The Benefits of STEAM Science for Your Children

STEAM science exploration

Do you find yourself thinking “What are some effective ways I can encourage my children to explore a variety of academic subjects and interests?” In today’s rapidly evolving world, children must be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in their future careers. One educational approach that has gained significant traction is STEAM science.

By integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, STEAM education offers a holistic learning experience that nurtures critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and creativity in children.

STEAM science

Understanding STEAM Science

Understanding STEAM science and its benefits can help parents make informed decisions about their children’s education.

STEAM science is an interdisciplinary approach that combines different subject areas to provide a well-rounded education. It brings together the logical thinking of science and mathematics, the creative expression of arts, and the practicality of technology and engineering.

By merging these disciplines, children are encouraged to think beyond boundaries, explore innovative solutions, and develop a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of the world.

The Five Components of STEAM

Science

This component focuses on inquiry-based learning, scientific method, and the exploration of natural phenomena. Students are encouraged to ask questions, conduct experiments, and analyze data to deepen their understanding of the world around them.

From studying the life cycle of a butterfly to investigating the properties of matter, science in STEAM education allows children to develop critical thinking skills and a curiosity for the unknown.

STEAM science experimentation

Technology

Children are exposed to technological tools and learn how to leverage them for problem-solving and creative projects. From coding and programming to using digital tools for research and communication, technology in STEAM education equips students with the skills needed to thrive in the digital age.

They learn to navigate through various software and hardware, understand the ethical implications of technology, and harness its power to bring their ideas to life.

STEAM science technology

Engineering

Engineering principles, such as design thinking and prototyping, are introduced to cultivate problem-solving skills. Students are challenged to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and create prototypes to test their ideas.

Whether it’s building a bridge that can withstand weight or designing a sustainable energy system, engineering in STEAM education fosters creativity, critical thinking, and perseverance.

STEAM science engineering

Art

Creative expression through various art forms, such as drawing, painting, and music, is intertwined with scientific concepts. Students explore the intersection of art and science, discovering how creativity can enhance their understanding of the world.

They learn to communicate ideas visually, use art as a medium for self-expression, and appreciate the beauty in both the natural and man-made world.

STEAM science art component
Art in STEAM science

Math

Math is integrated into STEAM projects, enabling children to apply mathematical concepts in practical and meaningful ways. From measuring ingredients in a cooking experiment to calculating distances in a physics experiment, mathematics in STEAM education helps students see the relevance of math in their everyday lives.

They develop problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and a deeper appreciation for the patterns and structures that underlie the world around them.

These five components work together to provide a holistic learning experience that prepares students for the challenges of the future.

By engaging in STEAM education, children develop a range of skills, including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. They learn to approach problems from multiple perspectives, adapt to new situations, and think outside the box.

STEAM science Math

The Importance of STEAM in Today's Education

As technology continues to reshape the society, it is benfical for children to be prepared for a future that requires adaptability and innovation. Here are two key reasons why STEAM education is of utmost importance:

1. Preparing Children for the Future

By providing children with a solid foundation in STEAM subjects, they are better equipped to navigate the challenges of the future.

Moreover, STEAM education goes beyond simply teaching technical knowledge. It fosters a holistic approach to learning, encouraging students to explore the interconnectedness of different disciplines.

2. Fostering Creativity and Innovation

By incorporating artistic elements into science and technology projects, children are encouraged to approach problem-solving from multiple angles, leading to more innovative and imaginative solutions.

Scouts in STEAM science

Implementing STEAM Science at Home

STEAM education is not limited to the classroom. Parents can also play an active role in nurturing their children’s interest in these subjects. Here are two effective ways to implement STEAM science at home:

1. Fun and Educational STEAM Activities

Building a model volcano, conducting simple science experiments, or designing a bridge using everyday materials are just a few examples of activities that can spark their interest and ignite their curiosity.

Engaging children in hands-on activities that incorporate elements of STEAM can be both fun and educational.

For instance, building a model volcano not only allows children to explore the principles of chemistry and geology, but it also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

As they mix baking soda and vinegar to create a volcanic eruption, they learn about chemical reactions and the forces at work beneath the Earth’s surface. This hands-on experience not only makes science come alive but also fosters a sense of wonder and excitement.

STEAM science volcano experiment

2. Resources for Parents

There are numerous online resources available for parents to facilitate STEAM learning at home. Websites, mobile applications, and educational kits offer interactive materials and guided projects that can supplement classroom learning and provide opportunities for exploration and discovery.

One such resource is a popular website that offers a wide range of STEAM activities for children of all ages. From coding games to engineering challenges, this website provides step-by-step instructions and engaging content that make learning enjoyable and accessible.

In addition to online resources, educational kits are another valuable tool for parents. These kits often include materials and instructions for hands-on projects that cover various STEAM topics. By following the provided guidelines, children can learn about circuits, robotics, or even renewable energy.

STEAM science kits
STEAM science KIT

Here are some great websites and apps for children to explore STEAM

Websites(click on the highlights)

ScratchJr – a free introductory coding site for kids ages 5-7. Allows them to create interactive stories and games.

