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  Boulder,  Colorado

Boulder, Colorado




A  Commonsense  Guide  to  Choosing  a  Montessori  School     Warning:  Your  Child  May  Not  Be  Ready  for  School  


The 6  Reasons  Montessori  Will  Work  For  Your  Child  


The Shocking  Truth  About  Montessori  Teachers  


What Louis  Vuitton  Can  Teach  You  About  Montessori  


Montessori? Waldorf?  Play-­‐Based  Education?  Don’t  Decide  Until  You  Read  This!  


What Your  Child  Will  Really  Get  Out  of  Montessori    

    Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER ONE   A  Commonsense  Guide  to  Choosing  a  Montessori  School         You  can  ask  100  teachers,  parents,  and  students  “What  is  Montessori?”  and  receive  100  different   answers.  The  truth  is  that  Montessori  can  mean  something  different  to  each  person.       When  I’m  asked,  I  explain  that  Montessori  is  a  foundation  for  all  lifelong  learning.    When  you   have  a  strong  foundation,  the  framework  is  secure.      “What  makes  your  school  so  different  than  the  other  schools  in  the  area?”     Nationwide,  Montessori  is  a  top  choice  for  families  seeking  an  alternative  education  to  a   traditional  school  setting.    The  more  you  discover  about  Montessori,  the  harder  it  can  be  to   choose  a  school.       The  Sad  Truth  About  Montessori   It’s  tricky  to  know  just  what  constitutes  an  authentic  Montessori  program.    There  is  no  copyright   or  legal  protection  of  the  term  “Montessori.”    That  means  anyone  can  open  a  school  and  call  it   “Montessori”  without  implementing  an  authentic  program.    You  will  read  why  this  is  the  case   later  in  the  book.     Why  is  this  important?       A  true  Montessori  program  has  highly  trained  teachers,  specific  learning  materials,  and  a   carefully  planned  curriculum  that  will  help  your  child:   • Reach  their  full  academic  and  personal  potential  through  an  individualized  education;   • Learn  to  take  initiative  (at  all  ages);   • Develop  creativity,  critical  thinking,  communication  skills,  and  collaboration  skills;   • Practice  personal  responsibility;   • And  most  importantly,  develop  a  lifelong  joy,  love,  and  excitement  for  learning.     Do  you  want  these  outcomes  for  your  child?  If  so,  you  will  need  to  find  an  authentic  Montessori   program.        

  Boulder,  Colorado

7 Traits  of  an  Authentic  Montessori  School         1.  Teacher  Training   True  Montessori  schools  have  teachers  who  have  been  trained  by  the  Association  Montessori   Internationale  (AMI)  or  the  American  Montessori  Society  (AMS).  Ask  about  teachers’  diplomas  to   verify  their  training.     2.  Teacher  Tenure   Ask  how  long  teachers  have  been  at  the  school  and  about  their  depth  of  experience.         3.  Length  of  Class  Time   Authentic  Montessori  programs  have  a  3-­‐hour  uninterrupted  work  session  each  morning  and  a   second  in  the  afternoon  for  non-­‐nappers.  During  this  3-­‐hour  work  period,  your  child  will  receive   lessons  from  his  teacher  and  is  never  interrupted  to  join  all-­‐class  exercises  over  his  own  self-­‐ chosen  activities.     4.  Individualized  Curriculum   A  true  Montessori  program  supports  the  individual  development  of  your  child.  This  is  very   different  from  a  one-­‐size-­‐fits-­‐all  curriculum  that  suggests  all  children  are  ready  to  do  the  same   thing  at  the  same  time  because  they  are  a  particular  age.   In  an  authentic  Montessori  classroom  the  curriculum   conforms  to  your  child  instead  of  your  child  having  to   conform  to  the  curriculum.     As  one  of  our  teachers  shared  with  parents  during  a   recent  back-­‐to-­‐school  night,  “I  teach  how  your  child   learns.  She  doesn’t  need  to  learn  how  I  teach.”     5.    Calm  and  Peaceful  Classrooms  Supporting  All   Kinds  of  Learners   “Is  it  always  this  quiet  here?”  is  a  question  we  often   receive  from  campus  visitors.     A  quality  Montessori  classroom  will  appear  to  be  calm   and  peaceful.  You  will  see  many  children  deep  in   concentration  as  they  work  on  an  activity  to  master  it.   Other  children  are  moving  in  the  classroom  as  they   choose  an  activity  before  they  sit  down  to  work.  The   movement  in  the  classroom  is  respectful  and  purposeful.           Boulder,  Colorado

