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Old 11-23-2013, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I want some practice talking about Montessori while I'm in my AMI training course, so ask me a question or two about Montessori education and I will try to give you a brief but informative answer.

First, some background. Maria Montessori was a doctor in Rome, the first to graduate from medical school if I recall correctly, her became very interested in the education of children. She started with a group of children in an asylum where she utilized the observation skills she developed in medical school and materials developed by Jean Marc Gaspard Itard. After some time, she signed these children up to take a major academic test where they scored on par with average Roman student, something thought impossible at the time. Faced with this result, she "became convinced that similar methods applied to normal children would develop or set free their personality in a marvellous and surprising way.” By applying these methods, and altering them through trial and error based on observation of the child, the children in her first "Casa de Bambini" in the slums of Rome were labeled "miracle children." At the risk of oversimplification, the main thrust of Montessori education is to give the child a prepared environment that will lead him to and maintain his concentration, which itself will lead to normalization of "deviated" behavior. 

Over the next 100 years, Montessori education has spread throughout the world. It even almost became the standard of kindergarten education in American ~1911 but quickly lost steam after a noted educator, William Kilpatrick, wrote a mostly negative review of it that is actually an interesting read that echoes many of the objections to Montessori still heard today. Unfortunately, this spread included many many many schools that simply called themselves Montessori despite applying little to no part of Montessori's work; courts ruled that she was not able to copyright and thus control the usage of her name in the education setting.

So please throw some questions at me, and I will do my best to answer them 

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Old 11-23-2013, 03:13 PM
 
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ok, i'll play.  can you explain to me the purpose of the three-hour work period?

 

also, which training are you doing and where?  just curious.


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Old 11-23-2013, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ok, i'll play.  can you explain to me the purpose of the three-hour work period?

 

also, which training are you doing and where?  just curious.

Cool thanks. The three-hour work period is necessary for deeper levels of concentration to set in. This is especially important for younger children who will exhibit a period or periods of "false fatigue" before moving on to greater work. If you happen to have the opportunity to observe classes with different lengths of uninterrupted work, you will notice that the shorter work periods will end with many of the younger students in a state of "chaos" or "disorder," essentially a lack of concentration. Many guides choose this time to, for example, to schedule playground time or group time. But this defeat any possible gains from overcoming this period of false fatigue and can actually produce long-term inhibitions to concentration, the cardinal sin of any Montessori classroom. Montessori noted that "if [the children] are interrupted in their cycle, they lose all he characteristics connected with an internal process regularly and completely carried out." 

 

In classrooms with AT LEAST 3 hours (in AMI 3 hours is seen as a minimum not a strict guideline or maximum), you would see this chaotic period die down in 15 minutes tops. In more normalized children, it will rarely pop up at all. Hopefully that answered your question.

 

And I'm training at the AMI International Montessori Training Institute for Primary in Atlanta, GA. It's super hard but super fun and rewarding.

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Old 11-23-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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I don't have any questions, but if I do I'll come back. My kids have been in Montessori for 6 years now, and we love it.

Also, I am AMI trained, 0-3, and loved my training, as intense as it was.

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Old 11-25-2013, 08:00 AM
 
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good answer.

 

i did my training in lower elementary and am now an administrator.  here's one i've heard quite a few times -- what's the difference between montessori and waldorf?


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Old 11-25-2013, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not too familiar with Waldorf because we don't have too many of them where I'm from. A while back though, I read a blog post that I can no longer find that seemed to do a decent job differentiating the two. From my limited knowledge of it though, I seem to remember Waldorf focusing more on fantasy or imaginative play whereas play in a Montessori classroom is more focused around reality and usage of the materials. And I think I remember Waldorf focusing more on small group work even in the youngest children whereas Montessori emphasizes that much more in the second plane so that the first plane children can focus more on developing concentration individually. But this is all from memory, so I may well have it wrong.

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Old 11-25-2013, 01:50 PM
 
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Great to see some recent activity on the Montessori board!

 

My question is: How can you tell when a child is ready to move from Montessori primary to Montessori elementary?

Our almost 5 year old son is currently in Montessori primary... We have to decide whether he should move up to elementary next August (aged 5 1/2) or the August 2015 (aged 6 1/2) The primary and elementary classes are in the same school, so the elementary class won't be a completely new environment for him. Of course, we will listen to the advice of his current guides, but would love another perspective on what things we should consider. Academically, he is quite far ahead, though we are aware that is only one factor of many.

 

Thanks!
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great to see some recent activity on the Montessori board!

