How DNA Impacts Your Child’s Education

We are all familiar with the term DNA – it helps explain why your child has her father’s eyes or her grandmother’s aptitude for the piano. If you have young children, there is another lesser known definition for this familiar acronym.

Toddler_Classroom_DSC1800The Day Nurseries Act (DNA) is the legislation that governs licensed child care in Ontario. This legislation puts standards in place to ensure quality in child care settings including private-home day cares and child care centres. The Day Nurseries Act addresses issues such as staff to student ratios, playground space, health and safety and much more. The Ministry of Education regularly conducts inspections of licensed child care centres and private-home day cares to ensure that licensing requirements are being met.

Is My Childcare Provider Licensed?
Childcare centers that were in operation prior to the Day Nurseries Act coming into effect are exempt from licensing requirements, as are centers that operate in a religious building, leaving many parents unsure of licensing status.

Recently, the Ontario government introduced a new bill addressing this gap. Bill 10 – The Child Care Modernization Act has removed previous exemptions and all childcare centers are required to meet licensing requirements. This means that many child care providers are now required to adjust their practices to meet a higher standard.

Kendalwood Montessori is licensed under the Day Nurseries Act for our Toddler and PreCasa programs. We have been fully licensed since moving to our current location in 2000.  In addition, Kendalwood is the only Montessori School in Durham Region that is both accredited by the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators and licensed under the Day Nurseries Act, having achieved CCMA accreditation in 2011.

Licensing under the Day Nurseries Act is a signal of quality that parents and children deserve. Kendalwood has always been committed to providing the very best learning environment for our students and our well established Day Nurseries Act license is just one of the authentications parents can rely on when choosing Kendalwood.

We encourage all parents considering a child care provider to become familiar with the Day Nurseries Act and ensure the selection process includes licensing. As Bill 10 and The Child Care Modernization Act take full effect later this year, ensure you ask the right questions to gain insight into the provider’s history with licensing and commitment to upholding the required standards – quality in child care matters.

 Cover Photo Courtesy Rolands Lakis

What is Montessori?

One of the most powerful aspects of Montessori education is witnessing the power of a child’s natural inclination to learn and absorb their environment. When provided with a well thought-out environment, natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn motivates children to explore and soak up information. In this kind of prepared environment, students are enabled to work independently and at their own pace.

shane builds the pink towerOne of the tools Montessori children are given from a very early age is a method to create their own workspace within the classroom. Toddler, Pre-Casa and Casa students define their work area using a small mat, which is unrolled and placed carefully on the floor. Once the workstation is prepared, the child can select materials to work with, which are brought to the workstation. The classroom expectation is very clear that individual workstations are to be respected by others working in the room, which is treated quite earnestly. This is a wonderful example of the “freedom within limits” tenet practiced by authentic Montessori schools.

Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.

– Maria Montessori

The above example illustrates the importance of the prepared environment. In order to give students the freedom to make their own choices, they need to be provided with a precise selection of suitable materials in the classroom. When constructed properly, children are able to have more influence into their own activity cycles, starting and stopping or moving on to a new set of work according to their own appetite as they master each subject within the curriculum. Similarly, students also have the alternative of changing subject matter more quickly or moving through materials at a faster pace than another child who is more engrossed or simply taking their time to further explore a topic.

In a more traditional classroom setting, students are managed by a timetable to which they must strictly adhere, even when that means stopping just when enthusiasm for a topic may be reaching its peak, or moving on before students have grasped the subject matter.

The Beauty of Montessori

Freedom within limits” provides the flexibility for each child to have their unique needs met, while ensuring that the entire curriculum is well represented and accessed within an adequate timeline.  This is the beauty of Montessori.

Within the Montessori classroom, curriculum develops along with each child – ahead in one area, behind in another – we work with the child at their level in each area of the curriculum. For students requiring additional time or support in any given area, they have the opportunity to slow down and take the necessary steps to ensure understanding. This could mean slowing down a single lesson or a series of lessons over a period of days or even weeks.  In a traditional classroom, teachers are largely unable to accommodate students who need more time to reach understanding, or those who are quickly ready to move on.

casa_newSelf-regulation skills flourish as students have such a wide variety of opportunities to practice these skills within the structure of the classroom. Confidence builds as students take an active role in their own learning and teachers assume the role of careful observer reserving “Centre Stage” for students.

When learning is planned and implemented according to the time honoured and proven Montessori methodology, children are naturally incented to learn. Education is so much more that the transmission of knowledge and it is within the process of student discovery and action that true knowledge emerges. It is truly our privilege to witness the development of our students each day.


Montessori Material in Focus: The Pink Tower

Maria Montessori brought carefully selected materials into her classroom and further developed those materials to support complex learning outcomes. The most widely recognized Montessori material is the Pink Tower. At first glance, the Pink Tower may look like a simple set of blocks, but Dr. Montessori had many goals in mind when she constructed and developed this material.  The Pink Tower introduces a number of concepts to students through hands-on manipulation.

Lessons From the Pink TowerThe Pink Tower

– Visual/muscular perception of dimension leading to abstract understanding of size
– Awareness of dimension leads to intelligent observation of size in the environment
– Coordination of movement
– Perfection of hand movements
– Preparation for mathematics

The pink tower consists of 10 cubes, as 20 is the basis of the metre system.
Perception for cube foot:

8 of the smallest make the second cube
27 of the smallest make the third cube
64 of the smallest cube make the fourth cube, etc.

How the Material Is Introduced

IMG_2364IMG_1937 (1)Montessori materials are treated with great respect within the classroom. These items are special and handled with care. For example, the pink tower is never knocked down once assembled. The student will carefully disassemble the tower in order to return the material to the shelf.

Teachers methodically introduce children to the Pink Tower:

– The Teacher will invite a student to have a lesson on the Pink Tower. The invitation enables the teacher to gauge the child’s interest.
– Together, student and Teacher will lay out a mat.

– The teacher demonstrates how to carry the cubes – one at a time – with both hands. Grasping with two hands enables the child to feel the difference in size of each cube.
– The Teacher sits beside the child and carefully examines each cube.  She then chooses the largest block – deliberately – then selects the next largest and places it on top.
– In pausing between each cube selection, the Teacher models the importance of taking the time to inspect each cube in order to make the correct selection.
– There is a natural control of error in the Pink Tower. If the child does not build the tower in the correct order, the tower will fall.

An authentic Montessori classroom will always include the pink tower and other recognizable tactile materials openly available to students on low shelves within the prepared classroom environment. Watch for upcoming blogs where we will share details on additional Montessori materials and how children learn from these instruments.