Posts Categorized: General
Hating Mondays is such a cliché in our culture. How many of us start the work week with joyful anticipation? Work has become such a “four-letter word” for many adults. Here at the Montessori School of Huntsville work is a happy concept. Work means creativity, engagement, and interaction with our physical and social environment all the way from our youngest toddler to our most senior staff member.
The staff here at MSH has been reading (or re-reading) The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori. We think it is important to engage with Dr. Montessori’s original writing to stay true to the method and to interpret how her theory fits in our ever-changing world. Dr. Montessori has a wonderful insight about children’s learning, “The child’s is a type of life in which work, the fulfillment of tasks brings joy and happiness, where as in the field of adult, work is something which is usually a painful process.”
Many times through the day you will hear teachers say “May I help you choose some work?” or “Be sure to select challenging work.” We find joy in our work and we want to instill that sense of joy in your children. For our children we want work to be an opportunity for them to engage creatively and productively and work to be a joy, both now and later in the “real world.”
Toddler Thanksgiving Applesauce Recipe
- 1 bag of granny smith apples peeled and sliced
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of apple juice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Place all of your ingredients in a crockpot and mix thoroughly. Cook on high for 6 hours or until apples are tender. Turn off and allow the sauce to cool completely before mashing with a potatoe masher. Eat and enjoy!
Becky, Lacey, and our Toddler Class
“Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”
To memorize means to learn by heart and to fix experience and knowledge in our memory. A child can memorize information in two ways. One way is to learn something mechanically and by rote. The second way is to prepare and organize a variety of activities all having the same aim that the child can work through. This variety of activities keeps the child’s imagination alive. Maria Montessori developed many different exercises for the memorization of facts for elementary students. This repetitive practice allows the child to memorize their math facts in an engaging way.
Below are just a few of the materials that Maria Montessori developed for the memorization of math facts:
Chiaravalle Montessori School also posted a great blog about the memorization of math facts as taught through the Montessori Method : http://www.chiaravalleobservations.org/2011/03/the-facts-are
The Montessori Work Cycle is the three hour work period all Primary and Elementary Classes observe in Montessori Schools. Our toddler class alters the length of the work cycle to accommodate the needs of our younger students. The morning work cycle in our toddler classroom is generally two to two and a half hours. It grows longer as the school year progresses, meeting the growing attention spans of our children.
Each day has structure but can also be fluid to meet the ever changing needs of the children. Our day starts with a brief time of free choice of work or outside play. This allows the children to socialize with each other by getting their ‘hellos’ and other greetings out of the way before the actual school day begins. Bringing your child to school before morning group time and the actual work cycle begins allows them to meet these social needs without disruption.
Circle time/Job time begins between 9-9:15am every day. Throughout our many years as toddler teachers we have seen time and time again the importance of the children being present for this time of coming together. They enjoy helping with classroom jobs, doing simple yoga and periodically working together to achieve a group lesson. Our circle time ends with the dismissal of children to begin the work cycle.
The children begin the work cycle by choosing simple works in the classroom, often choosing their ‘favorite’ works and doing them repeatedly. Half-way through the work cycle the children experience what is known as ‘false fatigue.’ A Montessori school we once visited referred to this as the time when most working adults take their coffee break. As teachers, we allow the children to use this time when they are not focused to go potty and walk about the room socializing. When they do settle back in and begin working again that is known as ‘the great work period.’ During this time the children achieve their most challenging works. There is not much socializing going on in the classroom during this time as they are all concentrating on their task at hand. When the work cycle ends the children begin to socialize again, and that is often when we take them outside.
Allowing the children to engage in their entire work cycle with minimal interruption is pertinent. If a child arrives late or an adult needs to speak with one of the teachers it is important to enter the room quietly, maintaining a low-key approach. If you observe that the classroom is working and the teachers are engaged with the children, but you need to communicate something to the teachers it is best to email or leave a note. When the work cycle is disturbed the entire classroom as a whole is deprived of the Montessori work cycle. We strive every day for all of our children to have fulfilling and productive days.
“We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play; then we will see him work all day with his hands and wait impatiently to undress himself and lay himself down on his own bed.”
Maria makes it sound so easy. Just give them an environment of their own and all will be magically well with our children at home. It’s not a magic wand, but by instilling some of the Montessori values into your home may make life a little less hectic and a little more focused for all.
Create a home environment where the child has everything in his/her reach. Small things like lowering the rod in the closet or only putting clothes in lower drawers so they can dress themselves can help your children be more independent. Try keeping their dishes in low cabinets so they can set their own place at the table and a basket full of parent-approved healthy snacks in their reach.
Teach real life skills as soon as it is developmentally appropriate. Young children can help with laundry by matching socks and folding towels. Preschoolers can help with washing and peeling vegetables. As your child ages he or she can learn more sophisticated tasks such as how preparing simple meals or using tools to help with tasks around the home.
Promote concentration. Turn off the television and limit other screen time. Set your children up with materials that interest them. For example, if your child loves the stars, then provide books and puzzles to help them learn about astronomy. Keep a basket of high quality books or visit our school library to give them something to do while the tv is off. Make sure their work environment fits their needs. Some children may work best at the kitchen table and others may want to spend time in a quiet corner. Monitor their responses to their environment and adjust accordingly.
Nurture inner motivation and shy away from tangible rewards. Your praise should be specific, sincere and value effort over outcome. “I like how focused you are” or “You worked so hard” is much more effective than “good job.”
Give your child an opportunity to learn with and from peers. Schedule playdates or sign them up for a class. Interaction with peers and learning from someone other than mom, dad or the regular teacher will boost their confidence in themselves.