“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” M.Montessori.
I've had my teacher hat on again (it must be because I've started doing some tutoring!) and been thinking about Mo Mo's schemas- and how to develop them and the playroom to interest and challenge her (see my blog post on schema). I'm also tired of the amount of plastic toys we seem to have collected, despite my best intentions! I'm looking for something more meaningful, hence some research into how I can use some Montessori methods at home. So, here's what I have found out. It is merely a drop in the Montessori ocean and I am by no means any sort of authority on the subject, but I am going to try out some of the ideas and continue to read up on it.
What does Montessori Education mean?
Montessori is a child-centred approach to learning started by Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. The Montessori Method was developed through observation of the child and her discovery that children learn directly from their environment and relatively little from listening to a teacher talking to a class. Maria Montessori gave the children an opportunity to care for, and maintain, their own environment; she showed them how to look after themselves; and she provided them with interesting and well-constructed materials. Montessori Education is devoted to helping each child achieve their potential and foster a lifelong love of learning. This is accomplished through the preparation of an attractive, stimulating and ordered environment which encourages a reverence for nature; a love of silence and spontaneous self-discipline. It is also established through unique learning materials, with the Montessori teacher acting as a source of guidance and gentle direction- a facilitator and observer rather than the traditional teacher model. The pupils are granted the authority to follow their natural instinct to gravitate towards wanting to learn.
Practical life exercises are of prime importance in Montessori methods. Why is this? Mo Mo is definitely drawn to practical life activities. She loves to arrange her tea sets and help to make a cup of coffee or load the washing machine. I think she enjoys doing these tasks as they satisfy her need for meaningful activity. She also sees them as grow up things to do, and she gets to feel success from them and share in them with the adults. They are easy to understand and they have a concrete purpose and visible movement. She likes order and neatness (and so do I!)From a parental point of view, they develop motor control and organisation, leading to self discipline/ independence. The skills aquired through these practical tasks can then be applied to other experiences.
"Practical life exercises are those simple activities performed daily by adults in their environments ... the purpose for doing those daily tasks is purely conservative and utilitarian. The child carries out these same exercises because the child is attracted to them and they are constructive and developmental for the young child... the child at a very early age, shows a strong urge to associate herself with these activities. She ... tries to take part in them, and constantly offers to help... these exercises create a unity between the thought, the will, and the action of the child...These activities are truly constructive to the child himself."
What Can I do At Home?
- The Montessori Curriculum is generally comprised of- Practical Life Activities, Sensorial, Science, Maths, Language, Art and Cultural studies. A hands on approach to all of these is key.
- Learning practical life skills is important- for example:
Early Tasks (Age 3-6)
Dressing oneself: buttoning, zipping, snapping, buckling, bow tying
Learning home phone number
Pouring liquids without spilling
Carrying objects or liquids without dropping/spilling
Walking without knocking into furniture or people
Using scissors with good control
Using simple carpentry tools
Putting materials away on the shelves where they belong when finished
Working carefully and neatly
Dusting, polishing, scrubbing and washing just about anything: floors, tables, silver
Sweeping and vacuuming floors and rugs
Caring for plants and animals
Table setting, serving yourself, others, table manners. Great ideas for table setting here on Pinterest.
Folding cloth: napkins, towels, etc.
Courtesy: eye contact, handshake, introductions, greetings, offering assistance, getting the attention of someone engaged in a conversation
Simple use of needle and thread
Using common household tools: tweezers, tongs, eye-droppers, locks, sponges, basters, spoons
Increasingly precise eye-hand coordination
Simple cooking and food preparation
Weaving, bead stringing, etc.
Containers & Lids
6-12 years old
- Caring for animals
- Working with tools
- Making simple repairs
- Getting around on their own: bikes, running, hiking, buses
- Making consumer purchase decisions, comparison shopping, budgeting
- Earning spending money
- Mastering test taking strategies
- Caring for young children
- Making clothes
- Running a small business enterprise
- Solving computer problems
- First Aid/CPR Training
- Wilderness survival
- Cooking complex meals
-care of the environment
-care of self
-movement-development of social relations
- Language activities such as syllable counting, Sandpaper Letters, Object boxes
- Use toys made of natural materials.
- Provide structure through routines.
- Encourage your child to take part in daily routines alongside you- doing the washing, cooking, setting the table- you are demonstrating, not teaching them
- Make reources accessible to children.
- Nomenclature cards
NomenclatureLots Of Lovely Inspiration Here-Maria Montessori's own handbook to dowload for free!How We Montessori- a gorgeous blog all about a family incorporating Montessori into their home lives.Living Montessori Now- written by a Montessori teacherMontessori Barefoot - this has lots of links to Montessori Blogs5 Introductory Activities For The Montessori Newbie!The Little List -Lots of brilliant, free resources