As I watch, hear, read people talking about Montessori, I wonder if they really understand Montessori: some people see it strict and academic, others see it like a full freedom for the child to do whatever she wants. It is actually somewhere in the middle, it gives the freedom the child needs to develop fully and be understood and the strict limits that allow the child to be safe and give her the tools to build her life, happily.
Education as an help for life, is Montessori method focusing on the roles of education: to meet the child where she is in her developmental growth and to prepare the child for what comes ahead. The goal is to have a happy child, ready for what will come on her path.
According to Montessori, Education should occur “throughout life” not only at a certain period of life and at times, leaving the child, or the student, alone, facing his learning with no help, no understanding of what is fully expected of her. Moreover, the student getting out of university are not ready for adult life because the universities do not teach according to what the young adult from the 4th plane (18-24 years old) need; we need to know how to help the child from birth and follow him along the way to prepare her for life.
Only in the second half of the 20th century people started to see babies and young children as a potential to help the future and preschools (called at the time prescholastic) were created.
Montessori declares the lack of consistency and link in between the home where children grow, the society, school and university.
SO MY question is: HOW can WE help ?
We are here to provide what Montessori wanted in her classroom to the best of our ability:
- The respect of the child and knowledge about the laws of mental growth (Human Tendencies, Sensitive Periods, Absorbent Mind)
- 3 hour cycle of uninterrupted work giving the child time the opportunity to concentrate and get what he needs from his work time.
- A large classroom of 28 children or more with only 2 adults (which is very hard to find as it is usually not authorized by ratio laws). Why 2 adults ? So the group does not become overpowered by them, this is a child’s house (Casa dei Bambini).
- 3 year cycle (from 3 to 6 years old)
- Observation skills (from rigorous training and practice)
- Therefore, trained Montessori guides
- The material, vector of interest and concentration, that satisfies the child’s needs.
- Work being a help for life such as Practical Life activities, Sensorial bringing an adaptation to the world around
- FREEDOM WITHIN LIMITS
This is another story ! In our homes, things go a different way but the philosophy of education is the same.
We give freedom of movement to our child and the children in our care during the day. These babies and toddlers are allowed to slide, crawl, pull up, walk, sit throughout the main room, the kitchen, the nap room at all times and also the changing room/our daughter’s room at times. They can go from one room to another, use the long hall to exercise this freedom of movement and they are happy and laughing as they go around. We provide safe pull up items such as an ottoman for babies to start pulling up and climb but also bars along the coordination mirror for the young toddlers to practice their skills. They also love the wagon to practice their walking. It’s a lot of fun for them and for us to watch.
Our baby sleeps safely on a floor bed so she can move around and know that she can always come find us or start playing if she feels like it’s time to be awake. the weird thing is that , we gave her that freedom as early as 5 months old and she just uses this freedom when she can hear us in the morning, otherwise she remains on her bed and plays with hands, feet or anything she can have around (not much… but that seems like enough).
We also give babies and toddlers in our care, a freedom of choice to play/work with anything they want as appropriate and safe for them to do so. The shelves, in each room, are adapted for them to grasp, grab, exercise their skills. What is available on their shelves is adapted for them, there is material for our 8 month old baby and for the 12 months old little students we have. They are having fun together with the percussion basket (maracas, egg shakers…) and love playing with the vocabulary animals as they are having baby conversations. It is so lovely ! It’s all adapted for their developmental stage which is another important part of a Montessori set up.
We are preparing them, to the best of our ability, with what we have, to adapt to the world around them, to know that we love them, we nurture them and we believe in their potential. As they grow up, we are hoping these children will be able to face the world because they will understand it and will know how to adapt to it. We are giving them an Education as a help for life! Whatever your child’s or student’s age, there is always a way to provide what they need so they can grow happy !
Do you have interesting set up in your home to help children adapt to their world and practice their skills ?