Montessori Sun Times Summer 2011 : Page 1

A newsletter for The Children’s House community in Traverse City · Summer 2011 www.traversechildrenshouse.org Executive What? By Michele Shane When people new to Montessori begin to learn about the methodol-ogy, they quickly learn that there is an attached jargon that may, initially, sound like a different language—words and phrases that must be deciphered as they begin to understand this language familiar to those already versed in “Monto-speak.” Although the term “executive function” did not originate in Montessori education, it is uttered quite frequently in Montessori circles as there is a direct correla-tion between the two. The use of these words in conversation can have a similar “jargon-like” effect on those unfamiliar with its meaning. According to Harvard Univer-sity’s Center on the Developing Child, “executive function” refers to a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, monitor errors, make decisions in light of available information, revise plans as necessary, and resist the urge to let frustration lead to hasty actions. They go on to say that, in order to acquire the early building blocks of these skills, it is vital that the child be given consistent and ongoing opportunities from a very early age to practice these skills. Opportunities to focus, hold and work with information in mind, fi lter distractions, and switch gears as necessary. As they get older, participating in and building mean-ingful relationships with peers, taking part in group discussions and projects and the opportunity to manage more and more aspects of their own environments and lives on their own become increasingly important. In many ways, coming to school with a solid base of these foun-dational executive function skills is more important than whether children know their letters and numbers. 1 So, how does that relate to Montessori? Arguably, the Montessori prepared environment beginning from the Infant/Toddler environments and on through Pri-mary and Elementary is a classroom setting designed in a manner that is the ideal place for the develop-ment of this very important set of skills. Here are a few examples: •Children choose activities based on their own interests from a variety of work within the class-room. This requires self initiation and regulation from a very early age—sometimes the activity of choice is not available so the child must redirect his or her focus toward another option or, wait patiently until it becomes available. •The Montessori classroom, buzzing with activity and sensorial input, asks the child to remain focused on the task at hand and to fi lter out distractions. •The didactic materials with built-in “control of error” encour-age the child to monitor their mistakes and repeat the activity until they reach a point of mastery. Studies have proven that Montessori children demonstrate signifi cantly stronger executive functioning than those within a control group (traditional model public and charter schools.) 2 And, strong executive functioning skills build a solid foundation for academic, social, emotional and moral development. If you can get past the lingo and look into the heart of the Montessori education to discover one simple fact, remember this--every child who toddles in or walks through our doors each day has the opportunity to practice and acquire skills that are the crucial building blocks for a lifetime of success. Michele Shane, Head of School References: 1.Lewitt, E.M. & Baker, L.S. (1995). School Readiness, The Future of Children,5(2), 128-139 2.Lillard, A & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Science, 313(5795), 1893-1894 Time Well Spent By Bob Butz The other day, sitting around with friends, some-body brought up the question of character and how much sway parents like us really had in molding the personalities of our children. Naturally, we all wanted to think the answer was quite a lot. But then the math came into question. How much room is there for quality time when a third of life is spent working and the other third is spent in bed? Everyone around the table had to work for a living. Everyone has to sleep. We all knew that simply being present was not the same as being there . Yet more than a few confessed that—between work and bedtime—we often saw our children less than an hour or two a day. Sometimes, as parents, it felt like “the school” had more of a role in our child’s development than we did. In the end, the group was split on the question of nature versus nurture. But we all agreed that we’re doing the right thing when it comes to where we send our children to school—The Children’s House. There is a popular saying attributed to St. Francis Xavier: Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you a man. As parents, we expect the high standard of quality education The Children’s House de-livers. But equally important is the emphasis on strong character development—the fact that The Children’s House is there to help us foster and put into daily practice all the virtues, ethics, intangible and immeasur-able traits possessed by the great men and women we’re determined to see our children one day become. Sallie working on a masterpiece.

Executive What?

Michele Shane

When people new to Montessori begin to learn about the methodology, they quickly learn that there is an attached jargon that may, initially, sound like a different language—words and phrases that must be deciphered as they begin to understand this language familiar to those already versed in “Monto-speak.”<br /> <br /> Although the term “executive function” did not originate in Montessori education, it is uttered quite frequently in Montessori circles as there is a direct correlation between the two. The use of these words in conversation can have a similar “jargon-like” effect on those unfamiliar with its meaning.<br /> <br /> According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, “executive function” refers to a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, monitor errors, make decisions in light of available information, revise plans as necessary, and resist the urge to let frustration lead to hasty actions.<br /> <br /> They go on to say that, in order to acquire the early building blocks of these skills, it is vital that the child be given consistent and Ongoing opportunities from a very early age to practice these skills.<br /> <br /> Opportunities to focus, hold and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears as necessary. As they get older, participating in and building meaningful relationships with peers, taking part in group discussions and projects and the opportunity to manage more and more aspects of their own environments and lives on their own become increasingly important.<br /> <br /> In many ways, coming to school with a solid base of these foundational executive function skills is more important than whether children know their letters and numbers.1<br /> <br /> So, how does that relate to Montessori? Arguably, the Montessori prepared environment beginning from the Infant/Toddler environments and on through Primary and Elementary is a classroom setting designed in a manner that is the ideal place for the development of this very important set of skills.<br /> <br /> Here are a few examples:<br /> <br /> • Children choose activities based on their own interests from a variety of work within the classroom. This requires self initiation And regulation from a very early age—sometimes the activity of choice is not available so the child must redirect his or her focus toward another option or, wait patiently until it becomes available.<br /> <br /> • The Montessori classroom, buzzing with activity and sensorial input, asks the child to remain focused on the task at hand and to filter out distractions.<br /> <br /> • The didactic materials with built-in “control of error” encourage the child to monitor their mistakes and repeat the activity until they reach a point of mastery.<br /> <br /> Studies have proven that Montessori children demonstrate significantly stronger executive functioning than those within a control group (traditional model public and charter schools.)2 And, strong executive functioning skills build a solid foundation for academic, social, emotional and moral development.<br /> <br /> If you can get past the lingo and look into the heart of the Montessori education to discover one simple fact, remember this-- every child who toddles in or walks through our doors each day has the opportunity to practice and acquire skills that are the crucial building blocks for a lifetime of success.<br />

Time Well Spent

Bob Butz

The other day, sitting around with friends, somebody brought up the question of character and how much sway parents like us really had in molding the personalities of our children. Naturally, we all wanted to think the answer was quite a lot. But then the math came into question.<br /> <br /> How much room is there for quality time when a third of life is spent working and the other third is Spent in bed? Everyone around the table had to work for a living. Everyone has to sleep. We all knew that simply being present was not the same as being there. Yet more than a few confessed that—between work and bedtime—we often saw our children less than an hour or two a day. Sometimes, as parents, it felt like “the school” had more of a role in our child’s development than we did.<br /> <br /> In the end, the group was split on the question of nature versus nurture. But we all agreed that we’re doing the right thing when it comes to where we send our children to school—The Children’s House.<br /> <br /> There is a popular saying attributed to St. Francis Xavier: Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you a man. As parents, we expect the high standard of quality education The Children’s House delivers. But equally important is the emphasis on strong character development—the fact that The Children’s House is there to help us foster and put into daily practice all the virtues, ethics, intangible and immeasurable traits possessed by the great men and women we’re determined to see our children one day become.<br />

Next Page


Publication List
 

Loading