How to choose books in a Montessori environment?

How to choose books in a Montessori environment?

This question is asked a lot in Montessori groups around the world: What type of books should I get (buy or from library) for my child?

I can answer this question with another question: At what stage/plane is your child?

Because it does depend on how young your child is.

I will focus here on the first plane (from birth until 6 years old) as it is the trickiest for people to understand sometimes and I will try to make it simple and to the point.

  • During the first 6 years of her life, your child has an absorbent mind and takes everything in. Any piece of information is being processed in her brain and her idea of life bases itself on what they get from the outside world. This is why the environment we live in/create for/around them is so important.
  • During these first 6 years, your child understands and seeks reality. She cannot process/understand what is not concrete or real. She processes information but not the same way we do later on, she sticks to what she sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches so to sum up, she takes in and believe what she feels sensorially.

 

Now I have a question: Based on what you just read, do you think children can understand fantasy, make believe or fake?

reality book1
Real life pictures are highly appreciated by young children.

Naturally, the answer is no. Your child cannot make the difference between reality and fantasy. Fantasy would be taken in as reality. This is why children of the first plane are often scared of fake characters like Santa or monsters. They think it’s real and well, I am not one to lie to my child in general so I don’t read her books that are based on stories that would be totally unrealistic.

Therefore, we choose books based on reality and children love it. As a teacher and a mother, I can vouch for this need for reality and connection to what is close to their own life. We read books about children who do real life things like cooking, gardening, and any activity they can relate to. We don’t use books where bears, fish and rabbits talk. Children would be very disappointed and waiting a long time for their pet to answer them back if they thought it would be possible. We read books about what real animals do.

And YES we do have lots of fun reading realistic books, our daughter is 20 months and loves to build her vocabulary so she likes vocabulary books and preferably with realistic pictures (when it’s possible). Our students, who are a little older (around 3 ), love and connect to books like Henry helps, as they can often relate.

reality book2
This series of books is great and children can relate to it. We have some great conversations afterwards.

 

I will leave it at that and hope it gives the minimum you need on how to choose books for your child.

Around 6 years old, the child starts abstracting and can then understand that fantasy is not real and they can start appreciating these fairy and monster stories with a little more maturity. Never forget that they need you to help them guide their young minds towards understanding the world. The real world.

What are your favourite realistic books for young children?

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The Absorbent Mind and the importance of modelling

Hello dear adults of the Montessori world !

As I observe the children around me (including my own 19 months old daughter), I notice every single day how much they look at us, the adults, as role models. We do not always realize how much influence we have on them.

As you might know, the child has an Absorbent Mind and can see, hear, feel everything around her. You might feel like she does not when you are asking them to do something of course – though give them time, it is sometimes just a matter of processing time, I usually wait 5-10 seconds for my daughter to react to what I have asked and it works, otherwise, she will shake her head and say ‘no’.

From birth your child is acute to absorb everything around and process it, this is how she learns language(s) for example. One thing I notice more and more is how much children observe everything we do or say, EVERYTHING, good and bad.

When I hear them using words or phrases that adults use, I realize the influence we have on them – hopefully for the best, but at times… for worse.

So I will just give you food for thoughts, as a reminder.

Does your child yell?  You might not notice that you do raise your voice more than you think and your child is just doing the same.

Does your child throws things around when she gets undressed? You might not notice that you are going fast and sometimes throw your gloves, hat, coat or theirs. Something to watch as your child has a strong sense of order.

Don’t worry, even a Montessori teacher/mom does it once in a while. Then, I step back and I slow down. I might feel like I don’t have time for slowing down but I do anyway.

Because my child is watching me. Because time with my child matters. Because I am setting up the tone for their life. Because I am their role model and they have an absorbent mind.

tea and book

So remember to take time for yourself so you can be the model for the ones you love. 

 

Language with young toddler: the Montessori 2-period lesson

You might have heard about the 3-period lesson used in Language lessons in Montessori classroom for age 3-6 years old. This is how we present and enrich vocabulary in Casa level classroom.

With young toddlers who are not verbal yet or not fully verbal, Montessori toddler teachers in Nido use the 2-period lesson. This way we can present the vocabulary and also verify their comprehension and knowledge.

Period 1: We present the objects (for young toddlers) or picture cards (for older toddlers) by naming what it is as we show them the object or card: “This is a …” and do so for about 3 objects or cards at a time (never more than that or it would be too much for the child at once).

