My First Academy of Alpharetta is a family owned and operated school founded in 2008 by Maria and Otto Seijas. It came from the result of the vision of an educator (Maria Seijas) who believes passionately in the significance of an early education, and her older brother (Otto Seijas) who is the financial investor and who promoted Maria to make her dream come true.
My First Academy of Alpharetta is an educational center that creates a community in which children work cooperatively in a social atmosphere of freedom, founded on respect. In our community, we allow children the freedom to develop their own personality and individuality. Children are the most important part of our small community; therefore, they can make important decisions that will help them develop a sense of responsibility, motivation and self-discipline.
MONTESSORI APPROACH AND WHAT WE OFFER
The Montessori Theory is an approach to learning developed by Maria Montessori where the key principles are Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind.
The Montessori Theory approach, concepts and foundation principles can be applied across all ages. It is within these concepts we find the reasoning behind why things are such in a Montessori environment.
The following are the goals and beliefs that Maria Montessori held with regards to her approach to educating children
Maria Montessori Theory Principles
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori.
It is always a goal of Montessori education in the classrooms to make the child independent and be able to do things for himself. This is achieved by giving children opportunities. Opportunities to move, to dress themselves, to choose what they want to do, and to help the adults with tasks. When the children are able to do things for themselves there is an increase in their self-belief, self-confidence and esteem that they may carry on throughout their life.
Observation, or watching the child is for parents easy to do. We can spend countless hours just watching children and see how they are enjoying themselves, exploring their environment. This was the simple method of how Maria Montessori has learned about children and developed her theories on child development. She observed without preconceived ideas that helped her develop materials that the children needed and were interested in. Observation is also the way adults can learn about what the child needs are.
For example, if a child starts banging on objects, it means that he has a need for that gross motor activity, so give him a drum. If children are pushing things around the room and they need to walk but can’t do it themselves yet, help them or give them a wagon to push. This is how observation can help create harmony, fulfilling the child’s current needs.
3. Following The Child
Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori.
From what you have observed from the actions of the children, follow them in what they need to do. If they want to climb, give them the opportunity to climb in a safe manner, do not be overprotective. Following the child also means being non-directive, do not tell them what to do all the time. Give your child the freedom to choose what he wants or needs to do and to act on his own.
Do not tell them what they have to do, but rather present them with choices of different materials/toys. Also, stand back and watch the child what he does, there is no need to intervene all the time unless he has become really destructive and about to hurt himself or others. Knowing when to intervene is a skill parents will learn as they get to know their child and as parents have set limits for the child.
4. Correcting The Child
Children make mistakes. They may spill something, drop food unintentionally and so on. There is no need to raise your voice in situations like those. Instead, calmly recognize the mistake “oh you’ve spilled the water…, why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up.” This is an opportunity to ask the child to do some valid practical work with you. You will find that children do like to clean up as they see it as something adults do. There is no need to blatantly point out a child’s mistake, there is a way to make them realize it.
For example, with a cloth bib a child who is learning how drink from a glass will find out that if he tips the glass a bit too early, the water will spill on him and he will feel it. If they mispronounce a word, there is no need to correct them, but rather say the word correctly. Correcting children may result in them being scared to attempt anything in fear of making another mistake.
Children will make mistakes and we need to teach them in a nice manner. Giving the children freedom and choice, supporting them in their choice by making sure they are safe, feeding their inquiring minds in a way that they can understand and observing their needs and fulfilling these can be the key to helping your children develop their full potential.
5. Prepared Environment
“The teacher’s first duty is to watch over the environment, and this takes precedence over all the rest. It’s influence is indirect, but unless it be well done there will be no effective and permanent results of any kind, physical, intellectual or spiritual.” – Maria Montessori.
The prepared environment is important part of Montessori. It is the link for a child to learn from adults. Rooms are child sized with activities set up for success and allow freedom of movement and choice. The environment has to be safe for the child to explore freely. The environment has to be ready and beautiful for the children so it invites them to work.
Montessori refers to work as an activity the child does or what many people might call play. She calls this work since it is through this that they create themselves and it is not just a play. Their play is their work and they are still enjoying it. The adult’s role then is to construct the environment in which they will learn. The development of the child is therefore dependent on the environment she or he is in, and this environment also includes the parents.
6. Absorbent Mind
Montessori observed how children learned the language without anyone teaching them. This sparked her idea for the “absorbent mind”. Children under the age of three, do not need to have lessons in order to learn, they simply absorb everything in the environment by experiencing it, being part of it. It is therefore important that the environment set up is good, nice and positive since this is what the child will absorb whether he chooses to or not.
The language of the adult is one that a child will easily pick up. Be careful of what you say around them. Even though you think they are not listening, as they may not be able to express themselves yet, when they can you will not want them swearing back at you. It is for this reason that one should not try to say “No” to a child. We do not want them saying “No” to us rudely. Instead, we say “Stop” when we want to tell children that what they are doing is wrong.
The Practical Life area is composed of exercises of everyday life activities such as pouring, cutting, and sweeping. While children at this age continue to learn and practice activities of the home and family environment, they become familiar with activities for care of self, care of environment, and lessons in grace and courtesy.
Practical Life area is the foundation for all the other areas in the classroom. The exercises in this area aid the child in control and coordination of their movements, concentration, independence, self-esteem, and responsibility.
The Sensorial area aims to train and refine the senses of children to better observe and receive information from the world around them. Exercises for the visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, baric, thermic, and stereognostic senses allow children to work with abstract ideas such as color, length, volume, and temperature in the form of concrete activities. Through this work, children also learn the corresponding language for what they are discovering.
The Language area focuses on the enrichment of spoken language, as well as the development of writing and reading. Children are presented with a broad range of vocabulary applied to all areas of the curriculum and encouraged to develop their conversational skills. Children are given the keys to express themselves in writing through classic Montessori materials such as the Sandpaper Letters and Moveable Alphabet, and then progress to reading.
In Math area manipulative materials are utilized to provide independent, hands-on experience with mathematical principles. These materials assist the children in developing a sense of number and awareness of quantity in relation to numeric symbols, as well as a deep understanding of the decimal system and place value. Work is also undertaken to solve equations in all four operations, as well the memorization of addition/subtraction and multiplication/division tables.
The Cultural area of the Montessori classroom covers a variety of subjects. Geography, Science, Botany, Zoology, and History. Art and Music are also considered a part of the Cultural Area of the classroom.
Geography – During the year subjects discussed in Geography are things such as; land, air, and water, maps, continents, people, food and music from other countries.
Science – Unit studies in science include subjects as; four seasons, the five senses, why leaves change color, layers of the earth, parts of a volcano, and biomes of the earth.
Zoology – This is the area where the focus is learning about animals. Starting with the five classes of vertebrates and have further lessons on each of the five. Invertebrates will be discussed also including insects, worms, and spiders.
Botany – Seeds, parts of a plant, kinds of trees, herbs and spices, and what plants give us, are some of the unit studies that are discussed in Botany.
History-Teaching history in a Montessori classroom means helping children understand the passage of time.