Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Three-Fingered Grasp

A note on the curriculum for parents who purchased our Montessori Curriculum Teaching Album:

All of the small pieces of equipment such as the ball and geometric shapes in the Infant Object Permanence Boxes are meant to be held in a three-fingered grasp (e.g. pointer, index, and thumb). This grasp is a natural one for infants and toddlers, but worth mentioning because adults tend to pick things up with two fingers (e.g. pointer and thumb) and you should use the grasp that you want your child to use.

Younger children will tend to use their whole hands when holding something large. This is fine. No need to correct anything, but just make sure you use the three-fingered grasp with equipment for which your child will need to use it.

Check out our Montessori Curriculum Teaching Albums!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Reading, Writing, and the Sand Tray

This Sand Tray is your child's first introduction to writing and writing-related motor skills.

Let your child enjoy tracing and drawing shapes in the sand and then show him or her how to make curves, circles, lines, and dots.

Once your child has been introduced a handful of letters via the Sandpaper Letters, you can show your child how to trace these letters in the Sand Tray, too. However, if your child prefers to draw in the sand, that's fine!

Photo credit: Guidecraft Children's Toys

Friday, July 24, 2009

Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Where to Sit?

In our first edition of the Montessori Teaching Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers, we explain that teachers (or parents teaching at home) should sit on their child's non-dominant side, and we wanted to elaborate a bit more...

When we write, "Sit on your child’s non-dominant side," this means that you should sit on the left side of a right-handed child. And, naturally, on the right side of a left-handed child. Try having a friend sit on your right side while you try to use a pen with your right hand. Does it feel as if they are in your way? You can’t quite move the way you would like to or you have to be careful that you do not bump into them?

Are you not sure which side your child favors or do sides alternate? Try different sides and see what happens. Be aware of your child's body language and interaction with you when you are on the right side versus the left side. The goal is to have your physical presence not interfere with the presentation or work at hand. Your role is to guide and present without changing your child's focus.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mats for Floor Work in the Montessori Classroom Setup

In our curriculum guides, we discuss using mats or carpets for floor-based projects that are frequently presented in the Montessori classroom.

Note that these carpets should be of a simple single color. Lines and patterns distract from a lot of the projects and equipment -- for example, setting up geometric shapes or different types of triangles involves looking at the lines of the equipment itself, so a patterned carpet does not work well.

Look for a carpet that is the size of a yoga mat, but made from a flat carpet. Avoid materials that bunch, wrinkle, or gather.

This beige floor mat is featured on the Nienhuis site.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Montessori Teaching Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers: Time and Attention

For those of you who subscribed to the curriculum newsletters or purchased our Montessori teaching binder, we will be posting additional notes here on our blog, so do check back from time to time or subscribe to our handy Montessori at Home rss feed!

In our curriculum for infants and toddlers, we discuss the presentation format, materials needed, and sequence of events for each lesson or exercise. You will notice, however, that there is no particular length of time for the duration of each lesson. This is key because the length of time that an individual child will be focused on a particular exercise depends on that child.

Once you set up the exercise with all of the equipment and present it, the number of times your child decides to, for example, pour water from one pitcher to another, is an independent choice. At the right stage in a child's development, he or she will has the ability to be completely captivated by a certain type of lesson, for example, a fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination practice lesson such as the Practical Life Water Pouring Exercise. This means that your child's current stage of development calls for this type of skill practice and development in terms of the Montessori Sensitive Periods of Development.

Importantly, make sure that you allow your child to engage his or her periods of attention during these projects without adding interruptions. It is really tempting to go up and talk to a child who is being super cute by doing the same thing over and over, but this is the time that you need to step back and let your child develop the particular skill that has caught his or her attention!

For step-by-step lessons, check out our Montessori teaching curriculum for parents and teachers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Selecting Montessori Material for Your Home or Classroom

A quick recommendation to the new teacher who contacted us for advice on what material to buy for her new classroom: Nienhuis, the traditional Montessori equipment maker, now has a site with material and price information online. Other suppliers are good and cheaper, but we have not kept track of the varying quality versus price tradeoff with the others, so Nienhuis is our fallback.

Here is the link for Nienhuis Montessori equipment.

On the equipment categories --

Infant and Toddler Imbucare boxes: You can select one or two to start out. You will find the prices are a good incentive to look at DIY.

Toddler Simple Puzzles: The two sets shown -- Single Shape and Multiple Shapes Puzzles -- are great because the introduce shapes and varying sizes of the same shape. Knobs that are easy to handle are key because you are building refined hand movements and fine motor skills.

Toddler Infilare Exercises: The Three Discs on a Vertical Dowel are surprisingly affordable. Again, you can pick three different sets out of the equipment line up here and be fine.

Toddler Supinated Wrist Movement: Worth buying a few because these are hard to make, unless you are unusually gifted with DIY. The Interlocking Discs are super popular with kids.

Infant and Toddler Dressing Frames: These are perfect for Montessori DIY!

The Threading and Braiding Material is definitely a good Montessori DIY project.

The Infant Mirror has a handle, which is fabulous, so check out the pic before making your own.

Infant Bell: Very cool. Good price, too.

Geography Material: The sandpaper globes and simple maps are really great to have at home. Globes make enjoyable and educational bedroom decor for children of all ages!

Practical Life: Sorting tray. I really like this one! See the pic above. You can make your own!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Montessori Teaching Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers

This is the first post in what will be a short series addressing infant and toddler development within the Montessori setting.

Montessori teaching methodology for all ages focuses on providing the right learning environment with the appropriate material, teacher, and student mix that will allow children to follow their own individual paths to learning.

For infants and toddlers, this focus on the individual path is especially important because children in this age group are developing so many key facets of themselves during these early years. A lot of parents ask us for a very clear and precise curriculum with information on how much time should be dedicated to teaching a certain lesson and when their child should move to the next more difficult topic. No matter what curriculum one follows, this is pretty much impossible due to the different developmental schedules of young children.

In our teaching binders, we strive to provide the same mix of topics and developmental exercises that one would find in a real life classroom, so parents can set up the material and let their children learn at an individualized pace. Some children may spend hours on a project that other children spend months enjoying. This is completely natural and does not indicate any developmental level or differing progress achievements.

See our Montessori teaching curriculum for infants and toddlers.