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.




2 comments:

  1. I think it is at the elementary level where many find this difficult, especially when trying to balance requirements of state/federal documentation for schools.

    I know a few teachers who have come from mainstream that struggle the most with this aspect - for them it is the opposite of what they have been trained to do.

    It is all about faith in the method :)

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  2. I would love to see a follow up nugget on themes and units (pet peeve of mine!)

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