Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Montessori: Methodology? Equipment?

When parents first visit a Montessori classroom, the equipment makes a big impression, especially if there is no class underway during the visit. For parents who are researching Montessori online without access to a classroom, equipment makes an even bigger impression.

Interestingly, Chandra Fernando, a Montessori teacher and teacher trainer for over 30 years, feels that this emphasis on equipment is beginning to detract from the most important focus, namely, the methodology and the thought process behind Montessori education. She implored us to share with our readers her feelings that methodology should be the primary focus of parents who want to use Montessori at home, whether on a homeschool basis or just as a general approach to interacting and teaching their children at home.

If you are new to Montessori, here are a few suggestions to get you started with implementing the methodology:
  1. Create a child-accessible environment that allows your child to pursue independence in daily activities such as using the bathroom, making healthy snacks, working with his or her games and educational materials, and maintaining an orderly atmosphere.
  2. An orderly atmosphere means no blaring televisions and squabbling or loud adults. This might only be possible to achieve in your child's bedroom or a study, but a calm and orderly atmosphere means your child will have a chance to develop his or her own internal sense of calm and order, so it is worth it.
  3. Teach by example. This goes for everything from using the Movable Alphabet letters to make words to using manners to discipline.
  4. Adult-child interactions should be respectful. No yelling. This goes for both parties.
  5. A moot point for most of our readers, but it is important to emphasize that you should not spank or slap your child. Lori at Montessori for Everyone has written extensively on this topic.
This is just to get started. We will be writing up a short series of interviews with various teachers and sharing them with you on our blog in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Montessori Math Discussion for Parents at Home

If you send your child to a good Montessori school starting at the age of three, your child will start learning about counting and quantities using hands-one equipment ranging from cards and counters to Red and Blue Rods (see our archived articles for details), moving up to more advanced exercises such as long addition and division in the well-known Banker's Game with the Golden Beads. You can easily monitor your child's progress by learning a bit about the equipment and observing a class.

However, what about parents who are starting at home in mid-stream, say, with a five or six year old? A lot of people are tempted to buy equipment and rush through the process, so their child can "catch up" with the normal Montessori curriculum.

We highly suggest starting from the beginning, even if this means your five year old will be working with Math Spindles, Red Rods, or Sandpaper Numerals. The important concepts related to relative size, quantity, and numerals remain key to building a solid foundation in math at any age, so do not skimp on the basics to move your child ahead quickly!

The Golden Bead introductory exercise will quickly enable your child to begin more complex math exercises! For more details, send us a note or subscribe to our Montessori Curriculum Newsletters.

Children in the Primary class typically work with the advanced arithmetic mentioned above as well as fractions from one whole to one-tenth, the Binomial cube (a precursor to algebra), and ratios and percents.