Tynker – a creative coding site and app for kids to learn programming and build games, apps, and more. Best for ages 7-15.

National Geographic Kids – games, videos, and activities to explore science, nature, wildlife, and more.

PBS Kids – educational games focused on science, math, creativity and more.

Smithsonian Learning Lab – explore artifacts and make your own creations combining history, art, and science.

Application's (click on the highlight's)

Toca Boca – open-ended creative play apps including lab experiments, city building, cooking and more. Ages 4-9.

Bloxels – kids can build their own video games with interactive pixel blocks. Ages 8-12.

Lightbot – program a robot to solve puzzles. Logic puzzles teach coding basics. Ages 4-10.

Lego Building Instructions – 3D guides and inspiration to build imaginative Lego creations. All ages.

Flipgrid – video discussion app for students to record and share STEAM projects or ideas with classmates.

Here are some websites where you can purchase science kits for kids to do experiments at home:

Scientificsonline.com – Sells kits focused on chemistry, forensics, physics as well as bundles for specific science topics. Quality kits for learning science concepts.

Pitsco Education – Hands-on project-based STEM kits covering robotics, green energy, flight and space, applied physics and more. Many kits utilize LEGO bricks.

SmartLabToys – Innovative science and craft kits focused on things like secret codes, spy gear, magic tricks, slime, and more “fun” science subjects kids find appealing. They sell on Amazon too.

Home Science Tools – Sells all kinds of lab materials, tools and science kits for hands-on STEM activities. Can shop by age or science subject.

Steve Spangler Science – A huge selection of kits for chemistry, earth science, biology experiments, packaged by age level or individual topics. Fun kits kids love.

Younger kids, subscription boxes like KiwiCo , Green Kids Crafts or Little Passports also deliver excellent STEM project ideas and supplies to your door each month.

Happy STEAM exploration! Let me know how it goes.

Unlocking Creativity and Learning through Project-Based Art

Unlocking Creativity and Learning through Project-Based Art

For young children, for whom so much knowledge is new and exciting and so many physical and mental skills have to be acquired, the need for exploration, experimentation, and play is even more important. That is a quote from one of my favorite Author and early years consultant Margaret Edgington

An important development occurs when children deliberately use and combine materials to create something they have seen or imagined. Project-based art is one of the strategies to help children achieve their learning journey.

Art projects aren’t just about decorating cut-out shapes or coloring within the lines. When facilitated thoughtfully, the process of creating art builds critical developmental skills in young children. 

This technique is called Negative Frottage. The children start with placing objects or materials with interesting shapes or forms on the canvas. Paint or drawing material is applied to the canvas/paper surface around and in between the objects. The objects are removed, leaving their contoured imprint behind as empty spaces with defined edges. The children then uses these negative space shapes as part of the imagery or composition.
This technique is called Negative Space Frottage. The children start with placing objects or materials with interesting shapes or forms on the canvas. Paint or drawing material is applied to the canvas/paper surface around and in between the objects.
Nurturing art means nurturing brains, hearts—and whole humans. More than painting skills or perfect shading, my students develop passion, responsibility, vision. And my job becomes less about instruction as the students flourish before my eyes. (2018)
Nurturing art means nurturing brains, hearts—and whole humans. More than painting skills or perfect shading, my students develop passion, responsibility, vision. And my job becomes less about instruction as the students flourish before my eyes. (2018)

What is Project-based Art

As I am passionate about holistic approaches to learning, over the years I have very much enjoyed implementing project-based art in my early-year teachings. And I am here to share some of my experiences with you.

Exploring with Salt-dough
In this photo, my students and I are exploring salt dough - a fundamental art medium for teaching young children. The versatility of this simple yet enriching dough makes it an ideal starting point for nurturing artistic expression and fine motor skills development in early art education. (2019)

A project-based art in early learning development refers to art activities or projects that are designed to promote learning and development in young children over a course of time.

The interesting part is that you incorporate curriculums like Reggio Emilia into it. My daughter has been doing project-based art since she was six months old.

The open-ended nature of art projects allows children to naturally direct the experience based on their developing interests and abilities

My inquisitive 3-year-old daughter, who attended the same early learning center where I taught, loved art exploration. In this photo, my young students/ daughter and I are joyfully experimenting with mixing paint colors. As an early childhood teacher, I believe hands-on creative play allows children to make exciting discoveries.

This approach is centered around the process of creating art, rather than the end product. The focus is on the experience, exploration, and experimentation with art materials.

What are the Benefits of Project-based Art?

Projects encourage creativity, self-expression, and problem-solving as children figure out how to use materials and try out their own ideas.

They incorporate open-ended art activities that allow children to work at their own level and ability. This includes activities like painting, drawing, sculpting with clay, and exploring other sensory materials.

Projects are designed to help children develop skills across domains including fine motor skills, cognitive skills, language/literacy, social-emotional skills, and general knowledge.

Collaborative rice canvas art.
In this photo, my young students are working with colored rice. Each child makes a distinctive mark on their collaborative canvas project. (2017)
In this photo, my young students are working with colored rice. Each child makes a distinctive mark on their collaborative canvas project. (2017)
By encouraging open-ended art exploration we can help children create beautiful art work.
By encouraging open-ended art exploration we can help children create beautiful art work.

