What is the Ideal Class Size for a Montessori Classroom?

Nov 25, 2014 4:30:00 PM / by Tiffany Cavegn posted in Montessori Method, montessori myths, Parent Education, Curriculum, Student-Teacher Ratio

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One aspect of Montessori that was challenging for me to get my head around was the ideal class size. All I had ever heard was that small class size and small student-to-teacher ratios were good, while large classrooms were something to avoid. That made sense to me – the smaller the class, the easier it is for a teacher to provide individualized attention to each student. And that’s the goal, right?

Not according to Maria Montessori. Montessori classes thrive when the number of children in the class is substantial...

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Montessori Materials vs. Toys

Jul 22, 2014 4:30:00 PM / by Tiffany Cavegn posted in montessori myths, Curriculum, Montessori Materials

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I find it interesting listening to the children’s Christmas and birthday wish lists, hearing the latest and greatest “must haves” of the year.  My daughter’s birthday is coming up, so we are purging a lot of toys.  It amazed me how much stuff they get that doesn’t have any purpose to it – not even with a good imagination.  Every year it is something new: more buttons, more noise and more gadgets.  I can’t help but think about what a wise and clever woman Dr. Maria Montessori was: a person who developed materials that children actively manipulate with tireless joy and wonder.  I thought about what it is about the Montessori materials that cause children to work with purpose. 

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Montessori Myth: Children Work But They Don't Play

Dec 4, 2013 10:53:29 AM / by Tiffany Cavegn posted in montessori myths, work

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I don’t know about you, but the word “work” puts a bad taste in my mouth.  I have lots of work to do: cook, clean, raise wonderful children, laundry.  Then there’s my actual “work” where I get paid to do things for other people, which can be time-consuming and stressful.  If you are lucky, you love your work.  You wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get started.  You think about it in the shower. You receive more than material gain; it fills your mind and lifts your spirit. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us loved our “work?” 

So I ask myself, what’s the difference?  How do I teach my children to love work when I don’t always love it myself? To answer this question, I would like to dispell a common Montessori myth: Children Work But They Don't Play.  Let's talk about how children play in Montessori and why it's called "work".  

The first difference in work within the Children’s House is that work is not forced, but freely chosen (I’ll talk about this more in another post on Freedom & Discipline).    When a child has the ability to choose work freely, it is proven time and again, they will make a choice that has purpose over something that is frivolous.  While engaging in this work, children show an ability to concentrate for long periods of time and may repeat the activity until the skill is mastered.  During their work, their facial expressions are interpreted as great consternation, but instead it is great concentration.  It is usually followed by a mile-wide smile with exclamations such as “I Did It!”

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