The latest in Montessori
Have you found your village? 0
Recently we started running a free playgroup in the Redlands, aimed at bringing mums together and to give the kids a run around in an amazing outdoor environment!
What I have learned is that I am not the only one who felt they 'found their village' when they discovered Montessori. I discovered Montessori over four years ago and can genuinely say that when I learnt about the method, my life changed. I finally had something that made sense, I felt that as a parent, I was no longer alone.
What drew me to the montessori method was the focus on independence within the child, the drive to provide an environment that promoted intrinsic motivation - where my child could feel success within themselves and not be defined by somebody elses version of success. I loved that it allowed children to become confident learners, to follow their interests and loves and were able to do this in their own time.
My husband was drawn to the orderly environments and that everything had its place. He learnt about the method in more detail through watching me on my journey.
Loving montessori has no pre-requisites - you do not have to be rich, or wear cheesecloth clothing. You don't have to baby-wear or practice Attachment Parenting, or eat only raw foods you grew yourself. Montessori is for everyone and I believe, it makes parenting easier and more enjoyable.
My introduction to montessori was through reading the book 'Montessori Madness'. It opened up a world to me that was logical and made Education make sense. This was the way our children should be taught. As I discovered more and more, and read many blogs, books and watched videos - I learnt how I could 'live' montessori at home. It wasnt just an education method - it was a way of life.
Over the next few months we will be sharing videos and blogs on implementing Montessori at Home, and how it works from a parenting perspective.
How did you discover montessori? Did you find your village?
- Rebecca Grugan
Montessori at Home - the first month with a newborn 0
We finally welcomed our second son, Owen Charles Grugan, into the world on the 9th May 2017.
Due to his size we were guided to have an elective caesarean after Liam ending up as an emergency c-section five years ago.
Owen was born 10p4o (4.63kg), 54cm long and head circumference of 40cm. The whole experience was good - weird (knowing what time your child was going to be born) - but good.
I wasn't aware of Montessori until Liam was 12 months old, so this was the first experience with living montessori from birth. I have read books, blogs, attended training and spoken to many people over the years, getting ready for this period.
As I learnt more about the 0 to 3 plane of development, the more and more I understood, the more it all made sense.
From the moment Owen was born, he was either skin to skin with myself or his dad Paul, and if he was held by somebody else, we used the topponcino.
I spent the time to hand-make our topponcino and two covers for it. I slept with it under my pillow for weeks before his arrival so it smelt like us. I have found he feels secure, and calm when being picked up or transitioned to another place. It really does work!
I purchased all of the mobiles needed over the next few months, rather than making them as I felt it was cheaper in the long run to do so. I bought them from Etsy as a pack. I also have the bell and ring on elastic ready for when Owen is grasping etc.
The mobiles included in the pack are:
- Munari Mobile
- Gobbi Mobile
The wonderful Kylie from How We Montessori also gifted us with the amazing Whale Mobile which is absolutely beautiful!
The frame you can see in the image above is from KMart for about $15 and I painted the bright colours black so as not to distract Owen. This is used more for the ring and bell. There is a hook from our ceiling with string that means the mobiles will hang directly over the mat.
We have also fixed the mirror in this area of the lounge room to create Owen's movement area. I chose this space rather than in his room as this is where most of time is spent. Our kitchen area is open plan so I can see him and he can see me as I get on with the day. Also Liam plays a lot out in this space so I felt it suited our family more.
Owen is sleeping in a bassinet in our room or with me in my bed. He is actually a pretty good sleeper at night and have found this arrangement works well for us.
At about four weeks, we attempted his first day sleep on his floor bed in his room. He cat naps in the day so very rarely is there more than an hour sleep unless he does one big sleep in the afternoon. Depends on what is happening on that individual day.
Floor beds scare lots of people - mostly because its not something they see often and is the extreme opposite to what they know. I was the same four years ago. As I researched this concept further it made more and more sense to me. Freedom in movement, respect for the child, is so clear. I always felt like cots were restrictive and designed for the adult, not for the child.
One of the common responses to a floor bed is - but its so dangerous? What is dangerous? If the room is childproof and made safe for the moving child - what is the actual risks that a bed on the floor has over a cot?
Once Owen is moving we will put the mattress onto a frame close to the ground. I would say the floor bed wont be used until about six months of age for night sleeps. I will keep you in the loop on how this is working for us.
