Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Human Needs and Tendencies 5


Background and Definition
            Dr. Montessori viewed the child as a spiritual being. “We have been mistaken in thinking that the natural education of children should be purely physical; the soul, too, has its nature, which it was intended to perfect in the spiritual life - the dominating power of human existence throughout all time. Our methods take into consideration the spontaneous psychic development of the child, and help us in ways that observation and experience have shown us to be wise.”[1] The purpose of true education is to help full development of each individual’s potential at all levels – to serve as an aid to life itself. “Our goal is not so much the imparting of knowledge as the unveiling and development of spiritual energy.”[2]

            Dr. Montessori was not seeking a method of education when she began her work with children; rather she slowly began to see universal human tendencies, more or less strongly at specific age-ranges. She discovered that “there is – so to speak – in every child a painstaking teacher, so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world.”[3] This internal teacher utilizes universal needs and tendencies within each and every human being, throughout each person’s life, but seen most strongly at particular sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity.



[1] Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method. 1964: Schocken. 374. emphasis mine
[2] Ibid., The Child in the Family.1970. 136.
[3] Ibid., The Absorbent Mind.1995. 6.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adult - Technical Preparation 2


The adult needs to really understand the principles of freedom and responsibility; intervention and non-intervention.

Other aspects of the technical preparation of the adult include movements, voice tones and volumes, etc. 

Think about your interactions throughout the day today - balance when to let a child discover natural consequences and when to step into a dangerous situation. 

How do you interact with your children? What is your voice like? Your body posture? What messages are you sending this child? 


Be sure to visit the giveaway post to enter for 1 month free at Keys of the Universe!





Monday, February 27, 2012

Human Needs and Tendencies 4 - Montessori Method



            Human behavior is not only instinctual but humans have potentialities which are only activated by truly living, by interacting with the environment, the people and things, around him. Adults can support this activation or be obstacles to its development. 

Education itself can be transformed only when it utilizes the natural order of the human tendencies, recognizing and respecting them. The Montessori Method is based on tendencies which have always existed; there is nothing new in these tendencies, though the listing and emphasis of them is innovative in the realm of education and of living life. These tendencies come from the spiritual part of the human life. 

“The small child is spiritual. He is the perpetrator of all that is spiritual. He is the link in the long chain of history that ensures human evolution (towards perfection).”[1]


[1] Mario Montessori. (the pamphlet). 32. 





Be sure to visit the giveaway post to enter for 1 month free at Keys of the Universe!





Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adult - Technical Preparation


We study deeply the developmental materials: their aims, how to present them, the theory behind them: why we have them, how to prepare them. 

The adult must understand and develop skills for making and developing the materials.[1] 

We need to understand most of the discoveries that the child will likely make while working with the materials so that our responses are appropriate and we have a better working knowledge of when to intervene with a creative use of the material.

We diligently practice so that we develop an exactness in our movements, particularly with our hands, but throughout the entire body. 

Timing in not only movements within a presentation but also of when to give a presentation to a child is critical to the child’s success with the materials: too early and the child is confused, discouraged and overwhelmed, but too late and the child is bored, can do the work too easily the first time and is therefore less likely to keep working with the material and make his own discoveries. 

We must be extremely familiar with these materials and these presentations, with lots of hands-on practice, such that we know them so well, our focus can be on the child’s response.

Use the materials yourself - get to know how deep they teach. 


[1] When everything is purchased, the amount of love and care for the environment decreases.










Friday, February 24, 2012

The Child's Request


“Help me to help myself.” 
-- 
The primary level child’s request.


At the elementary level, this thought is extended:
"Help me to think for myself."


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adult - Intellectual Preparation


We need to understand child development and Montessori principles in order to apply our love of children towards assisting in their self-construction.

Education must be inspired by a deep reverence for life. 

The adult must continue to study other areas of personal interest – be a lifelong learner, always interested in learning and exploring new areas; meanwhile strengthening and deepening learning in the Montessori and in the relationship with the child at hand. 