 

My question is: How can you tell when a child is ready to move from Montessori primary to Montessori elementary?

Our almost 5 year old son is currently in Montessori primary... We have to decide whether he should move up to elementary next August (aged 5 1/2) or the August 2015 (aged 6 1/2) The primary and elementary classes are in the same school, so the elementary class won't be a completely new environment for him. Of course, we will listen to the advice of his current guides, but would love another perspective on what things we should consider. Academically, he is quite far ahead, though we are aware that is only one factor of many.

 

Thanks!
Caitlinn

Oooo that's a meaty question. I'll definitely not be able to cover all of the answer to it, but I'll hopefully get enough it in here. And of course as you said all of this is still coming from a trainee, so nothing I say should preempt a conversation with your child's guide. I'm pretty much just going over general indicators. 

 

The transition from primary to elementary coincides with the child's transition from the first to second plane of development. There are some common physical and psychological traits that your guide is probably look for. The physical include loose/falling out teeth (I'm pretty sure new teeth shouldn't be coming in yet but don't quote me on that), hair becoming darker and coarser, leaner face, and essentially mastery over at least gross motor movements and probably a few or many fine motor movements. Psychologically, he will begin to asking more why/how questions instead of just what questions, begin forming closer friendships with select peers, undertaking projects, and correct pronoun use. According to my trainer at least, correct pronoun use is a major indicator that she looks for. I'm sure I'm missing plenty, but these are some of the factors that guides look for to determine if a child should stay in primary or move up to elementary.

 

But if he's just 5 1/2, he might still have a little bit of developing to do that would best be catered to by a primary classroom. If we keep in mind that a Montessori environment does not speed up development (because that is physically impossible) but simply removes all obstacles so that it develops at an optimal pace, then, like you said, his being academically far ahead does not necessarily mean that he has made the inner transition to the second plane. I've head anecdotes of children whose development was set back because they were pushed into elementary too early. Though they ultimately settled out eventually, it was an unnecessary strain. If I'm correct in assuming that August 2014 will be his 4th year, I've heard that it is not uncommon (depending on the setup of the school) for children to float between primary and elementary. And 4th years usually transition to elementary in the middle of the year. If this is his 3rd year, it would probably be best for him and the primary classroom as a whole if he were to stay through the whole third year then move up in 2015 if he's ready. I've also heard about 3rd years floating between primary and elementary late in their 3rd year if it's clear they will be moving up in the following year, but I don't know how common that is. Hopefully this is useful.

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Old 11-26-2013, 04:40 AM
 
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Wow, thanks so much HumbleThinker, for your speedy and thoughtful reply.

 

DS started in his current class at 2 years 7 months (Aug 2011) Usually they move up from the toddler group to primary a month or two either side of their 3rd birthday, but as my son was new to the school, and relatively advanced, the staff decided to start him straight away in primary to avoid an extra transition. So yes, moving up in August 2015 would mean being in the same primary class for 4 years.

 

I think the reason that they move the kids up in August is mainly administrative. We live in Sweden, and here kids usually start the equivalent of kindergarten the August of the year they turn 6. In Montessori, this corresponds to starting elementary. So I guess it's just simpler, and probably what's expected by most parents, to have a single intake in August each year. It might even be required by school regulations, I'm not sure. That being said though, it was suggested to us at our last parent/teacher meeting that if DS stayed in primary the extra year, that he could still make frequent visits to the school, particularly in the second half of that year. His guide acknowledged that they would in any case need to bring work over from the school to the preschool for him to work on. Our concern with this would be that he might miss out on the benefits of collaboration, working on things that no-one else in his class would be up to. And also, that he might not really feel a part of either group. But maybe that is an option to consider more seriously (an "unofficial" move at the beginning of 2015). They will be having some special orientation sessions in the spring, for the kids moving up to elementary in August. Our plan at the moment is to have our son attend those sessions (regardless of when he ends up moving across), so he can find out a little more about the elementary classroom and what it has to offer.

 

Very interesting about correct pronoun use being a good indicator of readiness. DS is bilingual in Swedish/English. I haven't noticed any incorrect pronoun usage in either language but perhaps I am just used to it. I will listen keenly to him this afternoon. I guess it's possessive and reflexive pronouns that are the last to develop? He has asked lots of "why" questions for a long time. And both fine and gross motor development are pretty advanced. The social aspect is probably lagging a bit behind the other areas though.

 

Thanks again for your answer - it was very valuable to read another point of view. Even more to think about now. :)

 

Caitlinn

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Old 11-26-2013, 05:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks so much HumbleThinker, for your speedy and thoughtful reply.