Teachers/caregivers guide the process and facilitate learning, but allow children to take the lead and direct the experience based on their interests.

art project
In this photo, I was guiding an under-the-sea collaborative art canvas. Kids get ideas easily from books, music, and the interaction with the world around them.

Projects can be individual or collaborative, last for a single session or be expanded over days/weeks as the child pursues an idea. Documentation panels can capture the process.

This Under The Sea collaborative canvas work was done by 2 year old's, on wooden triangle canvas with acrylic paint (2017).
This Under The Sea collaborative canvas work was done by a class of 2 year old's, on a wooden triangle canvas with acrylic paint (2017).

Setting the Stage for Art Exploration

How do we help facilitate a project-based art?

The key is to start with designating an art area for open-ended exploration daily. Include a variety of tools and materials including paint, clay, collage scraps, markers, glue, tape, scissors, etc.

      Introduce children to 2-3 media/tools at a time. Demonstrate possibilities without prescribing outcomes to spark intrinsic motivation.

       Observe each child’s developing approach. Ask open-ended questions, make thought-provoking suggestions, and encourage persistence.

In this photo, I was introducing mixed media materials that can go on canvases.

      Document the process with photos, videos, written observations, and children’s own artwork. These will anchor reflective discussions.

      Keep finished pieces for a class exhibit or student portfolio highlighting the depth of learning. Display the documentation to showcase the process.

3D mixed media wood canvas is done by 4-year-old kindergarteners back in 2019. The art piece was named City Nights by my students.
3D mixed media wood canvas was done by my 4-year-old kindergarteners back in 2019. The art piece was named City Nights by my students.

       Return to the project over days or weeks as desired, expanding on emergent themes. Projects can spark related inquiries across subject areas.

     Support children’s role as peer mentors by encouraging collaboration and meaning-making together.

Growing artists develop both in and out of the classroom through nurturing their innate creativity.
Growing artists develop both in and out of the classroom through nurturing their innate creativity.

By facilitating project-based art explorations, we empower children to drive their own creative growth while developing skills critical for the 21st century. The journey is as meaningful as the destination!

Where To Draw Inspiration?

Active learning curriculums

I have always used The Reggio approach to provide access to a wide variety of materials for inquiry and expression and used open-ended art spaces to allow mix media.

Reggio learning is centered around long-term, collaborative investigations. Likewise, art projects can expand over days, weeks, and months as a child pursues an idea.

The Reggio model, projects emerge from the interests and initiatives of each child. Similarly, art projects allow children to actively construct their own learning.

The fulfillment emerges not just from the finished product but from observing the whole journey unfold.
The fulfillment emerges not just from the finished product but from observing the whole journey unfold. (21017)
This project driven by children's interests has gone through the introduction, planning, experimentation, exploring, and implementing stages.
As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside
This project driven by children's interests has gone through the introduction, planning, Experimentation, exploring, and implementing stages.
After a nature walk where 4 year olds observed the vibrant blue sky and green grassy meadows, they returned to filled with artistic inspiration.
As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside.
As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside
The children's finished landscape artworks depicting the wonder of nature they witnessed firsthand outside were as unique as their young imaginations.
The children's finished landscape artworks depicting the wonder of nature they witnessed firsthand outside were as unique as their young imaginations. (2017)

Nature and Our Environment as Inspiration

Using nature as inspiration for art comes naturally to young children. Providing opportunities for outdoor sensory exploration and bringing natural items into the classroom breathes life into their artistic endeavors.

They may use sticks, flowers, rocks, leaves, pinecones and other natural loose parts to print, paint, and even stick the material itself. Sometimes they may observe and replicate patterns from nature in their drawings. Other times nature inspires more symbolic representations or fuels their imagination.

My 2-year-old at the time and her class mates using nature as inspiration for art.
My 2-year-old at the time using nature as inspiration for art.
Leafy green forest-inspired work done on cotton fabric, the children painted and then printed real leaves in green acrylic.
Leafy green forest-inspired work was done on cotton fabric, the children painted and then printed real leaves in green acrylic.
Leafy green forest-inspired work done on triangular wood, painted in different shades of green acrylic paint.
Leafy green forest-inspired work done on triangular wood, painted in different shades of green acrylic paint.

Famous Art Works and Influential Artists

As children learn about influential artists that inspire emotion and imagination like Van Gogh, Monet, O’Keefe, Picasso and others, they assimilate new visual styles into their own expressions. Recreating famous artworks helps appreciate technique and fuels the genesis of new visions. Exploring varied artists nurtures original perspectives, cultural awareness, and timeless communication via art.

Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925 - Wassily Kandinsky-Abstract
Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925 - Wassily Kandinsky-Abstract

Kandinsky Inspired Collaborative Shapes Abstract Art By 4 Year- Old Students

This work was done by choosing Kandinsky as an inspiration. Just like the famous artist children used music as their inspiration. Listened to music during the process which took a couple of months to explore and accomplish. The black background paint was painted on thick wood(MDF). Other smaller and thinner triangular wood intricately painted abstract were placed by each child in art their chosen places.
This work was done by choosing Kandinsky as an inspiration. Just like the famous artist children used music as their inspiration. Listened to music during the process which took a couple of months to explore and accomplish. The black background paint was painted on thick wood(MDF). Other smaller and thinner triangular wood intricately painted abstract were placed by each child in their chosen places.

Pollock Inspired Drip Abstract Art Done by Children from Ages 2-5

Number 8-1949- Jackson Pollock. Drip Period
Number 8-1949- Jackson Pollock. Drip Period
Let's start with the background which is a wide wood palette, the children collaborated in dripping, splashing, and tapping. A large number of students participated in filling up this big and ambitious canvas with vibrant colors. (My daughter at one and a half going on 2 years old. (2016)
Let's start with the background which is a wide wood palette, the children collaborated in dripping, splashing, and tapping. A large number of students participated in filling up this big and ambitious canvas with vibrant colors. (My daughter at one and a half going on 2 years old. (2016)
Influential artists who inspire emotion and imagination can be a key learning resource and tool for little minds.
Influential artists who inspire emotion and imagination can be a key learning resource and tool for little minds.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions you can ask

Process/Technique Questions

What made you decide to use those colors/materials for this part of your art?

Another Ocean (Underwater) inspired Canvas done by children ages 2-5 (2019)
Another Ocean (Underwater) inspired Canvas done by children ages 2-5 (2019)

I noticed you chose a thicker paintbrush this time. How does that change the way the paint goes on compared to a thinner brush?

How does the clay/dough feel as you roll it between your hands? What changes as you add more water?

Thinking Skills Questions

What is your next step going to be with your art project? How did you decide?

What would happen if mixed different colors? different shades?

The printing technique is one of the most fun techniques for children to do and it includes lots of sensory and pattern-making.
The printing technique is one of the most fun techniques for children to do and it includes lots of sensory and pattern making,
Another printing art project done by 2-3 year old children. (2018)
Another printing art project done by 2-3 year old children. (2018)

Feelings/Reactions Questions

I can see you have been working hard adding lots of detail to your art – How do you feel about your work?

What do you think other children will find interesting about this part?

How does this color make you feel when you look at it? Do you think its a sad color or a happy color?

The String-pulling technique, with soft colors(Food Coloring) and strings, creates a calming artwork. (2019)
The String-pulling technique, with soft colors(Food Coloring) and strings, creates a calming artwork. (2019)
The children made art with sweets. I think it invoked so much joy. (2019)
The children made art with sweets. I think it invoked so much joy. (2019)

Socio-Emotional and Therapeutic Benefits

Promotes Self-Expression & Emotion Processing

Open-ended art allows children to freely express inner thoughts, feelings, experiences, and emotions through visual symbols and creative choice-making. This helps them process joy, frustration, fear, anger, etc healthily. The teacher facilitates discussion and validation of their emotions as depicted through the art.

With an array of materials creating mixed media that brings out different emotions to explore. That in turn builds emotional intelligence.
With an array of materials creating mixed media that brings out different emotions to explore. That in turn builds emotional intelligence. (2019)

Builds Confidence & Resilience

As children envision what they wish to create and persist through challenges to complete their project, they build creative confidence and resilience. Taking risks, problem-solving, and directing the outcome bolsters independence and self-esteem. Celebrating mistakes and iterations as part of the artistic process helps normalize failure.

With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
Acrylic Pouring technique used to my student's favorite way to make art, They have made quite a lot. It's simple expressive and fun in the process and they end up being beautiful works. (2019)
Students need room to stretch their imaginations, learn from mistakes, build confidence through risk-taking. If I interject too much structure or redirection, those peer-to-peer epiphanies wouldn't unfurl the same way.(2019)
Students need room to stretch their imaginations, learn from mistakes, build confidence through risk-taking. If I interject too much structure or redirection, those peer-to-peer epiphanies wouldn't unfurl the same way.(2019)

Enhances Relationships & Social Skills

Collaborating on group art projects requires communication, compromise, and learning from diverse perspectives. Negotiating roles and responsibilities builds empathy and community. Even in individual projects, discussing work and giving feedback promotes active listening, expressing thoughts, and respecting others.

More Gallery of My Student Creativity Through the Years

Another printing art project done by 3- 4 year old children. (2019)
Dragging technique implemented by a class of 4-5-year-olds. Open-ended, child-led exploration allows assimilating techniques tailored to evolving talents and interests. (2019)
Dragging technique implemented by a class of 4-5-year-olds. Open-ended, child-led exploration allows assimilating techniques tailored to evolving talents and interests. (2019)

In summary, project-based art promotes creative self-directed learning through meaningful hands-on art experiences tailored to early childhood development and interests.

As a caregiver/educator, few joys compare to witnessing the awe-inspiring creativity and self-directed learning unfolding before you as children dive into an art activity. Stepping back as they independently problem-solve through conceptual, technical, and collaborative challenges allows them to build confidence in their developing abilities.