We walk with the children - we learn together. 



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bonus Post - Keys of the Universe Course Giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS! The winner is comment #30 - Jenevra!

Be sure to let me know when you're set up on your course and I'll apply your free month!




I am offering someone one month free on Keys of the Universe.

$40 - 1 month of the 8-month; 2 months of the 16-month course.
(if you're already part of the course, it can apply to your next month or you can pass it on to someone else)
If you are not yet part of the course, you can save it for whenever you would like to join.

For entries - post a comment for each of the following:

  • Follow this blog - either publicly or via e-mail subscribe
  • Post a link on your blog or Facebook or a review site back here to Montessori Nuggets (entry for each one, but leave the link to each one in a separate comment)
  • Submit an idea for something you'd like to see on Montessori Nuggets
  • Like Keys of the Universe on Facebook
  • Join the Keys of the Universe Newsletter


Winner will be chosen at random on February 28th - giveaway is open worldwide.
(if all goes well, I'll do this once every 2 months!)

Good luck!




Human Needs and Tendencies - 3


Role of the Adult and the Environment

  • The child depends on the adult to provide the environment and the opportunity to use these tendencies to their fullest in order to fulfill their needs. The adult should provide for each tendency as listed above, with the understanding that while each one is important throughout life, there are sensitive periods for each one in which needs and other tendencies are most fully strengthened and matured.

  • The physical environment should be simple, beautiful and orderly, with plenty of room to move around, as well as an arrangement which requires both gross and fine motor movement; minimal changes only as needed and with the participation of all affected persons.

  • A regular routine should be established with the children, again with the children participating in any necessary changes, i.e. with forewarning or other preparation. The child thrives on hearing real language, enunciated clearly, not baby talk or watered down sentences; he needs guidance and advice for specific social situations as they present themselves.

  • The child needs to see excellent role models, who perhaps make mistakes but are quick to recognize them, ask forgiveness and improve themselves.

  • The child needs opportunities for rest and reflection after moment of intense work, therefore simpler activities should always be present in the environment to which the child can return at any time.

  • The adult should allow the child to participate in the world around him, opening and closing doors and drawers, helping to prepare or clean up for various family and social activities.

  • The adult should move at the child’s pace; there should be substantial enough time to allow for plenty of repetition without unnecessary interruption; materials and activities which require exactness, including glass and other fragile items which require exactness of movement; materials at the child’s level to promote usage.

  • Mistakes should be expected and almost encouraged, with materials, activities and words set up in a manner which allows for auto-correction.



[1] Mario Montessori. (the pamphlet). 32. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adult - Spiritual Preparation - Conclusion


All that we have shared about the spiritual preparation of the adults - is nourished and sustained by love

Love for the child is instinctual and our most important ally in working with the child. 

Remember when working with difficult parents (which may include ourselves!) that they love their children very much but are not always sure what to do. 

Love for the child is based on knowledge, for one cannot love what one cannot know to some degree: the deeper one knows, the deeper one loves.

In all aspects of life, always look at 
“what is possible for this child, this adult, this relationship?”
 as well as
 “what is my responsibility to bring this potentiality to reality?”


Monday, February 20, 2012

Human Needs and Tendencies 2 - Tendencies

            All humans have some typical characteristics in the human tendencies.  While individual outcomes can vary greatly, human tendencies are ordered to the goal of fulfilling human needs.

Characteristics of Tendencies
            Tendencies can be and are latent at varying periods of life, particularly from conception to shortly after birth. They can strengthen slowly or quickly for varying lengths of times, but are hereditary and in their essence unchanging. Human tendencies have functioned from the creation of man and still operate today. Tendencies develop from the human’s need to survive and adapt to his environment. They operate in mature individuals but are clearly present and recognized in the child, particularly during the period up to age six. Tendencies are a driving force behind work towards betterment of the individual person, his family and society and humankind as a whole. Every tendency supports the others as they are all inter-related.

