Posts tagged #A-to-I

Great Visual Resource

As educators, we often seek out unique and fascinating visuals to engage our students. With this in mind, an interesting resource for you--Enjoy!

(This post originally appeared on the Public Domain Review.)

Last week the ever-incredible British Library announced that they were gifting more than 1 million images to the world, uploaded to Flickr Commons under the public domain mark, meaning complete freedom of re-use. The range and breadth of images is phenomenal. As they say in their post announcing the release the “images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of”. Each image was extracted from its respective home (books making up a total of 65,000 already digitised volumes) by a program known as the ‘Mechanical Curator’, a creation of the British Library Labs project. A crowdsourcing application is being launched in the new year to help describe what the images portray – and the British Library is also putting out a general plea for people to innovate new ways to navigate, find and display this incredible array of images. (Email BL Labs here).

Doing Prekindergarten Right

We occasionally forward along relevant information from other sources.
For example, this great article from the Huffington Post by Ruth Bettelheim, Ph.D..

American leaders are beginning to address the deficits in our country's early education system. However, President Obama's call for a major expansion of public prekindergarten education, and even the commitment to providing universal preschool education recently made by both New York's governor and New York City's mayor, do not go far enough. While both proposals take big steps in the right direction, they would only apply to children age 4 and up, and would not systematically reform the kind of education these children receive. The only way to do preschool really right is to start when children are significantly younger, to use educational methods specially targeted at the emotional, social, and cognitive development of toddlers, and to increase mandatory training and salaries for preschool teachers.


Preschool children think and function differently than school-age children, which is why primary school typically begins at age 6 or 7 everywhere in the world. Since the curricula and methods designed for older children don't work for toddlers, preschools are often run like babysitting centers, with teachers who are trained (and paid) much more poorly than their primary school counterparts.

However, we now know that the first 5 years of life constitute the most critical period for the development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. If things go wrong at this stage, the price is a life time of handicaps and often failure in one or more areas. Far from not being ready for education, young children urgently need high quality educational experiences to maximize whatever potential they were born with.

This maximization requires different educational methods than those developed for older children. Fortunately, several methods have been developed during the past century to enhance learning for young children. Most prominently, Dr. Montessori developed her method by investigating which approaches could best educate the severely impoverished slum children of early 20th century Rome.

Primary 10.jpg

The Montessori Method systematically teaches independent problem solving, starting at age 18 months, using hands-on learning and the native interests of preschoolers. She demonstrated that, given adequate food, regular health checkups, and the right full-day program, virtually all of even the most deprived children could learn to an equal or higher standard than their more privileged, traditionally educated peers.

Other methods, such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Dewey, Abecedarian, and Bank Street, also address the unique needs of this age group. Unfortunately, sufficiently rigorous, longitudinal trials of these approaches have not yet been undertaken to determine which ones best serve the developmental needs of very young children.

Pedagogy and education research have both systematically undervalued the importance of social and emotional development in preschool children. Indeed, neuroscientific evidence demonstrates that all learning is based on emotional responses and social experiences. Therefore, social and emotional intelligence need to be developed as carefully and as thoughtfully as IQ. We now know that all three are essential for success in our highly networked, rapidly changing technological age.

Therefore, teachers need to be trained not only in the most effective approaches to cognitive development in young children, but also in how to foster and enhance their very sensitive emotional and social development. This will require both increased funding for research, and more rigorous training programs for preschool teachers. But recruiting and retaining highly talented and motivated teachers requires that salaries be increased significantly, to better match the critical importance and extremely demanding nature of their work.

While all of these measures may sound expensive, over a generation they would be far more than offset by the reduced costs of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, addiction and all the other ills to which poor educational outcomes can lead, and by the increased productivity of a better-educated workforce. Indeed, according to Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman, the rate of return on investment when high quality preschool starts very early "is in the range of 6 percent to 10 percent per year per dollar invested."

However, even the best preschool education will not be maximally effective if it does not start until children are four, by which point the majority of that critical 0- to 5-year-old window has already passed. If we want to give every child the best chance for success, universal full-day preschool should start at 1+ or 2+. With that in place, in just a few years, children from all backgrounds will start arriving at primary school on track, with the skills and background necessary to be successful students. As we begin to expand and reform public preschool education, we should make the commitment to give all children a true head start toward fulfilling their potential.

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under Articles.