Period 2: Now the child is active. you will ask him to ‘perform’ actions towards the objects or cards. “Point to …, show me …, give me …, place … next to …”. Some use the ‘I spy’ game for period 2 “I spy with my little eye a …” and the child point at it or give it to you etc This phase needs to be a little longer if the child seems up for it. Move the objects or cards around for adding challenge and making sure the child is not remembering names of the objects based on their position on the table.

FOR NON VERBAL TODDLERS the lesson stops there. If there a big success with the 2 first objects and she recognizes them all and seems into it, please continue with 3 more. If not, encourage the child to put the objects back to the shelf and move on. You can always go back to it at another time another day. This is not a quiz, just a way tot each your child some vocabulary.

2 period lesson
Our daughter at 17 months learning about arctic animals (a polar bear, a emperor penguin and a seal). We used objects first and then she found the cards in the basket to match objects and cards. FUN!!

Period 3: Now is the time for a verbal child to name the objects/objects on cards. You place the objects/cards back in their original order and ask: “What’s this?” If she can name it in order, you can always do it again with the objects in a different position.

 

This is used in all Montessori classrooms I have observed or worked at, it is a lesson taught to Montessori teachers in the Language area and this part is easily applicable at home with your child.

Remember, you are doing it to bring vocabulary in a structured but interesting manner, this is not to drill the child. If the child is not interested and seems tired, put the cards back on the shelf and move on to something else. Keep it casual for more interest from your little one.

Aside of a formal lesson like this, we also have image books that our daughter loves to look at and loves that we just name each object on each page. At first, she just looked and is now repeating a lot of these words. We keep it casual and follow her lead. It is naturally bringing a lot of vocabulary as well.

What do you do to bring in more vocabulary to your child at home? 

If you have any question, feel free to contact me.

Explain to me the Planes of Development

You might have heard this phrase: Montessori Planes of Development OR someone saying : Children from the 1st plane do this or do that.

This plane is not one that flies in the air or helps you travel. Maria Montessori created this term meaning a phase of development. According to her, there are 4 planes of development and each plane has characteristics, I will talk briefly about each of them. Hopefully, at a later date I will be able to go deeper in explaining the first plane that we consider the basis of all hence, the most important.

« Each lasts a period of time, each has its own needs and mode of behaviour ». Maria Montessori, The Four planes of Development, AMI booklet.

It seems obvious, when one knows about the development of the child that these planes are influenced by the sensitive periods and the human tendencies. Indeed, those, guide the child in his behaviour and his interests influencing directly the different needs of the different phases of development, especially in the young child.

Montessori also talks about the planes of development as a “succession of new births”.

1st plane – from Birth until 6 years old

This plane is the one of Infancy and it is divided in 2 subplanes. It is a plane of remarkable changes.

First subplane – from birth to 3 years old

The first 3 years are extremely important and the child learns more in this 3 years than it will ever learn for the rest of her life. The child has her Absorbent Mind working at full speed but in a total unconscious way. She learns everything and absorbs everything from her environment through her senses: good or bad. Hence the importance of a prepared environment and adults as prepared as anything else. The child goes through Sensitive Periods, enhancing certain learning at specific moments.

open space for movement
A prepared environment for babies and young toddlers showing the importance of movement

The environment given to the newborn child who is helpless and starts from nothing yet has everything to learn, is very important, as important as the first embryonic life in the mother’s womb but in a different way. In utero, the child is making his body, out utero, the child works unconsciously on his mind and psychological life.

Spoken Language is remarkably developing and so is movement.

Mack and wagon
Learning how to walk !

From 3 to 6 years old, the Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods are still very important, some of it still totally unconscious. However, the child can grow towards the 2nd plane being more and more conscious that she is learning. The child is a sensorial learner, she needs to socialize and also need to be independent to understand where she belongs in the world around her.

2nd plane – from 6 to 12 years old

« The child is calm and happy. Mentally, he is in a state of health, strength and assured stability. » Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

There are still changes happening, the child keeps growing and looses her baby teeth. However, the child seems more stable and put more importance in understanding why things happen and work more with abstract concepts (which was not the case in the 1st plane where reality and pragmatism is what children live for).