Tendencies
  • exploration
  • orientation 
  • order
  • communication
  • to know/to reason
  • abstraction
  • imagination
  • the mathematical mind
  • work
  • repetition
  • exactness
  • activity
  • manipulation 
  • self-perfection
Each human need and tendency has historical implications, as well as cultural, modern, practical, educational, spiritual and physical implications. 



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Adult - Response to the Child

Children also develop negative attitudes when they feel constantly interrogated or picked on. 


Rather than asking, “Why didn’t you put your work away?” the adult should state the objective facts with a polite reminder as to the proper action: "Your work is not complete, the materials are still out. Finish your work before starting something new."


Only as needed would this need to be extended into explaining (or not!) a consequence. “I see your work was not put away,” usually suffices to elicit either a verbal or physical response from the child, in the form of an explanation why the work is still out or the child going to put it away.


If needed a reminder might be about the next person who would like to work with that material or in that place; the intrinsic value in completing the work cycle (this is how the environment functions); the natural and logical consequences of leaving out a particular piece of material, which may also include that the child cannot work with anything else until this original work is put away; other responses. 


Provide these as needed. More often than not, provide them in a grace and courtesy lesson. 


This is in direct opposition to most non-Montessori child development programs being promoted throughout the USA.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Human Needs and Tendencies 1 - Needs


Humans have two types of needs, physical and spiritual. Without one or the other, the person will have less life within him, sometimes to the point of death. 

In the Montessori environment, we refer to these needs as the Fundamental Needs of Human Beings or the Fundamental Needs of Mankind. 


The five (5) physical needs of human beings include 
  • sufficient food
  • appropriate clothing
  • shelter
  • defense
  • transportation

The four (4) spiritual needs human beings include 
  • love
  • arts/music
  • vanitas (to improve and embellish one’s environment)
  • religion:  “To deny, a priori, the religious sentiment in man, and to deprive humanity of the education of this sentiment, is to commit a pedagogical error similar to that of denying, a priori, to the child, the love of learning for learning’s sake. This ignorant assumption led us to dominate the scholar, to subject him to a species of slavery, in order to render him apparently disciplined.”[1] 
Each physical or spiritual need has a basic component or aspect for each individual as well as a social aspect, acting upon the environment, including people, as well as bringing the environment within each person. Children without love of some degree will die, even if they have every one of their other needs fulfilled. 

We work with these needs and subsequent tendencies at all ages of development, but we also have impressionistic charts at the elementary level to bring the children's attentions to these areas and to their fulfillment throughout various cultures and history, including their own lives. 







[1] Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method. 1964: Schocken. 371.
[2] Maria Montessori. The Secret of Childhood. 1966: Fides. 52.

Montessori Fundamental Needs of Human Beings




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writing - Montessori Nuggets on the Process

The writing process should be a joy, just as learning to read. 

Some tidbits to help the process along: 
(do some of these look familiar ????)