 

DS started in his current class at 2 years 7 months (Aug 2011) Usually they move up from the toddler group to primary a month or two either side of their 3rd birthday, but as my son was new to the school, and relatively advanced, the staff decided to start him straight away in primary to avoid an extra transition. So yes, moving up in August 2015 would mean being in the same primary class for 4 years.

 

I think the reason that they move the kids up in August is mainly administrative. We live in Sweden, and here kids usually start the equivalent of kindergarten the August of the year they turn 6. In Montessori, this corresponds to starting elementary. So I guess it's just simpler, and probably what's expected by most parents, to have a single intake in August each year. It might even be required by school regulations, I'm not sure. That being said though, it was suggested to us at our last parent/teacher meeting that if DS stayed in primary the extra year, that he could still make frequent visits to the school, particularly in the second half of that year. His guide acknowledged that they would in any case need to bring work over from the school to the preschool for him to work on. Our concern with this would be that he might miss out on the benefits of collaboration, working on things that no-one else in his class would be up to. And also, that he might not really feel a part of either group. But maybe that is an option to consider more seriously (an "unofficial" move at the beginning of 2015). They will be having some special orientation sessions in the spring, for the kids moving up to elementary in August. Our plan at the moment is to have our son attend those sessions (regardless of when he ends up moving across), so he can find out a little more about the elementary classroom and what it has to offer.

 

Very interesting about correct pronoun use being a good indicator of readiness. DS is bilingual in Swedish/English. I haven't noticed any incorrect pronoun usage in either language but perhaps I am just used to it. I will listen keenly to him this afternoon. I guess it's possessive and reflexive pronouns that are the last to develop? He has asked lots of "why" questions for a long time. And both fine and gross motor development are pretty advanced. The social aspect is probably lagging a bit behind the other areas though.

 

Thanks again for your answer - it was very valuable to read another point of view. Even more to think about now. :)

 

Caitlinn

 

Glad my answer was helpful. I can understand the concern about missing out on collaboration in his work. Depending on the age and development spread of the environment, there may be other 3/4 year children that would also be interested in the work he is doing. And I'm not as familiar with the work in Elementary, but I would not be surprised if there were some extensions for the Primary material that would mirror what an elementary/second plane child would be interested in. If nothing else, though, he would certainly be an invaluable help for the younger children and they would be an opportunity to further develop his leadership skills.

 

As far as pronouns, I would guess that reflexive pronouns would be the last to develop mastery, but I'm not certain. The him/his differentiation for possessive pronouns is probably around the same time as you said as well.

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:24 AM
 
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I want to do my AMI training so badly! Can you share some steps you took to jump in? I do have a BA, and do live near a wonderful AMI training center. Please inspire me to take the leap, ASAP! Please tell me what I am missing. :)


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Old 11-28-2013, 12:38 AM
 
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I want to add more Montessori materials to my homeschool. I have a 6 yo. What are the top picks? Some that I can make? Some activities that don't require materials?
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I want to do my AMI training so badly! Can you share some steps you took to jump in? I do have a BA, and do live near a wonderful AMI training center. Please inspire me to take the leap, ASAP! Please tell me what I am missing. :)

 

Well first thing I would do is see when the next information session is and sign up for that as quickly as possible. I had already made my decision before then, but it definitely made me feel like I had made the right decision. I'd also go observe some local Montessori environments near you. Observing my first Montessori environment was what inspired me to take AMI training. And even though AMI training is the longest of all the Montessori trainings available, it is by far the best because it is the most rigorous, is the organization founded by Maria Montessori herself, and it allows you to work in any Montessori school in the world. The last part in particular is what convinced me to move 10 hours to take the training instead of taking a 2 month AMS training near my home. And the best preparation I've found is reading as many of Maria Montessori's books as you can get your hands on and marking quotes that stand out to you. The coursework packs your day and I've found that I have not had as much time to read as I would like, so having already completed all the required reading and some of the recommended reading before the course started was very helpful in writing theory papers and understanding what is going on. Hope that was helpful!

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Old 11-28-2013, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I want to add more Montessori materials to my homeschool. I have a 6 yo. What are the top picks? Some that I can make? Some activities that don't require materials?

