Be part of the Kiddie Toes Montessori School Family!

Our elementary level follows the Progressive Education Method. We also use the Singapore Math Curriculum.

The Progressive Education’s main objective is to educate the "whole child" (physical, emotional and intellectual)

• Emphasis on learning by doing (experiential learning)
• Integrated curriculum focused on thematic units
• Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking
• Group work and development of social skills
• Collaborative and cooperative learning projects
• Education for social responsibility and democracy
• Integration of community service and service learning projects into the daily curriculum
• Selection of subject content by looking forward to ask what skills will be needed in future society
• De-emphasis on textbooks in favor of varied learning resources
• Emphasis on life-long learning and social skills

School facilities

- Airconditioned classrooms
- Highly qualified Teachers
- Imported learning materials
- English as the medium of instruction
- Spacious play area
- Ideally located in the center of the city
- Comfortable waiting area

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Test-free system 'gives children a better start in life

Pupils who learn at their own pace in Montessori schools may have an advantage over those in traditional classrooms

By Alexandra Frean

CHILDREN who attend Montessori schools, at which tests are banned and pupils of different ages are taught together and allowed to learn at their own pace, develop better social and academic skills than those at conventional schools, according to research.

By the age of 5, children at Montessori schools are better at basic word recognition and mathematics, and are more likely to play co-operatively with other children. By the age of 12, they are more creative and better able to resolve social problems, a US study suggests.

The findings, published in the journal Science, are likely to fuel the debate over the use of tests and the highly structured learning system in British primary schools, which is dominated by a compulsory literacy hour and daily maths lessons. They also raise fundamental questions about the purpose of education.

Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, and lead author of the study, said: “A Montessori education sets children up better for adult life and gives them a better quality of life for the moment too, because they don’t have the anxieties associated with testing.

“Academically, they end up in the same place or better as non-Montessori children, but they are much better at getting on in a community.”

In Britain, Montessori education has tended to be restricted to the children of ambitious parents who can afford fees of up to £2,000 a term, but the Montessori movement is now beginning to influence teaching methods in the state sector.

Personalised learning plans that are being introduced in state schools have been part of the Montessori approach for 100 years — and last year the first state-funded Montessori primary school was opened.

Professor Lillard’s study was based on 112 children from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fifty-nine attended a Montessori school, while a control group of fifty-three children attended conventional schools in the same area.

Parents of the children in both groups had entered their children into a local-authority lottery system to allocate school places. Because all the parents had wanted their children to go to the Montessori school, the researchers worked on the basis that both groups contained similar children and that their parents had similar aspirations for them. Socioeconomic backgrounds in both groups were also matched.

The children took cognitive and academic tests and were given challenges designed to test their social skills.

Among the five-year-olds, Montessori students not only performed significantly better in maths and English, but were also better able to see the world through others’ eyes and performed better on “executive function”, which is the ability to adapt to changing and complex problems.

Asked how they would deal with another child who was playing on a swing and not allowing others to use it, 43 per cent of Montessori five-year-olds said that they would try to persuade the child that what it was doing was unfair to the others. Only 18 per cent of the control group said the same.

The children at conventional schools were far more likely to be involved in rough play, such as “wrestling without smiling”, the study said.

By the age of 12, the difference in academic scores between the two groups was less pronounced. But when they were asked to complete an essay that began with the phrase, “. . . had the best/worst day at school”, the Montessori children wrote more creative stories with more complex sentence structures.

They were also better at suggesting positive solutions to problems, such as what to do if another child pushed in front of them in a queue. The Montessori children were more likely to stand their ground and point out that they had been there first, whereas the other children in the study were more likely to walk away.

Professor Lillard, who originally trained as a Montessori teacher, said that the findings could be explained by the Montessori children’s superior understanding of social interaction. “In traditional schools we do things the opposite of the way children develop. They are told to learn alone and to be quiet. In Montessori schools the children can socialise as much as they want, and there is a lot more social interaction. The environment is not competitive, as there are no grades and testing,” she said.

Linda Madden, principal of the Rainbow Montessori School in North London, said that the Montessori method focused on laying down the proper foundations for learning at every stage before children moved on to the next step.

“We do not teach children to count in an abstract way before they understand dimension and quantity. With writing, we don’t teach letters until they have the pincer muscles to hold a pencil properly. We are very thorough — every step is based on the step before,” she said.


Montessori education focuses on six core areas of learning: practical life, sensorial, language mathematics, cultural and creative activities


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Students Prosper with Montessori Method

By David Biello
Friday, September 29, 2006

Nearly 100 years ago, a physician opened a school in a poor section of Rome. In doing so, Maria Montessori went beyond being the first female doctor in Italy and became the pioneer of a new method of education. A curriculum based on close observations of children, the Montessori method includes an individualized curriculum and no grades, among other innovations. And a new study among children from Milwaukee seems to show that it delivers significant benefits over traditional public schools for the youngest students.

Psychologists Angeline Lillard of the University of Virginia and Nicole Else-Quest, now at Villanova University, surveyed children who had participated in a random lottery to attend a public Montessori school in Milwaukee. A total of 112 children (and their parents) elected to participate in the study in exchange for $100; 53 kids who "lost" that lottery and attended typical public schools were compared with 59 who "won" and attended Montessori schools. Surveys showed that the parents had similar incomes--ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 a year--and, because all had enrolled in the lottery, had presumably desired a Montessori education. "This strategy addressed the concern that parents who seek to enroll their children in a Montessori school are different from parents who do not," the psychologists write in the paper presenting their findings in the September 29 issue of Science.

Lillard and Else-Quest tested one set of children after completing primary education, at around five years old. Although ethnicity data was not collected, the majority of the students were African-American, according to Lillard. On a variety of tests, ranging from letter-word identification to math, these Montessori kids outscored their public school counterparts. When confronted with social issues, such as another child hoarding a swing, they more commonly resorted to reasoning--43 percent to 18 percent. And on tests of so-called executive function--the ability to adapt to changing rules that increase in complexity--Montessori children again outperformed their peers.

But these gains at an early age did not seem to translate directly to an older cohort of 12-year-olds that the researchers also tested; both Montessori and regularly schooled children performed equally well on the skills tests. But the older Montessori children did write better essays, based on blinded ratings by Lillard and a graduate student. "We don't know if these 12-year-olds, when they were five-year-olds, were more advanced or not," Lillard says. "What is notable regardless is that they're not doing worse than their peers despite the fact that they weren't being tested repeatedly on multiple-choice-type tests." The researchers also note that the 12-year-olds may have suffered from the newness of the Montessori school in their early education, as the method often relies on peer teaching.

Lillard plans to continue following these students throughout their academic lives to assess the overall effect, as well as expanding the study to new schools in new places and different income levels. She will also be assessing what specific parts of the Montessori method deliver these improvements. "This was very authentically implemented Montessori," she says. "It's actually a fairly small percentage of schools that are this strict. How much can you change Montessori and still have these outcomes? Or what are the most important practices?"


Friday, November 5, 2010

The Tendencies of Humans

Throughout history, humans have relied on their ingenuity and adaptability for survival. Regardless of race, country, or culture, people follow similar patterns of exploration, inventiveness, and creativity. After years of careful observation, Maria Montessori was able to identify eleven important tendencies that compel human beings to construct and refine the world around them.

What do we mean by the word "tendency"? One dictionary defines it as "A predisposition to think, act, behave, or proceed in a particular way". The following characteristics are ones that we display before we even know what they are; we do them naturally and instinctively. In Montessori philosophy, they are the key to understanding how and why a Montessori classroom calls out to the very soul of the child.

Here are the tendencies of humans as defined by Maria Montessori:

Orientation. Human beings want to know their relationship to the environment around them. When children enter a new environment, they often want to look at and touch everything around them. They enjoy knowing "where" they fit in - from learning their address to finding their country and continent on a map.

Order. People prefer order to chaos and confusion. Order brings predictability and security. There are two kinds of order: external and internal. An orderly classroom (external) helps children to have orderly thoughts (internal).

Exploration. Our earth is filled with wonderful sounds, scents, textures, tastes, and colors. Children are naturally curious, and love to use their senses to learn more about the fascinating world around them.

