Monthly Archives: December 2014

Parents have asked us for ways to support, in a “Montessori way”, what is happening at school. Here are a few ideas. You are probably already doing helpful things without realizing it. Please do let us know what Montessori things you do at home.

  • Count items, such as how many kernels of corn are left on the child’s plate. He eats one and now count how many there are.
  • When divvying up candies (for example), count how many for an absent parent or sibling or grandparent first, then the present parent, then the child. In this way, the child learns to consider others before self which is valuable for grace and courtesy.
  • Instead of saying the alphabet letter names, say the sounds. So instead of A, B, C, D… Say /a/ (as in Apple) and /b/ (as in Banana) and /k/ (as in Cat) and /d/ (as in Dog). Use the short vowel sounds for now: Apple, Elephant, Igloo, Octopus, Umbrella. It sounds funny but saying sounds helps with reading and writing.
  • Put your child’s dishes and cutlery in a drawer or on a shelf that she can easily reach. Let her get her own dishes for a meal and set the items on her placemat on the table.
  • Let him put his fork and spoon in the dishwasher basket (or sink). Eventually, he’ll be able to put his bowl and plate in the right spots as well saving you some clean up time. Teaching control when opening and closing the door and sliding the bottom and upper trays help develop inner self control as well. Explain and demonstrate calmly. Expect a few loud bangs as the learning process happens using “uh oh” and other expressions to try and reinforce self-control.
  • If it’s possible, have a small bar fridge in the kitchen or eating area which your child can open. Put some cut fruit and vegetables in jars with loosened closed lids, a small half-filled pitcher of milk or water, some slices of bread, and a spread (ex: jam, nut butter, cream cheese). Now your youngster can help herself to a nutritious snack.
    Start with one item in the fridge and show her how to open the door, remove the item, serve herself (she may need to get a plate or cup or fork from her dish collection) and clean up. It’ll take a few tries, there will be some spills, but she’ll feel more confident in her independence and you’ll gain a few more minutes in your day.
  • Let him put on his own shoes even if it takes forever. Teach him Tongue, Toe, Heel, Tongue, Attach.
    Tongue: pull out the tongue of the shoe and lift it up away from the opening of the shoe.
    Toe: slide toes into shoe opening (possibly holding on to the tongue if it keeps sliding back).
    Heel: push heel into shoe using finger to keep back of shoe in place if necessary.
    Tongue: readjust the tongue for comfort.
    Attach: attach the Velcro, tie laces or other closure.
    Done!
    A few practices may be necessary but the time taken at first will save you much time later.
  • When turning left or right in the car, voice it so your child gets the feel of left and right.
  • When reading stories, use expression and voices. Point out items in the pictures and ask your child what they might be doing. Review colours, counting and observations in this way. Keep it enjoyable for both of you.
  • Spend at least a half hour a day outdoors with your child, every day. Take a deep breath and notice the scents. Listen for birds, insects, airplanes and cars. Notice the changing features of the trees with each season. Play “I spy” on the porch if it’s raining, or better yet, suit up and go taste a raindrop or snowflake. This type of activity builds relationship with your child and helps him learn to observe in different ways. It’s fun too!
  • Laugh with your child at humourous situations. After Mommy’s milk, laughter is the strongest bonding experience. No kidding…
  • Make the sleeping area as dark as possible. Any light can disrupt sleep and the important work the brain does during sleep. A good night’s rest is vital for moods, appetite, learning and health.

Do you have any to add to this list?  Do let us know, and we will update this list as we go along.

IMG_20140917_112514Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that experiential learning opportunities involving as many senses as possible made the most impact on youngsters memories. Current research in brain theory confirms her observations. Smart Start put it into practice in mid-September with a trip to Willowgrove orchards.

IMG_20140917_112229The “banana” bus bounced slightly as it slowly drove up the driveway to the farm. Leaders greeted the children. The wagon ride brought us to the 1,000 tree orchard. Each tree low enough that the children could pick the apples without adult assistance. After a brief explanation about the variety of apples and how to pick them (eye to the sky), the children successfully picked two Cortlands each: one for school, one for them. N. twisted and removed her apple while, K. quickly polished his to a bright shine. Later, A. and V. savoured the tangy sweet taste of their apples at snack time.

IMG_20140917_105829In a separate location, the leaders explained about the life cycle of an apple tree, described various apple products, and shared a poem and story involving, you guessed it, apples!

IMG_20140917_105539Switching to a new location, the children learned that apples would not form without the help of an insect: honey bees! Here enlarged images of the creatures were posted on the wall. The leader invited the children to come forward to play the roles of queen, nurse, guards and workers. What an experience!

Sight, scent, sound, touch and taste rounded out this fully sensorial event for the youngsters of Smart Start Montessori.

IMG_20140917_113526Moooo. Baaaa. Bleeeeeeat. Snort. Giggle. Wait. What? Giggle? Yep, the youngsters from Smart Start Montessori enjoyed an adventure on the farm. A horse-drawn wagon ride bounced around the fields. A play area with slides and climbing apparatus occupied the children as a few friends mounted a small pony and went for a ride. The morning in the fresh air was completely sensorial: sights, sounds, scents, movement, tastes and experiences awaited. It’s good for city folk to spend time on the farm.

IMG_20141010_105947

 

 

 

 

We live in Toronto. Toronto is blessed to have people of many ethnic backgrounds living together. Smart Start Montessori reflects the varied heritages of our city. Learning about the IMG_20141010_110119festivals associated with our own and our friends’ cultures help us to understand each other better. This month certainly highlighted multiculturalism.

 

 

IMG_20141010_124720At the beginning if the month, we learned the traditional greeting of Eid: “Eid Mubarak”. Later, the children explored Thanksgiving. “I’m thankful for Mommy and Daddy” was a frequent comment. “I’m thankful for laughing” was a unique one. Miss Elaine brought a beautiful flower cake made of mango. The children cut fruit and filled wafer cones to make cornucopias celebrating the harvest bounty. Food for Tots, our lunch caterer also prepared a special meal.

IMG_20141022_114634Later in the month, the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali, was experienced. Two of our students’ parents joined us for an information session. We enjoyed some tradition food, listened to bouncy music, and saw some fancy outfits. The children learned the greeting “Happy Diwali”.

IMG_20141031_111054At the end of the month, the youngsters celebrated Hallowe’en with a costume parade. Pumpkin carving, themed songs, and crafts were also part of the week.

 

The children certainly enjoyed this month of colourful, reflective, and international festivals.

IMG_20141031_121655