I'm sure how much help I can be on this question actually, but I will try. A lot of it depends on what you observe your 6yo being interested in. Children naturally want to spontaneously choose their work, but finding that one piece of work that really catches their interest enough to sit down and concentration on it can seem difficult at times depending on the personality of the child. The most important thing I would say, if you haven't already implemented it, is to have at least a few "practical life" tasks in every room that he can choose to do entirely on his own or with minimal adult assistance. Depending on his development, this could easily include cooking from recipes, making his own recipes, doing the laundry, large cleaning tasks around the house, building something like a bird house, gardening, arranging flowers, etc. Anything you would normally do in your own home, try to find a way to create a work space sized for him/her that allows for independent completion of this task. Don't force tasks on your child, but open up as many of your tasks to it as you feel comfortable. Ideally, he'll want to take responsibility over his environment, though at 6 he will be getting into the phase where he will not be as interested in external order (ie. bathing or keeping his room neat).

 

As far as Montessori materials, in my very limited opinion, I'm not sure if adding a couple here and there would be that effective. Plus my training has not gotten to the language and math materials yet. The best advice I can give is to observe your child, and respond to his interests. At 6, your child's on the edge of the second plane, which is getting out of my expertise, but lots of language activities would probably be appropriate. Of course reading with him and having him read to you. Lots of opportunities to engage in interesting explorations, particularly outside, that give him opportunities to write out them. If you think he would still be interested in this, perhaps some sort of vocabulary activity that utilizes scientific terms. For example, Montessori environments have cards that have pictures of the parts of plants on a card, the name of the plant on another strip, and then a control card that has the picture and the name under it. This can then lead into leaf hunts outside and other nature explorations. Hopefully some of this is helpful. An excellent book on the subject that may be more helpful than this post is Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+ by Susan Stephenson, which can be ordered from michaelolaf.com

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Old 11-28-2013, 09:05 PM
 
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Ok thanks. Will check that out. We have an RV that we use for homeschooling. I'm setting it up as a Montessori environment. I've made a number of materials. We do some Waldorf group work as well.

Here's another question. Do you ever find Montessori too rigid and narrowing? I was observing a work that was sorting "living" and "non-living" things. The self correcting answer had River as a non living thing. I'm not sure I like this answer in a holistic sence. Also I was wondering if the whole exercise was really how I wanted to promote my child's thinking. I know it's nice to have works that are self correcting, but is this type of thing authentic? I want to promote wider thinking/feeling in my children and this seems to promote boxing and labeling.

I have found some schools are more rigid than others as well. Never get on the work rug vs only get on your work rug.
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok thanks. Will check that out. We have an RV that we use for homeschooling. I'm setting it up as a Montessori environment. I've made a number of materials. We do some Waldorf group work as well.
An RV classroom sounds pretty cool.We have to make a few materials here for the training, so I had to buy a sewing machine and learn how to sew. Luckily we had a sewing day where someone showed us the basics.
Here's another question. Do you ever find Montessori too rigid and narrowing? I was observing a work that was sorting "living" and "non-living" things. The self correcting answer had River as a non living thing. I'm not sure I like this answer in a holistic sence. Also I was wondering if the whole exercise was really how I wanted to promote my child's thinking. I know it's nice to have works that are self correcting, but is this type of thing authentic? I want to promote wider thinking/feeling in my children and this seems to promote boxing and labeling.

I have found some schools are more rigid than others as well. Never get on the work rug vs only get on your work rug.

We actually talkded about this in training a bit ago, so I understand why many feel this way. Ironically, it's essentially the same reasons many others feel that Montessori provides too much freedom. There's an intriguing post about this phenomenon at a blog called mariamontessori.com titled "Too Much Structure? Or Too Little?" Everything in a traditional Montessori classroom is chosen based on the observations of the child by Maria Montessori and many other Montessori guides throughout the last century. So as far as sorting, she observed the children were interested in classifying things, so Montessori classrooms do indeed have sorting activities. These are usually sorting types of objects (ie. seeds small solids, etc.) into different trays either with a blindfold or without. But from the sounds of it, you may be talking about the labeling cards, though when I've seen them there is a separate set for living things and a separate set for non-living things that children learn the terminology for separately. So I can't speak for that specific activity. 

 

 

What I can speak for in general is that self-correcting activities are a hallmark of a Montessori environment. Just about every material has a "control of error" that leads to what Montessori called "auto-education." The point is so the child can learn as independently as possible. If the control of error does not call to him, then the material either needs to be presented another day with emphasis on what the child is missing without directly calling it out, an invitation to use the material differently without directly saying that the child was doing something wrong, or a parallel material should be presented that may interest the child more, lead to better concentration, and thus lead to a better recognition of the control of error.