In his room we have the nappy change area on top of some shelves I bought off Gumtree - I love used wood. We have some black and white images for Owen to focus on whilst nappy changing. I have conversations with him as I have learnt from the beautiful Peta Gibson that you can change the world with how you change a nappy. It is a wonderful moment for closeness, bonding and respect. I talk through what I am doing at each step which helps with enriching his language but I also believe he will start lifting his own bottom when he can :D again - will keep you up to date as he grows!
I have tried to use clothing that does not restrict Owen's physical movements much and he is rarely swaddled as he doesn't seem to like it plus again this practice restricts his movements.
Owen was breastfed for the first four weeks, however is now formula fed as the whole breastfeeding experience defeated me.
I gave it everything I had - I saw expert Lactation consultants (five to be exact), spent hours expressing, had mastitis twice, saw an Osteo and Chiro trying to work on our latch, oversupply issues, nipple shields and more.
The breaking point was after Owen was in hospital for two nights and we had to start putting thickener into his milk. I did not have it in me to keep expressing and then feeding with a bottle anyway.
I have accepted this and am okay with the decision. I now enjoy being a mum again!
I thank Dr Robyn Thompson for her support in my journey aswell as every body else. Breastfeeding is soo much harder than society lets us believe. I can see why women give up so easily however I would love to see statistics change so more women are breastfeeding for as long as possible!
Liam has loved the first month as a big brother and its time for me to focus some attention on him as we have started to notice he is doing some silly things trying to get attention - at home and at school. This whole balancing act is new and hard and fun - Im excited to reconnect with him now we have settled a little into this four person family.
I am back at work with Owen tagging along and it has been a beautiful experience to be able to juggle all of my passions - work, motherhood, and family. My village around me has been amazing - the girls at work, my family, Pauls family, friends, neighbours and everyone else. I am extremely grateful for the people I am surrounded by.
Its that village that makes the first month with a newborn easier and Im looking forward to the next few months and seeing Owen's development and how montessori from the start really makes a difference to him and to me as a parent!
- Rebecca Grugan
Montessori, An Education for the 21st Century and Beyond 0
Ensuring that children have the skills and experience they need to succeed in the digital age of employment is one of the most important issues for 21st century education. It may seem like it’s a little too early to begin discussing the topic of employment in the same sentence as early education. However, it’s important that our children are prepared for the challenges of the future economy. Research has identi ed that students need to develop speci c skills and abilities to be attractive to digital age employers. These include: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication; otherwise known as ‘The Four C’s.’ These skills can’t be taught by teaching children to mindlessly memorise and repeat. They must develop these skills through rich learning experiences that inspire them to master these skills over time. This poses the question, how can early education prepare our children with the tools and skills they need to succeed in the digital economy? The answer can be found in the 100-year-old method of education, Montessori.
Montessori education encourages children to develop their critical thinking skills by providing them with the environment, materials and guidance they need to achieve their developmental potential. In the prepared environment, the Montessori materials are logically displayed in progression order within their set curriculum areas. Each material is specifically designed to isolate one concept or skill, and has an inbuilt control of error, which allows the child to ‘discover’ the outcome of the material independent of an adult. The self-correcting aspects of the Montessori materials encourage children to organise their thinking, problem solve in a clear way, and absorb the outcome of the material under the careful guidance of their teachers.
The Spindle Box, for example, teaches children to identify and quantify numbers by placing the spindles in the correctly numbered section of the box, and introduces the concept of 'zero'. The control of error can be found if the child ends up with too few or too many spindles at the end of the activity. This outcome indicates to the child that they need to go back, review their work, and recount to find the error. A teacher in the Montessori classroom will never interfere in this learning process, as it is essential that child learns to self-correct and evaluate their work. This self-directed learning process encourages the child to critically examine their work, learn at their own pace, and find the solution through experimentation and practice. In this way, Montessori education provides children with the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills by mastering the learning materials in each curriculum area.
The structure of the Montessori program encourages children to develop the skills of collaboration through hands-on learning experiences and cooperative play. In Montessori, it is common for children to be grouped with peers that are within a three-
year age range, such as children aged three to six forming one preschool class. Multi-age classrooms ensure that children moving through the group are exposed to both older and younger peers, encouraging imitative learning, peer tutoring, and all round collaboration. This structure to the Montessori environment also leads to the development of a harmonious classroom community, which leads to the optimal learning environment for children.