6. A  Beautiful  Classroom  Environment   You  will  see  an  exquisitely  prepared  classroom  environment  with  materials  laid  out  by  subject  on   long,  low  shelves.    The  materials  will  be  clean,  beautiful,  and  captivating  to  the  child.  You  will  see   varied  materials  made  of  wood,  glass,  and  natural  fibers.         There  will  be  real  activities  for  your  child  to  use  small  knives  to  slice  apples,  miniature  graters  to   shred  cheese,  flour,  salt,  sugar,  yeast,  and  water  to  make  and  bake  bread,  glass  vases  and  fresh   flowers  to  practice  flower  arranging,  polish  and  small  applicators  to  shine  brass,  silver,  wood,   and  mirrors.     You  will  see  handmade  reading  materials  -­‐  never  textbooks.    You  will  see  the  most  amazing   mathematics  materials  that  concretize  concepts  to  facilitate  understanding  in  learning  instead  of   worksheets  or  workbooks.         Lastly,  you  will  see  the  full  complement  of  Montessori  materials  that  will  allow  your  child  to  learn   academic  subjects  in  language,  mathematics,  science,  culture,  and  music.     7.    Multi-­‐Age  Classrooms   Authentic  Montessori  classrooms  group  children  together  into  3-­‐year  age  spans.    This  means  that   children  in  a  Primary  class  will  be  2  ½-­‐3-­‐years  old,  4,  and  5  turning  6.  A  bona-­‐fide  Montessori   school  will  ALWAYS  have  kindergarten  included  in  this  age  grouping  with  3  and  4-­‐year-­‐old   children  and  will  never  separate  kindergarten  children  into  a  different  class.     The  reason?  Older  children  model  respectful  behaviors  and  advanced  work  that  younger  children   will  eventually  one  day  experience.  Younger  children  certainly  benefit  from  this  mentoring  and   the  older  children,  irrespective  of  personality,  are  afforded  an  opportunity  to  lead  by  example  on   a  daily  basis,  not  simply  when  they  are  the  oldest  children  in  a  building.     How  to  Use  This  Information   Knowledge  is  power.  Now  that  you  are  have  this  information,  be  proactive  and  ask  educated   questions  when  researching  schools  for  your  child.         The  bottom  line:  if  you  want  your  child  to  receive  the  amazing  benefits  of  Montessori,  you  must   be  a  discerning  parent!                     Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER TWO   WARNING:  YOUR  CHILD  MAY      NOT  BE  READY  FOR  SCHOOL   (But  He  is  Ready  For  Montessori)       Not  sure  if  your  child  is  ready  for  school?     Perhaps  you’re  staying  home  with  him  and  can’t  bear  the  thought  of  sending  him  off  into  the   world  as  of  yet.    After  all,  “He’ll  be  going  to  school  forever  once  he  starts  kindergarten.”     Perhaps,  you  work  and  have  a  nanny  to  care  for  your  child.    You  think,  “He’s  happy  and  safe  here   at  home.”     Perhaps  you  send  your  child  to  a  small  in-­‐home  daycare.    You  think,  “There  are  plenty  of  years   ahead  for  learning;  I  want  him  to  play  and  enjoy  childhood  for  as  long  as  possible  before  I  send   him  off  to  school.”     Will  Your  Child  Love  to  Learn?   Look  at  any  young  child  and  you  will  see  that  she  is  curious  to  explore  her  world  and  learn.  If   your  young  child’s  natural  curiosity  is  supported  and  not  thwarted,  he  will  grow  into  a  young   adult  who  is  passionate  about  the  world  around  him.        

    Boulder,  Colorado

Would you  say  that  the  same  curiosity  and  discernment  drives  an  adolescent  child?  Not  always.     Somewhere  along  the  way,  often  when  a  child  enters  conventional  school  at  any  age,  her  natural   love  for  learning  can  start  to  fade.  It  doesn’t  have  to  be  that  way.  Montessori  programs  are   designed  to  support  your  child’s  developmental  needs  the  first  time  they  walk  into  the  classroom   and  every  day  thereafter.     There  is  an  educational  system  with  a  primary  goal  of  fostering  a  lifetime  love  of  learning.    It’s   called  Montessori.     The  Zen  of  a  Montessori  Classroom   Beautiful  classrooms  await  your  child  in  a  Montessori  school.  Each  is  arranged  to  provide   experiences  that  entice  and  excite  children  between  the  ages  of  12-­‐36  months  in  the  Toddler   community,  2  ½-­‐6  year-­‐old  in  the  Primary  classrooms,  and  6-­‐12  year  olds  in  Elementary.  As  he   responds  to  these  specially  prepared  environments,  he  develops  his  natural  interests,  passions,   and  a  desire  to  learn  it  all.     We  encourage  your  child’s  natural  curiosity  by  providing  a  myriad  of  manipulative  materials   showcased  on  low,  open  shelves.  Your  child’s  teacher  is  highly  trained  to  observe  your  child’s   interest  and  readiness  for  various  subjects.  She  will  offer  your  child  lessons  and  he  will  then   choose  his  own  follow  up  work  during  the  work  period.  His  teacher  continuously  observes  his   interests,  progress,  and  guides  him  to  learn  through  individual  and  small  group  lessons,  not   whole  classroom  activities.     A  Once-­‐in-­‐a-­‐Lifetime  Opportunity  for  Your  Child   The  optimum  time  to  enroll  your  child  in  a  Montessori  school  is  3  years  of  age  or  younger.  Why?       All  children  between  the  ages  of  birth  and  6  have  a  universal  once-­‐in-­‐a-­‐lifetime-­‐ability  to  simply   absorb  from  their  environment…like  a  sponge  soaks  up  water.  They  joyfully  and  effortlessly   learn.  Dr.  Maria  Montessori  referred  to  this  phenomenon  as  a  child’s  “absorbent  mind.”     Think  about  your  child’s  language  acquisition.  You  didn’t  teach  your  child  to  speak  your  language.     He  simply  absorbed  the  language  by  listening  to  you.  Young  children,  unlike  adults,  can   effortlessly  learn  multiple  languages  precisely  because  of  their  absorbent  minds  during  this  stage   of  life.     Your  young  child  loves  the  sound  games  we  play  in  order  to  train  his  ear  to  isolate  the  sounds   used  to  learn  to  read.  He  can’t  get  enough  of  tracing  sandpaper  letters  because  his  fingertips  are   so  sensitive  to  touch.  His  desire  to  play  with  sounds  and  to  touch  and  trace  letters  begins  to  fade,   as  he  gets  older.     Can  your  child  succeed  in  a  Montessori  school  at  a  later  age?  Of  course!  However,  it  is  easier  and   more  natural  to  embrace  your  child’s  innate  desire  to  learn  when  your  child  is  three  or  younger.           Boulder,  Colorado

There is  Only  One  Thing  Left  To  Do     Your  child  is  ready  to  begin  a  Montessori  program  anytime  after  they  are  walking!  Even  at  this   young  age,  your  child  will  learn  joyfully.    He  will  be  guided  by  his  absorbent  mind  and  his   powerful  sensitive  periods  develop  deep  and  lasting  relationships  with  other  children  in  the   classroom  community.     Mark  his  start  date  on  your  calendar  now  and  begin  touring  Montessori  schools  to  find  the   program  that  is  right  for  your  family.                    

    Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER THREE       THE  6  REASONS  MONTESSORI  W ILL  WORK  FOR  YOUR  CHILD       Perhaps  you  have  a  friend  with  a  child  in  a  Montessori  program.  Maybe  you  have  heard  about   Montessori  at  a  local  playgroup,  on  the  soccer  sidelines,  or  favorite  coffee  shop.  Or  maybe  you   just  stumbled  across  Montessori  online.    

It all  sounds  great  in  theory,  doesn’t  it?    An  environment  that  fosters  a  deep  love  for  learning;   teachers  trained  to  meet  the  needs  of  each  individual  child;  and  a  classroom  community  that   provides  an  opportunity  for  all  children  to  develop  independence.    