The Montessori Way: An Exploration Of Maria’s Child-Centered Educational Vision

The Montessori Way: An Exploration of Maria's Child-Centered Educational Vision

Maria Montessori could have lived comfortably as one of Italy’s first female physicians but instead, she revolutionized how the world views early childhood education.

When she founded the Casa dei Bambini in 1907, no one expected children from low-income families to become so enraptured by learning. Yet this humble Children’s House was the launchpad for Montessori’s educational vision that would soon circle the globe.

Maria Montessori

Montessori understood that true education goes beyond the intellect. That it must nurture the whole child.

Her classrooms shimmered with discovery and purpose. Children scatter across the room choosing mesmerizing activities that call to their inborn curiosity. Pink Tower blocks and ready little hands for mathematical insight. Beautifully lettered Sandpaper Letters awaken an intrinsic desire for reading. Children teach themselves, led by their own developmental path.

Maria Montessori Quotes

The Influences Behind Montessori's Revolutionary Vision

In the 18th century thinkers like Rousseau and Pestalozzi promoted “natural education” letting children learn by experiencing the world, rather than strict discipline and rote learning and this influenced Montessori’s focus on hands-on learning.

Italian physicians studied child development stages and argued children learned differently than adults. Montessori was inspired by their work.

Theories by Piaget, Vygotsky and others in the 1920s-30s reinforced Montessori’s views on cognitive development stages and social learning. These theories are now foundations of early childhood education as we know it.

Montessori carefully observed children to see how they naturally learned best. This scientific observation led to her educational approach driven by children’s natural development.

Maria Montessori

Because more women entered the workforce in the 1900s, it created a demand for preschool education. Montessori methods appealed as a scientific childcare approach.

In the 1960s many looked to alternatives like Montessori that were child-centered rather than teacher-driven. This aligned with cultural trends questioning authority.

Studies showing Montessori students performing well in later grades gained interest from parents and educators.

While controversial in some aspects, Montessori reflected several key trends in educational philosophy. Allowing children freedom with structure resonated with many parents and educators, leading to its worldwide popularity.

The Montessori Method: Blending Science, Observation, and a Nurturing Philosophy

This is education built around the sovereignty of childhood. “Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages,” Montessori urged, “and try to understand them.”

Its key principles include children having an innate desire to learn and develop themselves through purposeful activity. Teachers should foster this natural inclination.

Children exploring in a Montessori classroom
Children exploring in a Montessori classroom

Since children go through sensitive periods for learning key skills during their development. Teachers should recognize these periods and focus lessons accordingly.

Learning environments should be carefully structured with materials appropriate for the children’s developmental level and interests. Materials are designed to be visually appealing, hands-on, and self-correcting.

Montessori classroom modern-day

Teachers are guides helping children learn at their own pace, rather than top-down instructors. Children individually choose activities rather than learning as a class.

Mixed-age classrooms with 3-year cycles allow older children to teach younger ones because this fosters peer learning and cooperation.

Montessori schools typically have mixed age classrooms, hands-on learning materials, child-sized furniture, and a high degree of student self-direction. Subjects like practical life skills, sensory stimulation, mathematics, language, science, and culture are integrated.

The Montessori method spread worldwide and influenced many educational approaches. It remains a popular early childhood education model today emphasizing learning through exploration, independence and following the child’s interests.

From Italy to the World

In the 1910s and 1920s, Montessori traveled widely giving lectures and training teachers in her methods across Europe, India, and the US. She also continued opening Montessori schools internationally.

By the 1930s, Montessori methods were well-established with over 1,000 schools worldwide. However, her schools were forced to close in countries including Germany and Italy due to political tensions leading up to WWII.

And after WWII, there was a resurgence in interest in Montessori methods, especially in North America. Maria and Mario Montessori contributed to rebuilding the movement.

The Montessori Mission Marches On

After WWII, many Montessori schools had been closed under fascist regimes. Montessori and her son Mario(Adopted) worked to reopen and establish new Montessori schools as interest in her methods was renewed.

Teacher training centers were reopened to train a new generation of teachers in Montessori methods to staff the growing number of schools.

And new Montessori learning materials were developed, expanding beyond the original materials to encompass new subjects.

Montessori classroom material

Mario Montessori oversaw teacher training and school establishment in India in the 1940s. This brought Montessori education to a massive new audience.

Techniques were updated based on new educational research and observations of children. But core tenets remained unchanged.

Grassroots interest drove rapid US expansion and over 200 schools opened between 1946 and 1960 as American parents embraced Montessori.

The Montessoris gave lectures on their educational philosophy across Europe and North America to spread awareness.

Books like Maria Montessori’s “The Absorbent Mind” detailed her approach and were translated into multiple languages for wide distribution.

In 1947, Maria Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her global work in early childhood education. She did not receive the prize but the nomination recognized her achievements.

Montessori has been described as determined and single-minded in pursuing her educational philosophy. She was tireless in lecturing, writing, and establishing schools globally.

Despite not having children of her own, she was very maternal with her students and took great interest in each child’s progress.