Throughout the Montessori day program, children have ample opportunities to practice and refine their skills of collaboration. For example, the Montessori work cycle encourages collaboration by providing children with the opportunity to teach a skill or share information with others. Collaborative learning can be particularly useful for developing long-term learning skills, as the act of teaching and sharing further reinforces knowledge and skills. This in turn can lead to a highly efficient transfer of information, as it is often easier for a child to teach a child. In this way, the structure of the Montessori learning environment teaches children to respect each other, develop strong social skills, and build a collaborative learning community.
Montessori education recognises that creativity is not a skill that is learned, so much as it evolves from a long process of cognitive development. This process begins when the child is born, and develops spontaneously as the child’s intelligence becomes established over time. Creativity is crucial in Montessori education as it is viewed as part of how children come to understand their world, and construct themselves through self-expression. The Montessori method fosters creativity by providing children with an environment that allows for freedom within boundaries. Within this space, children have freedom of movement, and the ability to choose to work or create. The guiding role of the Montessori teacher reduces anxiety and fear of judgement, leaving room for exploration, concentration, and independent learning. Clear rules, a strong sense of community, and supportive guidance provide children with the environment needed to develop creativity.
One way that Montessori education encourages creativity is through the study of culture. By providing children with cultural learning experiences based on art, music and dance, children learn to appreciate and participate in the creative aspects of their world. For example, Montessori encourages children to develop their creativity through art and craft activities that are suitable for their development. By using materials such as pencils and paper, threads, textiles and recyclables, children learn to refine their fine motor skills, express their ideas, create from their imagination, and communicate what they see. Store bought art kits are generally discouraged, as they don’t challenge the child to see how different materials could be used depending on their imagination and creativity. By providing students with artistic and cultural opportunities, children learn to fuse their intellectual activity and physical skills in the creative process. In this way, Montessori supports the idea of creative independence, and the notion that children can do, think, and create for themselves.
The development of communications skills is also reinforced through the Montessori Language Curriculum. There are four key stages of language development in children, including: spoken language, phonetic awareness, creating words/writing, and reading. From infancy, the Montessori program supports language development by immersing children in the world of communication through conversation, story time, speech and song. In this way, children learn to absorb the language of their culture through their environment. Phonetic awareness is supported through the use of the Montessori language materials under the guidance of a trained teacher. The sandpaper letters, for example, provide children with a sensory introduction to the sound and shape of letters. More advanced language materials, such as the moveable alphabet, teach children to pronounce letters phonically, identify words, and match them with the correct image. Reading and writing are also encouraged by allowing children freedom of choice, and a supportive learning environment to practice language-based skills, both independently and in groups.
So how does Montessori education prepare children for the skills needed in the 21st century? Our classroom environments foster self-disciple, responsibility, creativity, and individuality through freedom of choice and a focus on independence. The guiding role of our teachers encourage students to follow their passions, learn from their mistakes, and self-motivate. Our classroom communities nurture communication and social skills by teaching children respect for themselves and others. The Montessori materials teach children to think critically and problem solve through experience and practice. In this way, Montessori has been integrating the four c’s into early childhood education for more than 100 years. It is and will continue to be the best way to prepare children for the challenges of the future because it is based on how children learn – they learn experientially. As such, Montessori continues to be the epitome of best practice in children’s early education.
Article written by Montessori Academy
Find out more: www.montessoriacademy.com.au
- Rebecca Grugan
Why state schools should lead the way in change 0
We all know that the education system needs to change. We cannot keep doing what we have always done because the world has changed dramatically, and yet education has not.
I hear and see a lot of information on the High School years and Universities, however there seems to be very little reflected information in the media on the importance of the Early Years.
Government wants to make changes so more parents can go 'back to work', but the conversation is rarely on the importance of a high quality, holistic start for our kids.
Many families in our country can afford to choose a Private School for their children, some parents really don't care about their child's education (minority). State Schools should be the ones who can change the fastest. They are the ones that should be able to adapt and introduce a new way of learning for the kids in their area.
There is lots of talk about schools making changes, and acceptable pedagogies coming into play, and flexible learning (standing desks, working outside etc) however you cant just change desks and teach the same way and think that will definitely solve the problem!
Montessori has been around for over 100 years, and her method works extremely well across the globe. It is basically the answer everyone is trying to find/reinvent, because they have some sort of hang up on the 'M' word.
I am passionate about more children having access to montessori, and believe State Schools is the place to start.