Communication. Humans delight in conveying thoughts, feelings, and information to each other. Various types of communication include the written and spoken word, touch, facial expressions, gestures, art, music, and dance. Communication is the link of understanding between people, both face-to-face and from generation to generation.

Activity. People generally like to stay busy. For children, movement can be enjoyed for its own sake, rather than always having a goal or end product in mind. Even children who have very little to play with will find ways to be active through games, songs, dance, and pretend play.

Manipulation. Humans need to take hold of their environment to understand it. It is the next step after exploration: once you have found something interesting, you will quite naturally want to use it in some way. This is how the concept of "tools" began.

Work. Humans feel worthwhile through their work. Work leads to a feeling of accomplishment and self-respect. Maria Montessori believed that it was through work that a child constructed his true self, free of defect or misbehavior.

Repetition. This occurs when a child repeats a task over and over again. Oftentimes it is with the intent to master the task, but even after mastery occurs, a child may continue to repeat the activity for the sheer pleasure of doing so.

Exactness. Have you ever seen a child get upset because something was put back in the wrong place? Or watched them line up their blocks neatly before building a tower? Instinctively, humans seek to be precise in their work. Doing something exactly right brings enormous satisfaction.

Abstraction. This is truly the characteristic that sets us apart from animals. We are able to visualize events that have not yet occurred; we are able to feel and express emotions that are not tangible. We can imagine something that exists only in our minds, and then take the steps to make it happen.

Perfection. All of the tendencies culminate in this one. Once we have explored, manipulated, and worked in our environment, we can perfect our activities. In doing so, we are masters of our own minds and bodies as well as the tasks we set out to do.

Once we are aware of the underlying forces that compel human development, we will recognize them everywhere. The tendencies of humans are what compel babies to put everything they find into their mouths. They are the reason that a young child wants to know how things are made, and why children are filled with wonder when they enter a forest. They are the reason for our appreciation of a finely-crafted piece of furniture or a beautiful painting; we recognize the repetition that went into the mastery and finally perfection of a difficult skill.

The prepared environment (i.e., the Montessori classroom with its carefully chosen and beautifully arranged materials) is built around these tendencies. Because of this, Montessori teachers do not need to force their students to work; children are naturally drawn to the materials because they appeal to their instinctive drives. For example, the environment is safe and secure, filled only with items that can be touched and manipulated by the child. Work is neat, orderly, and accessible; this encourages exactness and exploration.

Today's child unconsciously displays the same traits that early humans did, and without realizing it, we often stand in the way of their exploration and manipulation because it is an inconvenience to us. When we are able to remove any hindrances to a child's natural tendencies, the child will flourish and likely surprise us with their pursuit of knowledge, their innovative thinking, and their limitless curiosity.
If you'd like additional information, Mario Montessori, Jr. (Maria's grandson) gave a lecture entitled "Tendencies of Man" that was published as a small booklet in 1956.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stand Against Poverty

Just before world leaders began gathering at the United Nations for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Review Summit, the voices of their citizens followed them, telling them, loudly and clearly: “We will no longer stay seated or silent in the face of poverty and the broken promises to end it!”

KTMS supports the realization of the MDG. Let's all act now!!!

For photos of the learners supporting the MDG, please visit the KTMS Facebook Page

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SRA Reading Laboratory

KMTS now uses SRA Reading Laboratory for it's lower elementary learners!

SRA Reading Laboratories are a carefully structured system for teaching and developing essential reading skills. The unique multi-levelled approach helps students to get the most from every minute of learning time. They offer a tried and tested formula that have taught over 100 million children to become fluent readers.

Founded in 1938, SRA or Science Research Associates Inc. is a Chicago-based publisher of educational materials and schoolroom reading comprehension products.[1] Early on, it had a trade and occupational focus. In 1957, it moved into individualized classroom instruction with the iconic SRA Reading Laboratory Kit, a format that later translated to mathematics, science, and social studies. The labs were large boxes filled with color-coded cardboard sheets. Each sheet included a reading exercise for students. The student would then follow up with multiple choice questions. As the child moved ahead, he or she would advance in difficulty.

SRA's Reading Laboratories provide individualized reading instruction to a whole classroom of readers at different levels. The Labs offer lessons in phonics, decodable text, timed reading and fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, test preparation, and literature.

For 50 years, SRA Reading Labs have helped more than 100 million students around the world improve their reading skills. A range of reading levels encourages students to learn independently and at their own pace. Self-directed readings let you manage an entire classroom of readers at different levels. You simply initiate the program with a placement test. Then, students progress through each level at their own rate.

For more information about SRA, please visit:
SRA Readinglabs website

For photos of the SRA training for the KTMS teachers, visit the:
KTMS Facebook account

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Practical Ways to Help Three Year Old Children at Home

Three year old children are now able to have more control with their fine motor skills and have more understanding and heightened curiosity about the world. Parents as the educators can pass on values with small activities and help the child increase their self confidence in their daily lives. The following are a few general examples to be implemented in the home.


Read a bedtime story every night even if it is only a short one. Make it a routine as it will also help children settle down at night.

Tell true stories at bed time instead of reading for variety of bedtime routine

Borrow children’s books from your local library to add variety to the collection of books read.

Avoid using the TV as a babysitter. Limit the amount of time spent watching TV and videos etc. Set limited times when your child is allowed to watch TV.

Teach your child how to turn off the TV. Allow them to self regulate as to when it is enough to be sitting in front of the TV.

Turn TV off when family are having meals. This is setting a good example of when to watch TV and allows for dinner conversation.


Take time to walk at your child’s pace when outdoors/in public.

When outdoors, spend time talking and looking at things along the way. Name things along the way to help your child’s vocabulary.

Use this time to share news regarding things that are related to family/friends, people and things that are important to you and your child.

Remind children to wear hats and sun scream before going out to play.

Practice kerb drill when walking.

Help your child to know the meaning of traffic light colours.

Encourage the child to put each activity or toys away when completed or finished playing with them.

Encourage the child to be physically active as it leads to a feeling of wellbeing and helps promote good muscle tone and strong heart and helps deals with stress. It also helps them sleep better.

Encourage the family to exercise together dancing to favourite music, swimming at the closest aquatic centre or in your pool, kicking a ball at the park or in your backyard bushwalking, etc.

Encourage respect for the environment

Involve the child in caring for the garden. Allow them to plant a small herb garden. Use the herbs to add taste to foods. This can also encourage them to eat the foods since they were involved in the preparation of the food.

Children can do small tasks that help develop respect for the environment by carrying the household compost to the compost bin or carry out the papers to the recycling bin.
Discourage waste for example, remind children to use one piece of paper for drawing and to use the other side as well. A chalkboard is less wasteful.


Encourage the child to eat using child size cutlery. This can help them eat independently and gain confidence.

Encourage healthy eating habits to lessen the chance of diet related diseases by offering some children prefer raw vegetable. Offer sticks of carrot or celery. Offering a variety is good.

Plenty of wholegrain cereals such as breads, rice, pasta and noodles

Lean meat, poultry and fish

Offer milk, yoghurt and cheese

Encourage children to drink water instead of juice or cordials or soft drinks contain sugar, preservatives intake.

Choose foods low in salt

Expect the child to try new food but don’t insist that they eat it if they don’t like it
Introduce foods repeatedly and they might one day change their mind and give it a try or even like it

When at the dinner table ask questions and show interest in your child’s day.

How to encourage self esteem

Tell them that you love them

Take time to listen to them and talk to them

Spend time with them

Help them to find the solutions to problems

Encourage them to follow their interests

Display their work in the home

Celebrate their achievements and milestones even small ones.

Allow your child to choose between two appropriate sets of clothing.

Allow ample time for the child to dress themselves in the morning.

Encourage child to carry their own backpack, bag or personal belongings.

Help them to learn their surname address and phone number.

Observe the child and become aware of their interests, so that you can provide challenge.
Be friendly with error and remember that learning happens when a child is able to attempt a new activity with encouragement from adults.

When dealing with errors in grammar, no need to correct but one may repeat the sentence correctly to avoid humiliation for the child. It will keep the experience positive rather than having the feeling of being corrected/rebuked.

Give the child positive feedback and resist saying you did that the wrong way. Correct by setting the good example.

Remember it is the process of learning that is important not the product.


