Attachment to Reality: The Importance of Real Materials in the Classroom

“Yet, when all are agreed that the child loves to imagine, why do we give him only fairy tales and toys on which to practice this gift? If a child can imagine a fairy and fairyland, it will not be difficult for him to imagine America. Instead of hearing it referred to vaguely in conversation, he can help to clarify his own ideas of it by looking at the globe on which it is shown.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

One of the most obvious differences between Montessori and your typical, conventional daycare, is the use of real materials in the classroom, as opposed to plastic toys made from synthetic materials. The pedagogy is only successful if the child has real tools to work with. One of the characteristics of a normalized child is their “attachment to reality”. We strive to provide real material as safely and practical as possible. We want children to develop real skills and habits for living in a real world.

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I use a glass mortar and pestle to grind fresh cinnamon. The sound of the crushed spice against the glass, and the fragrance stimulate my senses.

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with imaginative/fantasy play, however there is a time and a place. Play is the work of the child. Playful learning is done so through many aspects of the Montessori philosophy. Play is beneficial for children in a variety of developmental areas, and different types of play is associated with different stages. The pedagogy is dedicated to meeting all of the developmental needs of the “whole child”. Montessori guides must consider play as a developmental area, and observe and guide the children’s movement in the classroom to support their growth. These areas should contain the same preparation, analysis and sequencing as all other areas of the classroom.

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Fred Rogers

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Happy 145th Birthday, Dr. Maria Montessori

Happy 145th Birthday, Dr. Maria Montessori!

Today, we celebrated our dear Maria Montessori’s birthday by having a special Celebration of Life in her honor. We heard stories about the things she had done in her life, and saw pictures of her childhood. This is a very special day for our community, as we honor the woman who brought light to the Montessori pedagogy, and established the principals that our very school is based upon.

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“Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870.” – Ms. Patti shows us a special book with pictures and descriptions of Maria Montessori’s life.

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We walked the earth around the sun symbolizing the years of her life that had gone by, just as the earth goes around the sun in a year-long rotation. We talked about the many important things Maria had done in her life, including her family history, her schooling and education, and the educational programs that she developed due to years of observation and scientific study.Maria COL_4

Happiest of birthdays, to the woman who made all of this possible!

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.

– Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

Click HERE to read about the life and work of Dr. Maria Montessori
(article credit, michaelolaf.net)

Parent Resource: Top 5 Reasons Why Montessori Works, Ann Pilzner

Another resource proving why Montessori is much more beneficial than the “traditional” educational approach. There are so many reasons whey Montessori works, one being that the pedagogy “follows the child”. Trained Montessori Guides are able to identify what each child’s developmental … Continue reading

Teacher Resource: “Caring for the Dream” by Seth D. Webb

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So many times, we misinterpret the philosophy, manipulating it to be what’s most convenient for our school community. We might even change the way the pedagogy is practiced to better correlate with current policies, compromising the very integrity of our precious philosophy. Rarely do schools come together for a common goal, to help maintain the very components that make the philosophy so strong; our families, the way we practice the pedagogy, and our policies with which we implement. We cannot move forward unless we do so by using a whole-school approach, including all aspects that help keep our Montessori community strong.

I came across a new blog post from MAA, reiterating the importance of working collaboratively with the four P’s: practice, pedagogy, people, and policies. You’ll notice the words “community”, “collective”, and “family” are mentioned several times.

A few of my favorite passages taken from the article…
“As local leaders in education we must be able to articulate and stand by the people, pedagogy, practices and policies of the schools we create. We need to be able to speak to each like they are parts of our family, parts of our bodies – each piece necessarily influencing and informing the whole. These are the interwoven fundamentals that, when realized authentically and kept healthy, speak to the very essence of our schools’ existence…Once articulated, our conception of the people, pedagogy, practices and polices of our schools informs every aspect of our work – from the classroom to the boardroom. If any of these four fundamentals becomes fragmented or diluted we must stop, reassess and reconsider the way ahead. We cannot continue to move forward until we can do so with authenticity and truth. Belief is a powerful thing, but only as powerful as the quality of its manifestation.”

To see the blog in full, click on the link below:
http://montessoriadmins.org/2014/12/caring-for-the-dream