If you agree and would love to join our State Schools and Montessori Think Tank, please email email@example.com!
Look forward to hearing from you!
- Rebecca Grugan
25 Things You Can Cook with Kids Under 6! 0
The idea of cooking with kids can be stressful! The mess, the time, the possible disasters!
But once you give it a go... it is soo much fun! Since my son was fifteen months old we have had him involved in the kitchen and in cooking food, when he shows interest.
He started with washing leaves, then tearing them up for tacos, and we are now at the stage of showing him how to bake.
Here are twenty five recipes you can cook with kids under 5!
1/. Tacos - tomatoes need dicing, cheese needs grating, lettuce shredded
2/. Quiche - cracking eggs, dicing ham, grating cheese
3/. Making Pasta - cracking eggs, sifting flour, rolling dough, putting through the machine!
4/. Fruit Skewer Snacks - Washing fruit, Dicing fruit, threading onto sticks
5/. Cookies - Measuring ingredients, mixing, dividing and squashing them :D
6/. Pizza - Measuring ingredients, rolling dough, cutting ingredients, grating cheese
7/. Chicken Nuggets - Cracking eggs, rolling breast in crumbs
8/. Lasagna - Cutting ingredients, grating cheese, measuring, layering
9/. Toasties - Cutting, spreading butter
10/. Salad - Cutting, dicing, shredding, washing
11/. Making Bread - sifting, measuring, mixing, rolling dough, baking
12/. Meatballs - measuring, dicing, grating, cracking eggs, mixing, diving, rolling
13/. Smoothies - dicing, peeling, measuring, blending
14/. Bacon and Scrambled Eggs with hash browns - cracking eggs, mixing, measuring, grating potatoes
15/. Fried Rice - dicing, measuring, cracking eggs
16/. Hummus with veggie sticks - slicing, cutting, washing, blending
17/. Pie - Measuring, mixing, rolling, dicing, baking
18/. Making Butter - measuring, mixing, pouring, spreading
19/. Pretzels - Measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting, TWISTING :D
20/. Porridge - Pouring, mixing, using the microwave
21/. Bangers and Mash - Sausages with mashed potatoes. Get the little ones scrubbing them, and those capable, peeling and cutting them up!
22/. Ice Blocks - dicing, slicing, peeling, blending and freezing!
23/. Crackers with cheese and tomato - Slicing, spreading
24/. Ice Cream - pouring, mixing, more FREEZING!!
25/. Soup - cutting, dicing, mixing, pouring, boiling
Why Montessori is for all children… 0
My son is currently 4, and is lucky enough to be attending a Montessori School here in Australia. It is a bit of a drive from our house, and with another baby on the way, it was a drive my husband and I were worried wouldn’t be viable next year.
I have been looking at different Education systems for the past three years for my work, however only this year have I had to look at it from personal circumstances with my own child.
In Australia we have the Public School System, Catholic Education and Independent Schools, with Montessori schools falling under the latter.
I have visited schools in all of these categories, looked at our local options and been blown away at how little has changed in the 25 years since I started at school. Behaviour systems that endorse public shaming, very little concrete learning, and everything becoming digitalised. Interactive white boards, and ipads being spruiked like it’s the best thing in the world. In both situations I’ve left with my heart and head hurting at the thought of all these children missing out on the Montessori method of education.
When researching Montessori at the start of your journey, you may read things like ‘Montessori is not for boys, ASD children can’t do Montessori, Montessori is too structured, Montessori is too free, and so on and so forth’.
After three years of running classes, observing schools, managing centres and talking to parents, I strongly believe Montessori is for EVERY child.
The prepared environment, the individual lessons and materials with isolated concepts, the way the Educators speaks to students, the structure of the work cycle; everything that happens in a Montessori school, happens because it’s proven to work. Science shows this is how children learn, this is what makes them happy.
And because this is how CHILDREN learn, whether they are auditory, visual or tactile learners, the equipment speaks to all of them and draws them into want to learn, inviting them to play.
As Maria Montessori stated ‘Play is the work of the Child’. Children play in a montessori environment, it is just not what society typically pictures play to look like. When we hear ‘play’ as adults, we envision children running around loudly, toys everywhere, dirt and no structure. This is a version of play, however so is the calmness and focus in a Montessori classroom. It is a version of play that children crave. Their developmental need for a sense of order, for repetition and freedom in choices. Their need for boundaries and for uninterrupted time. All of this is in a Montessori setting, and for over a century, all over the world, it’s WORKED.