  • writing precedes reading - it's just easier to put your own thoughts down with the sounds you know, than to interpret someone else's thoughts that you have to construct in your mind without perhaps being in the right "mindset" at the time. When a child has a reason to write, he will do it - have lots of life experiences so there are things to write about, introduce card-making and journaling with pictures - the writing will come. Then the child becomes interested in what others have written......
  • the sounds help us to write, not the names of the letters - the names of the letters help us to tell someone else how to spell; they don't even help us to alphabetize! 
  • use the sounds to write - with the movable alphabet, a child's "spelling" is taken away quickly, so it is OK if they mis-spell at this stage. The *point* is to get the correct sounds. If you can sound out their words based on the sounds they have placed, *no correction is needed* until they are old enough to be writing on paper and have had sufficient experience with puzzle words, phonograms, and lots of reading and writing experience. This is NOT "inventive spelling" - this is getting them writing. If a word is not written in correct sounds, then point out to them, "Hm. This seems to say (and slowly say the word while pointing to the letters)" OR "Hm. I wonder if we could look at this one again. Say the sounds and see if that is what you wanted to write." Again, the words are cleared away quickly so the spelling errors will NOT be reinforced. 
  • children write based on their experiences - be sure to have lots of experiences to write about: a pet that came to visit; a pet they get to care for; a visitor; a visit elsewhere
  • use wide vocabulary - a large vocabulary offers many choices for describing the same event. Instead of "he sat", a child could say, "the boy plopped down quickly" - yes a 4 year old can write that! 
  • begin with the cursive movable alphabet - when they've had sufficient work with the sandpaper letters and phonograms to start sounding out words - LET THEM! But do not require they write the letters with pencil on paper - this is a separate process. 
  • writing happens in stages, via a variety of preparations: sandpaper letters and phonograms give the sounds; work with knobbed cylinders, bell mallet and other materials encourages the proper writing grip; work with all the sensorial material gets them using the proper movements; work with the metal insets gives them actual writing with a pencil within the geometric shapes used in cursive writing (Montessori materials are not suited for starting with print) and lots of practice in controlling their movements while drawing those infinite straight lines within the metal inset shapes; further design work increases their skills and strength; exercises of practical life such as table washing and the layout of other material especially in order of use laid out on the tray should be encouraging the left to right movement of our writing system (if you are in a different writing culture, adapt your other Montessori materials layouts to suit your writing style!)
  • second-plane children should be writing across all subjects - and they will be exposed to a variety of writing styles in their reading and their research. If they are not utilizing these experiences, they don't have enough of them - so get them reading and doing independent and small group research projects. 
  • second-plane children not yet writing? start them on cursive. Really. It's easier, it flows more naturally, it connects the letters within a word forming a distinct word; it has historical implications compared to both civilizations that used individual symbols (how long it took!?) and those that used a handwriting style (how much more quickly they could write!)
  • all ages - let them doodle! We call it embellishment in Montessori circles. When their work is done, let them decorate and make it an art form for themselves. 
  • PENCIL GRIP: See the image above for the proper pencil grip. Children having a hard time? Have them pick up heavy-ish items with a small knob (think tip of the bell mallet, the knobs on the knobbed cylinders) with 2 fingers and thumb. Their touch should be light, not tight; the item should sway freely but be firmly in their grasp. This is why the Montessori bells are SO nice (see future nuggets). Practice this grip yourself. Watch videos of artists on YouTube - how they draw their pencil sketches. What grip do they use? Click here for a video from Dr. Steve Hughes. Skip to 32:00 for the section on the writing grasp. 
  • paint with small paintbrushes so the child is encouraged to use light-touch and proper grip
  • encourage light touch

Writing Style in Elementary - see upcoming Nuggets



Adult - Listening to Children

Children feel listened to when 

  • the adult has silence while the child speaks; 
  • the adult paraphrases what the child has said to clarify the issue at hand before responding; 
  • the adult shows confidence in the child’s capacities, encouraging independence while offering any necessary suggestions (since the child is coming to the adult for guidance or at minimum confirmation of the appropriate course of action or confirmation that the child’s words, thoughts, feelings and stories are valid). 


The adult should provide an environment and interactions that are full of 

  • honesty, 
  • compassion, 
  • fairness, 
  • responsibility and 
  • respect. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cosmic Task 2


 (Throughout history, Man has) not been limited any particular territory or climate; he was destined to occupy the entire surface of the globe. 
Also, being endowed with his particular type of intelligence, he now begins to realise that he must have a cosmic task.  
SOURCE: Montessori Principles: Cosmic Education, Mario M. Montessori, AMI 1976
a 7-page booklet available through AMI, required reading for AMI Elementary Montessori training


Just as animals participate in the cosmos with their particular tasks; utilizing and ultimately changing the world around them, thus do human beings exercise stewardship over the entire earth, utilizing and changing it to suit their needs. This created nature is now a supranatura - something more than it was before, being brought up to the level of human usage. So too, do humans have a higher plane to which they strive, via inner unfulfilled needs and tendencies that are displayed positively or negatively.

