September 23, 2009

Montessori at home


I have been spending a lot of time looking on the web at what is being done in Montessori schools at the preschool level. When I was in university I recall thinking quit highly of the Montessori method, but when I was looking for a preschool for Hannah Jane, the Montessori schools in the area seemed more like pure chaos than child led learning centers. That turned me off for a while and I wondered if the Montessori method cold really work the way Maria Montessori believed it could.

Her book is filled with photographs of groups of children who all seem engaged at their own free will in some sort of learning activity. My favorite is a picture of children studying in a garden. None of them are wondering off or giggling. They are all just lounging around fully engaged in an enriching activity. Is this possible? Did she edit out all of the real minute to minute pictures of the kids doing a little dance while they chased a cat out of the garden and some boy throwing her delicately rolled silk cards? I have my suspicions.

Anyway, I still very much like what her theories stated and how focused the entire education process is on preserving the dignity of the child at every turn. So, I thought I'd give it a go. The short term results are nothing short of miraculous! I set up our bottom shelves in the school room, according to the Montessori style, with a few colorful activities in separate trays and a few books. I put the bulk of our out-of control book collection up on a top shelf and will rotate the books every few months to make what was once old new again.

Anyway, they boys are thoroughly engaged in each activity I set in front of them. They are quiet and focused. Haven, 2, does still call out his every move like he is commentating a football game - "I find a heart. I find da heart shaped hole. I put da heart in da box." So it's not totally quiet, but it's a pleasant sound of minds in motion.

I will detail some of our activities in later posts. Enjoy!

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