Boisterous boys who could never sit still, or created chaos wherever they went can sit for almost an hour straight building a tower out of ten pink cubes. Children who couldn’t focus on anything for more than a minute, sit there for hours, day after day, pouring water from cup to cup, spooning beans from bowl to bowl with a calmness and beaming face like you’ve never seen before.
I see children bouncing out of the car, running to class, bursting with excitement to start their day. I see children not wanting to leave the classroom at the end of the day because they want to keep playing. I hear children helping younger children, whilst two others are sitting at the Peace table sorting out their conflict better than many adults I know can.
Until you have really observed, really seen Montessori in action, I promise you, you won’t believe me. I also promise you, that the moment you see your child’s face light up and look towards you with pride and such happiness after completing work from one of the shelves, you won’t be able to look at Education the same way again.
I know globally, it is extremely hard for services to keep up with the demand for Montessori, which makes access to a school difficult, starting a centre difficult with a lack of trained teachers available. I know that in some countries it is extremely expensive to attend a Montessori School and then there are some centres that are just not Montessori.
As a parent, I feel the pain and I know how hard it is to make decisions about a future we cannot predict, amidst the busyness of our own lives that are over-scheduled, hectic and overwhelming.
But as the world changes, and technology shifts the way we function, the way we work and live; as environmental impacts come to light, and the world seeks new solutions, there has never been a more important time for creative, innovative, motivated citizens than right now.
Dr Maria Montessori designed her method of education to ensure students would become contributing members of society. The only education method that provides this holistic opportunity is Montessori, and the world needs it more than ever.
Nothing is more important than education. With education, we can change the world. But the world has moved on, and the system remains the same.
Its time for change; it’s time for an education revolution.
How can I learn to concentrate if I am never given the opportunity to concentrate? 0
It seems that in a typical mainstream environment, children are not given the time to develop their concentration… because they are never given the opportunity to concentrate! Intensive lessons that are mentally draining are also interrupted by specialist lessons, announcements over the loudspeakers, teacher aides moving in and out of the room and bells ringing. Children are not given the opportunity to finish tasks and are often asked to pack up when instructed and to “finish it next time because now we have to practice counting by fives”. How on earth can a child learn persistence, hard work and concentration in an environment that is full of these interruptions? In an environment where we don’t value the work a child is trying to finish? What kind of message is this sending to our children? “Don’t worry about trying hard because you are never going to get to finish it anyway”, or, “It doesn’t matter if you rush it just hurry up and get it done because you need to get it all finished by lunch time”! Children in this environment do not seem to value their work. To them, if they can please the teacher by just “getting it done”, then that is all that matters. Often they do not try their best, they scribble quickly or copy other children just to get work finished. We have taken away the opportunity for our young children to feel proud of achieving success through their hard work and have replaced it with rewarding the children with gold stars and stickers. How does this effect the child’s developing personality?
The mainstream schooling timetable has become increasingly hectic and jam packed with lessons. In an attempt to provide enriched learning environments, young children are exposed to a huge array of activities even before their morning tea break! In the mainstream school environment it is becoming common to program “literacy and numeracy blocks” in the mornings before 12pm. These literacy and numeracy blocks may be an hour and a half of literacy activities followed by an an hour of maths activities. Children in the youngest classes are asked to focus for long periods of time on mentally challenging work. A literacy block in a typical morning for a five or six year old child can include; Daily writing, sight words, phonics, handwriting, comprehension activities, oral language activities and reading groups. Needless to say, by morning tea break at 11, both the young children and the teacher are often exhausted!
Is it any wonder that so many children have poorly developed attention and concentration skills? In my experience, most of the children are unable to concentrate and cope with the hectic schedules and busy environment of the mainstream classroom.
Would you like to work in an environment where you had no down time? No ability to choose what you wanted to work on when? No opportunity to really get “suck in” to a topic and complete something you are passionate about?
Montessori education provides time, freedom and calm. It is the perfect environment for young children to develop their concentration and inner drive to learn. Their efforts are valued, they are not interrupted. The message we send children in a Montessori environment is, “You are important and the work you are doing is important”.
Now, if only more Primary Schools in Queensland would incorporate Montessori streams so that more children could have this option!
- Rebecca Grugan
Yes, we are the most expensive FDC scheme in Queensland... 2
Out there amongst society, Family Day Care is seen by most as the ‘cheapest form of child care’. Amongst other misconceptions are that its unregulated, dodgy, inflexible, just babysitting. There are some of these types of services, but many are pretty good.