But, in  the  back  of  your  head,  a  nagging  question  remains:    

“Will Montessori  really  work  for  my  child?”      

You Are  Not  Alone   It’s  a  common  question  that  most  parents  ask  when  researching  Montessori  education.    

The reality  is  that  most  of  us  never  had  an  opportunity  to  attend  an  authentic  Montessori  school   when  we  were  young.    Many  of  the  experiences  in  a  Montessori  classroom  are  the  complete   opposite  of  our  own  experiences  in  school.    So,  it’s  completely  understandable  to  question  the   efficacy  of  something  so  different  for  your  own  child!    

There are  an  infinite  number  of  reasons  why  Montessori  will  work  for  your  child.    Let’s  talk  about   significant  reasons  why  your  child  will  thrive:    

1. Your  Child  Will  Learn  by  Doing   Your  child  will  be  exposed  to  hundreds  of  specially  designed  materials  that  invite  hands-­‐on   exploration.    She  will  choose  what  she  wants  to  explore,  creating  strong  neural  pathways  that   contribute  to  the  construction  of  a  strong  brain.    

2. Your  Child  Will  Learn  From,  and  Teach,  Others   Have  you  ever  heard  the  expression,  “The  best  way  to  learn  something  is  to  teach  it?”    This   happens  every  day  in  a  Montessori  classroom  because  children  are  grouped  in  3-­‐year  age  spans.    

Younger children  observe  older  children  working  with,  for  example,  “Bead  Bar  Multiplication   Layout”.    They  look  up  to  and  admire  these  older  children  who  are  doing  all  these  incredible   things:    they  want  to  emulate  them  and  are  motivated  to  learn  to  be  just  like  them.   Just  ask  yourself,  “How  much  faster  did  your  younger  child  learn  to  use  the  toilet  because  they   wanted  to  be  just  like  their  older  brother  or  sister?”       Boulder,  Colorado

3.  The  Curriculum  Adapts  to  Your  Child   Most  conventional  early  childhood  programs  assume  that  all  children,  born  within  a  year  of  each   other,  are  capable  of  learning  and  doing  the  same  thing  at  the  same  time.    As  we  all  know,  that   simply  isn’t  true.    Many  bright  children  are  bored,  and  others,  who  need  more  time  to  learn,  are   often  left  behind  when  we  teach  to  the  whole  class  at  the  same  time.     We  recognize  that  your  child  has  his  own  unique  timetable  for  development  and  will  learn   different  parts  of  the  curriculum  when  he  is  ready.    We  teach  to  the  individual  needs  of  your   child,  not  to  the  entire  class  or  to  a  large  group  of  children.     4.  Beautiful  Classrooms  Inspire  Your  Child  To  Learn   Montessori  classrooms  are  beautiful  and  inviting.    Materials  call  out  to  your  child  “Come  touch   me!  Come  explore!”    From  the  water  pitchers  and  toilets  in  the  toddler  classroom  to  the  sinks  to   the  tables,  to  the  beginning  materials,  to  the  advanced  materials…all  are  miniaturized  and  made   to  fit  perfectly  into  the  hands  of  your  young  child.    Everything  supports  your  child’s  developing   independence  and  helps  him  gain  confidence  in  himself  and  his  abilities.        

    Boulder,  Colorado

5. The  Teacher  Really  Knows  Your  Child   “Follow  the  child”  is  the  mantra  uttered  by  all  well-­‐trained  Montessori  teachers.    They  are  trained   to  observe  and  to  support  each  individual  child.  They  take  the  time  to  get  to  know  your  child’s   strengths,  challenges,  and  interests.    They  plan  lessons  for  your  child  based  on  their  observations   of  him.     Your  child  will  be  a  member  of  the  same  classroom  community  for  three  years,  which  takes  the   teacher/student  relationship  to  a  whole-­‐new  level.      It  affords  the  teacher  the  opportunity  to   know  him  deeply,  intimately,  and  well.    He  will  feel  seen,  heard,  and  appreciated  for  who  he  is.     6.    Your  Child  Will  Be  In  Good  Company   Many  of  the  most  successful,  creative,  and  entrepreneurial  people  in  our  modern  society  are   former  Montessori  students.   Larry  Page  and  Sergey  Brin  (Google  Co-­‐ Julia  Child   Founders)   William  Wright  (The  Sims  creator)   Jeff  Bezos  (Amazon  Founder)   Anne  Hathaway   Steph  Curry  (NBA  Player)   Chelsea  Clinton   Jacqueline  Kennedy  Onassis     Beyonce  Knowles   (Former  First  Lady)   Peter  Drucker     Sean  “P.  Diddy”  Combs   (business  guru  and  lecturer)   Princes  William  and  Harry   Gabriel  Garcia  Marquez     Berry  Brazelton  (pediatrician  and  author)   (Nobel  Prize-­‐winning  novelist)   How  Research  Is  Proving  that  Montessori  Works   Still  need  proof?    How  about  some  hard  data:     Research  provides  irrefutable  evidence  that  the  Montessori  method  of  education  is  powerfully   effective  in  educating  young  children.     Studies  conducted  at  the  Universities  of  Virginia  and  Wisconsin  demonstrated  that  Montessori   kindergarten  students  outperform  peers  attending  traditional  public  schools.    These  studies   show  that  Montessori  children  form  clear  concepts  from  using  the  hands-­‐on  manipulative   materials  they  find  in  their  classrooms.     When  children  are  developmentally  ready  and  when  they  get  to  choose  materials  that  match   their  individual  timetable  of  development,  their  learning  takes  off!    They  become  enthusiastic,   confident,  joyful  learners.                 Boulder,  Colorado

You Have  to  See  It  To  Believe  It   Your  child  deserves  the  very  best!    Enrolling  your  child  in  a  Montessori  Toddler,  primary,  or   Elementary  program  gives  her  the  opportunity  to  be  seen  as  a  unique  individual;  she  will  be   receiving  a  tailor-­‐made  education  designed  especially  for  her.     What  are  you  waiting  for?  Go  and  observe  in  a  Montessori  program  today  and  give  your  child  the   gift  that  will  last  a  lifetime.                    

    Boulder,  Colorado


Who do  you  want  your  child’s  first  teacher  to  be?    Next  to  you,  your  child’s  first  teacher  will  have   the  greatest  impact  on  his  overall  development.      

