Wrap Up the School Year: Cleaning and Preparing for Fall

Many of you are now wrapping up your school year before the summer holidays. Congratulations to you all for a successful year! Perhaps you’re feeling a little drained after a long school year? You’re most likely daydreaming about your upcoming summer fun, and time to relax with family and friends. The last thing on your mind is cleaning and storing your classroom materials and thinking about next year!  But that’s exactly what you should be thinking about. (Read until the end of this post to find a 15% OFF coupon code)

If you make a plan, it won’t seem so overwhelming. Here are a few key things to consider when cleaning at the end of the school year – before you make your summer getaway.

A complete Primary Montessori classroom (2½ to 6 years old), with all the required Montessori materials should take 2 adults approximately 3 days to clean. This would include all of the materials (wooden, laminated cards, containers, etc.), tables, chairs, shelves, cubbies, snack area, etc.

What do you need to complete this process of cleaning and storing?

  • Wash basins (easier to clean the materials at each shelf, rather than transporting all materials to the sink)
  • cloths (to wash and to dry)
  • scrub brushes
  • liquid cleaning solution
  • hot water
  • rubber dish-washing gloves (for sensitive hands)

It’s important to disinfect everything in your classroom. Even though you’ve been wiping your shelves and dusting throughout the school year, there is an accumulation of grime and germs on every card, container, and piece of material. Washing everything is  the last thing you really want to do, but it must be done at the end of every school year. And bear in mind, it will make it that much easier to start your next school year after your summer fun is over.

Obviously, you won’t be able to clean cards and labels that are not laminated, but the containers that hold them need to thoroughly cleaned. So how do you clean the multitude of laminated cards in your classroom?

  1. Prepare a liquid disinfectant solution of your choice.
  2. Lay a large, clean, dry cloth on a table.
  3. Using a cleaning cloth, wet it with your cleaning solution and wring it out very well.
  4. Wipe the front of a card clean with the wet cleaning cloth.
  5. Flip the card over and lay it on the dry cloth.
  6. Wipe the backside of the card.
  7. Continue for all cards.
  8. Clean the container.
  9. Allow sufficient time for the cards to dry or wipe with the dry cloth.

As you clean the materials, you should be checking to make sure you have all the pieces for each lesson. Be sure to count your color bead bars, golden beads, square chain labels (free download) and cube chain labels, skittles, etc., for math. Do you have your smallest pink cube for the Pink Tower (and a spare, because we all know that smallest pink cube is so darn cute and sometimes mysteriously disappears, only to reappear a few days later)? Are you missing language cards, picture cards, farm animals, fabric swatches, or stamps for the Stamp Game? How about Stamp Game Paper (free download)? Do you have all your Nomenclature and black-line masters? It’s so important to leave every lesson clean and complete.

As you work your way through the cleaning process, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the success of the materials and lessons that you have in your classroom. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do the materials meet the needs of the children?
  • Are there areas that are lacking materials (language, culture, and geography are usual)?
  • Do you have returning students that are prepared for more in-depth materials that you don’t have?
  • Are there new concepts you would like to introduce to the children next year?
  • Do you have all your required Administrative Records and Forms?

So you have lots of things to think about during your days of cleaning! The process is so much more enjoyable with another adult helping out. Volunteer parents are helpful for cleaning practical life dishes, shelves, tables, chairs, etc. But it’s always best to have a trained Teacher/Directress and/or an Assistant clean the materials, as they are familiar with the full contents of each lesson. Add in some music, conversation, and laughs about moments during the school year, and the time will pass quickly.

When you figure out what materials you’re missing, or what lessons you’d like to add to your classroom, use this Coupon Code: MAY2015 to SAVE 15% OFF materials in our online store. Coupon code is valid May 11 to May 20, 2015.

MPSsaleMay2015

Win a set of Primary Montessori Teaching Manuals and the Montessori At Home eBook and Printables

Next up for our 11th Anniversary Birthday Bash – 4 Primary Montessori Teaching Manuals and the Montessori At Home! eBook and Printables Bundle.

4-Teaching_Manuals

This is a great prize, especially for those of you are just beginning your homeschool journey, or are starting to incorporate Montessori materials/lessons into your classroom.

Montessori Print Shop Primary Teaching Manuals

The Primary Montessori Teaching Manuals Bundle includes the following theory and lessons for children ages 2½ to 6 years of age:

  • Practical Life Teaching Manual (Theory + 75 lessons)
  • Sensorial Teaching Manual (Theory + 45 lessons
  • Language Teaching Manual (Theory + 30 lessons)
  • Math Teaching Manual (Theory + 52 lessons)

Montessori at Home eBook and Printables

The Montessori At Home! eBook and Materials Bundle includes:

This giveaway is open world-wide. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. There is no purchase necessary.

