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.

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:

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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

info@iammontessori.com.au

Why Montessori is ruining the Australian child care industry... 2

All over the country, people in the ECEC sector are screaming and pulling their hair out asking "Why montessori?". There is conversations about how montessori is ruining intakes in mainstream centres and services, how every parent seems to be ceasing care to go to a montessori service.

Montessori is single handedly ruining Australia's ECEC sector... well ruining society's 'norm'.

Parents are choosing montessori services because the philosophy aligns with how they parent, with how they believe education should be for their child, because the method prepares them for a world we don't know about yet. Parents want what the normal sector can't give.

EYLF is heavily 'montessori aligned', but it's actually not the same. Just because you align to the EYLF does not mean you are basically the same.

Montessori is more than just child led learning and nature. Montessori is highly detailed and takes hours of preparation, months of in depth training to really understand how a classroom in a montessori service actually works. The amazing detail behind everything that is put into that environment.

It is not just about jumping on Pinterest, seeing something that has Montessori placed on it, making it up, putting it on your shelf and saying its montessori.

As an Educator in a montessori service, you are continually asking Why? What is the purpose? Where is the control of error? What is the isolated concept?

From the size and type of jug used in a pouring activity to the type of crayon chosen for an art tray. Every little detail is questioned and fine tuned so that it meets the complete need of the child.

Those children are observed with such a skill that only ongoing development and training can provide, and every tray and job on the shelves is created for the children in that class, at that time.

EYLF is a step in the right direction, but it's not montessori.

Three years ago I charted and predicted the montessori movement in Australia, and it has continually met every expectation I have had. I was just a parent with a twelve month old child, who saw what parents wanted, and noone in the ECEC sector was providing, fast enough.

The reason Montessori will ruin the ECEC sector as we know it, is because it's not just about the first six years of life, it's about life. It's a way of life, in and outside of the four walls we traditionally know as a classroom.

The movement was here before Prince George enrolled. The amount of Montessori Long Day Care centres with waitlists, the amount of new centres opening, and the huge Family Day Care movement proves that supply is coming for that demand and those who do not take the parents of today's children seriously will be left behind.

Out of all of the 'alternative' forms of education, Montessori has the strength to become mainstream due to its commonly recognised areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language and Culture. Every parent gets to a point in their child's life where they can go with the grain of society, or go with their gut and choose what their heart believes is right. This difficult decision is easier when you investigate montessori and see the words 'maths' and 'language' as these two areas are drilled into us by society as being extremely important.

This is why Montessori, rather than Reggio or Steiner will become the philosophy parents choose. It is more comfortable to be able to see those areas in the curriculum, even though the holistic approach is the key.

Just wait and see what the sector looks like in 24 months... 

Montessori is the future of Education, and Maria Montessori saw that over a century ago...

Just because it's wooden doesn't mean its montessori. 0

IKEA has been there for a while. Kmart has recently caught onto the movement. Wooden toys are becoming popular again as parents crave the beauty of these materials and as they learn how natural materials can contribute to their child's experience with play.

But for those wanting to follow the Montessori philosophy – just because it’s wooden, doesn’t mean its Montessori. 

The purpose behind many ‘toys’(we call them materials/ work) in a Montessori classroom is defined and easy for the child to grasp.

 

 

There needs to be an 'isolated concept'. A ‘point’ to it, something the child is trying to understand and can easily understand as it is one concept at a time.

There needs to be a ‘control of error’. The purpose of a child working with any of the materials is so that they can self-correct without an adult having to jump in to tell them they're wrong.

As you discover Montessori and move further into your new journey, it becomes easier to pick up these key points behind preparing a piece of work/ preparing an activity. Once you start to understand the why, it makes everything a lot easier to understand.

Sources such as Pinterest and Google images can give you ideas, but not all that is tagged 'montessori' is in fact montessori. If you look at the above, and think 'what is the isolated concept? where is the control of error? what is the purpose? you are on the right track to providing a stronger montessori experience at home for your child. This can seem a bit overwhelming, I get it, two years ago I was there myself! Even if, right now, the only question you can ask yourself is ‘What is the purpose of this toy/ activity? This question alone will help your purchasing of toys, may stop you from buying something just because its wooden and help stop the clutter you may be building at home.

Children don’t need a lot of things, they just need the right things. They need purposeful work, they want what they do to have purpose. We, as the adult, can educate ourselves on how to simplify our toy rooms and what toys are developmentally appropriate for our children and prepare an environment on where they can focus, grow, learn and become independent.

Moving from plastic to natural materials is a start, but it is soo much more important to have toys with a purpose, toys that allow the children to explore, discover and use their imagination (we don’t mean fantasy).

A great place to start is eliminating anything with batteries. We will have a whole series on ‘preparing your home environment’ and where to start, what to do, and what not to do!