A good  teacher  will  inspire  him  to  explore,  challenge  him  when  needed,  and  instill  a  love  for   learning.  She  will  compliment  the  work  that  you  do  at  home  as  a  parent.      

Why Finding  a  Good  Teacher  is  Hard   Unfortunately,  most  early  childhood  programs  lack  an  experienced  and  highly  educated  teaching   staff.      

Often preschool  teachers  don’t  stay  on  the  job  for  very  long.  The  minimal  educational   requirements  and  low  salaries  often  lead  to  high  turnover.  Well-­‐intentioned  people  with   potential  to  be  great  teachers  often  use  the  job  as  a  temporary  position  while  they  work  toward   something  more  permanent.      

And don’t  let  the  name  “Montessori”  fool  you,  either.  It  isn’t  a  legally  protected  term,  so  anyone   can  open  up  a  program  and  claim  to  be  a  Montessori  school.  There  are  Montessori  schools  that   don’t  have  teachers  who  are  any  more  qualified  than  average  preschools.      

How Montessori  Teachers  Are  Different   They  are  bona-­‐fide  experts  in  child  development:  Association  Montessori  International  (AMI)   is  graduate-­‐level  training.    It  is  a  one-­‐year  rigorous  training  that  is  demanding  and  intense.     Teachers  in  training  attend  lectures  and  practice  teaching  sessions  7  hours  a  day,  5  days  a  week,   for  9  months.    There  is  homework  on  weeknights  and  weekends.  Written  and  oral  exams  are   taken,  countless  hours  of  observation  and  student  training  are  needed.    Candidates  create   curriculum  albums  for  future  classroom  reference.    

They are  then  examined  by  an  international  group  of  teacher-­‐trainers  before  being  granted  a   diploma.  With  three  additional  courses  in  administration,  teachers  are  eligible  for  their  master’s   degree  in  education.    Every  year  after,  AMI  accredited  teachers  attend  AMI  continuing  education   conferences.    

They respect  your  child’s  individuality:  In  a  Montessori  class,  the  teacher  is  seen  as  a  guide.     She  is  trained  to  observe  your  child  and  introduce  her  to  developmentally  appropriate  materials.     She  knows  the  scope  and  breadth  of  the  Montessori  curriculum  and  presents  the  right  lessons  to   your  child  at  the  right  time.    She  will  not  move  your  child  on  to  the  next  lesson,  grade,  or   classroom  until  she  is  ready.  Nor  will  she  ever  hold  your  child  back.       Boulder,  Colorado

They are  patient:  They  do  not  praise,  reward,  punish  or  point  out  mistakes.    Rather,  mistakes   are  viewed  as  “learning  opportunities”.  If  your  child  continues  to  make  errors,  she  will  re-­‐present   that  lesson  with  a  special  emphasis  on  the  parts  he  doesn’t  understand.     They  create  inspiring  classroom  environments:  Our  teachers  ensure  the  full  complement  of   Montessori  materials  in  the  classroom  supports  the  diverse  learning  going  on  in  the  class.     The  materials  must  be  spotlessly  clean  and  in  good  repair.  That  means  pencils  are  sharpened,  no   pieces  to  an  activity  are  missing,  and  paper  is  present  to  accompany  a  particular  activity.  It  means   that  fresh  flowers  are  available  for  arranging  and  that  all  of  the  decimal  math  materials  are   where  they  need  to  be.     The  Montessori  environment  is  inviting  and  ready  for  use  so  that  your  child  has  everything  he   needs  when  he  is  ready  to  learn.       What  this  Means  for  Your  Child   This  means  that  your  child  is  that  the  most  important  factor  in  your  child’s  success-­‐  his  teacher-­‐   will  be  well  trained  and  prepared  to  meet  his  needs  if  you  chose  our  school.     So,  what  are  you  waiting  for?  Schedule  a  tour  to  see  our  school  in  action!            

  Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER FIVE       What  Louis  Vuitton  Can  Teach   You  About  Montessori     I  know  that  you  have  seen  them.    

You know,  those  knock  off  handbags  that  you  see  someone  selling  on  the  street  or  in  bargain   stores?  They  look  so  good  at  first  glance.  They  have  the  same  colors,  the  same  pattern  and  overall   design  as  the  designer  bag.  And,  they  are  selling  for  a  fraction  of  the  price!    

It’s tempting,  isn’t  it?    

You also  know,  however,  that  the  purchasing  the  knock  off  comes  with  compromises.  Looking   closely,  you  can  see  that  the  leather  is  thin,  the  color  is  inconsistent  and  the  stitching  is  of  poor   quality.  Many  of  these  bags  fall  apart  soon  after  purchase  and  quickly  become  unusable.      

The Lesson  to  Learn   The  purpose  of  this  article  isn’t  to  convince  you  to  buy  a  designer  handbag!  Rather,  it’s  an  analogy   to  use  as  you  learn  about  Montessori  education.  You  see,  just  like  Louis  Vuitton  bags,  Montessori   inspired  schools  are  rampant  in  the  United  States.  If  you  don’t  know  the  difference,  you  could   easily  enroll  your  child  in  a  program  unlike  the  one  you  think  you  are.  Unlike  the  bag,  however,   the  consequences  could  be  more  serious.        

Are All  Montessori  Schools  the  Same?   Maria  Montessori,  who  was  an  Italian  physician  and  scientist,  developed  her  method  of  education   in  painstaking  detail.  Her  success  was  phenomenal!  People  from  all  corners  of  the  world  began  to   hear  about  her  work,  and  they  were  curious  to  come  and  see  these  schools  for  themselves.  To  say   that  Maria  Montessori  was  an  overnight  sensation  is  an  understatement.    

Later in  her  career,  Dr.  Montessori  realized  people  were  altering  and  changing  parts  of  her  work.   She  went  to  court  to  obtain  a  copyright  on  her  name  and  method;  a  judge  denied  her  request,   stating,  “Your  name  and  your  work  have  been  out  in  the  public  domain  too  long  and  used  by  too   many  for  you  to  be  able  to  make  a  copyright  claim  on  it  now.”      