Encourage a love of music as music is wonderful to help with stress as a way of relaxation.
You could give the child access to a saucepan and wooden spoon or other kitchen paraphernalia that are safe.

Implements that are kept in a special place in the kitchen to be used for percussion, (tapping sticks, tubes etc).

Pick your child up and dance with them in the kitchen (if its big enough).

If your lifestyle permits take a child to group music lessons which are fun (Yamaha do them using keyboard) children pick up music skills very quickly if you start at about 4-5 years.

If the child has a 2nd language spoken in the home, take them to Saturday language school.
Use everyday activities such as driving to school/day care to play games such as “I Spy” to help children learn their sounds.

Encourage children to play board games such as Junior Scrabble and Junior Monopoly. They will need a lot of help initially but this will help them to learn to take turns. Board games teach children a range of skills such as counting and word building and are good alternative to watching TV

A chalkboard and chalk is an ideal way for children to practice drawing and writing as errors are so easy for them to erase

Provide children with a variety of simple toys not an overwhelming number of elaborate expensive ones. Pack things away and rotate them so children can manage to tidy their toys away with very little help.

Children this age would enjoy puzzles, simple construction toys, simple musical instruments, play dough, plasticine, crayons, country pencils, puppets and books.

They love to create cubbies using old cardboard boxes, etc. Save old cardboard boxes for creative activities and such.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Raising a book lover

Home Grown
by Toni Tiu

I grew up in a house full of books. From finance to romance, there was always something to read. We are a family of book lovers, so naturally I hoped from the very beginning that my baby becomes a lover of books as well. With the way he interacts with his books now, I can confidently say he is a book lover too.

Encouraging a child to read can start at infancy. A month after I gave birth, I was desperate to catch up on my reading. Between taking care of the baby and trying to catch up on lost sleep, there was hardly any time for a leisurely read. That changed when I began a bedtime routine with my infant. Before tucking him in, I’d take out a book and read aloud a few chapters to him. Not only was it a way to familiarize him with my voice, it helped me catch up on my reading. I think reading aloud to him even when he was just a month old was a good start in establishing a healthy relationship with reading. He is now 11 months old and enjoys it very much when books are read aloud to him. Sometimes he babbles while I read to him. It seems like he’s reading along with me. I love sharing a book with him!

There is a wealth of good children’s books in stores that it’s a challenge picking just a few out. Books with big, bold shapes and bright colors are fascinating to a baby, so I choose books with these in mind. I find that they hold my baby’s attention longer. He carefully observes the details on each page before moving on to the next.

Board books are my current preference. It’s easier for the baby to turn the pages on his own. When he was a few months old, I’d sit him on my lap and turn the pages for him while reading aloud. Over time he would learn how to flip the pages himself. In the beginning he used his closed fist to try turning the page, then his open hands. Both times I would help him. Today, he uses his fingers and turns the pages on his own. I think his pincer grasp (using the thumb and index finger to pick up small objects) developed because of the page turning. I’m wary of books with paper pages for now because the baby crumples up the pages anyway, and he could be prone to paper cuts. Board books are friendliest for my little one.

Another way to build a child’s love for reading is to be conscious of what stage he’s in. My baby is at the phase where he is fascinated with textures, so he has some books that stimulate his sense of touch. Books that have little tags of a silky, cottony or furry texture intrigue him. Other ways to encourage reading are choosing books that reflect his interests, listening to audio books, and sharing books you yourself loved as a child.

I think the best way to raise a book-loving baby is as simple as showing him that you enjoy reading too. Whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine or a novel, if your child sees you reading he’ll be motivated to read as well. So far that’s working out fine for me and my son. He is growing up surrounded by books and by people who enjoy reading them.

When I see my baby pick up a book and go through the pages with such concentration, my heart sings. I love how he is so captivated by the pictures. I love how right now letters are just pictures and patterns to him, but eventually he’ll learn how they form words. Then words will unlock worlds, and my book-loving baby will find even more reasons to keep on reading.


Bookworm Toni Tiu never leaves home without a book. Now she doesn’t leave home without two books – one for her and one for the baby. Visit her personal blog at


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


In the rush to give children a healthy dose of self-esteem, some adults go
too far to praise children. And that can backfire. It doesn't take kids
long to realize that all the praise may not be justified. Maybe you fail to
gush over a painting the way Mom and Dad have always done. Or a playmate
tells them their clay bowl is yucky. It's a rude awakening!

A child who is praised too much may fall into the great-expectations trap.
These kids feel the only way they can be accepted and loved is to keep
performing at higher levels. Too much praise can also set up a
fear-of-failure scenario. Kids are so dependent on the approval of others,
they may be afraid to take risks. Scared that they won't be able to do a
task perfectly, they don't do it at all.

This is not to say that adults should act like drill sergeants. It's fine
to tell a toddler everything he does is wonderful. And it's also fine to
burst out in spontaneous delight over something a child does. But by the
time kids are in preschool, caregivers and parents should think about when
and how they praise.

DON'T PRAISE INDISCRIMINATELY. Children need and deserve realistic
feedback about their accomplishments to understand their strengths and
weaknesses. If you gush over everything, they will never recognize that
some areas really do need improvement. Instead of treating every painting
as a masterpiece, talk about the facts: Look at that deep-blue sky! What a
lot of colors you used today! I can't wait to hang up this painting. Think
of praise as a form of feedback. The more specific you are, the more
important information you impart to the child.

FOCUS ON THE CHILD'S SPECIAL TALENT. Every child has some area of
competence, one that can serve as a source of pride and accomplishment.
Encourage that special talent and the child's pride in his achievement will
transfer to other work.

the results and forget about the effort. Look back two or three months on
the child's progress and concentrate your praise on how much a child has

one child to another. Encourage children to participate and do well because
they enjoy something, not because they want to beat out someone else or
prove they're smarter than someone else.

disappointment a child will face, you can make sure he doesn't feel
defeated by it. For instance, if you see a child is upset because a project
didn't come out the way he wanted, you can encourage him to start over or
change something in the project.

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
(1993). Can you praise children too much? In M. Lopes (Ed.) CareGiver
News (August, p. 1). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Cooperative


Friday, July 16, 2010

Montessori Education Provides Better Outcomes Than Traditional Methods, Study Finds

September 28, 2006—A study comparing outcomes of children at a public inner-city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.
The study appears in the September 29, 2006 issue of the journal Science (see article full text; available free through

Montessori education is characterized by multi-age classrooms, a special set of educational materials, student-chosen work in long time blocks, a collaborative environment with student mentors, absence of grades and tests, and individual and small group instruction in academic and social skills. More than 5,000 schools in the United States, including 300 public schools, use the Montessori method.

The Montessori school studied is located in Milwaukee and serves urban minority children. Students at the school were selected for enrollment through a random lottery process. Those students who “won” the lottery and enrolled at the Montessori school made up the study group. A control group was made up of children who had “lost” the lottery and were therefore enrolled in other schools using traditional methods. In both cases the parents had entered their children in the school lottery with the hope of gaining enrollment in the Montessori school.

“This strategy addressed the concern that parents who seek to enroll their children in a Montessori school are different from parents who do not,” wrote study authors Angeline Lillard, a University of Virginia professor of psychology, and Nicole Else-Quest, a former graduate student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin. This was an important factor because parents generally are the dominant influence on child outcomes.

Children were evaluated at the end of the two most widely implemented levels of Montessori education: primary (3- to 6-year-olds) and elementary (6- to 12-year-olds). They came from families of very similar income levels (averaging from $20,000 to $50,000 per year for both groups).

The children who attended the Montessori school, and the children who did not, were tested for their cognitive and academic skills, and for their social and behavioral skills.

“We found significant advantages for the Montessori students in these tests for both age groups,” Lillard said. “Particularly remarkable are the positive social effects of Montessori education. Typically the home environment overwhelms all other influences in that area.”

Among the 5-year-olds, Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function,” the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success.

Montessori children also displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.

Among the 12-year-olds from both groups, the Montessori children, in cognitive and academic measures, produced essays that were rated as “significantly more creative and as using significantly more sophisticated sentence structures.” The Montessori and non-Montessori students scored similarly on spelling, punctuation and grammar, and there was not much difference in academic skills related to reading and math. This parity occurred despite the Montessori children not being regularly tested and graded.

