Update: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated! The winner has been selected by Rafflecopter and are published at the bottom of this post. Congratulations to the winner!
Today, I am super excited for two reasons.
- I am hosting a Q&A session by Karen Tyler, the founder and instructor of KHT Montessori. Some of you have shared with me your burning questions about Montessori, and here she is today answering them. Read her answers below.
- Karen is generously offering a FREE giveaway for one person to attend her 12-month online Montessori course! I’m sure you’ll want to know more about the course, so I have some details below for you. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!
What is KHT Montessori?
KHT Montessori LLC started as a dream about providing teachers and parents from around the world an affordable Montessori education program online. The program began in 2006 and over the past few years people from all over the world (over 1800 participants) including homeschoolers, day care providers, teachers, AMS/AMI/etc. certified teachers, those attending universities, etc., started to sign up to take her course, including MYSELF!
Karen is the founder and education leader of KHT Montessori. She is an AMS trained pre-primary teacher with over 30 years of experience. She has taught at several Montessori schools and even opened a few from the ground up. Karen’s personal set of Montessori Albums/Manuals are the same ones that they offer on the program. Karen is the mother of 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. She resides in Indiana with her husband Ross and dog Toby.
From Karen: “Hi Elaine! Thank you very much for inviting me to answer some questions from your blog readers! I am excited to see who wins the free Giveaway and want to make sure that anyone that would like to take this course knows they are invited to join us!”
1. What does it mean to “Montessori?” Basically, what sets it apart from other ways of living and learning?
Dr. Maria Montessori studied children over 100 years ago. That was a long time ago and since then there have been hundreds upon hundreds of scientific discoveries on educating young children. So, it begs the question if the Montessori Method relevant in today’s world? The answer is “Yes!” The scientific data does indeed support what Dr. Montessori discovered over 100 years ago.
The Montessori Method is a “child” centered philosophy. This means that we “follow the child,” instead of the child “following the teacher.” Most of us have had a “traditional” school upbringing. The best way to show you the difference is to give you an example:
A traditional teacher says that it is puzzle time in her classroom. All the children sit at a table and work with puzzles that have 6 to 8 pieces each. This is an example of children “following the teacher.”
A Montessori teacher does not have all the children working with puzzles at the same time. But, on the shelves there will be puzzles and there will be puzzles for children that are working with only 2 pieces and those that can do 6 pieces and those that do 12 pieces, etc. This is an example of where the teacher “follows the child.”
Our job as teachers and parents is to match the activity to the child. It is to observe our children and know when they are ready to be matched to certain activities. The children are allowed the freedom to choose their own work from the shelves from activities in which they have observed presentations on how to use the material.
Below are some of the things a child learns from a Montessori environment:
- Able to be make choices
- Able to concentrate
- Able to make value judgments
- Be free
- Be just
- Be rational
- Control of body movement
- Follow through with actions
- Inner disciplined
- Love to learn
- Love to play
- Love to work
- Realistic response to external approval
- Respectful of others
- Respectful of the earth
- Responsible for self
- Self confident
2. My 3.5 year old is currently at a Montessori pre-school. She will be going to a public school for kindergarten soon. I plan to take a Montessori course, and use the Montessori method to teach her at home after school. Will the child be confused with two teaching methods?
This is a great question which many have asked me along the way. The Montessori Method used at home while your child is in a more traditional type of school, is not something which will ever cause confusion. Early on, children learn that what they do in their home may not be the same as what their friends are allowed to do.
There are different rules and ways for different places. Parents working with their children at home are able to make sure that their children completely understand concepts being taught in their traditional school in the daytime. Parents refer to time spent with Montessori activities at home after school (or on weekends or vacations) as special activities. The children don’t relate to them as homework or as a different way of learning than what they have at school. Thinking of them as extensions and variations that are fun really helps. Many of the KHT Montessori parents that are taking the course find that you don’t have to do everything “Montessori” in order to reap the benefits!
3. My 3.5 year old is very excited to jump straight into the activity without giving me a chance to finish demonstrating, so I allow her to have a go. But when I try to correct her, she loses interest. She is very stubborn and has super short attention span. How would you suggest I approach the situation? What do you say to the child? I then leave the materials on the shelf but she doesn’t touch them for weeks. How long should I leave the materials on the shelf before removing them, and how long before I reintroduce the materials so she finds it ‘interesting’ again?
These are questions that I do cover in the KHT Montessori course. I will touch on suggestions here to get you started.
Many children that are under 4 years of age get very excited when they see they are going to be shown something new. Starting out, it is all about learning how to sit and watch for a short period of time without interrupting. If your child is having difficulty doing this then the first thing I would do is shorten the presentation time. This means that you need to spend time presenting simpler activities with only a couple of steps. Soon, your child’s focus and ability to sit and watch for a few minutes will not be any trouble at all. Many times, we too are excited to present to our child and we forget that the child may not be able to sit and focus for the time it will take to show them.