Socialization becomes more and more important and the child thinks for herself and her group (friends, siblings…). A certain sense of Justice (right or wrong) appears to defend herself and the group she belongs to. This is a good explanation to these children from 6 years old  and up going to the teacher/adult “telling on other people”. They are not trying to be mean, they are trying to understand where the rules are and where right and wrong apply. If you read Maria Montessori, she has stories about it. 😉

3rd plane – from 12 to 18 years old

The third plane is the one for adolescence. This a period of transformation in a similar way to the first plane.

Subphase 1 (from 12 to 15 years old) Puberty

Subphase 2 (from 15 to 18 years old) Adolescence

« We can think of a man bearing a great burden, who still has love for his home, who is fond of philosophical exploration, of production and of creation. To my view he is not yet an adult man, he is an adolescent. » Maria Montessori, The Four planes of development, AMI booklet.

              The third plane is one for major changes, deep transformations physically, psychologically and of course emotionally. Personally, if we read more about what Montessori had to say about the 3rd plane we would change the way school works. 

Adolescents are seeking acceptance within a group, they still need protection but seek work that has a lot of meaning.

Certain schools in other countries offer programs that seem adapted to what adolescents need. Here is an example I have heard about : Hershey Montessori school.

4th plane – from 18 to 24 years old

The new adult chooses his own actions, he is not under the umbrella of older adults as much as he used to be. He makes decisions for himself, starts choosing a career, he finds his mission in life.

To help him to do that, he usually goes to university as he seeks education and cultural understanding.  This will also give him great lessons to know what is valuable.

He is now part of the society, with a more specific goal as he feels reponsible to the world around him.

« Culture and education have no bounds or limits ; now man is in a phase in which he must decide for himself how far he can proceed in the culture that belongs to the whole of humanity. No matter what he chooses, he must realize that culture never finishes. He should realize this fact at this stage, in order to keep up with evolving humanity, Education should continue through life. » Maria Montessori, The Four planes of development, AMI booklet

I also question myself if university fully prepares students/young adults to what is expected of them in the adult world. This is another question for another time.

 

I hope this can clarify, even if brief, what are the planes of development, according to Montessori.

“Help me do by myself”

The title of this article is a pretty famous quote used in the Montessori world. It says it all.

Independence is not about making the child go faster than he can or because we think it’s easier, it’s about the child.

Many people going through their child’s meltdowns and tantrums do not hear in the cry of the child the famous: “Help me do by myself!”

I am not saying it’s easy and we will not avoid meltdowns and tantrums altogether, they are part of the child’s development and discovery of his place in the world. However, we can have a prepared environment that helps the child feeling he has power over this world she belongs to.

My first advice for any caregiver and myself (I repeat it in my head often) is to TAKE the TIME for the child to be, discover, observe, smell, taste… experience what is around – without the adults nagging, running and pressing them to finish what they are doing. Easier said than done for sure, but it deserves some thought and it is also a matter of respect for the child.

And remember, do not intervene to “help” unless it is being asked by the child (for toddlers or babies it might just be a cry or a complaint) or for a matter of safety, the child needs to struggle to learn, it’s part of his learning path to independence.

Around the house, we have some activities to enhance the child’s independence, here are the ones we have around for our toddlers right now:

  • washing hands station
  • Wiping a table after snack and lunch (they take turn as it is very popular)
wipe a table.jpg
1 year old wiping a table
  • bringing plate to the table – setting up the table for lunch or snack
  • brushing their hair – and they love looking at themselves in the mirror
wardrobe.jpg
Our daughter’s wardrobe: drawers for underwear, onesies… and then we leave out and for choice the main part of the outfit for her to choose in the morning.
  • child-size wardrobe/cubbies/hooks – to allow the child to choose his clothes in the morning This means, you choose a couple of outfits that are weather appropriate and from these, the child can choose which one she wants. Or it can simply being able to take their coat, hats from a hook in the entrance.
  • Learning tower – to observe or help in the kitchen
learning tower
Learning tower
  • and any other activities where the child is helping you or doing by herself, she is learning.

A lot of these activities are what we call Practical Life activities. Since our toddlers are growing up fast, we offer Practical Life work on our shelves as well, such as:

  • open and close boxes
  • open and close bags
  • nuts and bolts
  • locks and keys
  • dressing frame – right now we are working on velcro

Our toddlers can put on their hats on their own and are also working on taking off and putting on shoes and there is definitely a lot of independence in everyday tasks like this one.

puttinginshoes
16 months old girl putting on shoes.

