MONTESSORI PARENTING & TEACHING
NEWSLETTER #4, August 2010 (internet version)
For more information on Montessori in general, see the main page www.michaelolaf.net
Excerpts from The Joyful Child overview and catalog. For the complete text see AGE 0-3 YEARS—Parenting & Teaching
Parents, The Child's First Teachers
Physical safety and a healthy diet are essential in raising healthy children. But just as important is the creation of an environment that will provide calm and gentleness, love and security, that will foster physical, mental, emotional, and social development, a positive self-image, and joy.
A Sense of Order
The young child is constantly trying to make sense of the real world, to create order, to create himself in relation to it. When the child figures out where everything belongs and how the day goes, he develops a feeling of security.
A child has his own inborn natural rhythms, or knowledge of when to go to sleep and when to wake up, when to eat, what to eat, and how much. If the parent can take time in the beginning to observe the child, to learn and respect the inner guides—for example trying to never wake a sleeping child, or allowing him to nurse until he wants to stop—life will settle into a routine more quickly.
The Changing Environment
Parents who learn to observe their children will be able to tell if a toy is still appropriate, or if furniture is still of the correct size for their growing child. They will recognize when the child is ready to use a spoon or glass, remove or put on her own clothing, cut his own food. Each new skill is a step toward participation in family life.
The Parents’ Needs
What a pleasure it is for parents to slow down their own lives and match the child's speed, share the cooking, the making of gifts, holiday baking, sewing and knitting, gardening, making valentines, laundry, fixing and oiling furniture, arranging flowers, building and cleaning, and so forth. Life becomes richer and more loving. The most important gift we can give our children is our time.
Modeling , Setting Limits, and Time Out
When a limit must be set, like not touching the stove or not running into the street, the parent should physically, gently remove the child so he knows that "Don't touch" or "Stay out of the street" really means "move away from that object." Or "Move out of the street." That way the parent will not have to repeat, the child will have no opportunity to disobey and the lesson to obey will be learned.
When a "time out" is necessary because nothing else is working, be sure to treat the child as you would like to be treated. For example you are at a party with friends and you are exhausted and tired and hungry and you lose it and say something rude to your spouse. How do you want him or her to treat you?
Would you prefer "Get out of this room immediately!" or perhaps "Say you are sorry and say it like you mean it!" Or "Could I please speak to you in private for a moment" and then "Something must be very wrong for you to get this upset, shall we go home so you can rest?"
Her is a conversation between our daughter and our 4-year-old granddaughter:
Educational Materials for 0-3
Uninterrupted periods of concentration on play or work that involves both body movement and mental intention toward a goal, fulfill the needs for order, movement, work, repetition, perfection, concentration, exactness, imitation, independence, and self-control.
PARENTING/TEACHING, Age 3-12
I never teach my pupils;
Parenting / Teaching
Education is sometimes narrowly defined as the teaching of math, language, sciences and the arts, but the most important subjects to be mastered are: how to be happy, to be a compassionate friend, to express care through thoughtfulness and good manners, to identify a problem and work hard to solve it, to know how to be happy.
Concentration & Contemplation
Lessons on morality, books on morality, gold stars, these exterior inducements to happiness and goodness are never as successful as a good night’s sleep or a long period of concentrated work or contemplation during which the mind can process the day’s input, solve problems at a deep level, and come out happy.
The most important advice on parenting and teaching we can offer is to constantly watch for periods of concentration and contemplation in our children and protect these moments from interruption.
A Fresh Look. One of the most important attitudes to nurture is to see each child as a new being each day, forgetting the past and seeing only the potential for greatness.
This is also the best way to look at ourselves. It is a lot to ask of the adult to provide everything a child needs, and we believe that some time should be allotted, perhaps at the beginning of each day, to getting mentally prepared for the task by taking a walk, meditating, praying, etc. Then one is better able to take a deep breath and face the day with a feeling of being new and in the present moment. If we can balance ourselves, our interactions with our children will be more enjoyable.
AGE 3-6, the House of Children, not a school
The 3-6 environment is called a Casa dei Bambini, or House of Children because it is very different from the traditional preschool. To imagine the difference think of how you act when welcoming friends into your own inviting, comfortable, enjoyable home.
If a guest in your home appeared at loose ends would you tell him to get to work, or would you have a private conversation with him and offer some interesting activity? When your guests were all settled in and having a lovely time would you interrupt them and tell them to come and sit in a circle because what you have to show them is more important than anything they might be doing? What if a guest were tired or hungry, or deeply involved in something else?
AGE 6-12, the Elementary School
In recent years this age group has sometimes been divided into 6-9 (lower elementary) and 9-12 (upper elementary), but, after having taught in six different 6-12 environments, I really believe that this limits the child. When the age span is wider (I have taught 5-13 with wonderful results) children are exposed to an incredible range of work and have much more chance to sharpen their knowledge by teaching others. There are often far fewer teacher-led groups and longer periods of concentration.
The focus must continue to be on the needs and tendencies of the young person, NOT on the academic requirements of today. The world is changing far too rapidly for us to assume to know what children will need to know in even ten years. But we do know that he will need to know how to be happy, to be kind, to make intelligent choices, to solve problems, to help each other, and to enjoy doing a good job in all kinds of work.
A child who experiences independence—going to the grocery store on his own, finding books in a public library, interacting with people outside the school and family—by the end of the stable age of six to twelve—will have a better chance of experiencing a happy transition from adolescence to adult life: going to college, moving out into the adult world, and earning a living.
For Everything There is a Season
Montessori Schools—the Teacher
Montessori schools have proven successful all over the world, with all kinds of children (blind, gifted, learning disabled, wealthy, poor, etc.) and in many different environments (from refugee camps and slums to elegant schools in beautiful private homes).
THE 3-12 MONTESSORI OVERVIEW:
The text of Michael Olaf publications is the best brief description of Montessori I've come across and they have wonderful thing for parents to choose for their children. I gave a copy to each family in our school as part of their information packet.
THE VERY FIRST MICHAEL OLAF MONTESSORI SHOP, 1983
Above is a picture of the first Michael Olaf store across from the Rockridge BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station on the Berkeley/Oakland line of the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the years it has grown from a neighborhood toy shop to a world famous supplier of Montessori information for parents and teachers of children from birth to age 12, and a source of the best quality materials available.
HOMESCHOOLING: Homeschooling is spreading faster than ever in the USA today, but what many people do not realize is that, even though their children are in school 5 days a week, EVERY MOMENT that they are at home with their parents they are learning how to be, to think, what to value, how to live. Parents and grandparents are the first and most important teachers and this is real homeschooling. For information on using Montessori ideas in the home, part time or full time, see this page: Montessori Homeschooling
Maria Montessori, MD
LINKING & SHARING THIS INFORMATION
Please feel free to link this site to any school or other educational website providing the following information and link: "This link is provided by Michael Olaf Montessori www.michaelolaf.net")
The text is excerpted from The Joyful Child (0-3, and Child of the World (3-12) Montessori overviews and catalogs written by Susan Mayclin Stephenson, Montessori 0-3, 3-6, 6-12 Montessori teacher, lecturer and consultant: author
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