Monday, September 15, 2014

Montessori Nomenclature Cards - what are they FOR!?

Nomenclature is always REVIEW of the concept in elementary, with invitation to create one's own booklet or chart, to make the work one's own, with one's own definitions of the terms.

Nomenclature is always READING PRACTICE on FAMILIAR CONCEPTS in primary. We give vocabulary with the picture-only cards after they have had real experience with the items represented in the pictures. Then we add the words as they are learning to read, to give them familiar items to match up with the sounds they are learning (these sounds they should already be writing - remember, the child should write before reading); then we add the definitions as they become stronger readers, to give them more for reading practice on definitions they already know.

To back up a step, we are reading those definitions (via the booklets) or at least describing the terms in their context of real life experience. When the children start reading, they find familiarity in the definitions with what they already know.

Nomenclature cards are not teaching tools. They are review of concepts and reading/vocabulary practice.

Thus the child can move into whole reading rather quickly, because of a foundation of a variety of real life experiences, with sound vocabulary and other rich spoken language experiences provided from the beginning of his life, exploring the sounds of his language with the sound games and all the sandpaper letters, then the movable alphabet; freed from the tedium of step-by-step systems, he has the keys to explore his own language, other languages, and indeed the whole world around him.

Maria Montessori called the sensorial materials "keys of the world" - indeed all that observed and tested in all areas of the infant, toddler and primary (3-6, preschool and kindergarten), are keys of the world.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Montessori Without Materials !?

You can certainly do "Authentic" Montessori at home without the materials. How is that possible? Because pure Montessori is about the following concepts: 

  • *beauty, simplicity, order
  • *follow the child (the child's interests, abilities, needs)
  • *OBSERVE - and RESPOND appropriately according to the plane of development and individual needs/interests
  • *provide KEY experiences - not overwhelming with too much information, or 10 materials to teach the same concept; or even 1 material that is so busy it doesn't allow for focus
  • *routine and beauty/simplicity/order that allows for developing long periods of concentration
  • *movement integrated with learning, balanced with moments of stillness and silence. 

Not a single specifically Montessori material mentioned ;) 

and for those who do use the specifically designed Montessori materials that do provide the Keys to the World and the Keys to the Universe? They phase out, until there are almost no such materials in upper elementary. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Montessori Albums - Curriculum - Lesson Plans

Montessori albums tell you how to present the materials, how to use the materials, provide guidance on typical best times to present that work option to your child. Your child's abilities and interest dictate the pace.

These provide the curriculum (scope and sequence), the lesson plans (how to present/use the materials), suggested ages and experience ranges.

Authentically Montessori albums should NOT provide daily lesson plans (what to present on each day - your child and you decide this based on the child's interests and abilities). They should not dictate all the follow-ups your child does. Album pages (the lesson plans that tell you how to use the materials) provide some games and extensions that are good for most/all children; and some that are suggested for most/some children. Some follow-ups the children will discover on their own, if we guide them that direction, preparing the environment and our words to encourage their own self-discovery.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Montessori Curriculum

Curriculum is the sum of the child's experiences in a particular educational setting.
Montessori is an education as an for life itself.

The Montessori curriculum is found in a blend of the Montessori albums (lesson plans are the album pages) and the needs of the particular child before. The Montessori approach provides the keys for the universal child and time/resources to follow the interests and needs of the very unique individual child before you.

For more information on the key aspects of an authentic Montessori experience, pick up a Keys of the World or Keys of the Universe primary or elementary theory album.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Montessori is NOT Daily Lesson Plans

Some people really want Montessori daily lesson plans. This is a contradiction of terms.

Short story: 
Montessori - Follows the Child.
Daily Lesson Plans - Don't.

Montessori albums tell you how to present the materials, how to use the materials, provide guidance on typical best times to present that work option to your child. Your child's abilities and interest dictate the pace.

Some random details/thoughts: 
There is NO curriculum publisher, NO Montessorian, NO traditional public school teacher, NOBODY can predict, pre-determine a child's interests from day to day, months or years (or even HOURS!) ahead of time.

But what is "interest"? Referring to a child before the age of 6, we are referring to sensitive periods and a lighthouse-like feature of the child's mind that can absorb deep facts and experiences when the light is shining on that particular area, while everything else is entirely ignored. Then the child's focus shifts, some things seem to be "forgotten" for a time (they are generally picked back up very quickly afterwards), and a new focus is centered on.

Referring to an elementary child, "interest" refers to the child's research, projects, and work choices, both in academics and personal life.

In both cases, we present a relatively consistent flow of new and deeper experiences, while honoring the child's need for time - time to just BE, time to explore, time to make discoveries and connections of one's own.

These interests cannot be pre-planned in any particular order. Within a particular subject, a child may jump to chapter 4 of the geography album in elementary without doing all of chapters 1, 2, or 3. Why? Because outside of the very earliest presentations, the chapters are there for the adult's organization - NOT the child's curriculum. Follow the child's interests so that we can provide a rich experience when the child is entirely prepped to do so; so we might do work of air before work of water; or vice versa. There may be "early" activities in each of the chapters for the younger children, to provide the framework and basic of the key experiences, so that the child is exposed to an array of interest-options.

Now, some people say that those lessons, those keys we give to continue their experiences, can be pre-planned. But no, they really can't either. At least on a daily or even a weekly basis. A child may move through a few presentations quickly, then need time to delve into particular ones without receiving a new presentation in that area for a short time, because interest has been centered, and the creative juices are flowing.

Thus albums are divided up by "subject" - not daily, not weekly. But some albums do have charts to show the options for possible paths, leaving leeway for each individual learner.

Montessori, using daily lesson plans, outlined by someone who does not personally know the child before you; it is hard to call that Montessori because of the number of Montessori principles that type of practice entirely ignores, the most important of which is: Follow the Child.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Albums and Environment

Montessori Albums are the Montessori environment in written form. 

We actually begin with the environment, and the album stem from it.

The environment should be organized according to the album, because the album should be based on the ideal environment already.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spelling in Montessori - Follow-Up

Another key point to add to the previous Nuggets on Spelling (click on the tag below this post to see the others):

When elementary children are delving into the origins of language, root words, etymology - those things without official album page presentations but that are listed as "work of the child" - they will come to find patterns in our language in a more interesting and enriching way to than memorizing the rules and ALL the exceptions. (yes some of those need to be learned too)

Ever notice that national spelling bee participants always ask for the etymology (among other context clues) ? Yep. They are on to something!