Thursday, June 28, 2012

Control of Error

During all of her time with children, Maria Montessori discovered that children would much rather correct themselves, or discover something new themselves, rather than have an adult move in.  Because of this, she developed many of her materials with a built in 'control of error'.  This means that children can self correct and notice an imperfection themselves while working.  This control of error is built into the physically prepared environment and allows children to use their reasoning and problem solving skills.  It also gives them quick feedback on their work, rather than having to wait for an adult to evaluate what they have done. Some examples of this are:

*Furniture in the classroom is light weight enough to be moved without adult help and will also be knocked over if a child is not carefully controlling their body. 

*Objects in the classroom are breakable which teaches them to handle things carefully to avoid damage or breakage.

*Sometimes in many of the matching or sorting works, a small dot will be placed on the back of the picture/word card so children can check their work.  So, if a child is sorting land/air/water pictures, they may complete the work, then turn over all the cards and see that all the land cards have a brown dot, all the water cards have a blue dot and all the air cards have a white dot.  This indicates to them that they have sorted correctly. 

*Knobbed Cylinders-there is one space for each cylinder and they all fit perfectly-if a child is working with this material, they will notice that if a piece doesn't fit exactly, there is not space for all cylinders.  We have observed on many occasions children focusing and working until getting it right. We have also seen this material be returned to the shelf with some cylinders out of place which just indicates that a child is practicing with this material and has not yet developed the visual discrimination skills to see the imperfections.

*Many of the Sensorial materials have a built in control of error-the Red Rods, the Pink Tower, and the Brown Stair show an imperfection in how a child sees them.  With the Red Rods, they are grading the rods from longest to shortest. When the rods are graded on the rug, the child may notice they have graded incorrectly if the rods are out of order.

*Sorting works will have the same number of objects so if the child sorts, but doesn't have the same number of objects for each row, they will know to go back and check for a mistake.  For example, if a child is sorting items according to how they feel (rough vs. smooth) and they end up with 6 items under rough and 4 items under smooth, they will need to go back and check the work to see where they made a mistake.

Making sure that all materials in the classroom are prepared and ready for a child to work with them is another important part of how teachers prepare the classroom.  Each day teachers tend to the materials and works-refill, straighten, count, clean and prepare so that children are drawn in and attracted to the works.  Part of why a Montessori classroom functions so beautifully is because there are so many wonderful things for children to engage in.  They love being at school, they love their friends, and they love how the environment makes them feel~respected, cared for, capable and empowered!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Ideas

Summer can be a time of great family and outdoor time, but it can also be a time of anxiety for some parents who wonder what to do with their children all summer.  I hope this blog post brings your mind at ease and lets you know that it doesn't have to be too complicated.  Here is a list of some things to do over the summer:

*  Ask your child(ren) to make a 'summer bucket list' of things they would like to do and keep it handy so that you can have a quick reference when you're planning.
*  Visit a Farmer's Market-if you can, drive into the country a bit and check out an area you have never been and make a day of it.
*  Do some outdoor scrubbing-the car, the patio furniture, bikes, or even rocks/shells.  Children love water and love to clean and doing it outdoors means less mess inside!
*  Choose a fun recipe and find a way to engage even the youngest of children in the process-make something to give to the Fire Department, a local nursing home, or even a neighbor.
*  Go for a creek walk-Sharon Woods or Keehner Park are both great places to do this.  Take along a container to collect cool rocks, fossils, or plant life.
*  Go on a family bike ride-Loveland Bike Trail is beautiful and shady for hot days!  They have a couple really yummy restaurants nearby as well.
*  Check out your local Metro Parks for programs for kids of all ages.
*  Visit the Art Museum, Children's Museum, or Eden Park.
*  Have a art day at home-gather all kinds of scraps of wrapping paper, ribbon, magazine pictures and allow your children to create things from those items. 
*  Chalk art on the driveway!
*  Visit the Boonshoft Museum in Dayton-fun and hands on!
*  Play in the sprinkler
*  Use a storage bin to make a water table for outside-add plastic items/cups/utensils
*  Write a letter to a far away friend or relative-for younger children they can dictate to you what they would like you to write-add a picture and take your child to the post office to mail it. 
*  Visit the library and get books on whatever your child is interested in.
*  Do some planting/gardening-involve children in the preparation and care taking process
*  Play dress up and take silly pictures

Hope this list is helpful....don't feel like you have to go and do all the time.......having a pj day at home is fun too!

Most of all, enjoy your children, step back, watch and let them show you what they'd like to do.  :)