The Beauty of a Child’s Imagination

The child’s imagination is a beautiful thing.

A few days ago, I was able to witness spontaneous creativity at its best. A few friends chose quiet rug works while the rest of the children were sleeping (hence the dark lighting in the photos below). They chose familiar works that had been practiced so many times before.

The first chose to work with the brown stairs. She fashioned the prisms in a way to imitate an art easel. She took the smallest prism and used it as a “paint brush”. The largest, as her canvas. I have to point out the satisfied look of achievement when she finished her masterpiece, and sat back to observe.13254477_10209963074981699_4247165993987414362_n13255945_10209963077101752_8728604753358836456_n

The other child I observed chose the knobless cylinders as her work this afternoon. I’ve seen her manipulate this work in many different ways, mastering all of its variations. I believe in this particular set of photos, she was pretending the cylinders were little people. The boxes represented their house. She showed such great concentration and enjoyment as she worked. 13256106_10209963076661741_2458312059209810681_nDSC_072813263669_10209963077661766_3575737498091857058_n

Our older 5 and 6 year olds enjoy working with familiar works…as if they’re revisiting something known rather than discovering something unknown. To witness such pure joy and satisfaction is truly amazing. When you let a child’s creativity flourish, letting their imagination lead the way, the end result is very rewarding.

Why we Take Photographs in the Classroom

When we take photos of our children in the classroom, it’s a very meticulous and careful process. Each photo is taken and shared with a specific goal in mind; to help our parents understand the natural learning process experienced by each precious child that comes to our school. It’s hard to fully grasp and understand all of the magnificent things your young child is learning each day, by a simple, brief conversation with them at the end of the day. Most of the time, they’ll repeat the last thing they did just before you picked them up, rather than highlight on a special memory from the day. It’s hard, as parents, to entrust our children in the care of others for 8-11(+) hours per day, and not know exactly what they’re doing at any given point. That’s why we love to share these memories in photos! Whenever given the opportunity to do so, and depending upon the level of disruption, admin. will try to sneak into the classroom and photograph these special moments; two friends working together, an older child helping a younger child, a classroom celebration, or a child so engrossed in concentration that they don’t even notice we’re there. There is so much that we look for as “photographers”, rather than simply snapping a quick photo of the environment. Our photos are meant to educate, inspire and motivate, all the while helping you feel the natural emotions embodied within every portrait.

We observe and respect the child’s concentration…the child’s concentration is spontaneous and precious. It’s not necessarily “rare”, but beautiful whenever caught on camera.

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We try to photograph periods of “normalization”, when the child, or group of children are under intense concentration, working on something that engages their interest. Through this process, children gain self discipline and peace. This is the work of the materials in the environment; truly something to be captured on film.

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Some children have been with us 5+ years, so we’re able to capture photos from infancy through young childhood. We have the opportunity to photographically document their growth over several years.
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Lessons and mastery. Many of the works in our environment require weeks, even months to master. We’re able to photograph the entire process, from the preliminary lesson all the way to the child’s mastery and application. We focus more on the process of learning, rather than the “final product”. We want to capture the child’s expression when they’ve reached that level of self accomplishment. These moments are extremely precious to us.DSC_0305DSC_0310

On special occasions, we’ll even have the opportunity to capture a child’s first steps, illustrating the child’s new-found independence.

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Dr. Maria Montessori spent a lifetime observing and documenting the developing child. I always tell our families, the best way to truly understand what your child is doing in the environment is to observe. It is so difficult for us as Montessorians, to document their growth in a weekly progress report, because there is so much more depth to it than simply stating what they’re currently working on. Pictures truly speak louder than words! We take photographs to help our parents understand the amazing things their child is doing in the classroom, and to further educate them on the power of the pedagogy.

We thank you for sharing your little ones with us, and giving us the amazing opportunity to witness them grow independently, spiritually, and academically. Our gift to you is these precious memories!

Montessori, Why Not?

Article Credit: http://mariovalle.name/montessori/why-not.html
 

I choose a Montessori school for my son almost as an act of faith. At that time my knowledge of the method was null, besides having heard of small chairs and colored beads. But seeing my son happy day after day encouraged me to study and deepen the Montessori’s ideas. What I had discovered astonished me as a father and as a scientist. As a father, I found how children are really respected and prepared for the future. As a scientist, I found solid scientific foundations for everything Maria Montessori proposed.

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Observing in the Classroom, by Margot Garfield-Anderson

  Great article taken from the November 2014 Issue of Tomorrow’s Child, providing advice and tips on how to properly observe a Montessori classroom. This resource can be used whether you’re touring a new school as a parent, or observing … Continue reading

A Gentle Reminder of the Beauty of Silent Observation…

 

The Guide walks about the room, slowly and with calm focus so that she will not distract or disturb the children in their work. She repeats this routine a few times a day, deliberately choosing a different route each time, in order to make herself available to the child that might need some scaffolding in reaching the next level in an activity or to inform herself of the work being done. The Guide is careful to observe indirectly so that no one feels monitored or intruded upon – she has developed a deep respect for the child’s concentration and work. She also recognizes that the children themselves take cues from her on how they show respect for the concentrated work of others, or not. She makes mental notes of the children’s needs for fresh lessons with points of interest, of readiness for the next step in a work or a new work.

DSC_8790-largeOccasionally, she finds a child using a material in a manner not reflecting the aim of the lesson presented on that material and she makes note to herself to continue observing this child and his work from a distance. She means to ascertain if it is exploration that will benefit him in reaching the essence of the material, or if the child stands in need of a new, clarifying lesson with the material or perhaps even disruption of the present work and a return of the material to the shelf.

When she observes misuse of the material that calls for gentle but firm intervention, a calling to the child to engage with the material in a safe, respectful and knowledgeable manner, she does not hesitate to intervene in these instances. Her long years of experience in guiding a Children’s House have strengthened both her instincts for appropriate action and her instinct to wait and observe a bit longer. She recalls the early years when this instinct and skill that must accompany it was not so keenly developed and she was sometimes confused on which, if any, action to take. Luckily, she recalled from her readings in Montessori books that encourage a ‘wait and see’ approach. She recognizes that the adult is often the biggest obstacle to a child’s ability to concentrate. Continue reading

Article: 12 Points of the Montessori Method, Sarah Moudry

I came across this article, posted by a fellow Montessorian blogger, Sarah Moudry, describing what Montessori is, while incorporating ways that the method is beneficial to our children. Definitely a good read!

http://sarahmoudry.com/2014/09/08/twelve-points-of-the-montessori-method/#sthash.iimgeiHO.RdSovqCX.dpbs

Twelve Points of the Montessori Method
1. It is based on years of patient observation of child nature.
2. It has proved itself of universal application. Race, color, climate, nationality, social rank, type of civilization-all these make no difference to its successful application.
3. It has revealed the small child as a lover of work, intellectual work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy.
4. It is based on the child’s imperious need to learn by doing. At each stage in the child’s intellectual growth, corresponding occupations are provided by means of which he develops his faculties.
5. While it offers the child a maximum of spontaneity it enables him to reach the same, or even a higher level of scholastic attainment as under conventional systems.
– See more at: http://sarahmoudry.com/2014/09/08/twelve-points-of-the-montessori-method/#sthash.iimgeiHO.RdSovqCX.dpuf