I always say something like, “Johnny, I am going to show you something new, something special today. You need to watch me first before it will be your turn to do the same activity. I will stop showing you if you interrupt me. You may ask questions when I am done.” Do not ever let a child take over a presentation and do it their way. Once a child starts to do it “their way” it becomes a power struggle over control. There are many activities where creativity and imagination may be developed. Montessori activities are special because they have very specific learning objectives. A child needs to see the presentation and then we invite them to try it with us sitting next to them. If they say, “No thank you,” then you go ahead and say, “I am going to put this on the shelf for you to work with when you want to. Now you can choose an activity to do for it is work/learning time.”
As a general rule, you leave activities on the shelf for a few weeks. If the child is not working with it at all, then you put it away and bring it back out in about a month and present it again.
Freedom to choose means that children have a variety of activities to choose from … and we believe that they have an inner drive to choose activities that they are ready for.
4. My biggest question with Montessori is with observations. When it comes to preparing activities for my child, I find that I am guessing or relying more on age as a guidance rather than true observation of what would interest my child. What is this art of observation of the child in order to give the appropriate activities accurately, and how do I master observation?
Direct from the KHT classroom, here is a forum post that I give on the Art of Observation:
Observing a child is a process in which you will need to experience it in order to understand how to do it. I will try and explain it a little better for you.
Let’s start with what a traditional teacher might do when observing a child:
Betty was putting a puzzle together and picked up the pieces and threw them at the child that was sitting next to her. Her teacher saw this happen and ran up and told her she needed pick up the puzzle and go sit in “time out.”
Do you believe that in this situation the teacher observed the misbehavior and corrected it?
Now let watch how a Montessori teacher would observe this situation:
Betty was putting a puzzle together. Her teacher was sitting in a chair facing the children and scanning the entire room. She knew that Betty was putting a puzzle together. She also knew from observing Betty many times before, that Betty tended to get frustrated when she found work challenging. The teacher got up and went and sat down next to Betty without saying anything. She brought a puzzle of her own to do. The teacher took the pieces of her puzzle out of the frame one at a time as Betty was doing.
At the exact moment that Betty was going to throw the pieces the teacher turned to Betty and said, “Betty, would you be able to help me with my puzzle?” “Sometimes I feel upset when I do work because some jobs are harder for me than others.” “Would you help me this time?”
As Betty helped the teacher they chatted about being frustrated and what that meant. They talked about way they could learn to not worry about doing everything fast and easy.
The teacher knew from her observations before that day that the reason Betty would get frustrated was that most work came easy to her. When a job was more challenging she thought she was dumb and the children would laugh at her.
When a Montessori teacher sits down and observes a child doing work (which should be often) she needs to watch with her heart as well as her eyes. As adults, we often jump in when we shouldn’t and then there are those times where we should have done something and we didn’t!
Only after observing a child, will we know what activities should be presented next. If a child is having trouble, it’s because we are going way too fast. Remember a child’s time and ours is different. A child feels that they have all the time in the world to check out their environment. Adults feel that time is always too short and it’s always running out! Pay attention to the moment when you are observing a child. Watch how they interact with the materials and how they go through the steps. Do they skip certain steps? What is their body language telling you? Are they uptight? Are they smiling and relaxed? Is their tongue sticking out in concentration? Are they easily distracted? Which children do they watch? Is the job too easy? Is the job too hard? These are some of the questions that you should be thinking about as you are observing the child.
With practice, you will be surprised that observing a child becomes almost automatic. I find that I am always observing people around me and trying to figure out the best way to serve them in honor and respect for who they are. With practice, you will be able to see clearly what to do and when to do it with a child. You won’t be frustrated or at a loss anymore. But you have to start now and you have to practice! “How often?” you ask? I think that you should intentionally observe each child every day for 10 minutes. The goal is for you to be able to know when something is not going right with a child and then taking deliberate time to observe them. Other times the goal will be for you to learn how to make observing children as automatic and natural as breathing.
Give it a try! Slow down and give it a try! You won’t be sorry!
More information about the course
- Course overview
- Course syllabus
- If you have any questions, feel free to email Karen — firstname.lastname@example.org
Now for the Giveaway!
What is the giveaway: ONE lucky winner WORLDWIDE will win a 12-month online Montessori course by KHT Montessori. It includes the entire cost of the course which includes the Montessori albums/manuals (curriculum), and is valued at USD$330! The course begins on May 4, 2015.
Terms and conditions: This giveaway is open worldwide. Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no way associated with Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. The selected winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.
How to get more entries: After you have completed the mandatory entry, you can increase your chances of winning by completing all of the entries below.
When does the giveaway end: The giveaway ends at midnight EST on Friday, May 1, 2015. I will email the winner on Saturday, May 2, 2015, and the selected winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.