Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Using Montessori Teaching Albums and DVDs: Quick Tips for Our Parents

During the last few days, I got in several compelling questions from parents who had purchased both our teaching albums and DVDs, so we have included some tips here for using them in tandem.

We highly recommend starting with the first year of Primary Class (shown above) even if your child is four or five years old. This basic work is very important and provides the building blocks for more advanced concepts found in reading and math.

As you follow the program in the first year's teaching album, introduce the exercises in more or less the order they appear in the table of contents: Practical Life, Sensorial, Cultural, Language, and Math. The brain and body development that takes place when your child works with the first three sections will set the framework for success in Language and Math, so it is important not to rush or skip them.

However, if your child is older than 3 1/2, you can introduce the Sandpaper Letters now as you introduce the Practical Life through Cultural material, moving to the Movable Alphabet as directed in the album.

When your child is familiar with most of the Sandpaper Letters, you can introduce the first DVD, Sounds & Words, which presents the letter sounds and uses the sounds to create CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words such as "cap" and "pen".

Then your child can practice making CVC words using the Movable Alphabet. He or she should also work with all the other word-making exercises shown in the album such as the Object Box work.

At this point, introduce the Red Rods, Number Rods, and Spindle Box. Now use the Math DVD to practice some of the concepts.

Continue making presentations for the other subjects during this time, too. When your child has mastered CVC and CVCC/CCVC (e.g. "hunt" or "slop"), you can introduce the next DVD.

Your child will practice writing and forming more difficult words as shown in the album. This stage should be lots of fun with your child gaining incremental mastery of different elements of reading.

If your child is struggling, back up a bit and practice with the last material that he or she used easily. Observe your child when he or she works independently and try to figure out what in particular is causing the difficulty as you probably went too fast during some stage of presentation or did not spend enough time on the earlier material. Montessori teacher training is much like this because we need lots of practice to make sure we are presenting material at the right stage for each individual child, so it is important to observe, take notes, and fine-tune our teaching styles.

Introduce the Colors & Shapes and "Big Vocabulary" DVDs at any time now. The Colors & Shapes program includes primary and secondary colors, so you can coordinate this with the Colored Tablets presentation, if wish. It also includes regular polygons and closed curve shapes, a good review for everyone who has forgotten these terms!

If you have our printable Adobe PDF collection, print the relevant material before you introduce the DVD, so you have it on hand for your child to review and work with.

For parents who are trying to decide which album they need, we suggest starting with this first one because it also helps you learn how to present material. It is easy to present harder material once a child has a solid foundation, but it is frustrating for a child to be presented with material that is a bit confusing because the groundwork has not been mastered.

As you teach your child, think of, perhaps, learning yoga. If you are just beginning, the teacher should guide you through the basics, so you gain physical strength and flexibility along with the mental understanding of the poses so that you can help your body learn them. You can go to yoga class every day eager to learn and feeling yourself getting stronger. Now you are ready for a slightly more difficult pose. What would have happened if your teacher had presented a headstand on the first day? You might have toppled over, hurt yourself, become frustrated, and perhaps quit. You might have also seen another student performing the headstand and wondered if you were somehow responsible for failing to be able to perform the headstand.

You can take a peek at the table of contents for each of our Montessori teaching albums here.

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