers, and other texture materials. Creating a pet or creature out of a rock promotes imagination and creativity. Allow your child to tell the story of the creature.

Introduce Art with Picture Books

Children have a natural curiosity to learn and explore. Books allow for quiet time. Introducing art through picture books helps increase interest by developing your child’s imagination. Previewing different artwork prior to engaging in an activity may enhance your child’s creative process.

Sculpting

Provide your child a chance to create a three-dimensional art project. Introduce your child to air dry sculpting clay. Use different age appropriate stamping, rolling, or cutting utensils to allow your child to form a one of a kind piece of artwork. After the art project dries, allow your child the chance to continue the creative process through painting the sculpture.

Color Mixing

Mixing different colors provides your child with the opportunity to learn about the vast colors in the art world. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to try different painting materials.

  • Paint: Placing different colors of paint on a large sheet of paper allows your child a chance to blend and mix colors.
  • Paint with Pudding: Use different colors of pudding or mix colors with vanilla pudding. Painting with pudding is perfect for younger children.
  • Paint with Water Droppers: Provide your child with different colors of water in small containers or a muffin pan. Using water droppers allow your child to drop the mixture onto coffee filters.

As your child engages in the different art activities, do not forget to ask open-ended questions. Encouraging your child to tell the story of the art creation promotes vocabulary and verbal skills. Consider writing out the story or explanation of the art activity for a future keepsake.

In Milpitas, CA, Day Star Montessori School incorporates art and creativity into its Montessori approach through hands-on learning.  Our teachers encourage students to explore on their own and develop interests specific to each child.  Contact us today to see the Montessori difference first hand.

Why Coloring is Important to Teach a Preschooler — June 7, 2017

Why Coloring is Important to Teach a Preschooler

Do you realize coloring helps provide your preschooler with long-term skills? The development of these skills will continue to benefit your preschooler throughout academic learning and beyond. One of the best aspects to coloring is the low cost to implement. A box of crayons and paper are a valuable resource for your preschooler’s development.

Teaching a Preschooler through Coloring

Crayons come in wide range of colors. Build the excitement of receiving a box of crayons. Consider allowing your preschooler to pick out the crayon box. As a parent or caregiver, you want your preschooler to engage in coloring. Using the excitement of receiving a new box of crayons full of different colors, your preschooler will enhance the development of physical and cognitive skills.

Enhances Fine Motor Skills

Gripping the coloring utensil, your preschooler will use the small muscles in the fingers, thumb, hands and wrists. Strengthening the muscles develops essential fine motor skills. The physical development provides your preschooler with the dexterity and the crucial skill set for basic tasks, including:

  • Using utensils to feed oneself
  • Buttoning clothes
  • Zipping coats
  • Writing
  • Moving small objects

Improving and mastering fine motor tasks increases your child’s overall physical development and self-confidence.

Handwriting Skills

Aiding your child beyond the preschool years, the manipulation of the small muscles allows your child to hold a pencil correctly. The basic skill set is essential for handwriting development. A child who is self-confident with holding a pencil will eagerly learn handwriting skills.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Coloring increases hand-eye coordination. The development of hand-eye coordination increases your child’s sensory-motor skills. Learning to control hand movements will aid in the development of reading and writing. Consider enhancing the hand-eye coordination by providing different materials for coloring.

  • Use educational coloring pages
  • Use specific colors for designated areas on the page
  • Draw and color a picture
  • Allow your child to pick out the colors from the box
  • Provide an age appropriate crayon sharpener

The different aspects of coloring help further the development of hand-eye coordination.

Inspires Creativity

Coloring allows your preschooler to create. The visual art creation enhances imagination, self-expression, and cognitive development. Along with inspiring creativity, asking your preschooler about the coloring project will increase vocabulary and social skills.

Learning the Colors

Being able to identify colors is an important learning milestone. By mastering the names of the colors, your preschooler will develop visual recognition skills. As your preschooler grows and learns, the enhancement of the visual skills will aid in the identification words.

Quiet Time

The coloring activity is a great way to engage in critical thinking skills. Engaging in coloring is a quiet activity. As your preschooler engages in the coloring activity by picking out colors and creating, critical thinking skills develop.

Learning and mastering new tasks will help build your preschooler’s self-confidence for the next stage of development. Supplying your preschooler with basic coloring tools sets a foundation for continued learning. As your preschooler creates different coloring pages, remember the development of the skills is a learning process.  At our private preschool in Fremont, CA, Mission Valley Montessori School embraces children’s creativity and uses art daily in teaching the Montessori Method.  Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Summer Reads for Elementary Children — May 25, 2017

Summer Reads for Elementary Children

With summer fast approaching, you may be wondering how to get your child to spend at least some of those many summer hours reading. The answer is, of course, good books! Montessori education encourages parents to work with their children throughout the summer to continue their learning.  Here are some suggestions of beloved books, many of them classics, that have entranced many a child.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano

Summer is all about nature, making it the perfect time to read this book to your child. The poems about the seasons can easily be incorporated into a summer filled with activities such as gardening or outdoor sports.

Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau

Another nature book, this story of children helping baby turtles find the ocean will help show kids that they are never too young to have an impact. The heartwarming story is followed with suggestions from the author for how you and your child can make a difference together.

Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel

Many parents will remember reading these books themselves as children. They still make great books for early readers today, not to mention they pose examples of some of the best things about friendship.

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

The best way to make sure your child is occupied all summer long is to introduce them to a series they can’t put down. The Magic Tree House is a historical fantasy series that is still captivating early and middle readers, more than two decades after the first one was published. Each book features a different time period and a new mystery that the main characters must solve by traveling back in time.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Whole generations of children have fallen in love with Narnia. Introduce your middle reader to the books you loved as a kid and help pass on the love for these books! Middle readers on up will love these books.

Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

The Wimpy Kid series is perfect for a wide range of ages, but especially for those who are reluctant to read. The “handwritten” font, the drawings, and the humor all help to create books that feel casual, lighthearted, and easy to read.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time may not seem as groundbreaking to kids today as it did to the generations before them, but it’s still a favorite. This modern classic can be a little tough to read, due to the density of both the prose and the subject matter, so it’s probably best for stronger readers.

Reading for Life

Your child’s summer reading list should strike a balance between his or her own interests, and what might look like an extension of a classroom curriculum. Encourage your child to include at least a few classics or award-winning books. To find out more about the Montessori curriculum and suggested reading lists, please contact us today to schedule a tour of the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus.

Tips to Incorporate the Montessori Method outside of School — May 24, 2017

Tips to Incorporate the Montessori Method outside of School

Trying to draw a line between learning and the home life can be both confusing and discouraging for kids. Parents can be very helpful to their children and their educators by following some simple advice on integrating the Montessori classroom with the home environment. The first step is to be as inclusive as possible with your children by communicating with them regularly and making them feel like an important part of your daily life. After that, bringing parts of the Montessori method into the home will benefit all aspects of your children’s lives.

Scaling to Size

Set aside a section of the home for your children to learn and grow. Incorporate furniture that is built for children, including appropriately sized chairs, tables, and bookshelves. When a child can personally relate to an area as their own, they are going to be more likely to spend time there. The educational tools should be similarly selected. Small children will be attracted to objects that are easier to grasp, for example, and replacing the items with things that are appropriately sized as the child ages reinforces a sense of importance and belonging.

Encourage Self Expression

Children learn differently from one another. Trying to impose a rigid set of rules or behavior patterns will not encourage them to learn and grow, but providing an environment that is exciting and educational will. If a child expresses an interest in music, then make song and dance opportunities available. Likewise, make an effort to fit into your children’s environment instead of forcing them to adapt to yours.

Understand Your Child

Your daughter is not a miniature version of you, regardless of how much you want that to be true. Hang pictures that she likes on the walls at her eye level. Talk to her about what she likes and do things that she enjoys. Montessori education promotes a sense of self, and fostering that confidence is an important role for parents to continue when the school day is done. Do not spoil your child, but make an effort to include her.

Promote Order and Organization

To a large extent, children need to have some order in their lives. While it is okay for there to be a bit of daily fluctuation, too much variation can be confusing. This is true of the subjects you cover as well as the structure of the environment. Encourage putting things away when you are done, and provide a positive example by doing so yourself. When a child learns to organize and prioritize, they gain a sense of structure and will be better at planning out their own projects and goals.

Children do not stop learning at the end of the school day. When parents blur the distinction between learning and living, children gain a different perspective. As parents, we all want our children to be the best that they can be, and incorporating the Montessori method into the home will be a huge step in the right direction.

At Mission Valley Montessori, our teachers work with our parents to assist them in continuing the Montessori method outside of the classroom.  We believe in teaching the child as a whole and instilling the same values both at home and at school.  If you’re looking to learn more about the Montessori method, contact us today to schedule a tour and talk with our teachers and parents about how Montessori education has had a positive impact on their lives.

Teaching your Preschooler Responsibility through Household Activities — May 4, 2017

Teaching your Preschooler Responsibility through Household Activities

As a parent, you want the best for your child at each step of development. You want your child to learn and grow into a self-reliant, independent individual. Providing children with necessary life skills at an early age builds a foundation for the future. Participating in simple household activities can teach your child responsibility.