In social and behavioral measures, 12-year-old Montessori students were more likely to choose “positive assertive responses” for dealing with unpleasant social situations, such as having someone cut into a line. They also indicated a “greater sense of community” at their school and felt that students there respected, helped and cared about each other.
The authors concluded that, “…when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools.”

Lillard plans to continue the research by tracking the students from both groups over a longer period of time to determine long-term effects of Montessori versus traditional education. She also would like to replicate the study at other Montessori and traditional schools using a prospective design, and to examine whether specific Montessori practices are linked to specific outcomes.

Lillard is the author of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. More information is available at:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Philosophy and Pedagogical Approach of Singapore Math

Part 2.
by Bill Jackson

In 1989, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published the Principles and Standards, which advocated a problem-solving approach for the teaching and learning of mathematics. Thoughtful application of this approach, however is still relatively uncommon in U.S. classrooms. Analysis of the TIMSS videotape study revealed that Japanese math lessons embodied the spirit of the NCTM Standards more than American lessons. How could this be, given that NCTM is a U.S. organization?

It turns out that while American teachers were still trying to make sense of the standards, Japanese teachers were studying how to make them come alive in their classrooms through lesson study.

Another nation that took the NCTM Standards and other research on problem-based approaches seriously is Singapore. After its independence in 1965, Singapore realized that without any natural resources it would have to rely on human capital for success, so they embarked on an effort to develop a highly educated citizenry. Various education reforms were initiated and in 1980 the Curriculum Development Institute was established, which developed the Primary Mathematics program. This program was based on the concrete, pictorial, abstract approach. This approach, founded on the work of renowned cognitive American psychologist Jerome Bruner, encourages mathematical problem solving, thinking and communication.

The fact that problem solving is the central idea in Singapore math can be seen in the pentagon from Singapore's Mathematics Framework below.

The Framework states, "Mathematical problem solving is central to mathematics learning. It involves the acquisition and application of mathematics concepts and skills in a wide range of situations, including non-routine, open-ended and real-world problems. The development of mathematical problem solving ability is dependent on five inter-related components, namely, Concepts, Skills, Processes, Attitudes and Metacognition."

Problem solving and mathematical thinking are two big ideas behind Singapore math. To understand this better, let's look at an example that many American elementary students struggle with, long division. As noted in part one of this blog, word problems are often the last thing on the page in U.S. mathematics textbooks. Often times teachers never even
get to these problems or if they do, usually only the advanced students have the opportunity to tackle them while struggling students continue to practice procedures. The third grade Primary Mathematics textbook, however, introduces long division with a word problem. The description below is one way how the concept of long division might be introduced in
Singapore math.

After a brief warm up with multiplication and division flash cards, the teacher introduces a problem by saying, "Our friend Meihua has some toy soldiers. She wants to put them equally in some tents." (Note that no numbers are mentioned and there is no question asked yet.) The teacher then asks the students to try to imagine the situation and discuss what it means to put the soldiers in tents equally. Students share examples such as, "If she has 15 soldiers and 3 tents, she could put 5 soldiers in each tent," and "If there were 10 soldiers and 5 tents she could put 2 soldiers in each tent."

Next, the teacher gives the students 14 counters (chips) to represent the soldiers and 4 cups to represent the tents. Then she poses the problem, "Meihua has 14 toy soldiers. She puts the toy soldiers equally into 4 tents. How many soldiers are there in each tent? How many soldiers are left?"

Students begin solving the problem by dividing the counters among the cups as well as any other methods they come up with (e.g. using the multiplication table of 4). Then, several students share their solution methods with the class, the methods as well as errors are discussed and evaluated, and important ideas are highlighted. The teacher then uses these ideas to introduce the division algorithm for 14÷4, relating each step to the soldiers and the tents. Lastly, vocabulary words such as dividend, divisor and quotient are introduced and related to the problem.

Solving and discussing this "anchor problem" has taken a little more than half of the one-hour math period. For the rest of the class, students solve and discuss a few carefully selected problems from the textbook, gradually moving from simple to more complex numbers, and using pictures from the textbook to help them form a mental picture of the process. Over the course of the unit, students will learn to calculate long division problems using only numbers but they will have frequent opportunities to move through this cycle of concrete manipulation to pictorial representation to abstract calculation. Since there are fewer topics in the Singapore math textbook, the students have sufficient time to study the concept in depth to understand and master it.

I would like to point out a few reasons why this approach is helpful.

1) The problem situation provides a familiar context for students to think about an abstract concept.

Although 14÷4 might seem easy to adults, for a third grader, especially one who is already struggling in mathematics, it may seem quite abstract. The use of a familiar situation makes it easier to understand. Every child can think about dividing toy soldiers equally into tents. Since no numbers are mentioned initially, no child is lost. Every child can enter the lesson successfully at some level.

The problem setting also makes mathematical terms like divisor, quotient and remainder easier to understand. All too often, abstract mathematical concepts and vocabulary are presented in a void. But the problem situation gives the terms meaning. The toy soldiers become the dividend, the tents the divisor, the number of soldiers in each tent the quotient, and the soldiers who don't have a tent the remainder. When used in this way, instead creating difficulty, the word problem makes learning more concrete by presenting abstract ideas in a familiar context. As a result, students' attitudes towards problem solving and mathematics in general improve.

2) By sharing and discussing their solution methods, students develop metacognitive
processes (ed. note: metacognition - awareness & understanding about one's own

Sharing and discussing their methods requires students to think about their metacognition, as well as the thinking of their classmates. When students share their own solution methods they are required to make their thinking clear and explicit so
their classmates will understand them. When they have to listen to their classmates' methods and restate their friends' thinking in their own words they learn how to listen to and learn from each other. The pentagon from the Singapore Mathematics Framework shows how important reasoning, communication, thinking and metacognition are for students to become good mathematical problem solvers.

3) By spending time on concrete manipulation and pictorial representation, students are able
to internalize and visualize mathematical concepts.

The concept of division can be very abstract to children. Thinking about division using counters and cups is much easier than thinking about it with abstract numbers. By manipulating concrete objects, students internalize the division process. U.S. math programs often also begin with concrete activities but students usually go from using concrete objects right to abstract calculation. Singapore math textbooks include an intermediary pictorial stage. By looking at pictures of concrete objects being divided equally, students form a mental image of what long division looks like. When they finally get to abstract calculation, they have already internalized and visualized the process.

The above example shows a little of what Singapore math is. But I would also like to discuss what it is not, in order to dispel a couple of common misconceptions:

1) Singapore math is not the way we learned math as kids (that is, unless you went to school
in a developed East Asian nation).

In Singapore math, traditional algorithms are learned but conceptual understanding is taught before procedural fluency. For example, the long division algorithm taught in Singapore math textbooks is the same one we traditionally learn in the U.S., but it is presented and explained quite differently than the way most of us learned it (see Power Point presentation below). In Singapore math, students not only learn how to do an algorithm but also why and how every step of the algorithm works.

2) Singapore math is not "drill and kill," facts memorization, or rote learning of procedures.

In Singapore math, students learn their addition, subtraction and multiplication facts and eventually memorize them. But they also learn the structure and patterns behind the facts so if they forget them, they are able to reconstruct them in their minds. From early grades, children learn how to compose and decompose numbers and manipulate them in useful ways in order to calculate mentally.

Singapore math is about students solving problems, thinking deeply, sharing their ideas, and learning from one another. Conceptual, procedural and factual understanding is developed through problem solving and carefully structured practice and as a result, students learn how to think deeply and appreciate mathematics.

We cannot to go into sufficient detail in this blog about how mathematical concepts are presented in Singapore math so I am attaching a SingMathPPT.pdf presentation that will give you an idea of how basic algorithms and mental calculation are taught. (large file so download may take a couple minutes). In future posts, I will discuss the use of bar models for problem solving, and tips for successful implementation for schools that are interested in using Singapore math.

Until next time,

Bill Jackson
Math Helping Teacher
Scarsdale Public Schools

Friday, June 11, 2010


DID YOU KNOW THAT one year of mental growth from age three to four is equivalent to three years of growth between ages 9 to 12? Don't let your kids lose out on the best years of their lives.

