Friday, February 17, 2017

What to Consider in a Montessori Elementary School

What to Consider in a Montessori Elementary School

Making the decision to move from public schools to Montessori education requires careful consideration. For many parents, the fundamentals of Montessori learning are a mystery, while others have a lifetime of misconceptions that have to be overcome. When looking at a potential Montessori educator, here are a few things to ask about and be aware of.

Number of Students in Classrooms

Montessori classrooms are kept small for a reason. Allowing the instructor to dedicate more time to each student is the primary advantage. Each instructor is thoroughly trained in all of the subjects they will be teaching, which allows children to spend more time with a single instructor and less of their educational moving between classes. And since the classrooms have mixed ages, younger children are able to learn from older ones to build social skills and educational goals.

Self-Focused Education

The misconception that children have complete control over the learning process sounds intimidating, but it is not a correct picture of Montessori learning.  Children are encouraged to develop their own schedules, but class time is still divided into blocks, albeit longer ones, which give each child more time to spend on subjects and projects.  The environment is self-directed, but still follows a well-rounded curriculum. 

Montessori Curriculums

Montessori educators are not specialized in the way that public school teachers are. The subject matter being taught is nearly identical to public schools, such as math, language arts, history, and art. The difference is that Montessori education uses an integrated approach that ties the different subjects together. For example, learning about Egyptian pyramids ties to geometry, art, and other subjects. The integration of different subjects into a single process is fundamental to the Montessori process.

Gifted and Special Learning Needs

From the Montessori perspective, all children are gifted, but each in their own way. The Montessori environment allows children to expand on subjects that come more easily or spend a bit more time on the ones that are giving them a challenge. Having mixed ages in the classroom is especially helpful for gifted and special needs children because the older kids provide additional guidance and assistance.

Standardized Testing

Standardized educational tests are a requirement for all educators, including Montessori schools and homeschooling. These tests are used to determine both the educational level of students and the success of the institution. While Montessori children take the same tests, they are taught the materials in a different way that focuses more on integrated skills than rote memorization.

How Well Do Montessori Students Compare?

For years, the comparison between Montessori and traditional education was a difficult call to make. As research has progressed over the years, it has become apparent that Montessori students tend to learn as well or even better than traditional education students, including higher math skills and more complex vocabulary and writing skills.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our students enjoy mixed-age classrooms where they can work together and learn from their older peers.  The self-directed environment allows students to explore on their own, while still being guided by the teacher.  To see the Montessori difference firsthand, call our school today and schedule a tour.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Instilling Confidence from 1 to 6 Years of Age

Instilling Confidence from 1 to 6 Years of Age

Every parent wants to raise a confident child. The question is, in today's world of ever-increasing media exposure, how do parents and teachers successfully instill confidence in children?

The Montessori approach is a powerful antidote to the negative consequences of much of the challenges facing children and families today. Here are a few of the ways the program instills confidence in young children.


Your child's education isn't only important for his or her knowledge and capability. Learning to do things for oneself, from dressing oneself and potty training at an early age to educational projects as a child approaches school age, helps kids to feel more confident in themselves. That's why an early education program is so important for your child's growth, even as early as a year or two old.


The Montessori program is centered around the goal of fostering independence in children, which in turn promotes confidence. The work cycle allows children to pursue self-directed learning within some structure, helping children stay focused and on task while encouraging creativity and free thinking. This combination of hands-on learning and freedom of exploration, ultimately ending with the successful achievement of their goals, helps children to feel good about their accomplishments -- a basic building block of confidence.

Peer Teaching

Another hallmark of the Montessori program is the way it encourages older, more experienced children to teach and support the younger, less experienced kids. Traditionally, Montessori programs had mixed-age groupings that gave the older kids plenty of opportunities to help the younger ones learn new skills; however, even in modern classrooms where the children are often closer in age, the self-directed work environment still encourages the more capable kids to help those less experienced. The experience of children helping one another encourage confidence in both the teacher, who practices and demonstrates his or her competence, but also the child who is being helped by a peer to learn a new skill.


Children thrive not only when they succeed, but especially when they succeed at something they want to do. Their joy at getting a gold star on a routine worksheet may be fleeting, but when they achieve something they did by choice and were genuinely interested in, they gain a much greater sense of accomplishment. The Montessori method, with its extended work cycle and self-directed learning, gives children opportunities to make choices about what and how they learn, ultimately providing many more opportunities for building true confidence.

Confidence is a valuable trait that helps our children navigate school, peer relationships, and the world around them. For more information about how our program helps instill confidence in our young students, contact Day Star Montessori today for a tour of our Montessori school.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Toddler Turmoil: Terrible Threes or Frightening Fours?

Toddler Turmoil: Terrible Threes or Frightening Fours?

The toddler years are an exciting time for parents and their kids, but they can also be some of the most challenging times as well. Children who are three or four often go through frustrating phases in their lives that can test the patience of even the most tolerant parent. However, knowing proactive, positive ways to reach your child during these difficult times will make life a lot easier for both of you.

A few tips that help:

  • Minimizing the yelling
  • Understanding what's going on
  • Know how to redirect
  • Set clear, simple boundaries
  • Don't fear timeouts
  • Be consistent with your child

Don't Yell So Much

Even though yelling seems like a good way to let out frustration, it is less likely to bring out better behavior. Too much yelling and other harsh measures can have a negative impact on how your child's brain develops. Taking a minute to calm down before disciplining your child can work wonders.

Understand What's Going On

If you're attuned to your child's needs, you can likely guess what may be going on at any given time. Understand why your child is acting out can help you take steps to resolve the problem. In many cases, better awareness helps you prevent problems before they start.

Redirect Your Child in Creative Ways

Redirecting a child in a positive way can help eliminate a lot of bad behavior. Try reading to a child who is whining or get a child who is being pushy or grabbing to do some physical activity. Redirection always needs to be done in a loving way.

Know How to Set Boundaries

All children need boundaries, but they need to be simple for better retention. Remind your child of these "house rules" every day. Make sure you praise your child when he or she sticks to the rules. Understand that this is an age where your child is likely to test out how much they can get away with.

Sometimes Everyone Needs a Timeout

A timeout, possibly one minute for each year, can distract your child from bad behavior and give them time to think. If the bad behavior focuses on a specific toy, consider giving your child a timeout from using the toy. Make sure your child has access to the toilet and doesn't have access to toys or games.

Consistency is Key

Make sure you address bad behavior consistently if you don't want it to continue. Don't expect your child to follow the rules one day and let them off the next. Above all, use positive methods to correct bad behavior.

At Mission Valley Montessori, our teachers work with children starting at the toddler phase. They continue throughout their elementary years, learning through play-based activities that are self-guided and self-directed.  To learn how to help your toddler through this challenging phase, contact us today to see the positive impact Montessori education can have on your child.