It’s a  shame  that  Maria  Montessori  failed  to  protect  her  intellectual  property  as  it  resulted  in   some  very  regrettable  outcomes:    

1. It  Diluted  Her  Work     The  name  “Montessori”  has  been  diluted,  because  there  is  no  copyright  to  protect  it,  especially  in   the  United  States.  Anyone  can  open  a  school  and  call  it  a  Montessori  school.  People  often  hear   good  things  about  genuine  Montessori  schools  and  very  different  things  about  those  who  try  to   imitate  it.  You  have  to  do  your  homework  to  get  the  real  thing.       Boulder,  Colorado

2. “Montessori”  Training  Quality  Varies     A  lack  of  legal  protection  of  the  name  means  that  anyone  can  open  a  Montessori  teacher-­‐training   center.  They  can  add  to  or  ignore  the  research-­‐based  methodology  and  pass  it  off  as  it  were  the   real  thing.  Teachers  coming  out  of  these  programs  are  not  qualified  to  teach  to  lead  an  authentic   Montessori  classroom.     3.  Montessori  “Inspired”  Schools   Montessori  “inspired”  schools  have  sprouted  up  because  anyone  can  attach  the  Montessori  name   to  a  school  and  ride  the  coattails.  In  the  United  States,  there  are  more  knock-­‐offs  than  there  are   real  Montessori  schools.     Authentic  Montessori  programs  are  expensive  and  time  consuming  to  operate.  Our  teachers  must   have  a  specific  Montessori  credential  from  an  accredited  training  center.  Our  classroom  materials   are  made  to  Dr.  Montessori’s  exact  specifications  and  approved  by  our  accrediting  body.  We   routinely  work  with  Montessori  consultants  from  across  the  world  to  hone  our  craft.  We  invest   the  time  and  resources  to  do  this  because  we  have  witnessed  the  amazing  benefits  that  an   authentic  Montessori  program  will  have  for  your  child.     Montessori  inspired  schools  proliferate  because  parents  sometimes  don’t  understand  the   difference.  Unfortunately,  most  parents  don’t  realize   this  until  after  they  have  enrolled  their  child.       How  to  Find  an  Authentic  Montessori  Program   So,  where  does  this  leave  you?     If  you  are  specifically  researching  Montessori   education  for  your  child,  you  should  look  to  find  an   authentic  program  in  your  area.  You  may  want  to   refer  to  the  first  chapter,  “A  Common  Sense  Guide  to   Choosing  a  Montessori  School”  for  some  specific   things  to  look  for  in  your  search.     And,  you  are  always  welcome  to  tour  our  school,   even  if  you  don’t  plan  to  enroll.  Beyond  working  with   the  children  in  our  program,  educating  the  general   public  about  the  amazing  things  that  happen  in  an   authentic  Montessori  classroom  is  what  we  love  to   do!    

  Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER SIX       Montessori?  Waldorf?  Play  Based?   What  Is  The  Difference?       It  can  be  a  bit  overwhelming,  right?     Everyone  has  an  opinion.  Your  best  friend  from  college,  members  of  your  book  club,  your   neighbor,  your  running  partner  -­‐  it  seems  that  everyone  has  an  opinion  on  the  best  preschool   program  for  your  child.  And,  once  you  look  online...  forget  about  it!  “Experts”  from  across  the   world  are  ready  to  chime  in  with  a  solution  for  you.     The  unfortunate  reality  is  that  there  are  so  many  options  for  early  childhood  education  that  many   parents  avoid  the  research  process  and  choose  a  program  for  the  wrong  reasons  like  the  distance   from  home  or  because  the  teacher  seemed  really  nice.     Don’t  make  that  mistake.  Your  child’s  first  exposure  to  education  will  be  in  the  program  that  you   choose.  It’s  best  to  gather  some  basic  information  about  your  options  and  use  it  to  make  the  right   decision.                      

  Boulder,  Colorado

Only You  Know  The  Answer   Choosing  an  early  childhood  program  for  your  child  is  a  personal  decision.  No  one  knows  your   child  as  well  as  you  –  his  strengths,  challenges,  personality  and  temperament  should  all  factor   into  your  decision.  Despite  the  best  of  intentions,  the  woman  who  recommended  ABC  preschool   doesn’t  know  your  child  well  enough  to  make  a  qualified  recommendation.    

“I  want  something  that  provides  my  child  with  structure  and  learning  opportunities  but  doesn’t   limit  his  exploration.  He  is  an  easygoing,  happy  child,  cautious  with  new  things,  one  to  observe   before  participating.  He’s  also  got  a  strong  sense  of  order,  is  extraordinarily  verbal,  and  loves  music,   dance,  and  imaginative  play.  I  want  him  to  be  well  prepared  for  school  but  I  don’t  want  to  stifle  his   chances  to  just  be  a  kid.    Oh,  and  I  want  him  to  engage  with  the  outdoors  and  natural  activity,  even   if  he  isn’t  the  first  one  to  jump  in  the  mud!”    

Just like  her,  I’m  sure  you  see  your  child  from  all  angles  and  struggle  with  finding  one  program   that  will  fit  all  of  her  needs.      

How We  Can  Help  You   Most  parents  tend  to  research  three  major  methods  of  early  childhood  education:  Montessori,   Waldorf  and  Play  Based.  Here’s  a  snapshot  of  all  three.    

MONTESSORI Maria  Montessori  was  an  Italian  physician  and  scientist  who  devoted  60  years  of  her  life  to   studying  children.  Montessori  education  encompasses  3  basic  tenants:      

1.  All  children  develop  in  their  own  unique  way,  not  in  a  strict  linear  progression.   2.    Children  develop  through  interaction  with  their  environment.   3.    Children  develop  best  when  they  are  allowed  to  pursue  their  interests.    

• Dr.  Montessori  created  classrooms  that  supported  children’s  developmental  needs  by  giving   them  extraordinarily  rich  learning  environments  filled  with  carefully  designed  materials  to  make   abstract  concepts  understandable.  She  demonstrated  respect  for  each  child’s  unique   developmental  timetable,  presenting  new  concepts  to  a  child  when  he  was  most  interested  and   capable  of  learning  them.  And,  within  those  rich  classroom  environments,  she  trained  her   teachers  to  serve  and  follow  the  child.  As  a  result,  children  are  presented  a  lesson,  then  given  the   opportunity  to  choose  their  related  work.    