The merchant who wants to sell more to make more money is called greedy; but if his product is good, he is also contributing a good to all of humanity that strengthens the connections amongst humans.

It is through our children we can achieve the ends toward which we are each oriented.

Do not discourage them or their inner needs and tendencies --- instead, help them to properly channel their energies towards their own good and that all of all humankind.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Montessori Acronyms

Please submit or ask about additional ones :)


AMI - Association Montessori Internationale
AMI/USA - USA branch of AMI
AMS - American Montessori Society

MACTE - Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education

NAMTA - North American Montessori Teachers' Association

R&D - Montessori Research and Development

Listening


55% of the meaning of spoken language is expressed through gestures and facial expressions – something we miss when the speaker and listener are not looking right at each other.
38% is through tone of voice, which is only heard when full attendance is on the speaker.
Only 7% of the meaning of the spoken word is expressed through the words themselves.[1]

The average person speak about 125 words per minute but can process up to 500 words per minute, meaning that our attention is easily distracted by our thoughts (of various capacities), feelings, other internal noise, as well as the rest of the environment with other people, objects and events.


[1] Try saying the same phrase in a variety of voice tones; utilize different gestures and expressions, some which match the tone, others that do not. Do this in a small group, with a partner or in front of a mirror. Note the incongruities.
NOTE: Excellent activity for parents-to-be.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cosmic Task 1

We must be clear what is meant by the concept "Comic." The idea is not new. It has been proposed and expanded since the time of Greek civilisation. With others, we believe that harmony exists in the cosmos; that everything contained within it has contributed to the creation of our world... and we think that among the innumerable agents that participated in this creation, Man has had and still has a very important task. We believe that creation has not finished; we also believe that the one agent who as yet has not yet been taken into consideration is the child. 
........
One finds that everything that exists works to ensure cosmic harmony -- all, from the most minute living beings, contribute their individual task to creation... People say, "That is nature." Each living being obeys the instincts nature has implanted in it and acts according to its impulses. Each seeks the best conditions for the continuation of its life and of its species but none is conscious of the task it performs in the telluric economy, and each is limited to its sphere of activity, for it is the only environment that contains the special conditions it needs for survival.  
Another striking fact that is that to accomplish their task all cosmic gents work incessantly.
Think of the coral, the insects, the plants, the air, every aspect of nature.
Man, endowed with his all-embracing intelligence, is he included in the same category? Is he also an agent of creation? And of so, is he also unconscious of his cosmic task? If one investigate, one comes to realize that had be been conscious of it from his first appearance on earth, human history would not have been the long path of work and suffering it has become Work!
That has been the great lesson of nature: Work.  
SOURCE: Montessori Principles: Cosmic Education, Mario M. Montessori, AMI 1976
a 7-page booklet available through AMI, required reading for AMI Elementary Montessori training



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading - Montessori Nuggets on the Process

Learning to read should be a joy, not a chore. When children learn during the primary windows of opportunity (ages 3 1/2-5 1/2 or 7-9, though it can happen in between and after as well), the process goes much more smoothly.

Some tidbits to help the process along:

