Reggio Children–May 31, 2023

After my visit to Maria Montessori’s first school in Rome, I was eager to learn more about the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education and find out how Montessori and Reggio compare, especially considering these two now global learning approaches originated from the same country. What I came to realize is that the two share philosophical values about child development, yet the materials, environment, and day-to-day happenings can look quite different, particularly with respect to language and literacy...Read more

The Children’s House–May 10, 2023

As I stepped into the courtyard of the first Montessori school, which opened in San Lorenzo, Rome in 1907, I could almost hear the children conversing with each other and their teachers as they worked inside the Casa dei Bambini, The Children’s House. Perhaps my perceptions had been romanticized by my preconceived notions of what the school was like, where Maria Montessori envisioned a place for children to learn to care for themselves and their environment, where children aged three to six, could engage in purposeful activities and develop their self-esteem and independence...Read more 

Mark Making–March 14, 2023

Recently, Eli has started making what seem to be, more intentional marks with his crayons. Rather than trying to grasp as many crayons in one hand as possible, which he still occasionally enjoys doing, Eli’s mark making shows an early understanding that written language provides an avenue for expressing ideas. It also shows that he understands cause and effect—if I do this, then that happens. These marks are either lines formed across the entire area where the crayon has barely left the page or strong staccato-like dots resulting from Eli striking the page with the tip of the crayon. His pencil grasp looks like what you would typically expect from a toddler his age, a fully fisted grip, although he has also held a crayon using a pronated grip, and I’ve been surprised a few times by his use of a more standard finger-like tripod grip...Read more

Montessori de la Condesa–February 14, 2023

Between seven months and six years of age is a sensitive period for language and early literacy development, one that Maria Montessori described as “a window of time in which a child’s interests are focused on developing a certain skill, like a spotlight illuminating an area of development.” During this time, Montessori believed that children are “drawn to language and words like moths to a flame” and are particularly excited about identifying objects, rhyming words, and repeating words, especially in the earlier part of this period. According to Montessori, supporting children during the sensitive period for language means telling oral stories, naming objects around us, using real words for things, singing songs, reading poems and books aloud, and having rich conversations throughout the day. These events and behaviours were certainly observed during my visit to Montessori de la Condesa...Read more

Becoming Word Conscious–January 22, 2023

Vocabulary learning has been a topic of conversation in my discussions with teachers from across early years programs. Most recently, vocabulary was a focus of conversation with an English teacher I met with in Mexico City. This teacher spent a lot of time speaking about the importance of introducing and talking about words with the young children she teaches. She was so passionate about language and early literacy development—it was clear that oral language was a critical component of her literacy program. Whether it’s in their first, second or fifth language, supporting children’s vocabulary development by explicitly discussing the meaning of words, talking about words in relation to other similar words, and sharing ways to use words in sentences and broader contexts are all essential aspects for understanding texts and media...Read more

“Snake is Slowly Slithering, Over the Soft, Soft Ground”–November 28, 2022

When I taught kindergarten I would often take pieces of programs rather than use one entire program on its own for my language and literacy instruction. Jolly Phonics was one of the programs that I used for teaching the letter-sound relationships, partly because it was available in the school I was teaching in, but also because it took a systematic and explicit approach. Sets of five or six letter sounds are introduced at a time so that children can begin decoding and encoding words right away, before they’ve mastered all the 44 letter sounds of English and the letters or combination of letters that represent them...Read more

The World of Montessori–November 14, 2022

When I walked into Bayside Montessori School, I found myself surrounded by children scattered around the room on rolled-out mats completely immersed in their work. One child sat very focused at a table with Melissa Coy, the owner, teacher, and administrator, practicing his printing skills. The other children used a variety of concrete learning materials like number rods, sandpaper letters, and knobbed cylinders while they engaged in sensorial, mathematics, and language activities. I’ve been reading about Maria Montessori and the Montessori Method for several months now, and for my first visit to a Montessori classroom, my expectations were met, and even exceeded by what I observed...Read more

The Woods–October 28, 2022

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been inside an elementary school, at least a couple of years, so when I was given the opportunity to visit Origins Academy at The Woods, Nature-Based Learning Centre during my stay in New Brunswick, I was thrilled to say the least. When I walked into The Woods all of my senses were immediately fired up, in a very good way. The sounds of children’s conversations and laughter and playing in the hallways and in the classrooms instantly brought me back to my elementary teaching days...Read more

“Linguistic Geniuses”–October 20, 2022

It’s been about a week or so since I’ve been able to recognize a few words that Eli has been uttering and appearing to associate with their actual meaning. Take dog for instance: just this morning, a gentle Golden Retriever named Gracie approached Eli as he sat in his high chair (she was more likely looking for crumbs than looking for a toddler’s attention). As she approached, Eli made the initial sound /d/ followed by, what sounded like the word dog, perhaps though more like dug... Read more 

Reading in Cars–October 5, 2022

Eli does pretty well traveling in a car. We’ve done a few relatively long road trips over the past year and, for the most part, he’s been quite a trouper. While en route to our various destinations Eli peruses his board books like he does at home, only in the car he’s also balancing the books in his car seat. On our most recent venture out east as I glanced over at Eli “reading” a book about an Easter egg hunt, I started to reflect on how and when someone begins to read for pleasure. What motivates someone, regardless of their age, to pick up a book, in a car or at home, and read? Read more

Turning PagesSeptember 27, 2022

My son, Eli, turned one last week, and, as the saying goes, the nights have sometimes seemed long, but the year has gone by in a blink of an eye. What I love about the past year is how Eli has changed the way he plays with his toys and looks at things, staring at images that he’s seen many times before, but lately it seems new and different. This is especially true with his board book collection (yes, he seems to already have a library of board books). He’s been turning the pages of these books for some time now, as most babies seem to do. However more recently, he’s been stopping at each turn, glancing back and forth at each page laid out in front of him... Read more