A MONTESSORI HOME
As your family has come together and grown, you've made choices along the way that affect how the family interacts with each other, and the degree to which the children are capable of being a part of the family unit. Each family is unique, with a different set of circumstances. But there are many common things that Montessori Homes share.
What is a Montessori home?
Simply put - it's a home that has been created with the needs of the children in mind. It is home that allows for children to touch and explore, and to use and master the common objects found in everyday life. The adults have stepped back and looked at the home through the eyes of a child. They've used this vision to help them create a home that fully involves the children.
Why a Montessori home?
"Teach me to do it myself!" is the call most often heard from children. They are desperate to fulfill their deep inner desire to understand and be a part of their environment. In their early years, the home is most often the center of their world. There are so many tasks children can learn to do within their own home: personal hygiene, dressing, meal preparation, organizing possessions, cleaning, and cooking. There isn't a better place to help young children grow and learn than in the home.
How to make a Montessori home.
Ensure the furniture and spaces that you create are inviting to your children. If possible, make them size appropriate. This is not to say that you have to replace all your home furniture! You can make adjustments to the furniture you already have, or consider adding a few pieces: a table and chair for little ones, a floor bed, a work/play space for those who use learning materials at home, adapt your kitchen and recipes for children. Use shelves, baskets, and drawers to keep things organized - so that the children can learn to clean up their belongings.
Good Habits in a Montessori home.
It is important for young children to start helping around the home as soon as you have the appropriate materials/furniture for them to manage with. "These experiences form good habits of contributing to the household. They are excellent for developing muscle strength and coordination, visual and spatial awareness, independence, and responsibility. Young children love doing these activities right alongside you. Children seek out and work toward independence whether we help them or not. By involving your child in these regular home activities, you can help create your child's self-image to be that of a competent, confident person."
John Bowman - Montessori At Home!
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WHAT IS PRACTICAL LIFE
THE FIRST SIX YEARS
Today the importance of the formative first six years of life is common knowledge. During this time a child becomes fully a member of her particular culture and family group, absorbing language, attitudes, manners, values, of those in which she comes in daily contact. A child who spends the first six years in a loving and supportive environment, learns to love herself and feels safe in the world. A child who has experienced the joy of making a contribution to her family or group, learns to love making an effort, and feels needed.
Every child, by instinct, wants to learn and grow to the limit of his abilities. In the first six years of life he does this by imitating those around him. To support this need we must carefully prepare the physical and social environment, provide tools that enable the child to work to create himself, watch for those first tentative moments of concentration, and get out of the way, following the child as his path unfolds.
THE CHILD'S PURPOSE
The child's reason for, and way of, working is different from ours. Adults will usually choose to do things the most efficient and quickest way and to rush through or avoid anything labeled work. A child, on the other hand, is working to master the activity and to practice and perfect her abilities. She may scrub a table each day for weeks, then turn her attention to some other activity to master. We must not look upon this method as inconsistency or laziness but rather cumulative mastery of abilities. The child's purposes is not to complete the task as much as to construct the self.
Practical life activities may well be the most important work in the Montessori 3-6 class. By means of these activities the child learns to make intelligent choices, to become physically and then mentally independent and responsible. She learns to concentrate, to control muscles, to move and act with care, to focus, to analyze logical steps and complete a cycle of activity. This lays the groundwork for mental and physical work in all other areas of work, not just in early childhood, but throughout life.
PARTICIPATING IN FAMILY LIFE
The traditional work of the family is referred to in Montessori as practical life work. It is the single most important area of an education for life. The activities of practical life are generally thought of in three main categories, and looking at the child's life in this way helps to keep a balance in the activities we offer children to master. These areas of practical life depend on the culture in which the child is growing up, and may include, but are not limited to:
(1) care of the environment—cleaning, sweeping, washing clothes, gardening, etc.,
(2) the care of the person—dressing, brushing teeth, cooking, setting the table, etc., and,
(3) grace and courtesy—walking carefully, carrying things, moving gracefully, offering food, saying "please" and "thank you" and so on.
It is in learning to do such seemingly mundane activities as dressing, dusting, sweeping, preparing and serving food, and fixing or building, work that the child sees going on around her all day long, that she learns to use her body and mind for a purpose, to concentrate, to complete cycles of activity, to finish what she started, and most importantly to contribute to the important work of the family, the social group.
Practical life activities provide superior groundwork for physical, mental, and social development, and teach the work habits that lead to success in all later academic work.Practical life work provides practice in eye-hand coordination, the control of large and small muscles, the ability to walk and to carry objects with control, and to behave with knowledge of good manners. These are the activities that bring the child's attention to his own progress and development, and that open up a world of important work. Learning to look a person in the eye when speaking, to listen patiently, to exhibit thoughtfulness through good manners, enables the child to be welcomed into a social group, to be happy and to make others happy.
Children have for eons shown an interest in daily life through make-believe cooking and cleaning. It was one of the pivotal discoveries of Dr. Montessori that, given the chance, children usually choose real work over imaginary.
Allowing the child to participate in the daily work he sees going on around him is an act of great respect for, and confidence in, the child. It helps him to feel important to himself and to those around him. He is needed.
We can empathize if we think about the difference in treatment of a stranger, perhaps a dinner guest in our home, who is served and waited upon, compared to that of a good friend who is welcomed in our kitchen to talk and laugh while we prepare the meal together. Children don't want to be the guest, they want us to help them to do it themselves.
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PARENT OBSERVATIONS AND CONFERENCES
It’s time again for Parent Observations in the class. Please sign up for a time slot when the sheets come up on the door. It’s a time for you to be able to quietly observe your child in the environment, and also to see how your child works as a part of the classroom community. Be prepared that some children want to show you everything in the classroom during your turn ...but some children want to just sit on your lap and do nothing while you are there. That is not a reflection that they are not busy during class time on regular days. Observation days are different for the children, and they react in
different ways. Some children are very social, and will come up and spend all their time with you...please try to send them gently back to their work. Explain to them that you are there to spend some time with your child only, and that they will have to wait for their parent to come to spend time with them. Don’t worry if you miss the observation time due to your work etc. we can always schedule an observation later in the Fall. Try to be as unobtrusive as possible—keep as quiet as you can, and move slowly. You, the parent, is a visitor in the children’s classroom, and it is a highly excitable time of year when many parents come in and out of their space.
These Fall observations are voluntary and informal. After the Spring Observations, you will receive a written progress report card. Since the children and their abilities change constantly, we do not want you to see these as “written in stone”- it’s a glimpse into what the children are working on, and a nice keepsake for their scrapbook.
Please be respectful in terms of parking during your visit. We still receive complaints from the office about some parents who frequently use church reserved spaces in the mornings and afternoons...remember not to block anyone’s driveway or garage door—there is always free 2 hour parking along Queens Avenue :-)