Sunday, February 18, 2018

Preschool Skills to Use Before Reading a Book

Preschool Skills to Use Before Reading a Book

Preschool Skills to Use Before Reading a Book - Montessori West

Every child learns at a different pace, and learning how to read is as unpredictable as it is important. But if you want to help your child prepare for this milestone – and continue to grow as a new reader – you can help by building some early literary skills now. After all, reading and understanding text aren’t the only skills involved in reading, and they’re not the only ways for a child to experience words and books. Pre-reading skills range from paying attention during reading time to identifying letters and numbers, and all of them help us lay an important foundation for literacy.

Here are a few early childhood literacy skills your preschooler can use before they start reading. Grab your favorite book and get started today!

Looking at Pictures & Identifying Items

Reading comprehension skills are important because kids must learn to pay attention to the details and meaning of a story. Luckily, this skill can be sharpened without even using words. Select books with colorful, clear illustrations on every page and help your child identify the most important elements. For example, your child may start by distinguishing between different colors and animals, then progress to picking out specific characters, settings, and other details.

Identifying Letters, Numbers, & Punctuation Marks

Long before kids learn how to interpret letters and words, they can tell different shapes and sizes apart. Now is a great time to start focusing on the differences between different letters and numbers, including their shape, size, and name. Start by reading alphabet books that name and describe each letter, getting your child familiar with the whole alphabet. As they learn more about the alphabet, pause during story time and ask them to identify random letters or point out the differences between capital and lower-case letters on the page.

Predicting Patterns & Plots

As you read aloud to your child, engage them in the action of the plot and encourage them to try predicting what will happen next. This helps them pay attention to plots and patterns, and it also inspires creativity and problem-solving skills by allowing them to imagine the next page. This can be as simple as pausing during story time and asking what one character should say to the next, or as complex as drawing

Telling Stories Themselves

Ultimately, reading is all about following narratives. Because strong narrative skills are helpful as your child learns to read, consider involving them in the storytelling process. After reading a book together, ask them to retell the story – or tell a story about something that happened to them. Reading repetitive books is a great starting point, because kids can rely on a predictable pattern to help them learn and retell a story. Even playing make-believe is a great way to build storytelling skills, so give your kids an opportunity to get creative.

At Montessori Children’s House, we encourage our students to embrace and enjoy reading at their own pace. Contact us to learn more about our preschool programs and see how Montessori education teaches students new skills that set the foundation for lifelong learning.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

3 Tips to Further Develop Fine Motor Skills

3 Tips to Further Develop Fine Motor Skills

3 Tips to Further Develop Fine Motor Skills - Montessori West

Although most of us don't even think about it, our fine motor skills are used and tested on a daily basis. Whether it's writing, drawing, typing, cutting, tying shoelaces, using a fork and spoon, or buttoning your shirt – fine motor skills are essential for nearly everything you do.
So naturally, you want your child to have highly developed fine motor skills they can rely on both inside and outside of the classroom. Here are three tips to help your child develop and hone their fine motor skills:

No. 1 – Understand the stages of development

If you want your child's fine motor skills to improve, it's imperative to understand their current stage of development. Depending on their age and progress, you'll want to explore and complete activities that reflect those factors.

No. 2 – Customize the Activities

Finding out what kind of activities your child gravitates towards is a really important part of developing their fine motor skills. If you incorporate fine motor skills into projects or hobbies they have already shown an interest in, it will be a natural learning process rather than something that feels forced. Whether they enjoy building stuff with Legos, creating a masterpiece with finger paints, or playing with Barbie dolls – you can use it to help them build upon their existing fine motor skills.

No. 3 – Stock up on supplies

It's a good idea to give your child as many options as possible when they are developing their fine motor skills. This way, you can see which activities they naturally gravitate towards.  Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Supplies for Creative Projects
  • Construction paper
  • Finger paints
  • Markers (non-toxic and washable)
  • Crayons
  • Coloring books
  • An Easel
  • Modeling clay
  • Musical instruments
Building Activities
  • Legos
  • Bristle blocks
  • Construction straws
  • Tinker toys
  • Magnetic blocks
  • Puzzles
General Supplies
  • Safety scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Smock (to prevent staining)
  • Paste/glue
Having a variety of supplies on hand will give your child the resources they need to explore and develop their own interests – all while improving their fine motor skills as they continue to grow and learn.

Make it Fun

Fine motor skills are necessary for almost everything we do in life. Use the tips listed above to ensure your child's development stays on track, making sure you are giving them the encouragement and support they need to excel in the classroom and beyond.  

For preschoolers in particular, it's important focus on your child's fine motor skills both inside and outside of the classroom.  The teachers and staff at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus use hands-on, interactive learning to further develop and fine tune students' fine motor skills.  Contact us today to schedule a tour of our school and learn more about the Montessori Method.

Elementary Math Lesson: Teaching Fractions

Elementary Math Lesson: Teaching Fractions

Elementary Math Lesson: Teaching Fractions - Montessori West

Many elementary students struggle with learning fractions. But with the right information and know-how, you can instill a love of numbers in your child that will help them succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. That's why it's so important to take an individual approach when trying to teach them how to calculate fractions.

Consider Their Interests

If you can find the place where your child's interests meet the world of mathematics, they will take to these new concepts like a fish to water.
You can find ways to explain fractions using an activity they have already shown an interest in, and then a seemingly complicated concept like fractions is instantly more familiar and comfortable to them.

1. Legos

Maybe your child loves to create things with Legos. If so, you can use this existing interest to easily explain how fractions work. Use the different colors of their Lego set to give them a visual representation of a fraction. Then, have them draw and label the fraction on a blank sheet of paper.

2. Baseball

If your child has an interest in America's favorite pastime, you can use it to teach them about fractions. For instance, you can play a game of catch as a fun way to demonstrate a real-life example of this skill.
Throw the ball x amount of times – keeping track of the number of times you catch and throw the ball on a sheet of paper. After you're done, help your child write down the fraction that represents how many times they caught it compared to how many times it was thrown.

3. Dominoes

If your family loves game night – dominoes might be the perfect tool to teach your child about fractions. Make up your own domino game to sneak in a math lesson with game night.

4. Pizza

Who doesn't love a hot, cheesy pizza? But you probably didn't realize how easily you can use it to teach your kid about fractions. Next time you order a pie, count how many slices there are and have your child figure out the fractions as it disappears slice by slice.

5. Smartphones

Put the "smart" in smartphone by using it to help your child understand the concept of fractions. There are a lot of great apps designed to make math both fun and easy for young students, such as Squeebles.

Bottom Denominator

Regardless of what subject you're teaching your child, it's important to make it relevant to their everyday experiences. Find something they already enjoy doing, then find a way to teach them about fractions using their unique and pre-existing interests.  Elementary students at the Montessori School of Pleasanton are encouraged to use everyday activities to enhance their learning.  To learn how to incorporate specific Montessori activities into your home life, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our teachers and staff.