Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, from our HBMH family to yours!

Today was a day filled with fun, food, and friends! We celebrated the holiday with baking, craft making, reading Thanksgiving books, and of course, our traditional feast.

DSC_0400DSC_0399DSC_0369Our Apple friends made place mats, describing what they’re most thankful for.DSC_0364DSC_0394DSC_0396DSC_0397Our friends enjoyed tasty chicken, corn, vegetables, delicious sweet potatoes, cranberries, with muffins and pumpkin pie for dessert. – Thank you Ms. Tami for creating our feast (and Apple & Pear children for baking our tasty deserts!)
DSC_0380DSC_0384DSC_0403DSC_0388DSC_0370DSC_0373Tiny fingers explore new textures of the fruits and vegetables.
DSC_0361DSC_0358DSC_0359Happy Thanksgiving!

The Art of Table Setting

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Today, I had the opportunity to witness a few of our primary community members prepare the tables for lunch. Although they carried out this work flawlessly, it did seem quite challenging. They are required to take one item at a time, carrying it from the cabinet to the table, which can take several minutes. It truly did resemble a form of art, placing each item carefully on the table in the correct order.

What impressed me most was the dialogue that was shared between our two, pre-selected lunch helpers.

“Can you help me tie my apron, please?”

“Here, you lay out the napkins while I do the spoons.”

“We need to get the water from the refrigerator, but I need your help.”

“Would you hand me the napkin?”

I enjoyed hearing these two young people interact and collaborate with one another. It was truly delightful! They found pure joy in the work they were doing, and carried themselves in such a way that they knew this was important and purposeful work.

Not once did I see the guides intervene because it was simply not necessary. She didn’t step in to correct their errors, or straighten a napkin that was slightly offset. The task was carried out in full by the two friends, who relied on one another for help.Tabel Setting_4Setting the table can be defined by many adults as a “chore”, but for a child, it is a purposeful, meaningful, and fulfilling work that stimulates all of their senses. Through this work, they enhance their concentration as they focus on each minor detail, self-control as they learn to carry one item at a time, critical thinking through exploring and manipulating different styles of place setting, collaboration, delegation, and leadership skills, care of environment and care of others, and they develop a healthy self-image because the work is real and necessary. And because of this, we cannot call it a “chore” since it is joyful, purposeful work. Just like an artist carefully and meticulously paints or sculpts his masterpiece, so do our children carefully and meticulously complete their work.

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They understand that this is important work, and gain self-confidence as they see the outcome of their efforts; a room full of happy children eating and socializing in a well prepared environment.

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Montessori in the Home: Mealtime

It’s a common belief that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. We hurry about to prepare meals on time and constantly clean up after ourselves to try to always maintain a presentable and clean atmosphere; the cycle is endless. Similar preparation and effort should be put into the tools and equipment you make available to your children in their “self-feeding” area.

The dinner table is a place where we gather to socialize and enjoy one another’s company. The same can be said for a child’s self-feeding area. This is an area available to use when the child feels hungry or thirsty, and provides the tools necessary to fulfill their bodily needs. We want to try to have everything readily available at all times, so the child can complete this work independently, better developing their self-feeding skills. Our role is to model how to properly use each utensil (silverware, napkin, cup, plate, etc.) so the child can internalize the process and appreciate each delicate movement. Dr. Maria Montessori quoted, “the child can develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences ‘work’.” We model how to properly pour the water from the pitcher into the cup, then how to hold the cup and carefully take a drink of water. We model how to use each utensil, displaying how to eat the food through overly-dramatic motions.  All the while, the child is internalizing each step and understanding the importance of this work. You’d be amazed at what your young ones are capable of doing when given the ability to do so.

Here we revisit the Crawford family home, taking a closer look at their eating area that they’ve prepared for their young son, complete with small furniture and tools suitable for his growing needs. Everything is set at his level so that he may eat when he is hungry, pour water for himself whenever he feels the urge to drink, and clean up afterwards, knowing where each item is to be returned.

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(Notice the satisfied expression on his face after preparing the table all by himself, the reward a filling and healthy snack; truly a Montessori child at heart!)

Teach by Teaching, not by Correcting

“The most powerful tool parents have for sharing their way of life and values is the example they set. In every waking moment of the child’s life, especially in the first three years, she is learning and becoming more and more like those people she finds around her. She will imitate the way of walking, moving and talking, the vocabulary, the handling of objects, the emotions, manners, taste, the respect and consideration (or lack of) for others, and on and on…when parents and children begin to spend more active time together the need for these lessons comes up often and can be enjoyed by both adult and child; life becomes more and more pleasant.”
-The Joyful Child, Birth to Three Years, 2010-2011 Edition

To purchase your own Montessori eating utensils for your child’s self-feeding area, visit http://www.michaelolaf.com/store

Happy Eating!