Montessori died in 1952 in the Netherlands at age 81. After her death, her son Mario continued promoting and developing Montessori education across the world.

Influential books written by Maria Montessori and other authors about her educational philosophy

 The Montessori Method (1909) – Her first book introducing her methods and experiences at Casa dei Bambini.

The Advanced Montessori Method (1917) – Details the expanded curriculum for elementary levels.

 The Secret of Childhood (1936) – Discusses children’s physical, psychological and spiritual development.

The Absorbent Mind (1949) – Describes the mental powers of infants and young children.

 Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing (1957) – An early biography of Montessori.

Montessori: A Modern Approach and Montessori in the Classroom by Paula Polk Lillard (1972) – Clear overview of the method with examples.

The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies (2019) – Applies Montessori principles to children under 3.

The Montessori Way written by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein, Ph.D.. It is a comprehensive guide to Montessori education, from the early years through to secondary school.

Maria Montessori: The Italian Doctor Who Revolutionized Education for Children by Margeurite Cootware (2017) – Biography for a young audience.

Today there are over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide. Montessori left a lasting legacy as a reformer of education centered around the natural development of children with student-directed learning and carefully designed environments. She is considered a pioneer in progressive education.

On other posts we can explore more on setting up Montessori classrooms, setting up a Montessori home, finding books and resources, and exploring the approach.

Check out my other related post by clicking here ‘On Top Curriculum For Homeschooler: A Guide’

Top curriculums for homeschoolers: A Guide

Top Curriculums for Homeschoolers: A Guide

First off I know I am not the only one who is thinking, can you even homeschool your child these days? “Homeschooling is like cooking a meal with whatever random ingredients happen to be in the pantry – it takes creativity and imagination, but you can whip up something pretty delicious if you’re motivated.” I know I am saying it lightly, but it is a monumental responsibility!

According to the UK GOV’s Department of Education parents have a right to educate their children at home, and the government wants the many parents who do it well to be supported. They devote time, financial resources and dedication to the education of their children.

Most parents who take up the weighty responsibility of home education do a great job, and many children benefit from home education. Choosing to educate children at home can represent a resolute and well-informed decision that holds the potential for a remarkably positive impact on their development.

This choice embodies a dedication to fostering an environment tailored to their unique needs and learning styles. By embracing the responsibility of home education, parents are empowered to shape a personalized and holistic learning journey, ingrained with the values and aspirations they hold dear.

This deliberate commitment allows for the cultivation of a strong educational foundation intertwined with the nurturing care that only a home environment can provide. It’s a choice that not only emphasizes academic growth but also underscores the significance of emotional well-being and character development. As parents dedicate themselves to this path, they embark on a remarkable adventure where creativity, curiosity, and close bonds flourish to shape well-rounded individuals ready to thrive and take the world.

However, the past few years have seen a very significant increase in the number of children being educated at home, and evidence suggests many of these children are not receiving a suitable education.

homeschooling

In the United Kingdom

While homeschooling is legal in the UK, parents must register with their local authority. The child will be subject to annual visits.

It is estimated that around 75,000 children are homeschooled in the UK.

Common reasons for homeschooling include religious beliefs, dissatisfaction with the school system, health/medical issues, and children with special learning needs.

Home-educated students can take exams as private candidates and apply to universities using the same procedures as school students.

There are many local and national organizations that provide resources and support for homeschooling families.

In the United States

Approximately 2.5 million students (about twice the population of Hawaii) (3-4% of school-aged children) are homeschooled in the US. The numbers have steadily grown since the 1990s.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but regulations vary significantly between states. Some require no notification; others require curriculum approval.

Common motivations include customizing curriculum, moral/religious instruction, academic excellence, special needs accommodation, and objection to the school environment.

Homeschooled students have access to online classes, co-ops, extracurricular activities, standardized testing, and college prep resources to supplement their education.

Studies show homeschoolers often outperform public school students in testing, graduation rates, college admissions, and more. However, critics argue the data is limited.

Exploring the Different Types of Curriculums and Teaching Methods Available at Home

  Traditional textbooks and workbooks – These are standard textbooks, worksheets, and educational materials from major curriculum publishers. They mimic traditional classroom teaching.

Online programs – Complete online curriculums with video lessons, assignments, testing, and record-keeping. Some examples are Time4Learning, Connections Academy, K12.

Unschooling or free-range – Child-led learning based on interests and natural life experiences, without a set curriculum. Learning is self-directed.

Unit studies – Focused study on one topic or concept at a time, integrating multiple subjects. For example, a unit on medieval history could include reading, writing, arts, and science lessons.

Eclectic – Mixing and matching curriculum based on the child’s needs and interests. Using bits from textbooks, online programs, hands-on activities, etc.

Charlotte Mason – Focus on nature study, classic literature, fine arts, and hands-on learning. Less emphasis on worksheets and textbooks.

Montessori – Child-directed learning with specialized Montessori educational materials tailored to developmental stages.

Classical – Emphasis on history, math, logic, science, language, and arts. Includes study of Greek and Latin.

