Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Activities

Summer can be a great time to continue learning with your child and extend their classroom experiences into the 'real' world.  Even though there is less structure during the summer, you can provide your own activites to make learning fun when school is out.  Here are some ideas:

*  In Cincinnati, we have so many wonderful places for children~the Cincinnati Zoo, the Cincinnati Museum Center, Kings Island,  parks such as Keehner Park, Ft. Liberty Park, Sharon Woods, and Winton Woods.
*  Check out your local library for different activites going on, or just visit the library and help your child check out a few books of their choice.
*  Children can write letters to grandparents, family members, or friends who live out of town.  Have your child write the sounds they hear in words they want to write and draw a picture to go along with the letter.
*  Visit local farmers markets to purchase fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and involve the children in cooking.
*  Do some outdoor art activites~paint the trees or driveway with brushes using water, hang up big pieces of paper on the fence and allow your children to paint outside, make a nature collage using leaves, flowers, sticks etc., paint rocks, give your child a big bucket and help them make a lot of bubbles-give them things to scrub and allow to dry outside
*  Take a picnic lunch and visit Mom or Dad at work one day and eat outside.
*  Take your child fishing early in the morning to avoid mid day heat.
*  Make homemade ice cream  http://crafts.kaboose.com/ice-cream-in-a-bag.html
*  Go to a Reds game
 These are just a few ideas.  Please feel free to share on this blog if you have ideas of your own you think other parents would enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Spot a Quality Montessori School?

The quality of Montessori schools varies widely.  There is no Montessori trademark, which means any school can hold itself out as being 'Montessori'.  When searching for a quality Montessori school, one should be prepared with questions so that you can find a school that is best suited for your child and/or family. 

One of the best ways to find out what a preschool/Kindergarten program is like is to ask if you can observe.  At Community Montessori, we encourage parents to schedule an observation so they can see the classroom in action.  The children in our classroom are very accustomed to visitors.  Some children will spontaneously introduce themselves, others will go about their work.  We invite the visitors in, give them a schedule of our day, and allow the visitor to observe and move about the classroom.  We give them a clipboard so they can jot down questions or observations they would like to inquire about.  Seeing the children and teachers in the environment can be a very good indication of how the classroom functions on a daily basis. 

The following list are things that you should look for in a Montessori classroom:

*The physical environment of the classroom should be beautiful, inviting, tidy, organized, and clean.
*Furniture should be child sized (chairs/tables), including a low sink, snack area, bathrooms, and drinking fountain.
*The environment should feel peaceful and calm.  This doesn't mean that children won't be talking or interacting, but there should be a sense of contentment and joy.
*Children should be working on a variety of works (name given to activities done in a Montessori classroom).
*The children should demonstrate a sense of purpose in what they are doing. 
*The children should be kind and courteous.  If you observe an interaction that is otherwise, observe how it is handled by the teacher. The teacher should be supportive and act as a guide to assist the children to work out their conflict as well as be respectful to all parties involved.  
*The children should be concentrating on their work.
*The teacher (s) should have an awareness of the whole room, intervening only when children seem aimless, non-purposeful, or bothering others.  Observe how these types of situations are handled and ask questions if you are not sure. 
*Teachers should be Montessori trained. 
*The classroom should demonstrate a strong sense of community-children greeting one another, talking with one another, and caring for one another. 

The following books will be helpful in learning more about Dr. Montessori and the Montessori Method:

*The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
*The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori
*Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
*Montessori-The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard

If you have any specific questions regarding Montessori, I would love to answer them!