Category Archives: Education

Photo credit: Jess and Colin Liotta on Flickr

Early Math and Language Skills Part 3: Pre Writing

I’ve been talking about early math and language skills here for the past couple of weeks, and today for part three I’ll talk a bit about preparatory activities for writing. The main point of this series was to highlight the fact that many skills actually precede reading and early math, and that these academic skills are often pushed far too early. The skills I talk about can and do unfold naturally in children with time, but I believe it’s best to give them time to unfold before guiding children toward formal academic reading and writing work. If we wish to work with our children and move toward the mastery of these academic skills, we can begin with some of the activities discussed in this series.

Once again, I’ll look first at how these skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom. That’s the inspiration for my ideas, and can surely spark many in addition to mine. Continue reading

Early Math and Language Skills Part 1

Image credit: Leo Reynolds on Flickr

I have felt a bit lost on some things since Annabelle was born, having to dig around for ideas on objects and activities to enrich her environment. On many occasions, I’ve joked that I would know what to do with her when she was two and a half. Of course I have learned a great deal along the way so that hopefully I’ll be less clueless for this next baby, but it occurred to me recently that at this point, she is almost two and a half! If I were still in the classroom and she in Montessori as well, she would be a mere two months away from starting her transition into the “Children’s House” with me. It boggles the mind!

Once I got over my initial shock at the realization that my tiny baby was actually a full-fledged toddler – near preschooler, even, I started thinking back through the different ways I set up my last classroom to allow for the development of early math and language skills. I’ve been asking myself what I might do now to make sure our home is rich with opportunities to build these skills.

Something I believe pretty strongly is that the focus with toddlers and young preschoolers should not be on letters and numbers. Of course some will express an interest themselves, even at this young age, asking questions and gravitating toward these things in their environment. I would never ignore or discourage this – there is tremendous value in following the child’s interests, after all – but I also refuse to sit my two year old down to go over the alphabet. She has far better things to do. Continue reading

Dr. Montessori with a child, from the International Montessori Index at www.montessori.edu.

Maria Montessori, Champion for Peace

Dr. Montessori with a child, from the International Montessori Index at montessori.edu.

Many will write today about the inspirational figure that is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I could add my voice to that chorus again, but this year I’d like to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by writing about another peacemaker, another believer in the idea that only love can drive out hate: Dr. Maria Montessori.

Many are familiar with Dr. Montessori as a brilliant figure in education who developed a method for teaching children that is still widely used and respected today. Her methods have truly stood the test of time, and in recent years have been shown to align even with the most current research into child development 1, hence the method’s continued popularity. Continue reading

  1. See Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline S. Lillard, PhD
Photo Credit: DQmountaingirl on Flickr

The Schooling Dilemma Part 3: Where it All Leaves Us

I have been exploring my own feelings about schooling and education as our daughter nears “preschool age.” First, I looked at my own educational experience in parts 1 and 2, and here I describe my resulting thoughts on the current best system for child education. Feel free to skip down to the summary if you’re short on time.

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Photo Credit: DQmountaingirl on Flickr

Given the wide variety of options for schooling in the US today, the question is no longer so simple as public school, private school, or homeschooling. Thanks to charter schools and the vast resources available to homeschooling parents, it’s actually possible to have some version of “Montessori” school in any of those three settings, so the first question for me is really what my guiding philosophy of education is, and the second is where I feel that is best carried out.

What I value most in education, particularly in early childhood is freedom. As an extension of this, I deeply value a sort of education that maintains trust in and respect for the child and their process. Continue reading

The pre-language area in my former Montessori classroom in Austin.

Three Approaches to Natural Learning: Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf

I have been reflecting on education and pondering the different options available to us when it comes to our children’s “school years,” a subject I plan to wrap up tomorrow. With all that on my mind, it seemed only appropriate that I post this article, which was originally published at the Natural Parents Network. For those who did not read it back then, I hope you enjoy! I would love to hear your thoughts on any or all of these methods. I’ll also be linking up to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.

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The pre-language area in my former Montessori classroom in Austin.

While the multitude of options for child education are a wonderful thing, wading through the various guiding philosophies can feel a bit overwhelming. To make it a bit easier on parents, or perhaps to spark some interest, I’d like to give a brief overview of three of the most common “alternative” methods of child education. Be aware that there is so very much more to each of these. This is merely a bit of info to give you some background knowledge or perhaps to be a starting point for your own research.

The Origins of Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf

Montessori is the philosophy and practice developed by Dr. Maria Montessori of Italy. Dr. Montessori attended medical school at a time when women doing so was virtually unheard of. Upon graduation, she began work with institutionalized and mentally disabled children. She developed a range of materials and methods to aid them in their development, cognitive and otherwise. When her students, who had significant challenges to learning, performed just as well as did the “normal” children in the education system of her time, Montessori began to question that system and set out to try her methods with “normal” children. She established the first Casa Dei Bambini (“Children’s House”) for young children living in tenement housing in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, Italy in 1906. Continue reading