…I believe I was created with a unique potential to love. My work and play are the development and expression of my love towards myself, others, and my environment. Yes it gets messy at times.
…I believe I am an amazing soul with a body and a mind. My favorite experiences and relationships captivate all of me. Yes it gets messy at times.
…I believe I am an important part of an incredible world. Becoming myself is my life. Yes it gets messy at times.
…I believe who I’ve been, who I am, and who I will be…is beautiful!
…I’d like a school that respects what I believe.
To me, this quote brings out two main thoughts regarding work and belonging. First, work is fundamental to the prepared environment in Montessori. Children often see Montessori work as a game, something fun and challenging that engages their attention to detail. Children are allowed to express themselves through their work because they are allowed the time and space to make their own conclusions. The beauty surrounding a child’s work is the whole process, from being prepared by the directress to the execution of work by the curious child.
Secondly, each child belongs. Each child has an individual soul, a beautiful experience unique from all others. If each child feels the way the above poem suggests, we as a Montessori community have achieved our goal: instilling character, curiosity, and purpose into each member.
What we believe about children is foundational in our Montessori experience. Not everyone will agree at all times about the most important aspects of Montessori, but we should all acknowledge that a child has a set of established beliefs that has an impact on the way we educate.
The Montessori School of Huntsville, Hampton Cove
Monday, September 21, is International Day of Peace. This year,the elementary students will be leading Pennies for Peace. We will have a table set out Monday morning for donations to UNICEF to go toward the Syrian Refugee Crisis. We hope that each child will bring in a penny for peace. We’ll leave out the collection jar throughout the week if you would like to donate. I spoke to the children this morning a little about what was going on in Syria. The children all really wanted to help. Several said that they had some change in their piggy banks that they would love to donate to help provide the refugees with food, water, shelter, and medicine. One student spoke up and said that if refugees came to his house, he would let them stay. This sparked a lot of empathetic conversation and several students commented on how they would let the refugees live with them. They have so much love and compassion in their hearts!
The Upper Elementary class is also working on a project for International Day of Peace. The students have visited our classroom and the other classes and read the book, What is Peace, by Etan Boritzer. They also helped all the children to create a really beautiful collective art piece. Look for it on display in the lobby.
Have a peaceful day!
A changing environment conducive for learning is implemented in our classroom.
Seating: Seating is arranged in such a way to reduce stress level. Seating locations, materials, location of bathroom etc. can influence the learning outcome. Research shows that well designed chairs can reduce health and cognitive problems. Row seating arrangements are more effective than group seating because it avoids excessive peer-to-peer chatting and waste of time and energy. Some suggestions: provide unattached chairs and movable desks, positioning students in different ways, allow students to stand occasionally and eliminating incorrect posture, etc.
Temperature: It has been shown in research that reading comprehension declines if room temperatures become too warm (above 74 degrees Fahrenheit). Classrooms kept between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit are best suited for effective learning.
Building design controlling lighting: Our classroom utilizes natural lighting as much as possible. Sources of glare have a negative impact on learning. Reflected sunlight enhances the mood of the students. It has been found in research that students in brightly-lit classrooms perform better compared to students in dimly-lit classrooms. The following principles should be followed: maintain a constant and adequate level of bright lighting in the classroom, maximize exposure to daylight and minimize the exposure to darkened classrooms, hold class outside in the nature occasionally, etc.
Noise: Classrooms should be properly designed to reduce noise from echo effect, reverberations and other acoustical problems. Noise levels should not exceed 45 decibels in the daytime and 35 decibels at night. Some suggestions: identify the noise source and take official actions if the noise is a serious problem, use appropriate use of soothing or white-noise or music, etc.
– Inspired by Teaching with the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen.
In a Montessori classroom, multi-age groupings offer a great range in the social, intellectual and learning needs among the group of children. In traditional classroom settings, where children are grouped according a single age or grade, the environment and curricula often reflect the expectation that children’s developmental and academic needs are progressing at the same pace. For this reason, children are often learning the same skill or lesson at the same time. This apparent similarity among the children can create competition to see who can complete the task fastest or who can make fewest mistakes. In a Montessori classroom, there is a variety and range of work occurring simultaneously by different children at different ages.
The younger children often watch the older children at work. They see the progression in learning as natural and look forward to being shown more complex and challenging tasks just as they have seen the older children doing.
“They are aware of those around them, and one often sees the small ones intently watching the work of others, particularly the older ones. In doing this they absorb much more than it seems, and already preparing themselves for more active social participation in the community of the class.”
(Maria Montessori, Education For Human Development)
Dr. Montessori devoted an entire chapter of her book, The Secret of Childhood, to walking with a young child. She says with importance that a child who can walk must never be carried. What a difference from our usual way, isn’t it! She explains further that young children walk for completely different reasons than adults walk. Adults walk to get to a specific place. Children walk to walk. If you’ve ever walked with a child, I’m sure you can relate to the idea that the child is not simply trying to get from point A to point B. She strongly encourages the adult to adjust his/her walking pace to accommodate the child. She says, “the line of conduct to be followed by an adult is that of renouncing his own advantages so that he can accommodate himself to the needs of the growing child,” (Montessori, 1936).
What does this look like on a daily basis in modern times? First and foremost, it means allotting extra time. When we are rushed, we become forced to do the quickest thing possible. And the quickest thing possible is not letting your 18-month old set the walking pace for walking into school. However, this is the ideal. I want to focus on the word ideal because sometimes things do not go as planned or sometimes the child is having more difficulty adjusting and would never actually make it to the door of the classroom if the pace was hers alone. On a daily basis, letting your child walk on her own and setting the pace may look a lot different from someone else’s walking in on her own. That’s okay! We are all different. But, we can remember that the focus is on the ideal of your child walking in on her own at a comfortable pace for your child.
But doesn’t carrying the child convey care? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes it simply becomes a crutch for the child’s independence. You as the parent are the only one who will know the best course of action. Sometimes, our children can begin to think that an adult doing things for a child is the only way to receive caring feelings. This is what we want to avoid. Jane Nelsen, of the popular Positive Discipline series suggests that a child who feels that she only matters when others are doing things for her suffers from the mistaken goal of “undue attention,” (Nelsen, 2015). Both of my children have fallen into this pattern from time to time, so I have experience on all sides of this issue. Nelsen offers several suggestions for overcoming this pattern: redirect the child to a useful task and give useful attention, e.g. have the child wash a table and thank her for the work; use touch without words, verbally reassure the child but set healthy boundaries, e.g. “I love you, and we will spend time together after school, but right now it’s time for you to go to school and for mommy to go to work”; or perhaps plan special time together. To see Jane Nelsen’s full mistaken goals chart (a wonderful tool for any parent), click here to see the full Mistaken Goals Chart or pick up any of Jane Nelsen’s wonderful books.
Montessori, M. (1936). The secret of childhood. London, New York Longmans, Green and Co.
Nelsen, J. (2015). Mistaken Goals Chart. retrieved from: http://www.newhorizonirvine.org/wp-content/