Two powerful  intrinsic  forces  guide  children  from  the  ages  of  birth  to  6  years:  an  absorbent  mind   and  sensitive  periods.       1. The  absorbent  mind  allows  children  to  simply  absorb  from  their  environment   effortlessly  and  easily.  What  the  young  child  hears,  sees,  and  experiences  will  indelibly   be  imprinted  on  his  brain.  The  child  does  not  have  to  apply  himself  to  learn  anything  -­‐   he  simply  absorbs  impressions  and  information  from  the  environment.         Boulder,  Colorado

This happens  in  our  Primary  classrooms  quite  frequently.  For  example,  a  younger  child   watching  an  older  one  working  on  a  map  will  learn  the  language  (names)  of  the   countries  before  he  is  given  the  lesson!  

2.  Young  children  are  guided  by  sensitive  periods  -­‐  powerful,  time-­‐sensitive  phases  of   profound  interest  to  learn.  These  windows  of  opportunity  start  closing  at  4  and  by  6  years   of  age,  they  are  forever  gone.    

•  How  many  times  have  you  heard  a  child,  or  your  child,  say,  “I  do  it!”  It  could  have  been  when   they  were  getting  dressed,  wanting  to  cut  their  own  food,  shovel  the  snow,  or  rake  the  leaves.     In  Montessori  schools  work  is  the  child’s  play.  A  century  ago,  Dr.  Montessori  discovered  that   children  will  almost  always  abandon  pretend  toys  when  they  are  offered  “real  things”  to  do.   Instead  of  pretending  to  cook,  Montessori  students  of  all  ages  cut  apples,  they  bake  bread  from   scratch  and  wash  and  dry  the  dirty  dishes,  and  they  make  flower  arrangements  from  flowers  they   pick  from  our  gardens.  They  relish  doing  what  they  see  adults  doing  in  their  environment  and   take  pride  in  being  independent.     •  Children  learn  at  their  own  pace  in  a  Montessori  classroom.  The  focus  is  on  reaching  the   individual  potential  of  each  child.  A  child  moves  through  the  curriculum  at  her  own  rate  and  she   is  taken  to  the  next  concept  when  she  has  demonstrated  that  she  has  a  solid  understanding  of   prior  concepts.       •  Teachers  in  Montessori  classrooms  serve  as  guides  for  the  children.  They  act  as  the  link   between  the  child  and  the  rich  learning  materials  found  in  these  classrooms.  Instead  of  teaching   to  an  entire  class  or  to  groups,  teachers  guide  the  individual  child,  observing  her  carefully  to   make  sure  she  is  ready  for  the  lesson  and  that  it  is  a  match  for  what  she  is  interested  in  learning.       •  Classrooms  contain  groupings  of   children  in  three-­‐year  age  spans.  These   are  collaborative  learning  environments   with  student  mentors.  Older  children   serve  as  role  models  for  the  younger   children,  showing  great  compassion  and   kindness  toward  their  younger  friends.   Their  work  with  the  more  advanced   materials  excites  and  interests  the   younger  ones  who  want  to  emulate  and   be  like  their  older  friends.           Boulder,  Colorado

Students don’t  need  to  wait  to  be  in  fifth,  eighth,  or  12th  grade  to  be  leaders.    Being  the  oldest  in  a   classroom  affords  the  opportunity  to  develop  strong  leadership  skills.     •  We  hear  all  of  the  time  about  the  importance  of  the  student/teacher  relationship;  teacher  to   student  ratios;  and  that  we  want  our  teachers  to  truly  know  our  children.  In  Montessori,  children   stay  in  the  same  classrooms  for  3  years,  which  promotes  a  close  relationship  between  teacher   and  child.     •    Montessori  is  a  holistic  approach  to  educating  the  child  –  it  is  seen  as  an  aid  to  life.  A  child’s   development  of  independence  is  of  paramount  importance.  The  more  a  child  can  do  for  himself,   the  more  he  will  look  to  the  future  with  the  confidence  that  he  is  competent  and  capable.     Character  education  is  also  of  deep  importance  in  the  Montessori  philosophy.  Children  receive   many  lessons  in  the  social  graces  that  ease  human  interactions.  In  the  living  classroom,  children   are  supported  in  developing  strong  social  skills.     WALDORF   Like  Montessori,  Waldorf  cares  about  and  educates  “the  whole  child.”  They  want  every  child  to   reach  her  individual  potential,  to  be  excited  about  learning  and  the  world  around  her,  to  care   about  and  treat  her  fellow  human  beings  with  respect.     Like  Montessori,  Waldorf  takes  a  developmental  approach  to  education.  Waldorf  sees  the   development  of  the  child  divided  roughly  into  three  stages  (birth  to  7,  7-­‐14,  and  14-­‐18).    Waldorf   education  is  designed  around  the  simple  idea  that  children  have  within  them  three  fundamental   forces  impelling  them  toward  physical,  emotional,  and  mental  activity;  the  head,  heart,  and   hands.     There  are  characteristics  and  needs  that  accompany  each  stage,  and  teachers  are  trained  to  bring   appropriate  learning  content  to  each  of  these  stages  and  forces  in  order  to  support  and  nourish   healthy  growth.     •  Waldorf  classrooms  are  beautifully  designed.  Well-­‐crafted  toys  made  of  wood  and  silk  are   designed  to  stimulate  fantasy  and  pretend  play.     •    The  Waldorf  preschool-­‐kindergarten  program  places  an  emphasis  on  fantasy  and  imagination   as  well  as  storytelling,  rhyming,  movement  games,  and  play.  Another  major  focus  is  on  play  as  it   helps  to  develop  thoughtfulness,  rapt  attention,  and  develops  emotional  maturity  through  social   interaction.    Their  early  childhood  education  programs  are  experiential  (hands-­‐on-­‐involvement)   and  sensory-­‐based.  Practical  activities  are  provided  for  the  children  to  be  able  to  imitate  what   they  see  the  adults  around  them  doing,  like  baking,  and  gardening.  Music,  art  and  story  telling  are   large  components  of  the  program.           Boulder,  Colorado