Watch the Power of AMI Teacher Training

This 20 minute film gives an overview of Montessori education from birth through age 12, contains interviews with people training to become Montessori teachers as well as teachers in their classrooms. It's a nice introduction to Montessori and the training process for anyone considering becoming a Montessori teacher.


The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her work. Today, AMI continues to uphold these standards by offering high-quality, authentic and rigorous teacher training through its affiliated training centers.

The AMI diploma is used in over 110 countries as a mark of teacher training excellence. Graduates of AMI training courses must demonstrate understanding of educational theory, child development, observation techniques, use and presentation of the Montessori materials, and ability to create appropriate activities for children. The practice teaching component solidifies this learning through hands-on work in Montessori classrooms.

AMI courses are conducted by AMI trainers, master teachers who have completed the Training of Trainers program and have a profound understanding of Montessori theory and practice.

In the past ten years, Montessori schools have nearly doubled their student enrollment, and positions at AMI-recognized schools go unfilled. Your AMI diploma allows you to pursue your Montessori career with the confidence that comes from extensive training and foundational knowledge.

Options for undergraduate and graduate credit are available through colleges and universities affiliated with individual training centers. Explore our Teacher Training section to learn more. 

On Infants & Toddlers

Corinne Stastny, Primary Course Assistant at MNW, mother, and former Montessori Teacher, lends her insights into Montessorians working with the youngest members of our world; babies and toddlers. 

Observation is at the core of the Montessori guide’s work. During 250 hours of observation of children aged birth to three, students at Montessori Northwest take detailed notes about what they see, and interpret these observations through the lens of Montessori theory and practice.

Observation is at the core of the Montessori guide’s work. During 250 hours of observation of children aged birth to three, students at Montessori Northwest take detailed notes about what they see, and interpret these observations through the lens of Montessori theory and practice.

The Montessori approach to children under the age of three evokes much curiosity and enthusiasm from those more familiar with Montessori at other age levels.  Those of us with Primary or Elementary backgrounds know we love our prepared environments, know we love Montessori, and are sure that babies and toddlers everywhere would no doubt fall in love with a Montessori learning environment designed for them!  However, we also know that Montessori is not always easy to convey or understand in just a few short sentences.   

I’ve picked the brains of Assistants to Infancy (A to I) trained alumni a bit, combined it with my own experiences applying A to I principles with my child, and am happy to give some introductory resources for families creating mindful environments for little ones.  My focus here is just on babies who are not yet walking, as the most common question I hear from curious enthusiastic souls is “Someone’s having a baby and is curious about Montessori. What should I tell them?”  Below is a menu of resources, choose what you feel best captures the imagination of your target audience!

Know that the same essential principles apply to Montessori at any age group: respect and communication, supporting independence, free choice within limits, learning through experience, preparing an environment that matches the specific needs of the child. 

While rather involved, the inspiring texts of Understanding the Human Being by Silvana Montanaro and The Child and the Family by Dr Maria Montessori can be a strong resource for families seeking to a deeper connection to theory.– This beautiful, clear, and powerful website, provided by AMI, offers simple, straightforward advice that is easy to understand and apply. - Michael Olaf and Susan Stephenson have inspired Montessorians, parents, and parents-to-be for years. The Joyful Child, a book focusing on 0-3 in the home, is now available and a rich resource!

In a Montessori Home is an inspiring book and DVD package from NAMTA featuring families enjoying Montessori principles in the home.

There are some fabulous blogs about applying Montessori in the home. A few particularly enjoyable ones are The Full MontessoriMontessori Moms, and Montessori on the Double.

Aside from schools, A to I graduates often share their knowledge via private consultations.  Montessori Northwest has the names of a few of these parent educators, and would welcome the names of more!

Come to Montessori Northwest, where we have a model home and toddler community environments.  We have regular open houses and are happy to schedule individual tours Monday – Friday.  The Assistants to Infancy training course is enrolling for the summers of 2014 and 15, and we are seeking not only teachers-in-training for this level, but also families whose infants can participate in on-site observation sessions both summers.  Being part of the observation is an incredible window into the Montessori approach to this age group! 

Visit our website,, or Email Andrea for more information--503-963-8992.

A portion of Montessori Northwest's model home environment for babies and toddlers.

A portion of Montessori Northwest's model home environment for babies and toddlers.

Posted on November 18, 2013 and filed under Articles, A-to-I, From MNW Staff.