Posts Categorized: Primary III
by Carrie O’Shea, Primary III parent
It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to each child the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities. –Maria Montessori
As the years pass and I grow in parental maturity (if there is such a thing), it seems I find more to love in the teachings of Maria Montessori. I’ve always looked to her as a personal hero; -the kind of person who’s focus on peace, humility and kindness is a soothing balm in a time of endless schedules and impatient demands. Without careful reflection, it seems the nature of humanity to enslave ourselves to these loud voices in our lives, spurring ourselves onward in search of a better, faster, more productive, more intelligent version of ourselves and too often we take our children into this trap, wrapped up behind us in a bewildered tangle of childhood lost. As I’ve grown as a mother, I’ve come to appreciate the folly of these actions. In the rushing, pushing demands of soccer and dance, perfect straight A’s and perfect straight teeth, piano lessons and math enrichment sessions, it seems our children lose something of themselves in our race to improve them. Not that any of these things are bad in the right setting, but what self-determination can there be if your life is a planned module? What identity can you have for yourself, if you spend all your time living another person’s vision for your life?
Fortunately, there is an answer to these questions and that answer is Maria Montessori. Against the race of self-assisted perfectionism, her ideology stands as a gentle reminder that slow, quiet reflection is really the only way to peace. We cannot expect a child to matriculate into geniusdom any more than we can expect a seed to germinate before it’s time. There is a process to life and that process takes time. The above quote is a wonderful example of this and additionally, a quiet reminder that when patience and care are invested into the life of a child, a miracle results; -the miracle of a child becoming that person who he or she was meant to be.
It takes a lot of faith, patience and care for a parent to sit by and watch as their child develops unassisted by their grandiose plans, – at least, it has for me. But giving my child the ability to develop unimpeded by the pressure of performance has provided a blessing I couldn’t have imagined, – the choice of her own free-will. They ask me for opportunities to do something they love! That’s a big difference! I no longer have to do the “parental dance of suggestion,” listing all the academic and extra-curricular activities needed to fill their minds as well-rounded individuals; now, they find what they love on their own! Instead of pestering my older child to do her math “homework,” I smile as she checks books out of the library on the expression of Geometric series in nature. Instead of wrangling my five-year-old into the car for a third weekly dance practice, I smile as a small reminder is all that’s necessary for her to run into the car with her tu-tu. There is time to develop what they love and as a parent, I know my children will do just that if I give them my trust. That trust started with Montessori as our foundation and the gentle education I received as a parent, just as much as what my children gained as students. It has shaped the course of our family and for that, I am extremely grateful.
As parents, Maria Montessori arms us with the courage to believe that our children can be something great, if only we believe they will be.
You always see a lot of joy on children’s faces on the day we have a cooking class. You also hear lot of questions – What are we cooking? Is it time yet? They show lots of curiosity on what happens next.
After all the preparation of watching lessons and working with the practical life materials, it is time now for putting them to use. The kids show excitement in their faces while watching boiling water, melting cheese, frying, baking, toasting, and breaking eggs or turning simple banana to a yummy treat. Even though they are picky eaters, they enjoy eating what they cook because they made those all by themselves. They show a lot of pride in their accomplishment.
Cooking in Montessori class involves all areas of the classroom – practical life, math, language, science, geography, history and culture, and sensorial.
Practical Life activities include Washing hands, Mixing, Rolling, Cutting, Cleaning, Peeling, Pouring, Hand and Eye Coordination, and the use of different kitchen tools such as knives, spoons, forks, egg-beaters, tongs, etc. Also, it teaches how to follow steps in a recipe, and improves fine motor skills.
Math includes activities such as Measurement, Fraction, Numbers, Time, etc.
Language activities include exposure to new words such as names of ingredients, recipes, places, etc.
Science includes activities such as differentiating between hot and cold or solid, liquid, and gas, or boiling and melting, etc.
History and Culture activities involves understanding about the holidays and festivals from different regions of the world.
Sensorial activities involve all the five senses – touch, smell, see, hear, and taste.
Primary Lead Teacher
As a brief introduction for those parents who do not know me: my name is Laticia Hequembourg, my daughter Harper attends kindergarten at MSH (she is in Shree and Leela’s class). Teaching and creating art are among my greatest passions in life. I hold a PhD in adult education from Auburn University. My dissertation explored creativity generation and the creative process in adult learners. I also hold a master’s of art education from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and a BA in studio art with a concentration in sculpture from The State University of New York in Potsdam, New York. I have taught for the last few years as an adjunct professor in the fine art departments at both Alabama A and M University and Calhoun Community College.
This year at MSH I teach two kindergarten art classes, and both the lower and upper elementary art classes. The kindergarten art curriculum explores the basics of creating art through the inspiration of a variety of art forms and disciplines. Thus far we have found inspiration for our paper cut outs through the literary work of Shel Silverstein. We have also concentrated on learning about the elements of art with the construction of a visual chart that highlights both color and texture. This week we will be weaving paper to create work mats and then moving along to watercolor.
Both lower and upper elementary have been concentrating on the fundamentals and basic compositional components of drawing. They are currently working on self- portraits in oil pastel. In the next few weeks to come we will be transitioning into painting and focusing on color theory.
Also, as a note to all parents: I wanted to take a moment to inform parents that I will be utilizing a website called Artsonia (www.artsonia.com). Artsonia is a free online digital portfolio and student art gallery dedicated to promoting the visual arts curriculum in schools worldwide. I will e-mail parents individually with a password so that you can log on and view your child’s work throughout the year (you can also upload artwork yourself). This is a great way to share work with friends and family, keep a digital record of creative development, and the website offers fun keepsakes (these make excellent personalized gifts) with your child’s work, with 20% of sales going directly to the participating school’s art program. Keep a look out for more information regarding log-in details.
Thanks in advance for all of your support, if you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Dr. Laticia Hequembourg
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.
Thank you to Mrs. Janell Z. for a fabulous presentation on Rwanda! It was great to learn more about the people, animals, culture and arts of Rwanda. Thank you to Lauren N. for laminating our African culture cards!!
We look forward to tending our garden this spring!!