New life brings us hope and joy. As parents we have so many dreams for the new addition to our family. Dr. Maria Montessori has talked about the newborn child and how a newborn should be treated by the adult to facilitate her psychic and physical development. Following are the suggestions taken from Secret of Childhood by Dr. Montessori.
At birth the child enters an alien environment. This period should be carefully studied. She must be handled and taken care of properly. Child initial care should come from the mother. She should not be clothed but put under mother’s warmth for natural source of heat. There should be sufficient awareness of what is required by the newborn child. Newborns should not only be shielded from harm, but measures should also be taken for her psychic adjustments. The child’s room should be calm and quiet, shielded from outside noise. There is no need for any luxury for the child but simple measures should be taken for her psychic growth.
Needs of a newborn child are different from the adults, thus special care must be taken for the newborn. The newborn should not be looked as a sick (which we normally feel about an adult), but one who is trying adjust psychologically and physically to the surroundings.
The newborn must be handled with care so that she does not feel any anxiety and fear. It should be gentle. The care to the child should be guided by the need of her assistance, not by the fact whether the child is aware about its surroundings and people. For example, the newborn should be handled with care without ever justifying a rough handling by justifying that she doesn’t really feel or is aware about what is happening.
“The child is both a hope and promise for mankind.” – Dr. Montessori.
By: Bethany Hill
Upper Elementary Teacher
Pause, sit down, and think about your childhood. What comes to mind? Do you think about playing with your friends outside? Riding your bike or building forts for hours? Enjoying board games with your family? Now, compare those images to what life is like today. What differences do you see?
We spend so much time plugged into computers these days. They’re tiny, hand-held, and convenient little devices. While they have a lot of pros, they also have a lot of cons. The average eight-year-old spends at least two hours each day plugged into some kind of electronic device. That’s fourteen hours a week! So, think about how much time we as adults spend plugged in. It’s kind of scary.
The Upper Elementary Class recently had the opportunity to unplug and get out. We took a three day trip to Nature’s Classroom in Mentone, AL, and it was wonderful! Cell phone and internet reception were spotty at best, and there were no televisions. The children truly got back to nature, explored relationships with each other and themselves. They hiked, played games cooperatively, and worked as a team to build a geodome and a rope bridge – just to name a few things. The most technology most of them used were disposable cameras. It was joyful and peaceful!
Fall is great time to get outside – the weather is crisp and the scenery is beautiful! Here are some ideas for getting out and unplugging with your family:
- The Annual MSH Fall Festival
Come to the new Hampton Cove Campus on Friday, October 30th, 5 – 7 p.m. for games, fun, and a chili supper!
- “Down on the Farm” at Gullion Farms in Somerville, AL
The Lower Elementary Class will be taking a field trip here this month. The children will have the opportunity to fish, milk a cow, ride a pony, pick a pumpkin, and much more. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.gullionfarms.com/
- The North Alabama Railroad Museum
Located just east of Huntsville in the Chase Community, this museum offers a regular tour schedule as well as seasonal excursions and activities! You can find more information by visiting: http://www.northalabamarailroadmuseum.com/findus.htm
- Alabama State Parks
There are so many wonderful state parks near and far! Whether you’re into hiking, picnicking, or looking for an overnight getaway you’re sure to find something to fit your family. Take a look at their website: http://www.alapark.com/
Practical life…practically amazing
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work in several Montessori schools across the nation. One of the most common concerns from parents is…”My child spends too much time in practical life…”
What Maria Montessori called the exercises of Practical Life actually help children’s brains develop. With the repetitive movements, the child is learning how to learn. And, in the process, children become confident and independent.
From Imitation to Learning
Observing young children in the early twentieth century, Montessori understood how a child’s brain develops through movement. She provided children with activities to perfect their seemingly random motions and involve the thinking process. When performing the skills of daily living, an adult sees a chore to be completed while the child loves the process itself. At the same time, the child gains muscle control, improves eye-hand coordination, and activates the brain.
Recently, Montessori’s theories have been confirmed by pediatric neuropsychologist Steven Hughes, PhD. In his research at the University of Minnesota, he found that the child’s strongest link to his brain are his hands, noting that repeated motor movements help develop the pathways in the brain that help children learn.
For the Youngest Child
The young child of 12 to 18 months is very observant and will imitate the adult. He learns and can follow your lead as you return toys to the shelf or put clothes away. You might show your child how to:
- Take one item, such as a pair of socks or a t-shirt, and carry it with two hands to place on the low shelf or open drawer in his room.
- Hang a towel on a low hook and put his toothbrush in its holder.
- Put clothes in the nearby laundry basket or hamper as he undresses.
- Remove one spoon at a time from the dishwasher, taking it to the silverware drawer or basket.
“I Can Do It Myself”
Between the ages of two and four, your child becomes more verbal and independent, with more muscular control and a greater ability to be of help. Previously, there was little interest in actually completing a task, because the activity itself was intriguing to your child as she unconsciously refined the brain-to-body pathways. With increased coordination and a growing sense of independence, your child is ready to take on more complicated tasks. Now you might demonstrate how to:
- Fold simple items of laundry such as dish towels or napkins before they are placed in their proper place.
- Set the table, carrying one placemat to the table at a time, then napkins, and then a spoon on each mat. You will know when her coordination is good enough to add the forks, knives, and plates.
- Buckle the car seat chest straps, showing how they snap together.
- Pour dry ingredients like rice or beans from one container to another, in preparation for pouring milk from a small pitcher to a glass.
You can watch as your child figures out how to accomplish a new activity by herself. There’s no need to remind or hover, she will know she can ask someone for help if needed. More ideas can be found in the article Let Me Help.
Small Steps Lead to More Freedom
As your child develops and grows, he can do more. Continue to be patient, and be certain to demonstrate each new activity slowly and simply. Perform only the necessary movements and separate each individual step. Stay nearby to offer assistance if necessary. Observe; do not correct or interrupt.
Young children live in the present – they do not hurry on to the next thing as adults do. Watch your child busy at work, gaining control over the muscular and nervous systems. It is the process itself, not the goal that is involving. Imagine how your child’s brain is making new connections – you can almost see the wheels turning. Your child might repeat the task over and over, fulfilling the inner need for movement that connects brain and hand. It’s amazing!
“Once a direction is given to them, the child’s movements are made…so that he himself grows quiet and contented, and becomes an active worker…calm and full of joy.”
—Maria Montessori, Montessori’s Own Handbook
—by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.
—Originally Published 2013.
…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!