A Beginner's Guide to Free-Range or Unschooling

Free-range or unschooling represents one end of the homeschooling spectrum – a more unstructured approach that gives children autonomy over their learning. With this style, there is no set curriculum. Instead, children follow their interests and learn through everyday life experiences. The child takes the lead in deciding what and how they want to learn.

However, many homeschooling families prefer more structured and traditional curriculums. These may involve textbooks, workbooks, online classes, or unit studies tailored to specific topics.

So while unschooling offers complete freedom, other homeschoolers choose to implement more formal lesson plans using predesigned educational materials and resources.

free range education method

The homeschooling world encompasses a diverse array of teaching styles and philosophies. But what they share is a desire to take education out of the confines of the typical classroom.

Within this framework, families can choose anything from fully unstructured unschooling to a highly structured curriculum like conventional schooling. There are many shades of gray in between.

What is a Free-Range education

Free Range education is an alternative education movement that emphasizes freedom, creativity, and learning through life experiences rather than traditional classroom settings. It falls under the umbrella of “unschooling“.

The term was coined by British writer John Holt in the 1970s, who believed that formal schooling was restrictive and that children learn better when following their own interests and curiosities.

While not as widespread as in the United States, Free Range education has been growing in England over the past couple of decades. It is legal to homeschool children using informal methods like this.

Families pursue free-range education for reasons like wanting more family time, allowing their child’s specific talents/interests to flourish, and dissatisfaction with the public school system.

Common practices include interest-led learning, travel, household responsibilities, internships, apprenticeships, and learning with other homeschooling families. Rather than a set curriculum, the child’s passions guide activities.

Critics argue it lacks structure and content coverage compared to traditional schooling. Supporters say it allows more personalized, real-world learning that promotes independent and creative thinkers.

There are no firm numbers, but one estimate put about 20,000 homeschooled children in England around 2010, a number that has likely increased. Of those, a portion use Free Range methods.

As an alternative to homeschooling using the Free-range method, there are schools out there that implement it fully or incorporate it into their curriculum.

Here are some examples of schools that incorporate elements of the free-range or unschooling approach:

 Summerhill School (Suffolk, England) – Founded in 1921, this pioneering democratic school allows students tremendous freedom to direct their own education. There are few required classes and students collectively self-govern.

Sudbury Valley School (Massachusetts, USA) – Opened in 1968, this non-coercive school gives students complete responsibility for their use of time. There is no required curriculum and students help run the school.

Albany Free School (Albany, New York) – Founded in 1969, this school has no classes, schedules, or grades. Students decide what activities they pursue each day and are responsible for their own learning.

 Fairhaven School (Maryland, USA) – Students ages 6-19 actively manage the daily operations of the school. There are no classes or curriculum requirements. Learning is driven by self-motivation.

Leo Libertaire (Manitoba, Canada) – This secular school provides an unstructured environment where students take ownership of their education. There are no classes or grades.

The Circle School (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) – Students have full autonomy over class attendance, activities, and educational direction. The school serves preschool through 8th grade.

While not exclusively free-range, these schools exemplify key principles of student freedom, self-direction, and learning through intrinsic motivation that define the unschooling philosophy. This allows for customized, interest-driven education.

Summer Hill the Legacy of A.S. Neill

Alexander Sutherland Neill was a Scottish educator and author who radically reimagined schooling by founding Summerhill in 1921. Located in Suffolk, England, it became known as the first modern democratic school centered on freedom rather than control. Neill strongly opposed authoritarian styles of teaching, believing they crushed children’s natural curiosity and stifled self-motivation.

At Summerhill, classes were optional, the curriculum unstructured, and students democratically self-governed through school meetings where everyone had an equal vote. Neill trusted in children’s intrinsic will to learn when given freedom.

His approach encouraged them to take charge of their own education, following their interests and talents at their own pace rather than being forced.

While controversial, Summerhill fostered independent learning and creativity. Neill shared his vision in bestselling books like The Problem Child.

His innovative model inspired educational reformers worldwide and helped pioneer the free school movement. Neill aimed to cultivate happy, self-directed students who embraced learning as a joy rather than a chore.

Alexander Sutherland Neill
Alexander Sutherland Neill
Summer Hill School
Summer Hill School

Freedom not Licence “It must be emphasized again and again that freedom does not involve spoiling the child. If a baby of three wants to walk over the table, you simply tell him he must not. He must obey, that’s true. But on the other hand, you must obey when necessary. I get out of small children’s rooms if they tell me to get out” — A.S.Neill

Summerhill School is still operating today nearly 100 years after its founding. Please visit their website https://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/ for more information.

The school continues to operate out of its original location in Leiston, Suffolk England. It utilizes the same campus that was established by Alexander Sutherland Neill in 1921.

It remains committed to Neill’s original philosophy of democratic education. Students retain freedom over their time and studies, with classes and activities voluntary. There is an emphasis on learning through intrinsic motivation rather than coercion.

Twice weekly meetings, open to all staff and students, are held to democratically self-govern the school. Students and staff have an equal vote on rules and policies. This governance model remains a key pillar.

After Neill passed away in 1973, his daughter Zoë Readhead took over as principal for many years. Today, Neill’s great-granddaughter is the head teacher, keeping it a family-run school.