Here at KIDDIE TOES MONTESSORI SCHOOL we specializes in providing a "Prepared Environment" that spurs your child to learn during his most receptive stage from 3 to 6 years - a period when his mind leaps to growth. This environment is modified to suit his later developmental needs between 7-12 years, 13-16 and 17-20 years of age.

One of the factor missing in traditional schools is the Montessori "Prepared Environment" which readily conditions the child to work and concentrate. Bad habits of disorderliness, selfishness or dependence will be replaced by obedience and friendliness. Thus, the Montessori discipline is acquired through work not play.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Friendships - An Important Part of Childhood

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. I was reminded of this the other day when two colleagues disclosed that they had been friends since kindergarten and had shared the ups and downs of school years, teenage years, marriage, children and careers. Considering they are both baby boomers, that is some test of time. By today’s standards where everything is disposable, dispensable, recyclable and replaceable, it was quietly comforting to hear of something that had remained constant. When we finally roll up to the pearly gates and reflect on our lives, I daresay it won’t be the material things we’ll value the most, but rather the people we’ve held near and dear.

Our children are growing up in a very different world to previous generations. They can expect to change house, move schools, travel overseas, meet people from many cultures and develop cyberspace friendships all before they get the ‘key to the door.’ Previous generations had smaller lives, moved in tighter, more limited circles and befriended people primarily from their immediate neighbourhood or workplace.

The social and sporting lives of children are enough to leave the average adult’s head spinning. Friendships originate from a seemingly unlimited supply of activities: music lessons, dance practice, swimming training, sporting interests, after school care and last but not least - school.

On face value you’d think friendships would be easier to form and maintain than ever. But this isn’t always the case and chances are kids today will at some stage find themselves floundering with friendships, battling with bullies or rattled by relationships.

So how can we help our kids nurture lasting friendships?

Being a good role model is always a great place to start. Demonstrating that friends are important, showing care and consideration for the feelings of others and a willingness to compromise when differences arise, is all good stuff. Discussing ways to be a good friend in order to have a good friend, gives children sound grounding.

Encourage them to have a variety of friends. The old adage, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ makes sense, especially today, when children can move schools, states or countries before leaving primary school. Losing your best friend can become monumentally challenging and devastating if they are your only friend. Encouraging your kids to invite several children from a variety of sources into their life, is good insurance. Being watchful for others who endeavour to dominate your child’s time at the exclusion of others is sound practice. Nurturing that special bond that exists between ‘best friends’ comes naturally when the connection exists, but developing a wider social network simultaneously is equally important.

Sitting back and letting your kids fight their own battles within reason adds to their education on relationships. Falling out with friends is always tricky and with children it is doubly difficult, because you have parents to deal with as well. Unless the issue is of considerable magnitude, on most occasions, common sense and time-out can sort out most tiffs. Kids are resilient and forgive and forget at the speed of light, especially when a new game, toy or activity to explore together is on the horizon. Learning how to settle differences, negotiate with mates and compromise is all par for the course for future friendships so they might as well learn it young.

The flipside of friendship is bullying. Unfortunately it is on the rise in schools, not only in this country but globally. Bullying was once thought of as physical abuse carried out in a sly, secret way. Research has shown that emotional bullying is equally damaging. It manifests itself in many ways: teasing, name- calling, threatening, staring and excluding. The latter often inflicts the greatest degree of hurt by deliberately leaving others out of activities.

Psychological profiles of bullies universally indicate that they suffer from low self esteem, despite their bravado. Victims, also fall prey to low self esteem and in many cases resort to bullying themselves in order to break the cycle. Schools have anti-bullying policies in place and discipline strategies to prevent such behaviour, but a bully becomes a master of disguise and their behaviour often continues despite the best efforts of teachers and parents to minimise its chances.

Letting a child who is being bullied, know that they can do something about it, is the first step. Giving them strategies for action, rather than reaction is empowering. Most kids relate to the experiences of others and books on both the topics of friendship and bullying are a great way to share ideas and deliver positive messages. Two Australian authors who have written about friendship and bullying are Sue Whiting and Susanne Gervay .

Sue’s book, Elephant Dance touches on the topic of ‘falling out’ with friends and Susanne’s, I am Jack delivers a first hand account of her son’s experiences with bullies. Both make for great reading.

Elephant Dance. Koala Books.

Written by Sue Whiting and illustrated by Nina Rycroft, Elephant Dance is a touching story about the universal theme of friendship. Two elephants, Hugo and Millie are the central characters. They share a special friendship until a difference of opinion causes a commotion and a parting of the ways. Pride gives way to loneliness and when Hugo’s solo journey lands him in danger, Millie comes to the rescue. The result is a happy reunion, with both characters wiser for the experience.

The text has great rhythmical appeal, which lends itself beautifully for reading out aloud with young audiences joining in.

Bright colours on the cover are continued throughout the story delivering a visually attractive and appealing journey. The target audience is 3 – 8 year olds, but the message of friendship being a cornerstone of our lives, makes it a suitable read for a variety of age groups.

I Am Jack. Angus and Robertson

Susanne Gervay’s novel, I Am Jack, is based on the experiences of her own son at the hands of schoolyard bullies. It addresses the isolation and desperation of the victim of bullying, yet contains just the right mix of humour to keep it entertaining and enthralling for its intended audience – children.

The book highlights to both parents and educators, how changes in a child’s behaviour are the initial warning signs. It also serves as a timely reminder of how busy lives can sometimes leave us unaware of important signals being sent from those closest to us.

The story is woven around Jack’s family life with his single mum, Rod, his soon to be step dad, his sister Samantha, his nana and his best friend, Anna.

I Am Jack, addresses the problem of bullying in a warm, uplifting way and more importantly extends a message of hope to any child who falls prey to this insidious practice.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Montessori Schools Foster Social and Academic Skills

Researchers Report in Science

One of the first studies to scientifically test the impact of Montessori education suggests that Montessori schools can foster social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those in certain other types of schools, the authors report in the 29 September 2006 issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Montessori education takes a different approach from the traditional by employing multi- age classrooms, student-chosen work in long time blocks, the absence of grades and tests and a special set of educational materials.

Angeline Lillard of the University of Virginia and Nicole Else-Quest of the University of Wisconsin, Madison studied two groups of five- and 12-year-old students in Milwaukee, Wis. The results indicated that by the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on reading and math tests, as measured using the Woodcock-Johnson Test Battery that assesses letter-word identification, word attack and applied math problems.

Montessori students also engaged in more positive interaction on the playground and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control. They also demonstrated more concern with fairness and justice.

The Montessori 12-year-olds wrote more creative and sophisticated narratives, performed better on a test of social skills, and reported feeling a stronger sense of community at their schools, the authors said.

"Inner-city children who attended a well-implemented Montessori program were found to have social outcomes that were superior to those of children attending traditional schools," said Lillard."And they had academic outcomes that were at least as good on all measures, and on several measures were better," she added.

The parents of the students in the study had average incomes ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 annually. All parents entered their children in the school district's random lottery for the Montessori school. The Montessori group attended a public, inner-city, traditional Montessori school. The control group attended another school because they were not selected in the district lottery.

Lillard was drawn to study Montessori education by its close alignment with research on learning."I decided to do a study to see if it actually makes a difference," Lillard said. Usually parents are the major influence in a child’s social skills but this research shows Montessori education fosters improved social and academic skills, Lillard explained.
Funding was provided by the Jacobs and Cantus Foundations and sabbatical fellowships from the Cattell Foundation and the University of Virginia.

Tunisia Riley
29 September 2006

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Children Deserve

Children Deserve
by Sara Wenger Shenk

1. Children deserve parents who make sure that they find the support and nurture that they need so they can wholeheartedly love them.

2. Children deserve parents who love one another and treat each other with kindness and respect even if the marriage doesn'’t last.

3. Children deserve parents who like themselves and who have creative work that they enjoy in addition to their employment.

4. Children deserve parents who like their work and want their children to know about it and why it’s important.

5. Children deserve parents who remember that when children spill the milk that they used to spill it too.

6. Children deserve parents who will rock them to sleep with a lullaby and tuck them into bed with a story and kiss.

7. Children deserve parents who will take them for a walk through the fall leaves rather than buying them another toy.

8. Children deserve parents who take them to the library regularly and come home with arm loads of books about people who dream great dreams and overcome immense difficulties.