 

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Why is the 3 year cycle so important in Montessori?

We’ve previously discussed the goals of a Primary Montessori Program to help Administrators and Teachers keep focus on their program. And to also help parents to begin to understand what to look for in a strong Primary Montessori program. One very important component of a strong program is the 3-year cycle of children. Each child remains in the same classroom with the same few children of their age group for 3 years. Each year a few new 3 year olds come into the program and each age group moves up into the next cycle of the program until a child has spent 3 years in the classroom. It’s essentially giving them the experience of being the youngest, middle, and oldest of the classroom and the responsibilities that come with those roles.

One of the greatest difficulties in running a Primary Montessori program is keeping the children in the program for the full 3 year cycle. Most often there are financial issues involved, pressure from family, friends, and neighbors to send the children to the local (free) Kindergarten program.

There are so many reasons to keep a child in a Primary Montessori program for the full 3 years. Unfortunately, many parents don’t consider the long-term gain and goals of completing the program – they’re only looking at the short-term financial/transportation/social relief that might accompany their decision to leave the program after the second year.

AMS (American Montessori Society) has created a lovely video that outlines many of the reasons for the children to complete the Primary Montessori three-year cycle.

Side Note: We’re not fond of the constant use of the word ‘kindergarten’ used throughout this video. A traditional Kindergarten program and a Montessori program offer entirely different philosophies and materials. We’re not sure why AMS uses the term throughout the video. However, the video is well done and certainly deserves 3½ minutes of your time.

 

Cultivation of Spirit

Wise words from Maria Montessori….

“It is my belief that the thing which we should cultivate in our
teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist;
that is, the direction of the preparation should be toward the spirit rather
than toward the mechanism.”

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The Life of a Child’s Soul – The Montessori Method

The Life of a Child’s Soul – The Montessori Method

A much loved book on our book shelves is Education and Peace by Maria Montessori.

Education and Peace by Maria MontessoriQuite often I’ll open the book to a random page and read a few paragraphs. It often inspires me and reminds me of the true simplicity of the “Montessori Method”.

Maria Montessori constantly reminds us through her writing to “follow the child”. Each child has a inner guide that commands and inspires them to learn. If we follow the child and understand the work and desire of their inner guide, we too can assist with the learning process.

Adults often complicate this process by worrying about their ability to ‘teach’ the child using materials they aren’t trained to use. The post Montessori Education at Home. Is It All or Nothing? discusses how it’s the concepts behind the materials that are most important – not the quality or quantity of the materials themselves.

A passage from Education and Peace (1972); a excerpt from a speech Maria Montessori delivered.

“This evening’s subject, My Method, is one that I feel very uncomfortable discussing. I might even say, though my listeners may not believe me, that I find this the most difficult subject of any on which to deliver a public lecture, for I have not evolved a method of education. As a matter of fact, when one attempts to discuss child psychology, for it is the psychology of the child, the life of his soul, that has gradually dictated what might be called and pedagogy and a method of education.

All other methods of education have taken the work of certain adults as their point of departure and have sought to educate or teach the child according to programmes dictated by adults. For my part, I believe that the child himself must be the pivot of his own education – not the child as people ordinarily think of him, but rather his innermost soul, seen from a perspective that was unprecedented before the advent of what has been called the Montessori Method.

A little parable may help illustrate the idea I am trying to express. Suppose that we have a diamond imbedded in a dull matrix and that we remove the surrounding material to reveal the bright jewel. Seeing the jewel, some might ask, “How have you gone about obtaining a precious stone that reflects the light so perfectly?” We would reply that we are not the creators of this marvelous jewel; it already existed, buried deep within the extraneous matter surrounding it. The same can be said of the child. He has shown us how he should be treated and has revealed his splendor to us.”

So beautiful, so simple.

Montessori Education at Home. Is It All or Nothing?

Too often parents are led to believe they have to take the ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to Montessori education at home. While it is true that the primary years (2½ – 6 years of age) use a lot of hands on auto-didactic materials, there are many materials that you can make yourself or use less expensive substitutes for. And it’s not necessary to have all the materials. It’s the concepts and the theory behind the materials that count – not the materials themselves. Would it be lovely for everyone to be able to afford high-quality materials such as Gonzagarredi or Nienhuis – oh yes, it would. But it’s definitely not necessary.

