How do I prepare my child over the summer for Montessori?
This is a question that we have gotten many times over. The short answer is that there is no one cookie-cutter solution to this question. Montessori educators strive to engage students in order to build their intrinsic motivation. What motivates children varies for all children and families. The consistent message is that children need to be engaged – whether it is over the summer or during the school year. Our goal is to find what fascinates students and give them opportunities to dig deep into any topic and focus on the subject for learning’s sake, because it interests them. To that end, what you can do for your child is to observe what piques their curiosity and then help them find opportunities to explore the topic further. This will prove to develop their inner motivation, while at the same time preventing the dreaded “summer slide.”
Experiences you help create for your child can vary. There are numerous camps available that highlight specific topics and immerse your child in what interests them. For a selection of camps in Delaware, click here.
Oftentimes children are inspired to read about what they are interested in. While some children read for the sake of reading, it is more typical for a child to read because they are interested in finding out more about something – wildlife, faeries, Greek gods, Pokémon, computer coding, or horses. No matter the topic, it is borne out of interest in learning more. We encourage you to help your child find reading material that inspires their inner curiosity, so they can read or listen to books being read to them. Keeping reading skills fresh for new readers is important. Kids should have the opportunity to read or be read to daily. The content of what they read should be up to them, it should motivate and inspire. Parents can help make this a reality by giving them the reading material that catches their interest and providing a time and space so that it becomes a routine.
Parents often wonder about math, too. Like reading, this is a language that needs to be kept current so that skills learned over the summer don’t deteriorate over the three-month break. Parents can approach math in the same way as other topics. Use what works for your child. Some children enjoy the routine and sense of accomplishment that comes from a workbook, such as Summer Math Skills Sharpeners. Others enjoy keeping their math facts fresh with computer-based games that challenge their speed with basic math facts; the games at www.funbrain.com or www.ixl.com are great for this. Yet other children prefer real world math problems that come up in their daily life. Examples of this come from cooking a meal, making change, or keeping a budget for a family trip, sports, or gardening. Gather some ideas at sites like Education World.
Children have varied interests, skills and talents. If we are to respect these differences among children, we cannot approach the summer as a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping them engaged and preventing loss of skills over the summer. To prepare your child to enter a Montessori education in the fall, you do not need to teach them certain skills or introduce them to specific Montessori Materials. What we ask is that you help your child to engage in learning. Determine what is interesting to them and help them to find experiences to further this interest and passion. When children learn how to follow their interests it pays off in dividends as they discover how to focus their curiosity, think deeply and prepare for future learning opportunities.
~Liz Madden, FSMA Director of Education