  • writing precedes reading - it's just easier to put your own thoughts down with the sounds you know, than to interpret someone else's thoughts that you have to construct in your mind without perhaps being in the right "mindset" at the time. When a child has a reason to write, he will do it - have lots of life experiences so there are things to write about, introduce card-making and journaling with pictures - the writing will come. Then the child becomes interested in what others have written......
  • the sounds help us to read, not the names of the letters - the names of the letters help us to tell someone else how to spell; they don't even help us to alphabetize! 
  • children read silently until they are at least 7 - let them formulate what the words say, in their entirety (the entire passage, the entire phrase, the entire word)
  • begin with commands - write out commands for the child to perform - make it a FUN GAME: you know they got it "right" because they'll obey the words as they read them. A first one might be "kiss mama" - a later one might be "share candy with sister"
  • match labels with pictures/symbols/objects - then they check their work with already-labeled cards
  • Adult read-aloud - allows the child to hear things again and again, shows pronunciation of words, inflection, voice tones, etc. 
  • All of this focuses on comprehension - whole reading
  • children read-aloud below the child's reading level - a 7 year old reading at a middle school reading comprehension may only be able to read-aloud a "2nd grade" book. That is OKAY! An idea: think of "reading levels" in books as what a child should be able to comfortably read-aloud at that typical age - but reading aloud only after they have moved on in silent reading. 
  • Minimize technology - in normally developing children, technology is a hindrance. It breeds the idea that it is easier to do it this way, therefore why bother doing the perceived "hard way". A small selection of books on tape/CD are fine (and can be GREAT!) when properly balanced with other experiences; but that's it. The adult (parent or teacher) should be interacting with the child during read-alouds as well. 
  • Read with a purpose - whether it be entertainment, cooking, science experiments - but have the things the children read that are required by you or the local educational standards mean something to you and to them. Dick and Jane are cute from an adult nostalgic perspective. Not so with the little ones! 
  • Trust that your child can read. - when our trust fails, theirs fails. Let them know they CAN do it and provide them opportunities to do so. Especially boys - they need a purpose and they need complete faith from those around them. If a book is too hard and you don't have time to tell them every word, let them know: You may read this book, but I will only help you at the end of the chapter with what you were not able to figure out. It is *amazing* what they figure out when they are not allowed to use a crutch, yet know that help is available if/when they do need it. 
  • Tiny blips throughout the day - 4-8 5-minute blips of reading practice are worth far more than 1 30-minute block each day. This one most especially applies to all learners, particular those not in the "windows of opportunity". 3-5 minutes before breakfast; after morning chores; mid-morning; before or after lunch; mid-afternoon; late afternoon; just before evening chores. Even 2-4 minutes. 
And all of that can be done without a curriculum! However, I know - something of a guide is so much easier for the adults to follow and ensure the foundation is laid, especially an easy-to-follow Montessori sequence that doesn't involve re-inventing the wheel with materials and colored sequences! 

Keys of the World will soon be offering such an option. In the meantime, you may contact me for ideas on resources to use for your particular situation. Or visit this post on my personal blog for ideas.



Education and Peace

("super" in the following quote refers to something higher than it was - supernature is that nature which has been raised from its created state to a higher purpose --- see other Nuggets on Cosmic Task)

It is quite evident that man has a mission. He has extracted hidden wealth and marvelous energies from the bowels of the earth, and he has created a superworld, or, more precisely, a supernature. As he has constructed this supernature little by little, man has also perfected himself and made the natural man he was into a supernatural man. Nature is a domain that has existed for centuries, and supernature is yet another domain, which man has gradually constructed. 
Contemporary man no longer lives within nature, but within supernature. An animal can procure its food directly from the earth, but man is dependent on other men. How man men labor so that the bread we eat may reach our mouths! And fruit that comes to us from a faraway place may represent a vast organization of men, a formidable and strict organization that holds human society together. 
We must be aware of this organization if we are to evaluate properly certain widespread ideas that find expression in a number of slogans: "Let us return to nature." "Let us become one with nature."
The life that some call "artificial" is mankind's supernatural life. Our way of life is not artificial, but rather the product of labor. If we did not make such a distinction, we might be inclined to say that even the way of life of certain animals is artificial -- that of bees, who "artificially" produce honey, for instance. Man is a great work, capable of creating a supernature through his labors.  
But we might now ask ourselves: if animals labor so joyously, why do men not also take delight in their work? 

SOURCE: Education and Peace Dr. Maria Montessori, translated by Helen R. Lane; Part 2, 5th Lecture

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adult - Spiritual Preparation - Listening


The adult must have the ability to listen to the child, not just as a technical skill, but on a spiritual level. 

