Parents and educators want to do what’s best for children’s development and learning starting at birth. But in today’s world, where information can be found with a simple click of a mouse or swipe of a finger, knowing what’s best seems more confusing than ever. In fact, we’re not even sure if the very device we use to obtain information to be better parents actually harms or enhances our children’s development and learning. And asking the device only leaves us more perplexed and scared – particularly when articles suggest that screens damage children’s brains.Read More
What do you want from your children’s school? Most parents and schools are focused on knowledge and discipline, which everyone knows go hand in hand. Hence the intense stress on standardized examinations.
But stop and think about it. Are knowledge and discipline really enough? And what do we mean by “discipline”? Do we mean discipline that comes from within? Or merely the habit of complying with the demands of authority?Read More
For seven years I headed a Montessori school, and one of the most common concerns parents had related to creativity. There was one mother in particular who stands out in my mind. After observing the toddler environment, she sat down with me and asked whether the children were allowed to “mix up the works.” When I told her they were not, she replied, “Well, that’s not very creative.” To me, allowing ten toddlers to “mix up the works” – works specifically designed to teach cause and effect, develop fine motor skills, and generate sensory impressions to cultivate imaginative thought  – did not sound creative; it sounded like absolute chaos! But for most people creativity is thought to arise from chaotic free expression. For some who actually work in creative fields, however, this is not so. As comedic actress Amy Poehler stated in a recent New Yorker article, “I’m proud that Mike Schur [a member of her creative team] and I rejected the idea that creativity needs to come from chaos.” Her own success and the scientific research show that she was right to reject this widespread notion.Read More
Executive functions are important cognitive skills necessary for managing our behavior, adapting to changes, learning new skills, overcoming old habits, and engaging in creative or “outside of the box” thinking. They are essential for all goal-directed activities. They develop from early childhood through early adulthood1, and numerous studies have explored the various ways in which executive functions might be improved throughout development.
Attending a Montessori school can produce significant, long-lasting improvements in a child’s executive functions. Compared to children randomly assigned to traditional classrooms, those who attended a quality Montessori school showed stronger executive functions at ages six  and age twelve. Researchers investigating the characteristics of innovative entrepreneurs found that a disproportionate number of them had attended Montessori schools. These results show that Montessori can produce meaningful, long-lasting changes in the formation of essential cognitive capabilities, and lead to better life outcomes.Read More
For parents, enrolling one’s child in a Montessori school can feel like an act of faith. Montessori’s holistic approach is completely different from conventional educations’ test-focused, factory-model approach. And now much of the current US education reform conversation centers on using assessments to not only evaluate student learning but also teacher effectiveness. This endless stream of media test-talk can generate anxiety and doubt for Montessori parents whose children may have limited, if any, exposure to testing or even formal grades. Despite seeing how well their children are developing within their Montessori classrooms, that anxiety and doubt can lead parents to wonder, “How do I know if my child is learning?”Read More
Maria Montessori argued that one of the greatest gifts to give children is a set of conditions that permit extended intervals of deep concentration. She wrote, “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behavior.”Read More