Observation and Patience are key for the adult but this is worth it, the child is being herself and building herself by becoming independent.

 

Tell me what you do for helping your child being independent ?

 

Montessori’s Human Tendencies

Hello everyone !

Today I would like to talk about another piece of Montessori theory that took me a little while to understand and that I will still discover as I work with children. Let me give you a short cut so you can understand what Human Tendencies are.

They are energies, impulses, natural inclinations that lead (drive) the human being to act certain ways towards building and developing potentialities. These potentialities and abilities will help the human being adapt to his environment and develop.

All human beings have Human Tendencies regardless of race or group(s) we belong to.

Montessori also talks about the “Horme” that is the first and foremost vital energy that makes us ALIVE and drives us to be, do, make…. This term comes from a psychologist of her time.

Alexis moves
Activity is a Human Tendency. It’s innate, babies move !

Human Tendencies are not potentialities, they are behaviours, it’s a fact, an energy. BUT it develops potentialities we have in us. We are driven towards order, orientation, we see it, recognize it or the lack of it and then we can develop the potential to create order. Order is in potential in us, from birth, then thanks to the human tendency and the environment, we can develop that potential for order.

Therefore, certain things are the same for everybody like the Human tendencies, we are predisposed for it, they are innate :

« Tendencies do not change and human tendencies are hereditary. The child possesses them in potentiality at birth… these tendencies assume different aspects by the aid of what Dr Montessori called ‘sensitive periods’. » Mario Montessori, Human tendencies and Montessori education

And now on to each Human Tendency.

As defined by Montessori, there are 12 Human Tendencies:

Communication – urge to communicate, to establish relationship through communication with others

Alexis curious
Exploration and Activity at work here!

Order – urge for routine, to see things in the same place

Orientation – urge to know where we are, where we belong – it is linked to order.

 

Exploration – urge to see, touch in order to understand – it is linked to manipulation

 

Manipulation – urge to touch to experience through sense of touch – linked to exploration and movement

Work – urge to work, children love working, it leads to focus and happiness

Repetition – urge to repeat over and over – linked to exactness and self-perfection

repetition
This young toddler did this work over and over and nothing could disturb her from it: REPETITION of work !

Activity/movement – urge to move (hence the rather useless: “Stop moving!”)

Self-perfection – urge to get better and master –  linked to exactness

Exactness – urge to get it right – linked to self-perfection and repetition

Abstraction – urge to move away from concrete things – happens more around the second plane of development (6 to 12 years old)

Elevation – urge to go beyond yourself and your concreteness – happening later as well

 

I hope this makes sense and can help you understand better some of your own or your child’s innate urges !

Did you notice/observe some of your child’s Human Tendencies ?

The Prepared Environment

Hello everybody, I am glad to take some of my vacation time to write this post on a very important subject for me : the prepared environment.

As I see my baby (now technically a toddler) evolve in my parents’ house in France, it reminds me that the environment the children grow in, is of utmost importance. Why ? Well… many reasons but I would start by saying that having an environment adapted to your child is to me a matter of respect.

I am, myself, a short woman and I am extremely annoyed and frustrated when I need something that has been placed out of my reach when I need it. So eventually, I got a stool to help me reach these items I need that are on a higher shelf and my husband and I reorganize based on how often we use these items as well (he is the tall one).

If our children live in an environment that is in no way adapted to their physical (and psychological) needs, we might be asking for trouble. Children needs to feel they are respected, acknowledged as they are.

I am not talking about making a full classroom like we do (in a daycare or classroom setting) but in our houses we can make things accessible for our children so they feel empowered to do things by themselves – ” Teach me to do it myself” is a Montessori motto coming from Education for Human Development written by Mario M. Montessori.

You are going to tell me YES BUT HOW ??

My vision of it is to not fall into the trap of making a classroom in your own house unless you are fully homeschooling your child full time and/or you are a Montessori teacher, there is no need. If your child goes to a Montessori daycare, preschool, school, they should take care of the specific, scientific material the way Maria Montessori intended it.

What you can do for your child is observing what they seem inclined to do at home. There are Montessori friendly toys you can do yourself or buy for a reasonable price as well.

shelf in france
Our one year old shelves at my parents’ during our vacation in France. She could find her brush for after bath time, her finger puppets she likes, 2 of her books from home she likes and her egg shakers as well as my childhood xylophone my mom had put out.

