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Natural Consequences vs Punishment

When it comes to how you discipline your child, it’s a very personal choice. However, in Montessori learning, there is a concept called “natural consequence” that can revolutionize the way we discipline our children. Unlike punishment, which utilizes fear to get children to behave well, natural consequence helps children understand the impact of their actions, so they want to do the right thing.

What are natural consequences?

The Montessori method explains to us what natural consequences are and how they are proven to work. A simple example of natural consequence can be found in the following scenario. Suppose you give your child a drink of water in a glass cup and he drops it. The glass breaks and the water spills. Yes, this can be a huge mess but it is also a big learning moment. Your child sees that the broken glass and spilled water is a natural consequence of his careless actions. From that point forward (and sometimes after multiple accidents), your child will try to be more careful when holding the glass of water to avoid the same accident in the future.

Through natural consequences, children learn that their choices have an impact on themselves and others. In order for this to truly be effective, however, the child must be able to see that the link exists between their action and the consequence.

Maria Montessori has shown us the way. In her teachings, she said the most important preparation is to ensure that the adult(s) in these circumstances should approach the child thoughtfully instead of jumping to conclusions that the child is acting bad or naughty. Hence, parents, adults, teachers or caretakers should try to see the root of the problem causing the child to behave in such a manner, instead of observing and recording the child’s actions in an unsympathetic manner.

It has been noted on more than one occasion that an unmet need of some sort takes the form of such difficult behavior patterns. In situations like this, adults should be loving and patient towards the child. They should offer more thoughtful activities such as washing exercises, sandbox activities, flower arranging, watering plants, fishing, or any other activity that can exercise their brain to calm down.

What is punishment?

Punishment is a form of conditioning that focuses on reducing or eliminating unwanted behaviors. Punishment can involve two things:

  1. Presenting an unpleasant stimulus, such as loud scolding, when the child has done something wrong.
  2. Taking something that they want away from them when they have done something wrong.

Oftentimes, punishment can be ugly and has also proven to be ineffective in many cases. The main drawback to punishment is that you aren’t offering your child any real solutions on how or why they should achieve the desired or appropriate behaviors.

Dr. Maria Montessori mentions numerous times in her writings that an energetic child needs firm but cheerful guidance for finding outlets for those wonderful and healthy urges, which at times are being expressed inappropriately in the form of unpleasant behaviors. The Montessori child’s daily life of development and education through a self-managing and self-regulating personality is by itself nature’s prevention program that we see deeply rooted within a child.

What happens when there is no natural consequence?

In certain situations, there may not be a natural consequence or the consequence is too far in the future for the child to care about the impact now. In these instances, we can use logical consequences or consequences that we create and link to the child’s behavior, rather than something that that occurs naturally.

An example scenario of a logical consequence is as follows. Your child wakes up in the middle of the night and comes to your bedroom, waking you up several times. Instead of getting irritated about the situation, create a logical consequence. You can explain the following morning that you are too tired to make the French toast and bacon that you normally make because you were woken up so many times last night. The breakfast will have to be cereal or yogurt, or anything simple.

To make these logical consequences work, you have to make sure that you are relating the consequences to their behavior in a way that your child will understand. These consequences also shouldn’t be issued as a threat (like some punishments are) and should be simply stated as a matter of fact. This reinforces the idea that their actions always have consequences.

Discipline at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we frequently host Positive Discipline classes, where we provide parents with instruction on the positive skills needed to handle temper tantrums and misbehavior. We also give useful tips on how to deal with morning and bedtime hassles, as well as affirmative solutions to defiance and power struggles.

Physical Development in a Montessori Preschool

Unlike traditional preschools, a Montessori preschool focuses on developing every aspect of the whole child. This includes a child’s physical development. From the enhancement of hand-eye coordination and sensorial abilities to the development of gross and fine motor skills, a Montessori preschool will make sure that each child develops the skills they will need to gain a sense of order and independence.

Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination

In the Montessori preschool classroom, children participate in practical life activities, which are known to improve a child’s fine motor skills (coordinated small muscle movements in the hands, wrists, and fingers) and hand-eye coordination (the use of the eyes to guide movements). Actions, like grasping, reaching and releasing an object, and turning the wrist, are the types of fine motor movements that children learn in a Montessori preschool, in order to prepare them for the daily tasks of life. Fine motor development begins almost right away in babies, as they use their reflexes to grasp a rattle or your finger.

As children grow, they will be able to engage in sewing and weaving activities, which develop their manual dexterity. The action of picking up objects with small tongs or tweezers develops a child’s pincer grip, which is a necessary precursor for learning how to write later on.

Gross Motor Skills

To develop the large muscles of the body, it’s important to reach gross motor milestones – such as walking, running, jumping and climbing. Montessori preschools recognize how gross motor development presents many health benefits, boosts confidence and self-esteem, and the ability to assess risk. That’s why Montessori preschools provide many activities that build muscle memory, creative movement, and motor planning.

Sensorial Development

In a Montessori preschool, one of the main focuses of the curriculum is on refining all of the child’s senses including visual, tactile, thermic, auditory, baric, stereognostic, olfactory and gustatory. The purpose of this is for the child to gain a sense of order by making clear and conscious classifications of her environment through the senses.

For example, children learn to sort tablets by slight differences in color and shade, which is done in order to sharpen their visual perception and sense of order. They also learn to sort fabrics by touch, thus enhancing the child’s tactile sense.

Physical Development at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we provide a beautiful preschool environment filled with practical life materials to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. We encourage the exploration of the senses through music and movement accompanied by freedom of choice. Our toddlers and primary children have the opportunity to jump around, balance, crawl, and skip to enhance gross motor skills. Our primary students engage in many sensorial activities in order to begin understanding the world around them during these formative years.

Montessori Philosophy: Celebrating World Holidays with Your Child

As a Montessori parent, you may be looking for new and creative ways to incorporate the Montessori philosophy into your family lifestyle at home. One of the ways you can do this is by developing an appreciation for different cultures by celebrating world holidays. Culture is a major topic of study in the Montessori curriculum and by celebrating world holidays, you can easily teach children about the various traditions and rituals that people celebrate around the world. Here are just a few of the holidays that you can adopt at home to teach your children about the beauty and value of other cultures.

Diwali              

Also known as the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated by people in Fiji, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representing the renewal of life, Diwali is a holiday filled with many rituals that honor this tradition – such as lighting diyas (lamps), cleaning homes, opening windows, and wearing new clothes.

Chinese New Year

As one of the most prominent and celebrated festivals in the world, the Chinese New Year is celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Each year is characterized by a different symbol in the Chinese Zodiac, such as the Year of the Tiger or the Year of the Dog.  The Chinese New Year is often celebrated with many different traditions such as cleaning, having dinner with family, repaying debts, playing games, and consuming special foods. It is also customary for children to receive red envelopes filled with money in honor of the Chinese New Year.

Kwanzaa

A celebration of African-American Ancestry, Kwanzaa is all about honoring ancestors through food, gift sharing, community service, history, and family. The week-long celebration dedicates each day of the week to a different principle:

  • Umoja -Unity
  • Kujichagulia – Self-determination
  • Ujima – Working together
  • Ujamaa – Helping our neighborhood grow
  • Nia – Purpose
  • Kuumba – Creativity
  • Imani – Faith

Hanukkah

Also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is observed for eight nights and days. Hanukah is celebrated by lighting a candelabrum each night called a menorah, eating fried foods such as potato latke (pancakes), playing a game with a dreidel (a four-sided spinning top), and giving gifts.

Earth Day

This special holiday is celebrated annually with worldwide events on April 22nd. This holiday is celebrated in order to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Celebrated in 193 countries, Earth Day has a different theme each year, such as “End Plastic Pollution,” “Environmental and Climate Literacy,” and “Clean Earth – Green Earth.”

How We Celebrate Culture at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we have found many ways to integrate culture within our practices of the Montessori philosophy. Along with celebrating numerous world holidays, such as the Chinese New Year, MASS students also participate in the Model United Nations conference – a forum that provides students with the opportunity to learn about other countries and hone in on their diplomacy skills.

Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs also offers a new international, multi-language extension program called the Global Language Academy at Sharon Springs (“GLASS”). The GLASS program provides young minds with the opportunity to learn a second language and understand different cultures while growing in the era of globalization. Courses in Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Farsi, German, French and ESL (English as a second language) are all offered under the GLASS program.

Last but certainly not least, we have the MASS International Festival.  This yearly event offers a day in which we not only have fun, but also learn and experience many of the cultures found within our amazing community, and beyond.  The event unfolds with a flag raising ceremony followed by the parade of countries. Then, children receive passports – becoming world travelers as they tour different countries while they visit each classroom community. Each country (classroom) offers the child a unique experience with the opportunity to engage in crafts, music, food, or other activities.

Developing the Whole Child in Montessori School

In a Montessori education, one of the main emphases is on the development of the whole child. While a traditional school may focus mainly on developing a child’s cognitive abilities, a Montessori school, like Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, aims to develop every aspect of a child. These aspects include the four major elements that make up what Montessori refers to as the whole child: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive.

Physical

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that knowledge, learning, and movement were all interconnected and that learning through the senses engaged the whole body. That is why movement in a Montessori environment is so important. By ensuring that children are moving around and staying physically active throughout the day, the Montessori method promotes physical growth and maturity.  Not only do physically active children develop stronger muscles and bones, but they also tend to have an easier time falling asleep at night.

Another positive to developing the physical aspect of a child is the opportunity they get when they play outside. Outdoor play allows children to be exposed to all of the beautiful things that nature has to offer. The outdoor environment is also the perfect place for children to use their senses. Outdoor objects like plants, rocks, and animals can serve as a classroom as well.

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, we encourage our students to move about both inside and outside the classroom. Our students participate in physical education activities on a regular basis and are able to participate in additional enrichments including tumbling, playball, and tap-ballet.

Emotional

Dr. Montessori also believed that developing the power to love through flourishing the inner peace and depth of the soul should be one of the most important goals in life. Learning how to recognize and manage emotions, therefore, is a very important life skill. Because many conflicts in life are a result of a person feeling hurt by another’s actions, it is crucial for children to learn at an early age that their actions can affect other people.

In a Montessori school, the value of respect is highly emphasized. If students get into a disagreement in a Montessori classroom, they learn how to talk about their feelings in order to resolve the issue peacefully. In a Montessori environment, children also learn how to recognize what emotions others are feeling by looking at body language and facial expressions. Through the development of emotional intelligence, children are able to form stronger bonds with others.

Social

Another key part of developing the whole child through the Montessori Method is recognizing the importance of social interactions. One of the main features of a Montessori school, multi-age classrooms, takes this into consideration. In these classrooms, children are grouped according to the plane of development they are in, rather than the traditional method of grouping based on exact age.

Multi-age classrooms, therefore, allow students to interact with children of varying ages, which helps young children feel more comfortable with older children. Older children also benefit from being in multi-age classrooms because it develops their leadership skills by being able to serve as mentors to the younger students and assist them with their work.

Cognitive

In the Montessori approach, the classroom expands far beyond four walls. To a Montessori student, the world is their classroom. With this in mind, it is important to note how the world plays a key role in the Montessori method’s aim to foster creative thinking, problem-solving abilities, and the drive to learn and challenge oneself. With the world as their classroom, students learn to view themselves as global citizens and begin to recognize and appreciate the beauty of different cultures and traditions.

In a Montessori environment, children begin to understand that they are part of a greater universe and therefore they develop a moral responsibility to protect our planet for the future. They also develop a profound respect for the natural environment and understand the importance of practicing good virtues. Art and music programs allow children the outlet to express themselves while computer classes help prepare them for our technologically progressing society.  Through a combination of these subjects and Montessori approaches to learning, children develop the cognitive skills necessary to succeed today.

 

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, our child-centered Montessori Method of education values the human spirit and strives for the development of the whole child. In our Montessori school classrooms, our dedicated guides work on developing every the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive aspects of the whole child on a daily basis.

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the third plane, spanning from age twelve to age fifteen – the middle school years.

As Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, notes in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011), the third plane child (ages 12-15 years) is focused on society, as the adolescent is searching to find a place in the world. Hall explains that adolescents need to experience the world through work, through purposeful movements, and by using their hands.

Maria Montessori believed the concentration at this plane of development should be centered on economic pursuits so children are equipped to become productive members of society. Hall notes that this economic activity allows adolescents to gradually come to understand the role of work in the greater society. Work becomes an agent for the adolescent’s self-esteem; the objective is to contribute to the world in some meaningful way. By contributing to the community, they are fulfilling a need for themselves and for others.

Hall reports that Montessori saw the third plane as a time of rebirth and referred to adolescents as “social newborns,” and asserts that the questions of the adolescent go beyond the “what” of the very young child and the “why” of the elementary child: The adolescent asks, how I can apply what I know? How does this work relate to my life, my world? How can I save the world with my knowledge of the natural laws and the formulas I studied? Providing experiences such as internships allows opportunities to answer these reflective questions. Education focus during the third plane includes three categories: the opening up of ways of expression, fulfillment of fundamental needs, and the study of the earth and of living things.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How

The First Plane of Development: What

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the second plane, spanning from age six to age twelve – the elementary years.

As a child moves into the second plane of development (ages 6-12 years) the focus is on “why” and “how.” The child seeks intellectual independence. Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, notes in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011) that the attitude of the child from birth to age six – “let me do it myself” – is replaced in the second plane of development with “let me find out for myself.” In her book To Educate the Human Potential, Maria Montessori refers to the child’s mind as a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture. Reason and imagination are the keys to unlock learning during this phase. Logic and reasoning take hold, and a child is able to perceive complex concepts.

In addition, during this second plane of development, children have a fascination with the extraordinary. Due to this fascination, the subject of the universe appeals to the elementary child since it is vast, mysterious, and irresistible. For this reason, “cosmic education” along with the “great stories” becomes the main staple at the elementary level. As Hall describes, the goal is to fan the flame of imagination and to inspire the child into new paths of exploration. Cosmic education can best be defined as stressing the interrelatedness of everything. Examples of cosmic tasks include: coral removing calcium from the ocean, plants absorbing poisonous carbon dioxide and using it to produce oxygen, and bees pollinating plants. As Hall points out, Montessori believed that humans, as part of the universe, also must have cosmic tasks. The elementary child discovers and understands these cosmic tasks through research.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

The First Plane of Development: What

The First Plane of Development: What

Today, we continue our series on the Montessori Planes of Development with a look at the first plane, spanning from birth to age six.

The first plane can best be described as a time of exploration. As Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, points out in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011), developmental psychologists have called the infant the “the scientist in the crib.” As a child comes closer to the primary level (2.5–6 years), the need for psychological clarity and order develops. Children at this age are natural explorers who enjoy learning what. Their primary focus is on developing and testing how the world works.

Hall notes that modern science confirms what Montessori discovered over 100 years ago: the child from birth to six has extraordinary intellectual powers given to help in the task of creation. Montessori believed children have an absorbent mind and go through sensitive periods that are optimal times for learning. During the first plane, children have a love for the natural world, refining their skills through coordination activities that aid in the development of concentration. Independence becomes a priority, and they develop a keen sense of order.

Other posts in this series:

The Planes of Development: Developing the Joy of Learning

The Third Plane of Development: How Can I Apply What I Know?

The Second Plane of Development: Why and How

Montessori Philosophy: What are the Montessori Planes of Development?

Montessori education is based upon three planes of development: birth to age six, age six to twelve, and age twelve to eighteen. As Gretchen Hall, Director of Training at the Montessori Training Center of New England, described in her 2011 article How Science Fits Into the Whole Montessori Curriculum (The NAMTA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Winter 2011), each plane is a distinctive psychological learning period characterized by the physical and psychological changes that take place during its span, as well as specific environmental needs to support development. The Montessori Method considers the unique needs of each age group by varying focus within each plane of development. In the first plane, the child focuses on the world and the facts. In the second plane, the child focuses on the universe and reason. In the third plane, the adolescent focuses on how to transform society.

Join us next over the next several Mondays as we discuss each Plane of Development and the importance of fostering the joy of learning.