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Tag Archives: Education

Not sure how I feel about this, but the New York Times ran an article today:  Gym Class isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore.   In some school districts, PE teachers are incorporating academic concepts and lessons into their PE classes.  For example,

” while in push-up position, they balanced on one arm and used the other (“Alternate!” Ms. Patelsky urged. “That’s one of your vocabulary words”) to stack oversize Lego blocks in columns labeled “ones,” “tens” and “hundreds.”


credit: Angel Valentin for The New York Times

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to combine physical activity or entertainment with education.  Isn’t that what parents are looking for in educational toys?

As a seller of classic and educational toys, Turner Toys, is proud to offer many toys that provide fun and learning opportunities.   For example, our Butterfly Alphabet Wooden Puzzle uses puzzle play to teach capital letters, colors, problem solving and improve your child’s fine motor skills.   Plus it’s fun.  Wooden Butterfly Alphabet PuzzleIs it any different than what these schools are doing?

As a music educator, I know that teachers are being required to incorporate literacy and math concepts into all subjects.  I do want my students to know that when they study violin, they are learning science (acoustics), language (music notation & foreign musical terms), math (rhythm reading and performing), etc.  That’s on top of the art, beauty and emotion that they express through their music.

There is the argument that kids need to run around and move.  Some say that’s what recess is for.  I know that my children only have recess through the 5th grade.  More and more schools have cut recess and PE (and music and art) for budgetary reasons but also to devote more time on “academics” because of the pressures of test scores.

Tell me what you think about integrating academics (even superficially) into physical education (or art or music)?

G98049-art-table and chairsThe other day, I was looking through some of my daughter’s old journals and artwork from her Montessori preschool.  She’s 11 now and it seems like forever since she was at her Montessori school.  I drive by the school nearly every day and am reminded of how wonderful her experience was there and how it helped her to become the capable and confident person she is.  So, what is Montessori education?  Here’s some background.

Montessori Learning in a nutshell

Dr. Maria Montessori was a physician (among Italy’s first female doctors!) and educator. In 1907 she opened a childcare center for inner-city children in Rome and was struck by their natural desire to learn.  At first the kids were unruly (imagine that!!!) but then she saw that they liked working with puzzles and manipulatives that taught math lessons and learning to do everyday tasks such as preparing meals.  She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.  Another reason why it’s so important to set a good example for children and to watch what you say!

With MontEnglish: Portrait of Maria Montessoriessori’s theory, the child leads (in Montessori lingo – Follow the Child).  The teacher is there to guide the child and to prepare the learning environment so that there are appropriate materials and activities to choose from.  The curriculum fosters independence but a Montessori classroom is far from chaotic and the children are not abandoned or ignored in any way.  I was always struck by how calm a Montessori classroom of preschoolers was and how all the learning materials were laid out in such an aesthetically pleasing way.  I felt calmer when I spent time in the school.

The Montessori educational philosophy seems obvious but it’s so different from what my daughter experiences in public school.  At a very young age, she practiced activities such as pouring water from one glass pitcher to another.  What she learned from this was how to handle fragile objects carefully, to use motor skills to lift and pour, to focus and to be mindful about her activity. She learned to carefully cut vegetables and she cooked vegetable soup at home.  She learned woodworking and made tables at home using extra wood and our drill – and she was 5!!!

Here’s a popular quote from Maria Montessori. It will resonate for all parents of young children.

“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age six; for that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. . . . Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.”

More Montessori Info

For more information about Montessori education, see the websites below.

American Montessori Society

Association Montessori Internationale

There are many sites and blogs about Montessori out there.  Here is just a sampling:

Living Montessori Now 

Carrots are Orange 

Counting Coconuts

Lisa Nolan’s Confessions of a Montessori Mom Blog

What about you?

Have you had experience with Montessori education?  What do like about it?  Can you recommend other Montessori-related sites?

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