• When  a  child  shows  an  interest  in  reading  letters  (first  or  second  grade)  the  Waldorf  approach   to  reading  and  writing  is  taught  in  a  multi-­‐sensory  way,  using  both  visual  images  and  the  physical   experience  of  the  letter  through  walking  and  clay  or  beeswax  modeling.    The  goal  is  to  engage  the   whole  child  and  make  learning  to  read  meaningful  and  memorable.     •    Waldorf  educators  take  a  particularly  strong  stand  against  the  use  of  television  and  all   electronics,  because  they  don’t  believe  that  they  support  children’s  developmental  needs.  They,   instead,  want  to  protect  the  young  child  in  that  first  stage  of  development  by  keeping  him  away   from  the  realities  of  the  world  until  he  is  developmentally  capable  of  handling  those  realities.   Because  Waldorf  education  focuses  on  the  whole  child  this  flows  into  the  home  life  as  well.    Being   actively  engaged  at  home  through  imaginative  play,  dinner  with  family,  outside  play,  and  helping   with  household  chores  would  replace  any  time  spent  with  television  and  electronics.     Unlike  Montessori,  Waldorf  education  is  a  registered  trademark  name  that  allows  for  complete   control  over  its  governance  and  teacher-­‐training  programs.  Teachers  go  through  an  extensive   and  thorough  training  in  Waldorf  philosophy  and  practices  before  they  can  work  with  children.       PLAY-­‐BASED  PROGRAMS   The  theory  surrounding  play-­‐based   programs  is  that  children  learn  best  when   they’re  having  fun,  and  “fun”  is  defined  as   playing.  They  believe  that  work-­‐based,   rigid  approaches  to  learning  actually  turn   a  child  off  to  leaning  and  that  these  do  not   provide  children  with  positive  attitudes   and  skills  necessary  to  succeed  as  future   learners.     •  Play-­‐based  theory  uses  children’s  “play”   as  the  vehicle  for  developing  social  skills,   imagination,  creativity,  inner  motivation   and  motor  skills.  They  believe  play   promotes  imagination  and  creativity  and   that  long  un-­‐interrupted  periods  of  play   fosters  concentration  by  allowing  the   child  to  get  deeply  involved  in  an  activity.   This  is  seen  as  the  child  taking   responsibility  for  her  own  learning.           Boulder,  Colorado

• The  role  of  the  adult  in  play-­‐based  preschool  programs  is  to  guide  and  extend  children’s  play   experiences.  They  try  to  figure  out  what  it  is  the  child  is  learning  and  then  work  to  support  and   extend  that  learning  by  adding  more  materials  and  asking  questions  or  joining  in  on  their  play.     •  There  doesn’t  seem  to  be  an  over-­‐arching  theoretical  framework  to  play-­‐based  programs  in  the   same  way  that  there  are  with  Waldorf  and  Montessori.  Different  theorists  add  to  “the  pot”  in   defining  play-­‐based  thinking.  Some  proponents  value  completely  free,  unstructured  play  time   while  others  believe  in  structured  experiences  that  the  adult  creates  and  enrichment   opportunities  carried  out  by  specialists  (yoga,  music  or  Spanish  instruction).       How  to  Use  This  Information   Whatever  philosophical  framework  you  embrace,  remember  what  matters  most  is  the  people   who  will  be  with  your  child.  Take  your  time  and  go  observe  in  a  number  of  settings  so  that  you   begin  to  get  a  good  feeling  of  what  resonates  with  you.  Ask  to  see  the  credentials  of  any  teacher   you  are  considering  for  your  child,  this  is  especially  true  if  you  are  considering  Montessori  or  a   play-­‐based  preschool,  which  may  have  less  oversight  from  an  official  governing  body.                

  Boulder,  Colorado

CHAPTER SEVEN     What  your  Child  Will  Really  G   et  Out  of  Montessori       Is  all  of  this  research  really  worth  it?     Why  should  you  spend  the  time,  effort,  and  money  on  an  authentic  Montessori  program  for  your   child?  Wouldn’t  it  be  easier  to  just  find  a  good,  basic  preschool?     For  most  parents,  the  question  remains:  “What  will  my  child  really  get  out  of  attending  a   Montessori  school?”       Why  Your  Background  Matters   Most  parents  didn’t  attend  Montessori  schools  when  they  were  children.     This  isn’t  a  problem,  of  course.  You  turned  out  just  fine.  Know  that  as  you  consider  early   education  options  for  your  child  however,  your  own  educational  experiences  can  make  the   decision  a  bit  difficult.                                                     Boulder,  Colorado

At first  glance,  Montessori  classrooms  don’t  look  familiar  to  most  people.  There  are  no  rows  of   desks,  no  black  or  whiteboards  and  no  teaching  to  the  entire  class.  Parents  are  often  intrigued  by   the  peaceful,  calm  environment  and  the  hum  of  activity  with  young  children  choosing  their  own   activities  and  concentrating  deeply  for  long  periods  of  time.       Montessori  is  so  different,  however,  from  traditional  programs  that  it’s  natural  to  leave  a  bit   perplexed.  I  mean,  what  is  really  going  on  here?     How  Preschools  Have  It  So  Easy   I’ll  admit  it:  I  am  a  bit  envious  that  most  preschools  don’t  have  to  spend  a  lot  of  time  explaining   what  they  do  to  parents.  The  goal  of  the  program  is  clear,  to  prepare  children  for  a  traditional   kindergarten  program.     In  a  traditional  school,  your  child  will  need  basic  academic  skills,  so  they  focus  on  “pre-­‐reading   and  pre-­‐math”  with  workbooks,  flash  cards  and  memorization.  Think  ABC  and  1-­‐2-­‐3,  and   multiplication  tables.     In  a  traditional  school  your  child  will  have  activities  where  everyone  does  at  the  same  thing  at   the  same  time.       In  a  traditional  school  your  child  will  need  to  learn  how  to  pay  attention  to  one  teacher  lecturing   to  the  group.  Think  about  long  circle  times  with  one  teacher  talking  to  all  the  children  together.     There  is  nothing  inherently  wrong  with  this,  of  course.  Rather,  in  a  Montessori  classroom  we  are   able  to  give  your  child  individual  attention  to  support  his  growth,  the  attention  which  we  believe   he  deserves  much  more.  That  is  why  we  educate  socially,  emotionally,  physically,  and   academically  –  focusing  on  all  aspects  of  him  as  a  human  being.        

