Montessori Primer: Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way – Part 4

Today’s topic is Part 4 of our Montessori Primer on interacting with your child in a Montessori way, and is a foundational principle of building a great relationship – Mutual Respect.

Mutual Respect

The most important part of discipline is respecting each other and each other’s opinions. As your child grows older, respect his decision-making ability. Children who feel respected are less likely to rebel.

So, here is your wonderful five year old little girl who has decided that she wants to wear a fireman’s hat with her favorite dress and cowboy boots out to dinner. Your first instinct may be to say, “You look ridiculous. Go change your clothes.” Your child then either refuses and melts down or does as you ask with a sense of sadness. Fast forward 12 years later and your daughter announces she is going to her friend’s house, and they are going to the mall. Unbeknownst to you, she arrives at her friend’s house and changes into an outfit that is completely inappropriate. Her outfit receives unwanted attention, and she is not equipped to handle the situation. This example may seem extreme, but it does happen.

Set up the framework for trust. Discuss with your child the “why” behind their choices and pick your battles. Children are their own individuals who will make their own choices. You want to be their guides in life, and want them to respect and share with you. Respecting who they are and the choices they make will create a fantastic relationship.

Join us on Wednesday as we explore our next opportunity to interact with your child in a Montessori way, Logical Consequences.

Montessori Primer: Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way – Part 3

Today, we continue exploring the benefits of interacting with your child in a Montessori way by looking at a seemingly contradictory but key principle: Freedom Within Limits.

Freedom Within Limits

According to Maria Montessori, “A child’s work is to create the person he will become.” Freedom within limits is a Montessori principle that is very important. Freedom allows children to follow their interest and become more independent. Limits give children the latitude to be creative while establishing boundaries. If you observe a Montessori morning, you will find a 2-3 hour uninterrupted work period. During this time, children are receiving individual or small group lessons. It is also during this time that students choose their own activities. A child may begin in any area of the classroom, reading a book, washing clothes, using golden bead materials; the choices are boundless. As long as the child is engaged in meaningful work, the teacher does not get involved. She will observe. This freedom is not unlimited – the teacher has constructed an environment and invisible structure that the child has internalized. Each child earns his independence over time. In that same observation, you may notice one child who is always sitting next to the teacher or next to another students watching him/her work. The teacher is providing opportunities for that child to see how an activity is started, worked with, and then restored. The child observes this over and over again and will then ask the teacher if he too may have a turn to do such work. The teacher will present a lesson and step back to see if the child can work independently. If he works successfully, he will be left alone. If he needs more guidance, the teacher will provide him more opportunities to observe.

At home, parents should provide activities that engage the child’s interest and opportunities for the child to play alone. Televisions are not interactive and should be used sparingly. Puzzles, blocks, dolls, and other activities that stimulate imagination are encouraged. Avoid interrupting your child as they play.

Do not worry that you need to entertain your child. A bored child is a child who is not yet able to solve his/her own problems. Create a jar with suggested activities for the child and continue to add to it. Suggestions are:
Create a book (or picture book for young children)
• Build a fort
• Ride your bike
• Brush the dog or cat
• Listen to music and dance
• Clean out the area where you sit in the car
• Create a treasure hunt with clues
• Bounce a ball
• Journal
• Play with costumes

Join us on Monday as we explore our next opportunity to interact with your child in a Montessori way, Mutual Respect.

Montessori Primer: Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way – Part 2

Today, we continue exploring the benefits of interacting with your child in a Montessori way by examining two core values of a Montessori classroom: Structure and Stability.

Structure and Stability

Every family has its own structure. In a Montessori classroom, there is a schedule or rhythm that helps the children stay focused. Routines give children a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. As humans we have many fears – one is fear of the unknown. Children are constantly confronted by change – change in themselves, the places they go, and the people they meet. With a predictable schedule, children feel safe to develop and master new techniques and adapt to changes. As a young child this adaptation may mean adjusting to a new babysitter; as the child matures, it may mean being prepared for a sleepover at a friend’s house. Constant, unpredictable changes erode the sense of safety for the child and lead to anxiety or an inability to adapt to change.

Structuring the child’s surroundings and developing a routine teaches children to how to control themselves and their environments. Children not taught this skill at a young age may find it difficult to care for themselves as adults. Structure allows the child to internalize healthy habits.

Join us on Friday as we explore our next opportunity to interact with your child in a Montessori way, Freedom Within Limits.

Montessori Primer: Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way

As discussed in previous posts, following Montessori principles lays much of the foundation for discipline. Using practical life activities helps children learn to care for themselves and their environment, and exhibit grace and courtesy to others. Children that are given opportunities to control their movements will automatically develop concentration and self-discipline. In the same way, foundations are laid for your child’s future development based upon your interaction with your child.

