Who is Maria Montessori?

Maria Montessori was born in 1880 to her father Alessandro, who was an accountant, and her mother Renilde- an educated and well read woman. During Maria’s formative education she pushed the boundaries of gender expectations and had aspirations to become an engineer. When Maria entered college however, she enrolled into medical school. Her rejected applications only drove her more, and in 1890, was finally accepted in medicine.

Maria faced trails during her studies, being the minority among a male dominated profession, Maria was shunned and rejected by her male peers. Regardless, Maria graduated in 1896 as a doctor.
download Whilst working at the orthophrenic school, Maria focused on children with developmental or learning disabilities and studied their behaviour. She found that unstructured and unsupported environments led to the child being unstimulated and disengaged from their learning. Doing something about this, Maria created materials and resources to engage the children in their learning. Maria then recognised a gap in the availability in care for neuro-typical children and opened the Casa De Bambini in 1907. She realised that children, when provided materials to support their own inquiry, can learn from the material and themselves. Her focus was the development of a child physically, mentally and emotionally and her goal was to educate with an understanding and a respect to the individual’s needs and interests (Gutek, G. 2001. p181).

She envisioned that for optimum learning, students should have structure and routine, this would build independence. “The Montessori school was designed to cultivate children’s sensory skills and manual dexterity, to allow them a degree of choice within a structured environment, and to cultivate independence and self-assurance in performing skills” (Gutek, G. 2001. p 183).

Our Immunisation Policy

Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them in the community. Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also others in the community, by reducing the spread of disease.

We would like to let you know about our Immunisation and Disease Prevention Policy for the centre. As many of you may be aware, most Child Care services in Queensland do not have a full immunisation policy which aligns to the ‘No Jab, No Play’ laws that have been made in New South Wales and Victoria.

As our Policy attached states, we are a full immunisation centre unless medical condition prohibits a child from receiving vaccinations. Evidence for this must be provided on enrolment.

We will keep close records in relation to your child’s immunisations and due dates and will require an up-to-date Immunisation Record to be provided after each vaccination. You can read our full policy here >> immunisation-and-disease-prevention-policy

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 07 3824 4244 or email director@thehillsmontessori.com.au,

We provide FOOD

As of Monday 16th January 2017, we will be providing food from catering company, Kids Gourmet Food. All children will receive Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea, price is inclusive of the daily fee!

We chose Kids Gourmet Food as we were most impressed with their menu and range of healthy foods. If there is anything on the menu we arent happy with we will replace it with something we are!

For more info on Kids Gourmet Food, please visit their website here!

Phonics versus “Look Say” or “Whole Word” method in teaching reading and writing.

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. 

Maths in Montessori

What is Mathematics?

“The laws of Nature are written in the language of mathematics.. the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word”. Galileo Galilei

Maria Montessori understood that mathematics is a language we use for interpreting and understanding the the world around us. She realised that mathematical concepts need to be first absorbed through the senses before children can abstract mathematical information.

For this reason the  Montessori mathematics curriculum moves from concrete experiences to increasingly abstract representations. Before children are asked to learn symbolic representations of numbers and memorise number facts and rules, they should first be immersed in a myriad of sensorial experiences with numbers. In the Montessori classroom, the sensorial curriculum prepares children for later abstract work with numbers.

When using the sensorial materials children experience various dimensions and shapes and relationships between these. The materials isolate one concept and are self correcting and encourage independence and problem solving. Each sensorial piece of equipment is designed using the base ten system. Children need to know numbers to ten to work with the decimal system.

As children work with the materials they unconsciously absorb the relationships between numbers one to ten. When a child works with the red rods for example, the tenth rod is ten times longer than the first. When they work with the pink tower, the smallest cube is 1cm3 while the largest is 10cm3.

The exactness of the materials allows children to make their own mathematical discoveries. When using both the green and yellow sets of knobless cylinders children can create the rainbow number facts to ten.