  Boulder,  Colorado

How Montessori  is  Different:  Education  for  life.   Rather  than  just  preparing  your  child  for  the  next  step  in  school,  we  seek  to  support  his  academic,   social,  emotional,  and  intellectual  development.  We  want  him  to  be  successful  at  life  in  the  future,   not  just  in  kindergarten.     Take  a  second  to  imagine  your  child  20  years  from  now.  What  skills  will  he  need  to  be  successful   in  college,  his  chosen  profession  and  in  life  in  general?     Here  is  a  primer.  He  will  need  to:   •    Know  how  to  regulate  his  behavior   •    Control  his  impulses   •    Learn  to  plan  and  strategize   •    Hone  the  ability  to  problem  solve   •    Learn  to  be  flexible  and  course-­‐correct  when  necessary   •    Learn  to  take  initiative   •    Be  responsible   •    Engage  in  depth-­‐based  thinking  requiring  long  periods  of  concentration   •    Work  collaboratively  with  peers  on  projects         Boulder,  Colorado

Researchers who  study  the  traits  of  successful  adults  coined  the  term  for  these  skills:  “executive   functions”.     These  executive  function  skills,  that  are  so  important  to  life’s  success,  must  be  continually   developed,  day  in  and  day  out,  or  else  they  will  not  materialize.  They  result  from  the  way  an   activity  is  done  and  the  time  spent  doing  it  by  pushing  oneself  to  do  better  and  better.       The  Link  Between  Montessori  and  Executive  Functions   Research  comparing  children  attending  inner-­‐city  Montessori  schools  with  those  attending   traditional  schools  was  conducted  by  University  of  Virginia  professor,  Dr.  Angeline  Lillard,  and   was  published  in  the  prestigious  journal,  Science,  in  September  2006.     The  result?       Montessori  students  rated  higher  on  “executive  function  skills”  that  include  skills  like  selective   attention,  self-­‐control,  problem  solving,  reasoning,  and  not  getting  into  trouble.     On  behavioral  and  social  tests  5-­‐year-­‐old  Montessori  children  scored  higher  than  their  peers   from  conventional  schools,  showing  that  they  had  a  greater  sense  of  fairness  and  justice;  out  on   the  playground,  they  were  more  likely  to  engage  more  in  emotionally  positive  play  with  their   peers  and  less  in  rough  housing.     And,  yes,  your  child  will  still  be  ready  academically  for  elementary,  middle,  and  high  school,   whether  in  Montessori  or  any  other  program.    The  same  study  found  that  among  the  5-­‐year  olds   who  were  studied,  Montessori  children  were  better  prepared  to  enter  first  grade  with  stronger   reading  and  math  skills  than  children  in  traditional  schools.       21st  Century  Skills:  Critical  Thinking,  Communication,  Collaboration,  and  Creativity   Bringing  together  members  of  the  business,  education,  and  policy  leaders  to  jump-­‐start  a  national   conversation  on  the  importance  of  21st  century  skills  for  K-­‐12  students  was  launched  in  2002.       Since  then,  the  term  has  weaved  its  way  into  national  conferences,  board  meetings,  faculty   meetings  and  the  overall  education  landscape.     While  nine  skills  are  identified  as  being  essential,  the  Partnership  for  21st  Century  Skills  has   identified  the  4C’s:  Critical  thinking  and  problem  solving;  Communication,  Collaboration;   Creativity;  and  innovation  as  equally  important  as  core  academic  subjects  to  position  children  for   21st  century  readiness.         Boulder,  Colorado

How are  these  skills  supported  in  a  Montessori  classroom?   Critical  Thinking  and  Problem  Solving   • Hands  on  discovery  experimentation   • Exploration  and  understanding  are  emphasized  in  the  Montessori  classroom.   Children  are  given  time  to  think  through  and  absorb  what  has  been  presented.   • Repetition  allows  children  to  achieve  mastery.   • Tools  are  given  that  allow  children  to  answer  their  own  questions.    

Collaboration     • Collaborative  teacher  and  student  engagement  to  create  meaning  and  connections  among   disciplines.       Boulder,  Colorado

Children work  in  a  mixed-­‐age  classroom  community.   Group  work  is  encouraged  and  supported.   Cultural  studies  and  global  awareness  are  built  in  to  the  curriculum.   Children  have  opportunities  to  conceive  of  an  idea  then  motivate  and  organize  a  group  of   their  peers  to  bring  it  to  fruition.   • Grace  and  courtesy  lessons  are  practiced  daily.   • • • •

Communication • Classroom  environments  are  rich  in  language.   • Children  have  many  opportunities  to  communicate  with  adults  and  with  each  other.   They  have  continuous  contact  with  their  peers  during  their  work.   • In  Elementary,  school  children  share  their  work  daily  through  oral  presentations.   Creativity   • • • • •

Children have  the  freedom  to  follow  their  interests.   The  arts  are  integrated  into  the  curriculum.   The  imagination  is  engaged  with  stories,  charts,  and  timelines  in  Elementary  classes.   The  children’s  work  is  driven  by  their  questions.     Children  have  the  tools  and  the  freedom  to  create  innovative  work.  

University of  Minnesota  Medical  School  Pediatric  Neuropsychologist  Dr.  Stephen  Hughes  affirms,     “Maria  Montessori  essentially  got  everything  right.  I  think  it’s  becoming  clearer  that  what   Montessori  is  offering  is  a  wide  scope  development  of  a  human  person  and  their  consciousness.  “     The  Choice  Is  Yours   Is  Montessori  worth  it?  You  decide.    You,  as  the  parent,  are  charged  with  raising  your  child  in  the   best  way  you  see  fit.  What  do  you  value?  What  kind  of  person  do  you  want  your  child  to  become?     There  are  a  multitude  of  options  available  to  you.         Think  carefully  and  choose  well!                     Boulder,  Colorado



    An  Invitation  to  You   Please  accept  our  invitation  to  visit  Mountain  Shadows  for  a  personal  tour;  you  will  see  how  a   community  of  like-­‐minded  people  can  create  an  amazing  educational  environment  for  your  child!      

    Boulder,  Colorado

Iis montessori right for your child e book 071516  

With so many options, choosing an early or elementary education program, especially a Montessori one, is one of the most important parenting...

Iis montessori right for your child e book 071516  

With so many options, choosing an early or elementary education program, especially a Montessori one, is one of the most important parenting...