For a start I will give you some characteristics the prepared environment should have to make it nice for your child to live at home and feel like he is a part of this house like adults are, this list is non exhaustive and as you prepare your child’s environment don’t hesitate to ask questions, I have resources and advice and get a lot of inspiration from Montessori teachers such as Jeanne-Marie Paynel (Voila Montessori) and Simone Davies ( The Montessori Notebook) or Montessori mom like Nicole Kavanaugh (Kavanaugh report).

The environment should be:

-beautiful (nicely painted or wood colour furniture, with child level Art in frames, I like to use beautiful pots, jugs, baskets that are also safe for them…)

-adapted to the child’s size and hence grow with her (make sure your child has a table and chair adapted to her size so she can feel independent to play, draw…) – Your child’s material/toys/activities should be on shelves she has access to independently.

-Each item of your house should also respect your child’s sense of order and have a specific place they can see/find it, it is reassuring for her. I heard my baby (when she was about 10 months old) scream when a sweater had been left on her wagon when it is not its place, she stopped when we removed it.

-Place items your child will use and like in an independent manner, as long as she uses it, she is learning something. Then, you can rotate with something else and reintroduce it later, she might find a new interest as she grows older.

-Use items that are real, not made for pretend play, your child likes to be involved in what you do but need tools that are appropriate for her size.

This list should give you a good start. Try to think practical, go down to your child’s level and see the environment the way they see it… then you will realize it might need a couple of changes for safety, for practicality, for independence and happiness.

On vacation it’s hard to not change the routine so be patient with them as they adapt to a new schedule and/or environment as well, we try to not push and follow our child.

I asked my parents to move their CDs (to a safer place for them) and make space on low shelves for our daughter to find her toys.

ruginfrance.jpg
During our vacation, we left a rug my mom had kept for our daughter and placed the toys she received for her birthday there – a owl version of the russian dolls and some stacking blocks.

After a couple of days, she was automatically going to those to find her peace and quiet time to play by herself. If this is what it takes, avoid too many changes over vacation and when you are back home, let them rediscover their environment. They will be happy to be back !

As your child grows older we change and adapt the environment, if your child is ready for toileting then make a little shelf for her to have her tooth brush and a hand towel available or a way to hand wash independently, I promise, they will love it !

How do you prepare your child’s environment ? Share your tips.

 

 

The Importance of Movement in the child

As promised here is an article on Movement and its importance in the development of the child.

How many of us remember hearing “Stop moving!” ? You did, didn’t you ? Either someone said it to you or you heard someone say it to a child at the park, at church, at the theater, in the car….

Movement is natural, it is a Human Tendency. We are born with the need to move, moving helps our mind grows and learn, we learn so much through movement and children even more than anyone else.

It’s only by movement that the personality can express itself. The greatest of philosophers must use speech or writing to convey ideas and this involves muscular movement.” Maria Montessori

Movement is created from the work of three important parts: brain, senses and muscles.

The brain gets messages from the senses (organs) and then the brain gives orders to the muscles as the nerves pass the energy that will help control the movement of the muscles.

There is movement within our own body even if it does not show from the outside, our cells move, our nerves, our muscles, our blood in its vessels are all in movement as we are alive.

Maria Montessori also talks a lot about how we cannot separate the physical movements from the mental activity since the coordination of muscular movements comes from the brain. Muscular activity and mental activity work for each other.

It even goes further as a “two-way process; myelinization creates movement, but movement also increase the formation of myelin, so the more we allow our child to move the more we are supporting optimum development.” The Joyful Child, S.M. Stephenson

How can we use that to help children? We can give them activities, movements to do that involve brain work as well. What we offer should be purposeful, if there is no purpose then movements do not coordinate.

It also depends on the environment we create . Through fostering repetition of actions (like children do a lot when they are learning)  in the environment, we help the child acquiring skills and knowledge. It should be satisfying for the child.

alexis reaching
Our baby girl climbing over the ottoman to reach the ball on the other side !

So in a Montessori classroom /environment/home, the child is allowed to move and is asked to move but is also guided by the adult to help her feeling fulfilled by her movement (if your child is in a Casa environment you might have heard about distance game for example, it is used in Sensorial activities and involve the child working in movement).

HOW can I HELP my child control his movements ?

