Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Maria Montessori said, "The child only develops by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience work.".  Maria Montessori wanted to give dignity to what children do.  When they are playing, working, and engaging in activity they are learning to master themselves-this is indeed very important work.   They are perfecting skills we take for granted and their brains are developing.  In a Montessori classroom, you will notice a peaceful contentment among the children as they work.  People who have never seen a Montessori classroom in action are amazed at how calm things seem.  There are children engaged in many different activities, moving about freely, and chatting with friends, but it is purposeful work.  One child may naturally sit with a child who is doing something they are interested in.  A spontaneous conversation will sometimes occur, or there will be silence as the one child works and the other child observes.  These types of happenings are not teacher directed, rather flow from the freedom the child is given within this prepared environment.  Today I saw a younger child (almost 3) struggling to zip her jacket to go outside.  An older child (4 1/2) put down her backpack, got out of the line to go outside and walked up to her and said, 'Can I help you?'.  The younger child continued attempting to zip her jacket as the older child watched.  Finally, when the younger child tired of trying, the older child moved in and zipped her coat.  While she was helping her young friend, the younger child became fascinated w/her hand made knit hat.  She said, 'I like your pretty hat'....the older child said, 'My Mom made it for me'.....the two got in line together and went outside.  It's precious moments like these that make teaching Montessori so rewarding.  The children are so naturally helpful, considerate, respectful and when given the freedom to be leaders and have independence in their classroom, they are able to continue to blossom into who they were meant to be.  Start noticing when your child is really engaged at home-what is he/she doing?  Can you see the focus and concentration?  Be respectful of their work.  Try to allow them ample time to finish or complete the work.  It's amazing how often you will see your child focus on things they are interested in.  The respect you show your child regarding their work will help them learn to give the same respect back to others.

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