Guess what I’m receiving today??? My AMI Montessori Elementary Diploma!!! I’m finally done and will finally be able to get back to my much-neglected blog!!! Many updates to come, and I can’t WAIT to catch up on what everyone has been doing… Today is a good day at Montessori Matters. 🙂
Whew, blogging while getting the Elementary certification is a little like birthing a child while cooking a seven-course meal (or something like that…). At any rate, I wanted to share these great principles that can help you make the right decision for your child or your students during your Montessori journey. They’ll be posted in four parts for ease of reading. I hope you enjoy them!
When faced with an uncertain situation in the classroom, it is always advisable to go “back to the basics”. What follows are reference points/yardsticks that will allow us to make decisions that are aligned with the Montessori approach and are in the best interest of the child’s development.
The True Purpose of the Materials
Dr. Montessori’s focus was not the teaching of subjects; she was intrigued by the child’s development and how he learns. Therefore, the subject area should never become more important than the children. She offered materials as a means of development, not as an end in themselves.
We should not offer a material – be it table washing or the stamp game – with the goal of getting the child to learn how to wash tables or to obtain the right result for an addition. We should guide children towards materials that will provide them with the developmental opportunities they require at that precise time. We can know what their needs are by observing them and educating ourselves regarding the different sensitivities children exhibit at different stages (that’s a post for another day).
A child who washes a table will be refining his movements and developing the ability to follow a sequence of steps, regardless of how clean he leaves the table. Similarly, a child who works with the stamp game will come to understand the fundamental concepts of arithmetic operations, regardless of whether he gets the correct answer every time or is able to add in his head.
The characteristics of the materials must be such that they prepare the child for something in the future (indirect preparation), while allowing him to reach awareness in the present (direct preparation). Only the adult can develop an idea of what happens in the future; the child is not conscious of the preparation that is going on while he works.
The repetitive use of the Montessori materials is what allows the child to reach abstractions. Dr. Montessori deemed a material valid and useful if it was able to hold the child’s concentration and if it permitted him to pass from the material to the mental world (from the concrete to the abstract).
It’s important to remember that abstractions take time. The child must use materials that will allow him to reach abstraction by himself on his own timetable; this is the real meaning of freedom, growth, and self-construction. When a child reaches abstraction depends on the individual, but if it is to be meaningful it will be based on individual experiences and not on someone else’s knowledge.
Hello dear readers (if I have anyone left at this point, since I’ve been away for forever)… Elementary training has been beyond amazing, but has also taken a toll on the amount of time or energy I have for writing anything other than Montessori essays and presentations for school. Today our trainer busted out the most amazing set of principles that all adults should keep in mind when guiding children (be it in school or at home). My goal is to get them on this blog this week. Baby steps towards writing this blog again on a regular basis…
In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a beautiful experience I had the first few days in Italy. I went to a concert atop a bell tower. Inside the bell tower, a young man – probably not more than 14 years old – used a centuries-old tradition to play the bells… The actual church bells that sit atop the bell tower!!! Notice his concentration… How often we under-estimate the abilities of our young!