You can give the child specifics about what you expect from their movement – “Control your movement or your body” “Stop moving!” does not mean anything.

If you can, say: “Walk slowly! … Please sit down!” as it uses more positive verbs, keeps it simple for the child and gives specifics about what you are expecting.

An important note on that is about making sure the child knows why you are asking this control of movement from them. If there is no purpose, there is a small chance it will happen. With purpose, it can come from within the child.

At Chez Mahé, the children are still considered babies or very young toddlers and they are in a very important phase of their development of movement as they are learning how to crawl, stand and walk. We do not ask them to stand up or walk because at that age, movement should be fostered from their need to move and progress in the development of their gross motor skills. Each child has her timeline and even if we would love for our child to reach certain milestones, it will feel even better if it comes for the child herself instead of led by the adult. It fosters Independence as well.

Mack and wagon
One of our toddler chose to try the wagon to walk and has used it a lot since then.

We watch them progress and once a milestone has been achieved we can foster activities to master this skill even more.

As they will grow older, we will foster activities for more precise movements and we will be able to ask for more control of the movements (Walking on the Line, Silence Game, Distance Game, bring me game…)

 

 

 

 

What do you do to foster movement for your child ?

The Absorbent Mind

The Absorbent Mind. This wonderful power the child has within her for the first 6 years of her life is an important topic for Maria Montessori. She wrote a book about it and left in it a treasure of knowledge for the adults of this world caring for the children of this world.

“The child creates his own « mental muscles » using for this what he finds in the world about him. We have named this type of mentality, the absorbent mind.”

 

The “absorbent mind” refers to the capacity of the child’s mind to take in information and sensations from the world that surrounds it.
Starting from birth, the newborn child’s ability to absorb what is around her seems incredible. The baby arrives in the world without language, and with few skills other than her survival instinct. It is through her senses that she will soak in everything that surrounds her.

mackcoinbox
13 months old girl with the coin box

We can differentiate 2 different phases in the first plane of development (also called first phase of development):

 

Maria Montessori called the child during the first half of the first plane/phase (0 to 3 years old), the unconscious absorbent mind because the infant child learns so much without realizing she is learning. She absorbs what comes from her environment through her senses or like Montessori said, « through his life ». – We refer to the child as a Spiritual Embryo. The child starts from nothing and after just a few months is able to adapt to her environment, she starts understanding what we tell her, she can move around the environment and becomes curious about everything. She learns to eat on her own more independently. To me, it is like a super power the child has within her. I watch my baby daughter going through all this and I marvel at the miracle of her Absorbent Mind.

alexisglobe
9 months old baby explores the continent coloured globe.

In the second part of the first plane, the intention of the child toward her actions and work is more conscious. She consolidates what she learned during the first three years of her life.

The child is now building her ego, she can say « I » and she shows some personal preferences to keep on building her intelligence and her personality. She is going through a lot of sensitive periods and one of them is love or need of order. She also wants to know what is going on around her and needs to explore with concrete material and actions to help her make sense of the world she lives in. This is a period when the child uses her hands to explore (like she was doing before) as she refines her fine motor skills. Her actions are more voluntary, and this awakes her brain.

lilialexisinmirror.jpg

The child needs a lot of movement during this phase of life as it will help her realise her physical place in her surroundings and help her explore the world to further understand it.

It will all helps her build himself as a person. This will also help her build social contact. At the beginning the child still plays a lot on her own, even if she is surrounded by other children but slowly she starts building social contacts with new people, children or adults. This social awareness will help develop her character to find her place in the society she lives in.

 

This Absorbent Mind or super power of the child is temporary as we can observe it ends around 6-7 years old. The child does not make much effort to adapt to what is around her, she adapts with no choice and no effort from her. This Absorbent Mind is also indiscriminate as it will absorb it all in, without judgement; good or bad, it will get in. This is why our role is so important, we need to make sure the environment we are giving to our children is adapted to their needs, so they can absorb effortlessly from their surroundings in a positive way as they will be the future of our world.

 

I hope this description can help you understand this notion of Absorbent Mind we hear a lot in the education field.

 

As parents, do you notice your child absorbing interesting things with no effort?

 

 

 

 

 

Montessori Education as a Help for Life

 

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.

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SO MY question is: HOW can WE help ?

As teachers:

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

 

As parents:

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.

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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).

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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 ?