4 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler to be Responsible

Instilling responsibility in your child at an early age teaches self-awareness, accountability, and encourages independence. One of the best ways to show your preschooler to be responsible is modeling acceptable behavior. For example, with your preschooler present, put your clothes in the laundry basket. The action shows your preschooler the correct way for caring for dirty laundry.

Use Age-Appropriate Activities for Your Preschoolers

Preschoolers do not understand broad concepts at this stage of development. When picking out the household activities for your preschooler, use precise directions. Making the selected tasks age appropriate will help build your preschooler’s self-esteem for accomplishing simple household activities. Begin by teaching your child the correct way to finish a task will help ensure a job well done.

Consider the following examples for your preschooler to engage.

  • Putting toys or books in the proper place
  • Helping with watering household plants or garden
  • Helping with setting or clearing the table
  • Using a cloth for removing dust
  • Folding simple laundry items, wash cloths, or kitchen towels
  • Putting clothes in the lower drawers
  • Helping put groceries away
  • Feeding the family pet
  • Helping prepare lunch or snacks

As your preschooler works through the household activity, remember the outcome may not be perfect.

Assisting Your Preschooler

Allow your preschooler plenty of time to finish the chosen household activity. Failing to be patient, many parents take over the activity. Instead, if you observe your preschooler becoming frustrated or overwhelmed with the task, provide assistance. You can easily turn the household task into a game. Working together, in the beginning, will help ease the transition for your preschooler to finish the task alone.

Provide Positive Acknowledgement

Preschoolers like to help around the house. Participating provides a sense of importance in the family dynamics system. As your child finishes a household activity, use positive reinforcement. For example, thanking your preschooler for putting the books on the shelf or helping with chosen task provides acknowledgment and recognition.

Build an Established Routine

Your preschooler can learn the process of completing household activities by establishing a regular routine. A habitual routine or schedule allows your preschooler to recognize that household activities are a regular part of daily living. The recognition helps in building future life skills.

Teaching responsibility allows your preschooler to learn valuable skills for the future. In most situations, your preschooler will be more than happy to help. By establishing the routine at a younger age, you will be able to build on the tasks throughout your child’s development.  Responsibility is one of the key traits incorporated into daily learning at Day Star Montessori and the Montessori Method as a whole.  Our teachers encourage independent learning while guiding students to become well-rounded individuals.  Contact us today to learn about the Montessori difference.

What to Consider in a Montessori Middle School — April 17, 2017

What to Consider in a Montessori Middle School

Montessori is more widely associated with elementary education than middle or high school. This is because people accept the Montessori approach for young children, but until fairly recently have failed to appreciate how well it works for older kids as well. When looking at a Montessori establishment for middle school children, there are some important aspects that should be considered.

Teacher to Student Ratio

Ideally, the Montessori method allows for one teacher per student. In practice, this is not a feasible goal for middle school children, but every effort is made to keep the ratio low. In a large Montessori classroom, one teaching instructor and one non-teaching aide will serve a maximum of 30 students, often far less. At the same time, teachers will focus attention on one child at a time, while the class as a whole pursues various self-instructive topics and courses.

Groupings and Interaction

Middle school children in a Montessori environment are encouraged to form spontaneous groups and interactions. Groupings tend to range over a 3 to 6 year age level, and the children are allowed to form their own interactive groupings inasmuch as the subject matter and individual lesson plans permit. Because children are encouraged to pursue subjects of their own choosing, these small groupings tend to form, dismantle, and reform over time as students progress from one area to another. The essential factor is that the children are working together as well as teaching one another.

Montessori Work Centers

Unlike a traditional classroom, the Montessori environment is arranged around subject areas. Children move about, from work area to another, learning at their own pace and moving forward. There is no definitive time limit that a child can spend on one particular subject, and during the course of the day, all subjects are studied at a wide variety of educational levels.

Subject Integration

One of the failings of traditional education is the disconnect between subject matter and our day-to-day lives. In the Montessori environment, course subjects are integrated, and often presented in a hands-on approach. This helps children understand the connection between social studies and mathematics, for example, and allows a child who is particularly entranced by a subject to focus on that subject, integrating their subject’s studies into the subject of choice.

Student-Teacher Contracts

Older Montessori students learn to manage their own time and resources. Study goals are devised by the students themselves and form student-teacher contracts where the students have an obligation to meet the goals they work out with the teacher. This teaches responsibility along with other subject matter, and helps kids learn to see the interactions that different obligations will share in one’s life.

Montessori education is a unique learning method which shows a great deal of promise in helping children learn more, and learn faster than traditional teaching methods. Because the Montessori method is so different from conventional methods, parents may want to spend some time learning about the process and comparing it to conventional techniques.  At Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus, we invite prospective students and parents to take a tour and visit our classrooms to see the Montessori method first hand.  Getting an up-close look will show parents and students alike how Montessori education teaches the child as a whole.