Today, we begin exploring the benefits of interacting with your child in a Montessori way by looking at a core activity we engage in as parents: Teaching Values.

Teaching Values

As parents, you are your child’s first teacher. From the moment you first met your child, you yearned to nurture your child’s sense of goodness for life. Sharing with your child what is truly amazing about your culture and others; that peace is attainable once fear is placed aside.
As parents and educators we teach values, ethics, love, kindness, and confidence. We help children to see and respect the differences in people. We want to help them see they can be the change in the world; celebrating differences in each other. In order to do celebrate differences, children need to establish an identity separate from their parents yet part of a larger community. Our obligation is to guide the child. We should show them through our actions our values and present the world and its problems honestly. Each child, equipped to make his or her own choices, will form opinions. We need to ensure that as they mature into adulthood, they are surrounded by trusted, morally competent adults.

Join us on Wednesday as we explore our next opportunity to interact with your child in a Montessori way, Structure and Stability.

Montessori Primer: A Day in Our Lives, Part 2 – A Daily Timeline

Today, we continue our look at a day in the life of a Montessori student with an overview of the timeline of a typical day in the Montessori classroom.


7:45 to 8 a.m. – Day Begins
Guides are greetings students at the door with a warm handshake. The students are learning confidence as they greet their teacher with eye contact and a hearty handshake. They then place their items in their cubby and set out to choose their first work.

8 a.m. – Three Hour Work Period Begins

Students work independently. The teacher is providing individual and group lessons. The assistant is reinforcing the importance of the environment’s rules and routine. Children will choose pre-reading work such as spelling, sight words, big movable alphabet, while others will choose golden bead addition or stamp game. Younger children are building concentration in practical life by pouring water or spooning. Others who have a bit more energy may be scrubbing tables. It is wonderful to see the child with a great imagination using the farm for not only creative enjoyment but language work as they label the nouns on the farm.




9:30 a.m. – False Fatigue Occurs
It is generally around this time that noise levels tend to escalate in a Montessori environment. Usually there are several wanderers who are restless from their work. As Maria Montessori observed classrooms, she referred to this time as “False Fatigue.” To an outsider, this time may seem disorganized. The Montessori guide notices this phenomenon and remains calm. The students will feel this ease and the restlessness will subside and the students will continue their work until 11:00 a.m.

10:45 a.m. – Clean Up and Outdoor Playtime
The guides ring the bell to signal it is time to clean up. The students tidy their environment and everyone joins in for line time. After line, everyone lines up for outdoor play. Everyone plays 30 minutes outside in our beautiful Montessori outdoor environment. Our outdoor space is perfect for running, gardening, riding tricycles, climbing, and having fun on the slide. And before anyone realizes, the 30 minutes is over!

11:15 a.m. – Lunch Time
Some of our friends go home for the day. The rest of the class begins washing their hands for lunch. Grace and courtesy lessons are practiced during our lunchtime: napkins in laps, using utensils, please and thank you, and restoring the environment.

12:00 to 2 p.m. – Rest Time and Kindergarten Work Cycle
By this time, students have finished their lunch and restored the environment. As the younger students are preparing for a one-hour rest time, the kindergarten students are practicing more complex lessons. They are working one on one with the teacher in math and language. Students may be learning the bank game, advanced language lessons, and reading work.



2 to 2:15 p.m. – Saying our Goodbyes
At the end of the day, everyone sits for one final line time. The Montessori guide reads to the students as the assistant helps prepare the students to go home. After the line is over, the students line up at the door, say goodbye to their friends, and are escorted to car line.

What a wonderful day everyone has had!

Montessori Primer: A Day in Our Lives

The Montessori classroom is a “living room” for children. Self-correcting lessons are displayed on the shelves awaiting the children. The environment’s purpose is to in unify the psycho-social, academic, and physical development of the child. As guides, our purpose is provide children with a solid foundation that includes positive self-image of oneself and school, security, sense of order, curiosity, and persistence. This foundation will help the child become self-disciplined, and have a sense of responsibility to others.

We have parents who observe our classrooms and wonder, “How does the teacher manage the students?” What a wonderful question. The answer is, “The guide designs an environment that allows each student to engage in what interests them.” The students in a Montessori classroom become engaged and involved in their community. Respect is the foundation from which great work stems. The environment works so well because the children have respect for themselves, each other, and their materials.

This wonderful video from Montessori School of Los Altos provides a beautiful view of a day in the life of the Montessori student.