If you don’t know what to do after this, call us anytime on 07 3848 2391 and we can help as much as we can over the phone.

{NEW STAFF MEMBER} Today we welcome Jemma to the team... 0

Our team has now grown to four of us! Today we welcome our fourth staff member, Jemma Hicks as Education Coordinator!

You can read more on Jemma below:


There is a strong focus in mainstream education to improve literacy and numeracy results. This may seem like an honourable mission, but in my experience many children are missing out on building foundational social, emotional and fine and gross motor skills in the process. Children who are not able to hold a pencil correctly, use scissors, open their own lunchbox or go to the toilet independently are expected to learn a list of sight words each week. Five year olds who are unable to initiate conversations, take turns using equipment, ask for help, (or if they can play with their friends ball at lunch time), are expected to write abstract character descriptions and persuasive texts for english. As you would expect, many five year olds find it difficult to write a persuasive text and many early childhood teachers are pulling their hair out and wondering why they are asked to teach this in the first place!
I started working in education as a Primary School teacher in 2009 because I have a passion for Early Childhood education. As I worked as a Prep and Year One teacher for six years I saw the focus in the mainstream classrooms begin to shift away from the children. Over the years the Early Childhood curriculum in Queensland schools has moved away from the play based, constructionist approach with concrete materials, to an extremely formal and abstract system that I feel would be more appropriate in the middle or upper school. Instead of focusing on social and emotional skills and helping children develop their independence and self-esteem, Prep and Year One teachers are “under the hammer” to ensure their children are reading and writing at pre-determined levels by the end of each term. 

Montessori education has been around for more than 100 years and I believe we need it now more than ever. I believe the reason Montessori is becoming more popular is that parents and children are feeling the effects of the mainstream schooling system that is pushing our young children to “achieve” without stopping to look at the result. I have spoken with many parents who feel distressed because their child does not want to go to school or already feel they are failing. In a Montessori environment, children learn to be independent, persistent and self-motivated. They are given time to develop their social skills, emotional independence and creativity. They are given time and the concrete resources to really play with and explore each concept.  I believe Montessori education is a real education. Children are given the freedom to learn and grow and the freedom to develop their unique personalities and interests.  How can we expect young adults to enter the workforce as self-motivated, independent, creative and resilient people if we never give them the opportunity to develop these skills throughout primary school?

 

We look forward to the impact Jemma will have on I AM Montessori and the direction we are heading!

If you would like to contact Jemma you can email her at jemma@iammontessori.com.au or call 07 3848 2391

FIST PUMPS, FOCUS AND FREEDOM - For a teacher the end of term is a feeling of sadness and joy 0

Teachers generally look forward to the end of term as they need the mid term breaks to regenerate their own batteries and recuperate from the routine of school but for the teachers at I Am Montessori they dread it as it means saying goodbye to some of the children who aren’t re-enrolling!

Each child is cherished at our classes at I AM Montessori and every child is guided through the Montessori curriculum at their own pace! We teach about one hundred children per week and each one is unique and special to us.

During the ten weeks of any term we see a huge progression in our children.

For a new child starting term it is common for them to be unfocused and easily distracted but as the term comes to an end it is so rewarding to see a child finish a task and see the self-praise on his face! Often at the beginning of term parents fret about their child not being able to concentrate and not being as settled as other children but with a little reassurance and some persistence they too can see that the building up of these skills doesn’t take long!

During term 2 I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes! I’m not going to lie, some days have been a struggle coming into work being homesick and other health issues but I can honestly say that once class starts and I see the magic of Montessori come to life in my classroom my mood is instantly uplifted and I forget about everything else!

There have been a lot of touching moments in this term from cuddles to high fives and even fist pumps! But my favourite thing during a ten-week term is to see the progression and accomplishment of children finishing tasks they struggled with or were not even interested in at the beginning.

From the child who on their first class couldn’t focus on any particular activity and was easily distracted to the same child pouring water for 20 minutes on week 4 of term. Or the child who struggled to go the bathroom at 3 years old alone to progress on week 6 and go to the toilet unaided! Or to see the child who has special needs being unable to focus in week one to being much more focused by week 3 and completing tasks that are beyond their development! There is also the infant who cannot do a lot of tasks but thoroughly enjoys trying and keeps trying to place the ball in the Imbucare Box and in week 4 he finally places the ball in, opens the drawer takes out the ball and replaces it in the hole! Or the child who is on the brink of reading who reads her first sentence. Or the child who is so excited about learning ‘big’ numbers and has the ‘light bulb’ moment when she sees all the beads laid out on the mat! Sometimes the simplest tasks can be a struggle for some children and it is amazing to see a child choosing her own work from a shelf who previously needed to be guided to choose an activity!

I am looking forward to a break but I’m looking forward to seeing all my special little people after the break more!

We love Montessori!