We are living in an age of distraction, with much inner and external noise. This noise weakens one’s ability to hear truly attend to the moment at hand and truly reach out to others. In this work with children, the ability to listen and listen well is critical – as it becomes harder and harder to do so in general society, it will become still more difficult to do so with children.

Children have fewer and fewer role models for true listening, so they can’t do it themselves for others, and when this lack occurs during this critical period of development, children will also lose the ability to listen even to themselves, to their own inner guide, to their conscience, to the calling towards their vocation in life.

Listening is the first step in helping a person to feel valued. It is so easy to become like robots, thinking of the next presentation, worrying about getting each step correct with the child – when the child needs the adult to follow his lead, work with him where he is at, walking forward with him towards the next signpost along the path of self-construction. Other methods of educating the youngest people in our society promote this robot-like attitude, providing a specific set of regulations for all children, and sapping the true joy that comes from working with these children just at the beginning of their lives.[2]

Listening can be good for one’s physical health, affecting heart-rate, oxygen level and blood pressure. When a person realizes he has been deeply heard, his eyes moisten.[3]


[2] True joy is deep – a spiritual feeling – rather than a fleeting sensation of fun.
[3] Lecture notes 2008.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reality and Fantasy in Montessori


The child before age 6, when given to pretend play, re-enacts what is real to him. We steep the child in reality at this age, because he is constructing himself to be a member of this society of which he knows nothing at birth. He is learning and exploring the world around him: we give them Keys of the World. By age 6, he is a participating member in society and has a more abstract mind set that can handle history and what-ifs and the expanse of the universe past, present and future: we give them Keys of the Universe.

In Montessori's time, children were left to their own devices at best; at worst they were given pure fantasy in their earliest years so that they did not know the difference between what was real and what was fantasy. Those children who'd had real experiences (i.e. a real horse), did not "pretend" fantasy (i.e. use a stick horse), but enjoyed life as it was, using their imaginations to plan out events and play that had the potential to be brought into reality (i.e. planning rides with or meals for that horse).

Today, culture has changed and children are given so much reality without us thinking about it, that they have proven they can indeed handle "fantasy" at an earlier age - as long as those earliest years are *steeped in reality*. But that fantasy should be something that stirs the imagination, leads to wonder and still has a connection to reality.

Being steeped in reality, and provided the most beautiful things of our cultures, children have very active minds that can go very far and very deep.


Until age 6, we focus on reality; and once a solid foundation is formed (as early as age 4 1/2, usually closer to 6), the child's imagination can take flight - and now we can introduce beautiful allegorical stories.


AT ALL AGES:
  • No cartoons. It cheapens the experience. 
  • No adult humor. This disrespects the child. 
  • Beautiful artwork, if any. Develops the aesthetic sense and respects the child. 
  • Keep the appropriate faith stories real. Cheapen them and you cheapen your faith. 

At age 6, when the imagination is fully prepared, we begin introducing the Great Lessons, which will be reviewed yearly through age 12. 

We can also introduce fairy tales (these are actually moral tales and a child's moral sense develops around the age of 7), Rudyard Kipling and other wonderful imaginative authors who inspire the imagination and give children credit for being intelligent and insightful. Narnia-type stories are big at this age. 

Now the child who has a firm grasp on reality can soar with wonder, and questions and what ifs, and explore the universe; while maintaining a firm grasp on day-to-day life. They can bring wonder into their daily lives and find joy in the most mundane of moments, because they have a rich foundation and a rich imagination, with which to explore their life, their world, their universe, their faith.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adult - Spiritual Preparation Continued


So what are we to DO as the ADULT?
            We must begin by keeping our imagination alive: to always look for the child who is not yet here; to have a vision for what is possible; to have faith that the child will reveal himself through work; to have faith in the basic goodness of each child. If the child has many deviations, we must remind ourselves that something has already been an obstacle to that child and constantly remind ourselves that the child wants to belong but just doesn’t know how.