Join us tomorrow as we take a deeper look at the progression of your child’s day with our timeline of a typical day in the classroom!

Montessori Primer: The Peaceful Classroom, Part 3

Today, we conclude our exploration of the Peaceful Classroom, part of our ongoing Montessori Primer. In our previous posts, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for Peace, Making Room for Peace Education, Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity; today we discuss Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World..

Peace through Giving

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

Children need direct experiences with giving, joining the heart and hand. Children love to make things, small and large, and share with family, friends, and neighbors – they naturally want to share and help. Montessori addresses this desire with mixed-age classrooms where older students help the younger. Practical life in Montessori is practiced at every level with the purpose of preparing children to take excellent care of themselves, our planet, and the people on it. Children are engaged in gift giving projects and works of charity throughout the year. The art of giving from the heart builds empathy and compassion, two essential ingredients of a peaceful person.

Make a difference in the world (Elementary and Middle School)

Help young people find active ways of working for peace, the preservation of the natural world, the relief of human suffering, or other concerns through organizations like Kids Can Make a Difference, Free the Children, Roots and Shoots, or Peace Jam, in which students work directly with Nobel Peace Laureates.

Join us on Wednesday as we begin the next part of our Montessori Primer – A Day In the Life.

Montessori Primer: The Peaceful Classroom, Part 2

Today, we continue our Montessori Primer exploration of the Peaceful Classroom. In our last post, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for Peace and Making Room for Peace Education; today we discuss Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

Peace through Nature

“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” – George Washington Carver

The beauty of nature is a great balm to the soul. Children often seek out their own secret outdoor spaces, even if it’s only a corner of the backyard. Respect children’s need for private exploration and inner reflection that nature inspires. At our school, the outdoor environment is rich in peaceful garden spaces to work the soil with our gardener. Outdoor seating arrangements are comfortable places to spend with friends.

Peace through Creativity

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs

Children need plenty of time for unstructured creative play and artistic endeavors. Unstructured creative time invites children to express their inner most personality and make profound connections between what they have learned and how they feel about themselves and others. During this time, adults keep a watchful eye, but remain unobtrusive to allow children to explore and develop the powers of problem solving through creativity.

Join us on Monday as we conclude our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World.

Montessori Primer: The Peaceful Classroom, Part 1

Today, we continue our Montessori Primer with a deeper look inside the Montessori classroom, beginning with the importance of peace.

Prepare the Environment for Peace

“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori begins with the prepared environment for each plane of development as aesthetically pleasing and inviting space for the child to grow up naturally. Classrooms are clean, simple and orderly, yet rich in age-appropriate materials that aid in independence of body and mind with lessons in care of the self, care of the environment (physical and natural), and care of others. Children have a better emotional response in a serene and beautiful environment that is organized for their unique sensibilities.

Make Room for Peace Education

“Peace is always beautiful.” – Walt Whitman

Outer peace begins with inner peace. Children need special places that give them a sense of privacy that can serve as a soft refuge for times when hurt or angry feelings might lead to violent words or actions. Decorated humbly and lovingly, each of our classrooms has a peace corner, table, or shelf where children go to work through unsettled feelings. Peace quotes, art, journals, books, natural objects, or perhaps a sand garden give the child a place to reflect and restore calm. Older children learn to use the peace area for conflict resolution by modeling peaceful communication practices. Learning to use the peace area is a process that takes time, and is nurtured with positive adult guidance.

Join us on Friday as we continue our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 4

Today, we conclude our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last three posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, Interest, Choice, Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards, and Interaction with and Learning from Peers. Today we conclude by examining the final three principles, Learning in Context, Communication, and Order the Environment and Mind.

Learning in Context

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori

Create a meal from scratch, or make ice cream from a recipe
Visit a museum – bring a sketch pad and colored pencils and have the child create their own art
Spend time in the garden studying bugs, flowers, and listening to the sounds of peace and quiet
Allow your child to have their own shopping list at the grocery store – have them record their prices and add their total

Communication

“If we could say, ‘We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,’’ we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.” – Maria Montessori

Have family meetings – discuss family expectations regarding behavior and academics
Create chore lists together where each person chooses their assigned chore(s)
Create an annual family newsletter
Involve your child in rearranging their bedroom or playroom
Do things you wouldn’t normally do or do not like to do – children need to see that you are flexible and willing to do new things or do things you do not like to do

Order the Environment and Mind

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, 1966

Adopt the “ten minute tidy” to end of the day
Keep the environment clear of clutter
Have child’s belongings displayed on low shelves and not in toy boxes

Join us on Wednesday as we continue our Montessori primer!