9. Children deserve parents who are willing to slow down from the rat race long enough to enter into the wonder of discovery with them.

10. Children deserve parents who allow them to work alongside, at their own pace, and with appropriate jobs so that each can feel a sense of accomplishment on completion.

11. Children deserve parents who are very selective about television watching, who study the program guide to know what quality programs exist and who will spend time reading or playing games instead of lazily flicking on the switch.

12. Children deserve parents who have an extended family network of support and back-up nurture.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Designing a Montessori Home

Designing a Montessori Home
by Tim Seldin

Organizing the Home

The Bedroom

“We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play; then we will see him work all day with his hands and wait impatiently to undress himself and lay himself down on his own bed.”

Children’s bedrooms should clearly reflect their personalities and current interests.
Even though on their own they may tend to create chaos, young children have a tremendous need and love for an orderly environment. Everything should have its own place and the environment should be organized to make it easy for the child to maintain a neat, well organized atmosphere.

• Ideally, the young child’s bed should be low to the floor, making it easy for toddlers to get in and out on their own. Rather than a crib, Montessori urged parents to modify the bedroom to facilitate both the child's safety and his early independence. Consider a Japanese futon or a mattress without the bed frame.

• By age five, you may wish to allow your child to use a sleeping bag on his bed instead of sheets and blankets. This will make it easy for him to make his own bed in the morning. 

• Mount a nice little coat and hat rack low on one wall where your child can reach them easily. 

• Decorate the walls with high quality art prints of children or animals hung at the child’s eye level.

• Mount a wall clock at the child’s level. Select one with a large easily read face.

• Modify your light switches with extenders to allow the young child to turn his lights on and off independently. 

• Hang a bulletin board on the wall at your child’s eye level on which he can hang art work school papers.

• Don’t use a toy box. Imagine the chaos in your kitchen or workshop if you threw your tools and utensils together in a chest. Instead use low shelves to display books and toys Try to duplicate the look of your child’s classroom.

• Notice how Montessori teachers avoid clutter. Place toys with many pieces in appropriate containers, such as tupperware “boxes” with lids, basket, or in a sturdy plastic bag. 

• Use a sturdy wooden crate to hold your child’s building blocks. 

• You may want to create a model town or farm on piece of heavy plywood. Paint it green and sprinkle model railroad “grass” on it to simulate a meadow. Placed on a low table, your child can create wonderful displays with model buildings made of wood or plastic. Add little trees and people from a model railroad set. You could set up a doll house this way as well.

• Store Lego blocks in a large, colorful and sturdy canvas bag with handles. Sew on strips of velcro to fasten the bag closed. In your child’s bedroom the bag will serve as a sack to contain his Legos. When you travel it is very easy to pick the bag up to come along.
• Make sure that your child’s clothes chest has drawers that are the right height for him or her to open and look inside. Label the drawers: underwear, socks, etc.
• Flower vases: Encourage your child to collect flowers from the fields or garden for his room.
• Provide some shelf space for a small nature museum in your child’s room. Here he can display rocks that he finds, interesting seeds, and (in small cages) interesting ‘critters.’
• Music should be an important part of every child’s life. Set some space aside for a simple stereo system and collection of recordings.

The Bathroom
• The bathroom must be prepared for your child. He should be able to reach the sink, turn on the water, and reach his toothbrush and toothpaste without help.
• There should be a special place where he can reach for his towel and washcloth.
• Most parents provide bathroom stools, but small wobbly stools often do not provide enough secure, comfortable space for bathroom tasks.
• Build wooden platforms 6-8 inches high that actually fit around toilets and sinks.

An Art and Crafts Area
• Set up an art area with an easel and a spacious art table for drawing, craft work and clay. Cover the table with a washable tablecloth.
• Children's art supplies can be neatly stored in separate tupperware containers. Depending on your child’s age, the art supplies that you prepare might include washable magic markers, crayons, paste, paper, fabric scraps and recycled household articles for making collages You can keep tempera paint fresh by mixing it in Tupperware containers that are divided into three or more inner compartments.

The Kitchen
• Make room in your kitchen for a child-sized work table for young cooks.
• Set aside the bottom shelf in your refrigerator for your children. Here you can store small drink pitchers, fruit, and the ingredients for making sandwiches and snacks. Use non-breakable Tupperware containers to hold peanut butter, jams, lunch meats, and spreads. A child of two can open the refrigerator and get her own prepared snack or cold drink stored in a little cup. A slightly older child can pour her own juice and make her own lunch.
• Use a bottom drawer to hold forks, knives and spoons.
• Mount a low shelf on a wall for plates, cups, and napkins.

Children can help around the house

If presented correctly, children from age two to six take delight in caring for their environment, dusting, mopping, scrubbing, cleaning and polishing, and they should be able to do so as easily at home as at school. It is perfectly reasonable to ask older children to straighten up their rooms and help with simple household chore.
• Give your child his own little broom or dust buster.
• Hang a feather duster on a hook.
• Provide a hamper for your child’s dirty clothes. Ask him to carry them to the laundry room on a regular basis.
• The bathroom should have a small bucket with a bathtub scrub brush and a sponge.
• Folding towels and napkins is a good activity to teach the young child.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Three's A Charm

Opening Remarks
3nd Moving Up Day
Kiddie Toes Montessori School
26 March, 2010

By: Divine May Flor Mercado- David
School Directress

They say that three’s a charm.

And I, together with the teachers of Kiddie Toes Montessori School, will definitely agree with that.

We have been blessed with a great and fruitful third year, here at KTMS. Building on the experiences and learning’s since April 2006, we have been successful in ensuring that the learners of KTMS are provided with quality education and holistic learning.

We can proudly say that our learners and movers are a cut above the rest, in all aspects of learning, not just in academics, but most especially in their emotional learning and social skills and involvement.

The previous years, I talked about how proud we are of our learners, of how far they’ve gone in their journey here at KTMS. Today, let me give you a glimpse of how lucky these learners are.

Learners who grow up in schools like KTMS are normally quite different from the students normally found in other schools. This difference is not simply in what they know and what they can do, it lies in their attitude and approach to learning and to life.

Montessori children are enthusiastic learners. They look upon their teachers as mentors, guides and friends. They have held onto the curiosity, creativity, and imagination that most children bring into the world. Unlike so many school children, they don't see school as boring, nor schoolwork as a burden.

Our learners are generally not fearful, nor sarcastic and cynical to their friends on the playground. I like to call them joyful scholars.

Your children, our learners, have grown up together in an atmosphere of warmth, kindness and respect. By now, most of your children are probably bonded quite closely to KTMS, their teachers, and their friends. This is their community. One of our goals is to create a community that has substance and depth, to gather together a group of parents, children, and teachers who share common values and form lasting friendships.

Students like them simply can never be replaced. KTMS hopes that you as their parents and guardians, can see what they are becoming, and can trace it to a large degree back to their experience thus far in Montessori. We hope that this realization will translate to these learners staying with the KTMS family.

Today, as we celebrate our third Moving Up day, we wish to assure you dear parents that we will continue further improve our efforts in providing tools and spaces for your children’s holistic and elevated learning. Aside from the inclusion of Singapore Math and Project Approach teaching methods, we will also use Singapore Science in our lower elementary teachings. These excellent methods of teaching, coupled with our relevant and interesting teaching innovations, our learners are assured of an excellent foundation and ultimately a bright future.

Congratulations to all the learners, especially the movers. You are truly our joyful scholars. You deserve all the love and support of your mommies and daddies, lolos and lolas, titos and titas, ates and kuyas and all your relatives and friends. Good job, kids!

Today, we invite everyone to join us in this celebration of learning. Be one with us! Have fun with us!

Thank you. And enjoy the charming story, the fairy tale that is Kiddie Toes Montessori.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Montessori Method

Article by Ms. Eden

“Character formation cannot be taught, it comes from experience and not from explanation.”

Maria Montessori believed that children learn better and more naturally through direct experience with the environment, with self teaching materials and exercises, encourage children to engage in spontaneous productive activity, while the teachers observes their individual capacities and styles.

The approach does not force children to do any exercise they do not like or are not ready for, and practice independence by allowing the learners to choose their own work, work on their own and learn at their own pace.