 

You also seem to be touching on a large issue many have with Montessori that it does not encourage imaginative play/thinking. The short answer is that it does, but not in the traditional sense. Montessori observed that humans have an innate tendency for imagination, so imagination is very important in a Montessori environment. She saw imaginative play for instance as an expression of an unfulfilled need, so if a child was pretending to cook, then show him how to cook because they clearly are interested in it. To her, for imagination to be useful instead of a hinderence, it must be grounded in reality. So to her, letting a child believe that a river is living would be to invite credulity. If they wished to believe that a river was living, then a likely approach would be to give them experience with water so they can see for themselves that it isn't living and to present them an activity where they could learn the kinds and names of sea life to see that there are living things in the river even though the river isn't living itself. Let me know if you'd like more information on this as it is a bit of a nuanced position.

 

Oh, and as far as the work rug goes, children should always have a choice to do either. I can only MAYBE see a few extreme circumstances where it may be necessary to tell the child where to work, but I really don't think so. There are certain materials that, due to their dimensions or certain other factors, should or must be used only on a table or only on a rug, but that is up to the guide to present the material in the proper position and the child to find out that the material simply can only be used or should be used at one spot or another.

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Old 05-09-2014, 08:37 AM
 
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Well first thing I would do is see when the next information session is and sign up for that as quickly as possible. I had already made my decision before then, but it definitely made me feel like I had made the right decision. I'd also go observe some local Montessori environments near you. Observing my first Montessori environment was what inspired me to take AMI training. And even though AMI training is the longest of all the Montessori trainings available, it is by far the best because it is the most rigorous, is the organization founded by Maria Montessori herself, and it allows you to work in any Montessori school in the world. The last part in particular is what convinced me to move 10 hours to take the training instead of taking a 2 month AMS training near my home. And the best preparation I've found is reading as many of Maria Montessori's books as you can get your hands on and marking quotes that stand out to you. The coursework packs your day and I've found that I have not had as much time to read as I would like, so having already completed all the required reading and some of the recommended reading before the course started was very helpful in writing theory papers and understanding what is going on. Hope that was helpful!

I know this is an old thread, but I was just doing a search, so I thought I'd ask a question. I am also interested in finding out more about how I could prepare myself for an AMI course.  I was just curious what was on your required reading list? I'd like to get started on getting all of that done.


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Old 05-09-2014, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this is an old thread, but I was just doing a search, so I thought I'd ask a question. I am also interested in finding out more about how I could prepare myself for an AMI course.  I was just curious what was on your required reading list? I'd like to get started on getting all of that done.

 

I can't remember the reading list off of the top of my head, nor do I have it on file, so this is just my best recollection of what the list is. Getting as much of the reading done before the course begins is a great idea. I did the same thing, and am glad for it because you will not have as much time as you want to read once the course gets going. I'd also suggest marking down quotes you find compelling because you will be required to have five quotes from Dr. Montessori in all of your papers. Wherever you are thinking about applying, they should be able to give you a reading list as well or they may wait to give it to you upon your acceptance. So here it is to the best of my knowledge:

 

-The Absorbent Mind

-Spontaneous Activity in Education aka Advanced Montessori Method Volume 1

-Discovery of the Child

-The Secret of Childhood

-The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education

-Education for Human Development

 

And anything by Maria or Mario Montessori, her son, that isn't required reading is recommended reading. All of these can be purchased from AMI's bookstore. They are the best translations of Montessori's work out there. Most others that I've seen are acceptable, though there are notable example that are just horrendous. And this list is assuming you are taking a primary course, which is what I am taking right now. The elementary course likely has the same reading, but with the addition of Advanced Montessori Method Volume 2. Let me know if you need any more information.

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Old 05-22-2014, 02:35 AM
 
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[quote]I know this is an old thread, but I was just doing a search, so I thought I'd ask a question. I am also interested in finding out more about how I could prepare myself for an AMI course.  I was just curious what was on your required reading list? I'd like to get started on getting all of that done.[/quote]

 

Reading the books would be good. I suggest to really prepare yourself, start by visiting some schools. Also think about the following questions:

 

--What do you want out of education? What do you think should be important to students?

 

--What interests do you have and what things do you really enjoy? What we are really doing is sharing a love of learning with the children, so take time to really enjoy doing what you love doing.

 

--Who were your favorite teachers?  Why?

MattBronsil is offline  
Old 08-21-2014, 11:50 PM
 
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Nice Thread. I have learned a lot of thing from this. Thanks a lot for sharing such valuable Thread.Although Montessori schools may share a common philosophy, it’s important to know that the Montessori name isn’t trademarked.
Arturo De la Mora is offline  
 

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