Please comment below if you would like in-depth information on Free Range Educational structure or if you would like a post about the other home-schooling methods written above.

Till next time, Cheerio

What is active learning? The Reggio Emilia Approach: Nurturing Education through Creativity and Collaboration

Active learning is a learning approach applicable for children as early as 6 months old all the way to primary school years and we are going to focus more on the early years. Whether you are an educator, a parent, caregiver in any capacity we are all on a journey to find better ways to help our little ones grow.

This image shows a child engaged in active learning. she is role playing and simulating everyday life of adults in(pretend play)
Pretend playing (role-playing) activities are an important part of active learning.

So, active learning – what's the deal? In a nutshell, it is teaching children through play, activities and projects.

It identifies and builds on children's strengths, interests and abilities. This approach is often child-led and constructive self-guided approach that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. Kind of like giving them the steering wheel.

I have incorporated The Reggio model in my early years teaching amongst other active learning programs, and let me tell you the children were not the only once learning new things.

this image is of a child engaged in active learning exploration.
Active learning exploration

Oh! My favorite early education quote is by Loris Malaguzzi: “Creativity becomes more visible when adults try to be more attentive to the cognitive processes of children than to the results they achieve in various fields of doing and understanding.”

Loris Malaguzzi (1920–1994) was a visionary educator and the driving force behind the development of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Born in Italy, Malaguzzi's innovative ideas and deep commitment to children's education led him to co-create an educational philosophy that has left a profound impact on early childhood education worldwide. His belief in the immense potential of children, the significance of community collaboration, and the role of creativity in learning were central to his approach. Malaguzzi's legacy continues to inspire educators to view children as capable, curious learners and to create environments that foster their innate curiosity and creativity.

The Reggio Emilia Approach: Nurturing Education through Creativity and Collaboration

The Reggio Emilia Approach, an innovative and child-centered educational philosophy, emerged in post-World War II Italy and has since gained worldwide recognition for its emphasis on fostering children's innate curiosity, creativity, and collaborative abilities. This approach was inspired by the town of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy, where educators, parents, and community members came together to create a unique educational philosophy that places the child at the center of the learning experience. The approach is characterized by its principles, core values, and its enduring relevance in modern education.

The five Principals

The Reggio Emilia Approach is guided by five fundamental principles that shape its educational philosophy:

A child exploring texture, color and exercising gross motor skills.
A child exploring texture, color and exercising gross motor skills.

The Image of a Child

This principle views children as capable, curious, and full of potential. Educators in this approach believe that children have a hundred languages through which they can express themselves, including art, movement, and language. To better understand read the book “The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation”

The Role of the Teacher: Teachers are considered collaborators and facilitators in the learning process. They observe, document, and engage with children's interests, providing guidance and support while respecting their autonomy.

The Environment as the Third Teacher: The physical environment is thoughtfully designed to inspire exploration and discovery. It is considered an integral part of the learning experience and is meant to encourage interaction, creativity, and problem-solving.

Project-Based Learning: Learning in the Reggio Emilia Approach often occurs through long-term, in-depth projects that are based on children's interests and questions. These projects encourage investigation, research, and collaboration among children and teachers.

Collaboration and Communication: Social collaboration is emphasized, fostering a sense of community and encouraging children to learn from and with each other. Dialogue and communication are seen as essential tools for learning.

active learning exploration
active learning exploration
Science exploration in active learning
Science exploration in active learning

General Core Principle: At the heart of the Reggio Emilia Approach is the belief that education is a dynamic and reciprocal process. Children are seen as active participants in constructing their own knowledge, rather than passive recipients. The approach values the interconnections between children, teachers, families, and the broader community, recognizing that each plays a vital role in a child’s holistic development.

How it benefits your child: In today’s rapidly changing world, the Reggio Emilia Approach continues to offer numerous benefits for children’s education:

1. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving :The approach encourages children to explore, question, and investigate, fostering critical thinking skills that are essential in an information-rich society.

2. Creativity and Self-Expression: By valuing multiple forms of expression, including art, drama, and writing, the approach nurtures creativity and supports children in developing their unique voices.

3. Collaboration and Communication Skills: The emphasis on collaboration and dialogue prepares children for the demands of teamwork and effective communication in various settings.

4. Adaptability and Resilience: Through project-based learning, children engage with complex topics and learn to adapt to new challenges, promoting resilience and a growth mindset.

5. Empowerment and Agency: The Reggio Emilia Approach empowers children to take an active role in their learning, fostering a sense of agency that prepares them to be lifelong learners and engaged citizens.

The Reggio Emilia Approach, rooted in its historical origins and core principles, remains a beacon of child-centered education. By valuing children's capabilities, promoting collaboration, and embracing creativity, this approach equips children with the skills and attitudes they need to thrive in the modern world. In a society that values innovation, communication, and critical thinking, the Reggio Emilia Approach offers a timeless and powerful model for holistic education. I’ll be writing more about this learning method in the future. I hope this gets you excited to start your journey with your little one, the Reggio way. Until next time, ciao!

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