Saturday, January 31, 2009

Montessori on Prizes in School or at Home?

I wanted to share this great quote with everyone because the topic of prizes in school and at home comes up frequently.

This quote is from Dr. Maria Montessori herself in her 1912 book, The Montessori Method, and it applies brilliantly to the situation today:
"In the same way we give prizes to school children. And ... the fear of not achieving promotion, withholds the clerk from running away, and binds him to his monotonous work, even as the fear of not passing into the next class drives the pupil to his book. The reproof of the superior is in every way similar to the scolding of the teacher. The correction of badly executed clerical work is equivalent to the bad mark placed by the teacher upon the scholar's poor composition. The parallel is almost perfect."
Remember that telling your child "please" or "thank you" or "I love you" is not praise or a prize! We encourage these three simple phrases!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interactive, Hands-On Learning Comes to MIT!

After years of fielding questions from parents anxious to know if Montessori's interactive, hands-on approach to learning would be compatible with their children's later entrance into higher education and jobs, I was thrilled to see this article on MIT's new teaching style!

In "At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard" by Sara Rimer, there is a detailed discussion of educational styles and the results thereof. Definitely worth reading the whole article on the New York Times online here.

And here is an interesting discussion blurb from the article

But now, with physicists across the country pushing for universities to do a better job of teaching science, M.I.T. has made a striking change.

The physics department has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent.

Do you want to help your child learn math and science at an early age? Take a peek here at our Montessori curriculum guides for parents to use at home!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Pediatrician's Article: Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic

This is a great perspective on children's manners and social skills from Perri Klass, M.D. in the New York Times online edition.

Here is an excerpt that includes some of my favorite parts of the article:

Dr. Barbara Howard, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an expert on behavior and development, told me that a child’s manners were a perfectly appropriate topic to raise at a pediatric visit.

“It has a huge impact on people’s lives — why wouldn’t you bring it up?” she said. “Do they look you in the eye? If you stick your hand out do they shake it? How do they interact with the parents; do they interrupt, do they ask for things, do they open Mommy’s purse and take things out?”

Dr. Howard suggested that the whole “manners” concept might seem a little out of date — until you recast it as “social skills,” a very hot term these days. Social skills are necessary for school success, she pointed out; they affect how you do on the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace.

We also think of social skills as a profound set of challenges that complicate the lives of children — and adults — on what is now called the autism spectrum. Children with autism, whether mild or severe, have great difficulty learning social codes, deciphering subtle body language or tone of voice, and catching on to the rules of the game.

Therapy for these children can include systematic training in social skills, sometimes using scripts for common human interactions. And one lesson, Dr. Howard said, “is that you can teach this stuff, and we maybe aren’t teaching it as well as we should be to children who are developing normally.”

And of course, one of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is being a rude adult — even a rude doctor. There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace; it can be quite disconcerting to encounter a mature adult with 20 or so years of education under his belt who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions: I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl.

The doctor's mention of long-term consequences including being a "rude doctor" makes an excellent point that drives home the need for early social development, role models, and interactive socialization from an early age.

Here is the original post.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An Alternative to Play Doh: DIY or Soy Doh

Cornstarch clay is a great alternative to Play Doh for a quick clay project. If you are looking for a more Play Doh-like experience, we found this great Soy Doh product on the New York Times online edition here.

Your child will enjoy making this simple and easy-to-make recipe for cornstarch clay even though he or she is old enough to work with real clays. The benefit of cornstarch clay is that it is easy to for your child to make independently and it does not need to be fired to keep.

Mix 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of cornstarch, and 1 cup of water together in a large pan. Stir constantly over a low flame until the mixture comes together to form a porridge-like consistency.

You can use food coloring and/or scents to make the clay more interesting!