Our primary friends made special cookies and Valentines treats for a special cookie exchange. It was fun to see their faces light up when they received a cookie, and how happy and generous they were when sharing their baked goods with their friends.
- felt or foam shapes
- pipe cleaners (or string)
One of my son’s favorite things to do is string beads, or shapes onto string. We chose pipe cleaners today. This sensorial DIY Montessori work is great for fine motor refinement, concentration, small muscle control, and hand-eye coordination. I couldn’t cut shapes fast enough to keep up with my little one!
Here are a few other DIY stringing activities to try at home:
“Children spend a considerable part of their active daily time at schools, and ‘green exercise’ has been related to greater mental health.”
Parents, as a rule, want to give their children every possible academic advantage. While this usually takes the form of tutors or computers, a new study suggests a surprising factor they may want to consider when checking out a new school, home, or neighborhood: Whether it provides adequate access to the natural world.
New research from Spain finds that, among second-, third-, and-fourth graders, quality time spent climbing trees and playing games on grass helps mental abilities blossom.
“Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren,” writes a research team led by Payam Dadvand of Barcelona’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology. This is partly, but not entirely, explained by the fact that kids who get to play in nature are exposed to less air pollution than those who hang out on city streets. Continue reading
Consistency is key when it comes to your child’s learning environment at school and home. Creating a Montessori-friendly environment at home is easier to attain than you may think. Just keep a few things in mind, 1) is my child able to fulfill their needs independently, 2) can they reach necessary objects that are placed away in a cabinet/shelf, 3) are they given quiet areas to work/play independently, 4) are these areas tidy, neat and uncluttered. Purchasing Montessori materials can be intimidating to some, however rest assured that many of these works can actually be hand-made with materials found around the house.
Here are a few helpful links and photos to help get you started…
This blog I came across, Kavanaugh Report showcases beautiful pictures of how to incorporate Montessori in your home and the furniture layout of each appropriate area.
You want to promote “natural learning” as much as possible in your home. Allow for your child to think and work for themselves, and create an environment that meets their needs at any given time. Furniture should be low-set, utensils/plates/cups should be in a cabinet accessible to your child. Include them in every day house-hold tasks to bring forth natural, organic learning opportunities. Continue reading
We reference the child’s daily activities as “work”. “The task of the child is the formation of man” (Dr. Maria Montessori). In other words, the child’s “work” is to create the type of person they will be for the rest of their lives. Their work is extremely important. These early years of their childhood are very precious. Their work is to be honored and protected, both at school and home. Giving them the opportunity to explore and learn from the tools in their environment is extremely critical to their development.
The term “play” is referenced as “work” in a Montessori community, because the children “play” with a purpose. Work is purposeful. When a child plays, it does not always need to be imaginative, overly-stimulated, chaotic, loud, or involve physical activity. When young children play, their purpose is to develop an executive function. Playing can involve many things, such as refining a fine or gross motor skill (small and large muscle movement), playing emphasizes emotional and social interactions, problem solving, patience, developing hand-eye coordination, balancing their bodies, learning to prioritize in order to carry out a particular task…the list is endless. A Montessori classroom caters to all of these functions of “play”.
“The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 5)
As Montessori Guides, our main responsibility is to engage the child to the environment, therefore letting the materials teach the child. We do not present a lesson, and afterwards put it away in a closet, never to be touched again. The entire environment is available to the child (considering they’ve been given the proper lesson). They’re given the opportunity and freedom to work with whatever their driven to do for that day. The child experiences many different, spontaneous “sensitive periods”, where they’re internally driven to fulfill an inner desire. Often times, they’re desire is as simple as practicing to walk so that they can refine their balance and composure. Or, it could be that they want to work with water in the “practical life” area (as many children do), so you may see them washing their hands, cloths, tables, dishes, or watering plants for the entirety of the work cycle. Whatever it may be, it’s important to make sure the environment is fully prepared to meet their individual needs.
“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.” (The Absorbent Mind, p.56)
Simply put, the child absorbs everything. Every object, sound, smell in their environment plays a vital role in their daily learning. Stop and observe your children every once and a while. Watch their careful, gentle movements and observe how they carry out their work. Try to understand what they desire most, and capitalize on these spontaneous learning opportunities. Through the child’s work, they feel a sense of purpose; that they are contributing to a greater good. They are developing and refining skills, and shaping their personality, which will further build the kind of person that they will be for the rest of their lives.
Photos credit http://melmphotography.com/
It’s always interesting to see studies being conducted on the success and work ethic of Montessorians vs. Non-Montessorians, or rather those who had the opportunity to be influenced by the philosophy versus a child who attended a conventional daycare/grade school. It’s neat to see the facts when lined up next to one another; the entrepreneur who attended Montessori as a child typically has stronger work ethics, strong leadership skills, initiative, and so forth. Not to say that one is better than the other, but these entrepreneurs certainly had an advantage by getting an authentic Montessori education from an early start.
It’s never too late to cultivate a Montessori-friendly work environment, one that promotes the “Montessori mindset”, capitalizing on and emphasizing each of your employee/coworker’s talents.
Check out Corporate Kindergarten: How a Montessori Mindset Can Transform Your Business for ways to incorporate this business model into your work environment!
“By creating a corporate kindergarten culture where Montessori mindsets are cultivated and rewarded and we can unlock the full potential of each individual in your organization from top to bottom and every level in between. It may just be the answer to propelling America’s emerging innovation economy to the moon and beyond.” -Justin Wasserman, Managing Director at Kotter International
A true picture of pure, raw concentration. Such a beautiful thing to witness this little one stacking wooden rings. There are so many hidden lessons in this small work!