As children progress through the mathematics curriculum they are gradually introduced to the symbolic representations of number. Children work with operations with numbers and also use the materials to help memorise mathematical facts.

How can I learn to concentrate if I am never given the opportunity to concentrate?

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”.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

This Thursday 27th October will be our first official trading day with children attending care!

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We are so excited to bring Montessori to the Redlands and it is great to see families who are just as excited to have their children attending a local montessori centre!

We have had soo many enquiries! If you are wanting certain days, please call us on 07 3824 4244 as spots are filling fast and we expect to be close to capacity come January!

 

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions!

Where did the Montessori curriculum come from?

Dr Maria Montessori started the Montessori curriculum in her native, Italy. She was born in a small town called Chiaravalle in 1870 but later, in 1882, moved to Rome with her parents! After her schooling she went to medical school and was the first women ever granted a degree in Medicine in Italy. When she started working as a physician first she worked with the mentally deficient and this is where many of her findings and theories come from.

Montessori opened her first “Children’s House” in a poor area of Rome in 1907. Most of the children that attended the first Casa de Bambini were poor and some were also mentally deficient. Montessori used her finding from her work as a physician and created the materials based on scientific facts and through her observations of the children working with materials her curriculum was developed! Most of the equipment used in a Montessori classroom today has been tested and worked on by Dr Maria herself.

Montessori spread around Europe first and in 1915 she was brought her curriculum to America. She established the Montessori movement in India during the war and left India in 1946. She continued to work on her philosophy and studying theorists and philosophers until her death in 1952 in Holland at the age of 82.

Why are Montessori teachers called guides?

In a Montessori classroom the adults in the class are not teachers! They do not teach anything! They are guides or directresses. They do not teach the children anything because the children are capable of self-learning. The adults guide the children through the curriculum at the child’s pace and show the child how to use the material correctly.

Does Montessori curriculum benefit all children, including children with special need and extremely gifted children?

Yes! Children in the Montessori curriculum work at their own pace and to their own strengths and advantages! Montessori guides or directresses guide the children through the materials according to their own abilities. A child learns self-praise through the independence and self-confidence or completing tasks at their own pace and therefore neither feel like nor compare their achievements to the other children in their class.

What age do children have to be to attend a Montessori classroom? 

The Montessori Curriculum starts at birth and goes right up until 18 years old.

The class structure is a multi age grouping system. From 0-3 Years, 3-6 Years, 6-9 Years, 9-12 Years, 12-15 Years and 15-18 Years! At I AM Montessori our Family Day Care Educators run Montessori Family Day Care from 0-3 Years and our classes at Yeronga are from 0-3 Years, 0-6 Years and Drop Off Classes from 3-6 Years.

Why are classes multi aged?

Montessori’s observations in the early 20th century in Casa de Bambini recognised that children work better in a multi aged classrooms. She found that the older children take pride in setting good examples for the younger children, they like to show younger children how to use materials correctly and they act as guide themselves. The younger children then in turn learn from the older children and strive to be independent like older children.

Is Montessori too structured or strict for my child?

This is a common misconception about Montessori. The Montessori environment is actually a lot freer than other classrooms. The children experience ‘freedom within limits’ in our environment. The children are free to choose any activity that they have been guided through by the directress. They are free to choose activities that they have mastered as well as well as activities that they are still in the process of mastering!

How can I, as a parent, ensure that my child is learning the necessary skills to be ready for school or ready to move onto the next level of their education?

Although the children choose their own activities in the environment every Montessori Directress observes the children and their progress at their own rate. We work with the children at their own pace and we are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, using their strengths to build up and improve their weaknesses. Through the curriculum in 0-6 years the children learn through the practical life area, sensorial area (working through the senses), mathematics, language and culture. Everything they learn is in a concrete way and therefore the children learn it easier than trying to learn the abstract thought for each activity and lesson.