We started I AM Montessori Family Day Care for two reasons:
- We believe that Family Day Care is the best form of care available, especially for children under 3. Because of this, we never aimed to be the cheapest option available. We wanted our Educators to earn what they are worth, for families to have access to high quality Montessori education in well resourced environments whilst providing a service to Educators that was professional, timely, and supportive.
When we say professional – we don’t want educators en mass. We want high quality, dedicated professional who love what they do and love Montessori. We want Educators who are continually working towards being better. They themselves, never stop learning.
When we say timely – we mean in our communication, in our visitations, efficiency in everything we do. We also mean up-to-date systems and functions that incorporate people and technology to run an effective scheme, maximising the support output we can give our Educators.
When we say supportive – we mean in all areas. Not just with the paperwork side, meeting the minimum legal requirements and coordinator visits on the absolute minimum. We mean monthly one on one meetings, monthly PD’s on relevant topics, quarterly Montessori training sessions and heavily discounted resources. We offer a toy library and in depth monthly themed curriculum with family excursions to give the concrete learning experiences. We collect all money and do all invoicing to families. You get paid Weekly and can spend your time concentrating on the children. We provide conferences and events throughout the year Educators can attend including an all expenses paid Christmas Party (sans children). We offer free anonymous counselling for our Educators with a qualified third party supplier so they always feel they can talk to someone, personally or professionally.
- To give families access to high quality Montessori services instead of getting stuck on a waiting list for three years.
92% of the positions we have available for our Educators are FULL, even though many of them are the most expensive Family Day Care provider in their area. This is because we don’t focus on the price to compete in the marketplace. We focus on quality. We focus on maintaining the health and wellbeing of our Educators so that they remain happy and motivated, thus ensuring all children in care are receiving the BEST possible educational opportunities and nurturing care out there.
Too many people try to market their service as only $7 an hour, or open however many days and hours families are demanding out of fear of losing business. Six months later, if not earlier, they end up burnt out, unhappy and working in a business they never signed up for, earning an extremely low hourly rate that doesn’t match the minimum wage.
Family Day Care is a business. When you approach starting your own, look at it from this angle. Its not a hobby, or just a thing to make a little extra money whilst my kids grow up (though this is a great reason to start). It deserves to be run like a business, with you as the central point in your planning, as a Professional Educator.
Once you have that right, then wait and take only the customers that suit your business for what it is. Don’t let them create it for you.
We don’t take on every Educator that contacts us, or that we visit and if your first question is about fees, we know the relationship isn’t going to work.
We are okay with being seen as too expensive, because we feel the service we offer is worth every cent, and so do the Educators that are with our service.
If you truly want to deliver a strong Montessori program, to become a professional in your field, earning what a professional should get paid then give us a call and look beyond the first question of “What is your Levy and Educator Fee?”.
We won’t take on more than 40 Educators, and we don’t just take on anyone. You need to have the Montessori heart, and a professional outlook. This is what Family Day Care is all about. This is what the children deserve.
Our fees are $1.50 an hour/per child for families and only $13.50 a week for Educators. These fees are currently the highest which will change in July 2016 as other schemes put their fees up. Our fees will stay the same until June 2017 at which point we should pretty much be on par with everyone else, in price only.
07 3848 2391
How Has Montessori Changed My Life? 1
Montessori is not just a curriculum – it is a way of life! It is a way of parenting and a lifestyle choice that is becoming more popular with modern day families. I see so often that parents parent the Montessori way but have never had a name for it or labelled it. Meeting about 80 families a week has shown me that it is very easy to incorporate the Montessori way into households. Parents want their children to grown up to become the best version of themselves and the Montessori lifestyle allows this to become a reality. Montessori teaches independence, self-discipline, self-control, self-correction and self-confidence. All of these are skills that are necessary for adulthood and for getting along with society as a whole.
Personally, I came across Montessori as I was fumbling through the end of my teenage years trying to decide what to do. After years of hating high school I knew I wanted to be a teacher to try to change the attitude to education in young people. After choosing to do a secondary school teaching bachelor in university (and lasting 9 months) I was lost. My preschool years were a happy time and my primary education was always fun in my head. My home and family life were filled with many happy moments and memories and many great relationships with my family and friends. Dad, who is an Aussie, moved to Ireland for love and my Mum always promised to him that their children would grow up knowing the Australian side of the family just as much as the Irish side. Geographically this was hard but every second year without fail we boarded a plane to Brisbane for 6 weeks. My Aussie relationships are a strong as my Irish ones and summers spent in Brisbane were always amazing!