Moreover, Montessori approach aims for holistic growth and development not only mentally and spiritually and to prepare children for life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Montessori is not: Busting Montessori Myths

by: Maren Schmidt M. Ed. with Dana Schmidt
- from: Understanding Montessori A Guide for Parents

Myth 1: Montessori schools are only for rich kids.

Many Montessori schools in the United States are private schools begun in the early to mid-1960's, a time when most public education didn't offer kindergarten, and only 5% of children went to preschool compared with the 67% reported in the 2000 census. When many Montessori schools were established, private preschools might have been options only for those in urban well-to-do areas. This exclusive availability may have given the impression that only wealthy families can afford Montessori school. The first schools that Dr. Montessori established were in the slums of Rome for children left alone at home while parents were out working and certainly not for rich kids.

In December 2008 in the United States there are 275 public Montessori schools and 120 charter Montessori schools that offer taxpayer-financed schoolong. There are thousands of private not-for-profit Montessori schools that use charitable donations to offer affordable tuition. Homeschooling the Montessori way is an affordable alternative for some families.

Montessori education, through these low cost options, is available to families interested in quality education. Many private Montessori schools offer scholoarships, and some states offer childcare credits and assistance to low-income families. I've known more than one teenaged single mother who used government assistance to help pay for Montessori preschool while she went to college. Also, some Head Start programs have Montessori classrooms.

Montessori education can be affordable for families at most income levels.

Myth 2. Montessori schools are for smart kids.

Montessori education is for all children.

To the casual observer, Montessori students may appear advanced for their age, leading to the assumption that the schools cater to smart children. When three-year-olds begin working in a Montessori prepared learning environment, these children learn to read, write, and understandthe world around them in ways that they can easily express to adults. When a child tells you that the corolla of a flower is purple, you might think she is much older than three or four. Learning the parts of the flowers comes naturally with the hands on materials in the classroom and Montessori teachers’ language presentations.

Montessori schools offer children of differing abilities ways to express their unique personalities through activities using hands- on materials, language, numbers, art, music, movement, and more. Montessori schooling helps each child develop individuality in a way that accentuates his or her innate intelligence. Montessori schools can help make all kids smart kids.

Myth 3. Montessori schools are for the learning disabled.

It is true that Dr. Montessori began her work with children who where institutionalized due to physical or mental impairments. However, when using her methods and materials with normal children, Dr. Montessori discovered hat children learned more quickly using her teaching methods.

This discovery is supported by recent research. For example, Dr. Angeline Lillard’s research at Craig Montessori in Milwaukee showed that by the end of kindergarten Montessori students performed better than their peers at executive controls, decoding language and early math, social awareness, and appeals to social justice. By sixth grade Montessori students outperformed their peers in social skills, exhibiting a sense of community, creativity in story writing, and complexity of sentence formulation.

Their are some Montessori schools or classrooms that cater specifically to children who have learning challenges. In many Montessori schools, however, children with special needs are included in regular classrooms when those requirements can be met with existing school resources.

Myth 4. Isn’t Montessori part of the Catholic Church?

Like many preschools, some Montessori schools may have church ties, but most Montessori schools are established as independent entities. Conversely, a school might be housed in a church building and not have any religious affiliation. Since Montessori refers to philosophy and not an organization, schools are free to have relationships with other organizations, including churches.

Catholic or other religious organizations did establish some of the first Montessori programs. “The Catechesis of the good Shepherd,” a hands-on church learning experience for young children. Dr. Montessori also used many biblical and religious references in her books, reflecting her classical education and mores of that time. The Montessori movement, however, has no religious affiliations.

Montessori schools around the world reflect the specific values and beliefs of the staff members and families that form each school community. Around the world there are Montessori schools that are part of Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious communities.

Myth 5. Don’t Montessori kids run around and do whatever they want?

When looking at a Montessori classroom, you will see twenty-five to thirty children involved in individual or small group activities. It is possible that you may see twenty-five children moving about the classroom involved in twenty –five different activities. At first glance, a classroom may look like a hive of bumblebees.

If you take the time to follow the activities of two children over the course of a three-hour work period, you will see a series of self directed activities referred to as a work cycle. The children aren’t running wild in the classroom. They are each involved in self-selected activities, which Montessorians refer to as work designed to build concentration and support independent learning.

Choosing what you do is not the same as doing whatever you want. A well-known anecdote about Montessori students doing what they like comes from E. M. Standing’s book, Maria Montessori: Her Life and Works.

A rather captious and skeptical visitor to a Montessori class once buttonholed one of the children – a little girl of seven and said: “ Is it true that in this school you are allowed to do anything you like? “I don’t know about that,” replied the little maiden cautiously, “but I do know that we like what we do!”

The feelings that working in a Montessori classroom inspires might be reflected in the words of playwright and composer Noel Coward, “Work is much more fun than fun.”

Myth 6: Montessorians seem like a selective sorority or clique.

One definition of clique is “an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose.” Many Montessori teachers could be accused of this because of their intense desire to be of service in the life of a chilled coupled with the teacher’s knowledge of childe development. And while many school communities are close, they are not necessarily exclusive. You should look for a school where you and your family feel welcomed.

For many years Montessori teacher training was available only in a few larger cities, and becoming certified required prospective teachers to be determined and dedicated as relocating was often required. Now Montessori teacher’s training is more accessible. Dozens of colleges and universities now offer undergraduate or graduate programs in Montessori education in conjunction with Montessori training centers.Loyola College in Maryland, New York University, Xavier University, and College of St.Catherine are only a few of the many institutions of higher learning that include Montessori teacher’s training.

Dr. Montessori books, full of Italian scientific and psychological terminology translated into the British English of the early 1900s, can be difficult for the modern reader to follow. To parents, the use of Montessori-specific terms and quotes may at times take on esoteric tones of an exclusive inner circle. The enthusiasm and dedication evident in the work of many Montessorians might be misinterpreted as excluding to uninitiated newcomers.

Understanding Montessori strives to demystify Montessori ideas and communicate the common sense and the true inclusiveness of Montessori philosophy and practice. In Chapter 10, Montessori Vocabulary Made Clear, we list and define specific terms to help you become familiar with key words before you visit your first school or pick up a volume of Dr. Montessori’s essays.

Myth 7. Montessori classrooms are too structured.

Parents sometimes see the Montessori concept of "work as play" as too serious for preschoolers. The activities in the classroom are reffered to as "work", and the children are directed to choose their work. However, the children's work is satisfying to them, and they make no distinction between work and play. Montessori activities are both interesting and fun to the child.

Each Montessori classroom is lined with low shelves filled with precise hands-on learning materials. the teacher, or guide, shows the children how to use the materials by giving the individual lessons. The child is shown a specific way to use the materials but is allowed to explore the materials by using them in a variety of ways with a limitation being that the materials not be abused or used to harm others.

For example, the Red Rods, which are a set of ten painted wooden rods up to a meter long and about an inch thick, may not be used as Jedi light sabers. Obviously, sword fights with the Red Rods are a danger to other children as well as abusive to the rods, which cost about two hundred dollars a set or ten thousand pesos.

In cases where materials are being damaged or used in a way that may hurt others, the child should be gently and kindly redirected to other work.

Unfortunately, some parents see this limitation on the use of the materials as "too structured' since it may not allow for fantasy play. Choice in the Montessori classroom makes work into play.

Perhaps Mark Twain understood this concept when he wrote, "work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

Myth 8. A Montesssori classroom isn’t structured enough for my child.

The Montessori classroom is structured, but differently from a traditional preschool. Dr. Montessori observe the normal or natural tendency of children to use self- selected, purposeful activities to develop themselves. The Montessori classroom, with its prepared activities and trained adults, is structured to promote this natural process of human development, a process Montessorians call normalization.

Students new to the Montessori classroom, who may or may not have been in a traditionally stuctured school, learn in about six to eight weeks to create their own work or success cycle. Montessorians refer to a child who creates his or hee own work cycle as normalized, or using the natural and normal tendencies of human development.