           The most troublesome children need the most love. They are begging for attention and should not be ignored, though the attention should be appropriate. The type of attention they receive truly matters – as it will either reinforce or break the deviation. We should never ignore or withdraw from a child who is seeking attention. At age three, the child already has a positive or negative self-image, which we can either strengthen or weaken.

            We must have faith in the child and develop the virtue of humility before him. The humble person does not lose his faith and blame the child when things become chaotic, rather he looks to himself and to the environment.


            We must develop patience, feeling for the child, having a particular sense of sympathy. To be patient with children we need to accept things we understand as well as those things we do not understand. We must know that children are not an inconvenience and we must slow down to their pace.
            Hand in hand with patience is perseverance. We must have confidence that the children are essentially constructive. We must be compassionate, maintaining the ability to keep our hearts open – in adversity it’s easy to lose heart when working with children who so vulnerable, but in a positive way. Courage is also crucial – courage to open our hearts even when in fear that it will take in more than we think it can hold. If the adult does not have these qualities, the children will stop showing their own emotions and their development will be stunted on many fronts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Geometry - Table of Contents

Geometry is a very hands-on experience in Montessori. Nothing theoretical and everything practical here! 




Primary: 
There is no explicit geometry table of contents for primary. Geometric concepts are explored through the use of the following inexhaustible list of experiences: 


Mathematics: 
Golden beads (point, line, plane, 3D that becomes a point again)
Wooden Hierarchical Material
Bead Cabinet displayed and used


Language: 
Environment Language Games
Card materials
Cutting and other art experiences
Metal Insets (design work - preparation for writing)


Exercises of Practical Life: 
visual layout of materials
design work on materials and in art pieces
variety of shapes available in the environment


Sensorial: 
Geometry Cabinet
Geometry Cards
Leaf Cabinet
Leaf Cards
Constructive Triangles
     Rectangular Box A
     Rectangular Box B
     Triangular Box
     Large Hexagonal Box
     Small Hexagonal Box
     12 Blue Triangles
Binomial Cube
Trinomial Cube
Graded Geometric Figures
Decanomial Square
Knobless Cylinders
Geometric Solids
Metal Insets (design work)





Elementary - 1st-6th grade: 

I. Introduction to Geometry
        Original Geometry Story
II. Congruency, Similarity, Equivalency I
        Iron Material
        Constructive Triangles/Blue Box
III. Polygons
        Polygons
IV. Angles I
        Angles
        Parts of an Angle
        How to Measure an Angle
        Addition and Subtraction of Angles
        Regular Protractor (including bisecting an angle)
V. Lines
        Nomenclature
        Position of Two Lines
        Intersecting Lines
VI. Angles II
        Relationships Between Angles
        Rel Bet Angles Formed by Parallel Lines Cut by a Transversal
        Size Relationships of These Angles
VII. Equivalency II
        Pythagoras Plates I and II
        Pythagoras with the Constructive Triangles
VIII. Polygons II
        Nomenclature of Polygons
        Sum of the Angles in Plane Figures
IX. Equivalency III
        Equivalency with Iron Material
        Euclid’s Plate
X. Area
        Concept of Area
        Deriving Formulae with the Yellow Material
        Deriving Formulae with the Iron Material
XI. Circle I
        The Circle Nomenclature
        Relationship Between Lines and Circumferences
        Relationships Between Two Circumferences
XII. Circle II
        Area of a Circle:
                Circle as a Special Polygon
                Measuring the Circumference
                Formula for Area of a Circle
        Relationship Between the Apothem and Side of a Plane Figure
XIII. Solid Geometry
        Concept of Volume
        Equivalence as Related to Solid Figures
        Three Important Dimensions
        Equivalence Between Prisms with Various Bases
        Derivation of the Formula
        Solids of Rotation
        Volume of the Pyramid
        Volume of the Cylinder and Cone
        Polyhedrons
        Lateral and Total Surface Area of Solids
XIV. Addendum
        Geometry Nomenclature Material
        Geometry Commands
        Geometry Summary
XV. Appendix
        Geometry Charts
        Geometry Stories