Many parents are also led to believe they can’t give their child a Montessori education unless they’re ‘trained’. You didn’t train to become a parent … but your child has survived (and thrived) this far. So with a little research and work on your part – you too can become a supportive Montessori guide for your children. It will not be the same as sending your child to a Montessori school – but it will still give them a wonderful foundation to life-long learning.

There is a lot of information and free resources available on our website. As well, download all our FREE printable Montessori materials.

Another great place to visit is the Living Montessori Now! blog which contains tons of free information and ideas on Montessori – excellent for homeschoolers wishing to add some Montessori into their life. The post today is very fitting: The Overwhelmed Mom’s Guide to Montessori Homeschooling.

Montessori isn’t meant to be stressful – it’s meant to be a way of life. It’s a way of thinking and a way of approaching learning. We have written about Montessori theories and how they may apply to your family life.

Montessori education at home does not have to be ‘all or nothing’
. Any part of Montessori that you can implement into your daily life will only help to strengthen and deepen your child’s love of learning, the connection to the people in their lives, and their contribution to this world.

“Don’t Touch!” How un-Montessori.

“Don’t Touch!” How un-Montessori.

“The first stretching of the child’s tiny hand should fill the observer with wonder and reverence. Instead the adult thinks only of protecting insignificant objects, constantly repeating, “Don’t touch!”  Aline D. Wolf

How often we forget that the hand is the primary teacher of the child. Maria Montessori believed that the “hand is in direct connection with man’s soul, and not only with the individual’s soul, but also with the different ways of life that men have adopted on the earth in different places and at different times”. (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)

“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.”
“The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”

baby-touching

One of the theories of Montessori education is that we should never give to the brain more than we give to the hand. A child’s intelligence will develop to a certain level without the help of his hands. But if a child’s intelligence and hands are developed together they will experience greater satisfaction in their daily life and exhibit a stronger character.

Montessori Treasure BasketImage Credit

Sometimes we’re more concerned with the protection of our prized material possessions, or keeping our children clean, than we are nurturing the spirits of our young ones. The easiest way around this is to create areas in your home that are meant for your children to touch and explore. You’ll be able to stop saying “Don’t touch!” and instead, enjoy watching their mind and hands make the connections that are so important.

Consider putting together some simple “Treasure Baskets”. Great for babies and toddlers, but you must use age appropriate (and safe) items. Learn more about making a treasure basket at Living Montessori Now!

 

 

Owner’s Manual for a Child

Owner’s Manual for a Child

A beautiful blog post (by Donna Bryant Goertz) that is packed with excellent Montessori theory and parental advice (written as though it’s from a young child). Take the time to read through the entire article it’s well worth the read.

Dear Parent,

I want to be like you.  I want to be just like you, but I want to become like you in my own way, in my own time, and by my own efforts.  I want to watch you and imitate you.  I do not want to listen to you except for a few words at a time, unless you don’t know I’m listening.  I want to struggle, to make a grand effort with something very difficult, something I cannot master immediately.  I want you to clear the way for my efforts, to give me the materials and supplies that will allow success to follow initial difficulty.  I want you to observe me and see if I need a better tool, an instrument more my size, a taller, safer stepladder, a lower table, a container I can open by myself, a lower shelf, or a clearer demonstration of the process.  I don’t want you to do it for me or rush me or feel sorry for me or praise me.  Just be quiet and show me how to do it slowly, very slowly.


I will demand to do an entire project by myself all at once just because I see you doing it, but that’s not what will work for me.  Be firm and draw the line for me here.  I need for you to give me…
Read full Article

The Montessori Classroom: “The Three Year Cycle”

The Montessori Classroom: “The Three Year Cycle”

Here is a lovely short video (5 minutes) on The Montessori Classroom: “The Three Year Cycle” which may help some of you get a better understanding of how the materials and the Montessori environment works. Interestingly, the video was made by a Montessori graduate.

Montessori: The 3 Year CycleSo take a few minutes today and watch the video!

Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning

Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning

“Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive functioning, a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary.

This edition of the InBrief series explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years, and having the right support and experiences through middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adult life is essential for the successful development of these capacities.” Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

It’s very interesting how the video includes so many examples of  Montessori environments. It’s only now being discovered that Montessori supports the developmental needs of children? It has been over 100 years since Maria Montessori shared her observations on childhood development – the world is finally taking notice. Better late than never!