Many traditional preschool work on a schedule where the entire classroom is involved in a activity for fifteen minutes then moves on the next activity. This stucture is based in the belief that young children have a short atention span of less than twenty minutes per activity. A typical morning at a traditional preschool might look something like this:

Traditional Preschool Schedule
8:30 to 8:45 Morning circle and singing
8:45 to 9:00 Work with salt dough
9:00 to 9:15 Letter of the day work
9:15 to 9:30 Crayon work
9:30 to 9:45 Snack
9:45 to 10:15 Outdoor time
10:15 to 10:30 Story time
10:30 to 10:45 Work with Puzzles
10:45 to 11:00 Practice counting to 20
11:00 to 11:15 Craft project: cut out a paper flower
11:15 to 11:30 Circle time to dismissal

The above schedule reflects structure created by and dependent upon the teacher.

In the Montessori classroom, each child creates his or her own cycle of work based on individual interests. This cycle of self- directed activity lenghtens the child’s attention span. The teacher, instead of directing twenty children in one activity, quietly moves from child to child giving individual lessons with materials. The teacher or assistant may lead a few small group activities such as reading out loud, cooking, or gardening with two to six children.

In a Montessori classroom a three- years-old’s morning might look like this:

Montessori Preschool Schedule

8:30 to 8:35 Arrive, hang up coat, and greet teacher
8:35 to 9:00 Choose Puzzle Map, work three times
9:00 to 9:30 Return Puzzle to shelf, choose Sandpaper Numbers. Trace Sandpaper Numbers.
9:30 to 10:00 Return Numbers. Choose Pink Tower
10:00 to 10:15 Return tower to Shelf, Prepare individual snack, and eat snack with friend
10: 15 to 10:30 Choose and work with scissor- cutting lesson
10:30 to 11:15 Choose and work with Knobbed Cylinders
11:15 to 11:30 Clean up time and group time with singing

The Montessori classroom is a vibrant and dynamic learning environment where structure is created by each child selecting his or her activity, doing it, and returnign the activity to the shelf. After successful completion of a task, there is a period of self- satisfaction and reflection, and then the child chooses the next activity.

Montessorians call this rhythm of activity a work cycle. Stephen Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to the habit of a work cycle as creating an upward spiral of growth and change. Covey describes a spiraling process of “learn-commit-do” that empowers us to move toward continous improvement, both as children and adults.

Myth 9. Montessori schools dont’t allow for play.

Montessorians refer to the child’s activities in the classroom as work. The children also refer to what they do in the classroom as “their work”. When your three-year-old comes home from school talking about the work he did today, he can sound way too serious for a kid you just picked up at preschool.

What adults often forget is that children have a deep desire to contribute meaningfully, which we deny when we regard everything they do as “just” play. With our adult eyes, we caan observe the child’s “joyful work” and expressions of deep satisfaction as the child experiences “work as play”.

Consider this. You start a new job. You arrive the first day full of enthusiasm and ready to contribute to the success of your work group as well as your personal success. You’re met at the door by your new boss and told, “Go outside and play. We’ll let you know when it’s time for lunch and time to go home” .


But that’s exactly what we do to our children when we dismiss their desires to contributr to their own well- being and to the common good of home or school.

Montessori schools create environments where children enjoy working on activities in grace and dignity. Children who have worked in a Montessori classroom tell of feelings of satisfaction and exhiliration that we might have considered as only play.

It’s as Mark Twain, who wrote of boyhood in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, said, “Work and Play” are word used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”

Another important component of Montessori education is the emphasis on nature education with outside activities that rangefrom learning to recognized the parts of plants, to gardening, to caring for the outdoors, to caring for plants and animals, and much more. Montessori education promotes active exploration and understanding of nature.

Myth 10. Montessori doesn’t allow for creativity.

Creativity means “to bring something into existence”. First we have an idea. Then we use our imaginations, thoughts, and skills to bring these ideas into being. The Montessori classroom nourishes the creative skills of writing, drawing, painting, using scissors, modeling clay, gluing, and so forth, to enable the child to express his or her thoughts and ideas in genuine and unique ways.

When i was in kindergarten, we were all given a coloring sheet of a caboose. I colored my caboose green. My teacher told me that cabooses were red. As I looked around, all the other children’s cabooses were red. My classmates laughed at my green caboose. My face burned with humiliation, but i knew that there were green cabooses.

Twenty- four years later, i saw another green caboose. This one was attached to the end of a Burlington-Northern train. “Yes!” I wanted to shout back to my Kindergarten class. “See, there are green cabooses.”

What does a green caboose have to do with creativity?

In Kindergarten, I wasn’t trying to be creative with my green caboose. I was only trying to express myself because I had seen a green caboose.

Montessori classrooms allow for safe self- expression through art, music, movement and manipulationof materials and can be one of the most creative and satisfying environments for a child to learn to experiment and express his or her inner self.

Noted architect Maya Lin, who won the contest to design the Vietnam Memorial as a senior at Yale, said, “Sometimes I think creativity is magic; it’s not a matter of finding an idea but allowing the idea to find you.”

In Montessori classrooms, children have time to allow ideas to find them and the time to express those ideas.

Myth 11. Kids can’t be kids at Montessori.

Somehow, our expectations as parents and our experiences of seeing children in temper tantrums in restaurants and stores create a view of children as naturally loud, prone to violent behaviors, disrepectful of others, clumsy, and worse.

In a well- running Montessori classrooms, though, one might be inclined to think that kids aren’t being kids.

When you see twenty-five to thirty children acting purposefully, walking calmly, talking in low voices to each other, carrying glass objects, reading, and working with numbers in the thousands, you might think the only way this behavior could occur was by children being regimented into it. I observed my daughter, Dana, then fifteen months old, moving serenely around her infant classroom. She sure didn’t act that way at home.

As I watched Dana’s infant- toddler class in action, I saw the power of this child firendly environment. As the children moved from activity to activity, day by day their skills and confidence grew. Lessons in grace and courtesy helped the children with social skills. “Please,” “thank you,” and “would you please” became some of the toddlers’ first words.

When Dana was three, one of her favorite school activities was the green bean cutting lesson, which she remembers fondly. After carefully washing her hands, she would take several green beans out of the refrigerator, wash them, cut them into bite- sized pieces with a small knife, and arrange them on a child- sized tray. She would carry the tray arond the classroom asking her classmates, “Would you like a green bean?” As they looked up from their work, the other children would reply, “Yes, please,” or “No, thank you.”

“I remember being so happy doing that work,” Dana told me.

When given a prepared environment, a knowledgeable adult and a three- hour work cycle, children show us that the natural state of the child is to be a happy and considerate person. A kid is most like a kid when he or she is engaged in the work of a Montessori classroom.

Myth 12. If Montessori is so great, why aren’t former students better know n?

Most of us associate our career success with our colleges. Not too many come out and say, “When I was three years old, I went to Hometown Montessori School, and that made all the difference.”
Here are few well-known people who remember their Montessori school connections and consider their experiences vital.

• Julia Child, the cook and writer who taught Americans to love, prepare, and pronounce French dishes, attended Montessori school.
• Peter Drucker, the business guru who has been said to be one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, was a Montessori student.
• Alice Waters, the chef of Chez Panisse fame and creator of the edible Schoolyard project, was a Montessori teacher.
• Anne Frank attended a Montessori school and her famous diary was a natural extension of Anne’s Montessori elementary school days, where keeping a diary was encouraged.
• Larry Page and Sergei Brin, founders of Google, Jeff Bezos, founder of, and Steve Case of America Online, all credit Montessori schooling to their creative success.
• Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, corresponded with Maria Montessori about teaching methods.

Maria Montessori are focused on helping children become self-directed individuals who can and do make a difference in their families, in their communities, and in their world-famous or not.

And that’s not a myth.

Here in the Philippines we also have:

- Lea Salonga, is a Filipina singer and actress who is best known for her musical role in Miss Saigon. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway.
- Aiza Seguerra, is a Filipino actress, singer and guitarist. Aiza started out as a contestant in Eat Bulaga!'s Little Miss Philippines 1987 and later a child star.
- Jennifer Llamas-Garcia, a student about to embark on her masteral thesis at the Ateneo de Manila University on Basic Education, a former high school English teacher at a private school, and currently the Beauty Editor of Candy magazine.
- TJ Manotoc, is the son of former Miss International Aurora Pijuan and sportsman Tommy Manotoc and half-brother of Borgy Manotoc.He studied in grade school at Montessori, Pasay City then tranferred at Ateneo University to finish his highschool and continued his studies at La Salle University