My brother and I never wanted for much but my parents always ensured that their amazing work ethics were passed on to us. My brother, who is two years older than me, is a very black and white, straight down the line person. He went straight from high school to university and then to work in an investment bank. There was no confusion in his brain about his career direction and I often felt jealous of his certainty.
My Mum is one of my biggest inspirations and my biggest fan and follower to date but when my Mum showed me the advertisement for the Montessori Diploma in Dublin I was extremely iffy about it. I had only briefly heard about Montessori and it had never entered my mind as a potential career.
At the time I was volunteering in my local Primary School with five year olds and the Principal and my Mum convinced me to jump at the chance to begin the course.
I enrolled in the course and after one hour in the course I realised that this was exactly how I wanted education to be! I could clearly see the benefits and could hardly comprehend why this was not the standard way of teaching in the modern world!!
My course lasted 6 months and was an intense course with a huge workload. It offered my 200 hours of work placement and I was so privileged to be working in the best Montessori Preschool in my area. Every day I went to uni or went to school I came out more certain that this was the right path for me.
For the years that followed I worked in Montessori Schools in Ireland. After a personal life change I decided I needed to reflect on life and decided to move 16,654 kilometres away to sunny Australia. I applied for my job in I AM Montessori and after a skype interview (in my pyjamas) decided to take the job. After 18 months working at I AM Montessori I can honestly say that I have never looked back! If I had a Montessori childhood, I guarantee that my skill set as an adult would be completely different. I am very indecisive and lack self-confidence in my tasks and jobs. Always being told that I was a ‘good girl’ as a child (sorry Mum) has made me often require extrinsic praise for tasks competed in work and as an adult that is a challenge. Seeing children who are intrinsically rewarded is the best part of my role as a Montessori Educator and I know that this is something that as an adult I have had to overcome! However, without Maria Montessori I have no idea where my life would be at.
My aim as an educator and trainer is to try to make Montessori available to children from every economic background and I firmly believe that our future workforce and entrepreneurs will stem from Montessori children.
- Aisling Farley
Phonics versus “Look Say” or “Whole Word” method in teaching reading and writing. 2
The English language is based upon 26 individual letter sounds or “phonemes”. Their are combinations of the letters that when combined create new sounds of course. Reading and writing English was traditionally taught using a phonetic approach. This means, children would be taught the sound to say each time they looked at a symbol (eg h or t). The beauty of this phonetic system of learning to read and write is that power is given to the child to then use this knowledge of individual phonics to decode any word they encounter. Essentially, the words and vocabulary you can acquire when you have a strong knowledge of phonics is potentially endless. Children are able to decode unfamiliar words by remembering the phoneme that matches each letter in the word. The Montessori method teaches reading and writing using this phonetic system.
The other method of teaching children to read and write that has become popular in the USA is the “Look Say” method. This was introduced and championed by John Dewey, (the same man who brought us the Dewey Decimal System that we use to catalogue books in our libraries).
The “Look Say” method is an approach that teaches children to read and recognise whole words. For example, a child may be shown the word “cat” on a flash card and is told, “This says cat”. The child, over time, then learns that when they see the symbol (cat), they are to say the word “cat”. Essentially, the Look Say method treats the English language as if it were Chinese. The Chinese written language is a Logographic language, meaning there are thousands of detailed symbols that represent individual words. The failure is however, that the English language is supposed to be a phonetic script. When we fail to teach children phonics properly, and if we teach them using the whole word approach, they are required to memorise thousands and thousands of words by rote and are incapable of decoding new words they come across independently. Instead of their brain having to remember only approximately 26 letters and their matching phonemes, children who are taught the Look Say method have to use their memory space to remember each and every word as a symbol.
This can also have the effect of drastically reducing a child’s vocabulary because they have no way of decoding new words they have not been explicitly taught to recognise.
Many educators in America blame the widespread use of the Look Say method in American schools as the reason behind the increasingly declining literacy and numeracy rates in the USA.
Written language has always been a tool for human kind to express their thoughts and record their beliefs and history. The phonetic approach to reading and writing enables children to have the power to use language to express their own ideas, expand their vocabulary and read new words independently.