Growth

I’ve come to a realization. There’s nothing wrong with growth.

When I started in the Montessori world, I was an Assistant in a Toddler room. I adore the Toddler age! There is certainly a reason why children are called “sponges” in this phase. A concept needs one or two exposures, and the child has gained that understanding for life. It’s also a very challenging age to work with. You must be repetitive, consistent, and quick on your feet. You must show most of your teaching, instead of explaining it. You must be able to let temper-tantrums go, as they are a healthy part of the growth process.

I am not that person.

For 8 years, I’ve worked with the Casa / Early Childhood aged child. This is where the amazing human nature blooms. Ideas are easily planted and acquired, and through exploration are reinforced. The true innate personality of the child begins to open. Here we see the child who likes to learn while playing with concepts that are familiar, and starting to branch towards unfamiliar. Working in this age range requires a moderate amount of repetition, forgiveness for out-bursts, a love of flexibility with a respect for consistency, and have well-practiced grace and courtesy.

I am less this person than I thought I was.

And that’s O.K.

I’m doing the Montessori Elementary Course for a reason. The attractiveness of the lessons is certainly a driving factor for me. I am over the moon with the Scientific nature of the Montessori Elementary curriculum. However, this is not the only reason I’m so drawn towards the Elementary age group.

In the Elementary age group, children have a better balance of self, play, and work. Less repetition is required, patience takes on a different meaning with blossoming personalities and maturities, concentration can last much longer, the children take themselves less seriously, and humor begins to present itself.

I can be a boisterous person. I use humor in many conversations. I love doing interest-based lessons on the fly. I use language as an exploration of expression, as children this age are learning to do.  I love learning about new and foreign concepts much as the Elementary student does.

I don’t think I was ever a “bad fit” in the Toddler or Casa classrooms. I feel I adapted quite well, and knew forwards and backwards the appropriate demeanor required for each age. I do however think I have reached an age in my life where I want to fit in as I am, not as I should be.

Understanding myself is something I’m learning in the Elementary training program. Of course it’s important to know, but I’m only realizing now that my ideal me and my realistic me are not always equal. I’m learning to be O.K. with this, and trying to use it to my advantage at work and at home.

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The Beauty of a Child at Work

To see a child in the classroom completely lost in the moment of what they are doing is a captivating and wonderful experience. I truly wish that I could read their thoughts at that moment – however I know that really being lost in the moment doesn’t involve much thought at all. It’s the beauty of the motion, the sound of the water, the spill of the droplets into a glass that grabs the child’s attention. In an over-stimulating society, it’s a great thing to see children slow down and be entranced by aligning the Pink Tower properly.

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Look at that smile!

Lately I’ve been looking up Montessori school sites to get an idea on what to expect in Canada. I love school websites that feature pictures showing the classroom environment in use. A child focusing on their activity and completely ignoring someone pointing a camera at them is a sacred thing.

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Isn’t it amazing that Maria Montessori’s materials are over 100 years old, and still hold a current child’s interests? We have iPads, cell phones, music at the push of a button; yet a set of long red rods of varying length will occupy a child for 20 minutes solid regularly. Watching that child build with the Red Rods I see much higher self-satisfaction than playing for 20 minutes with an iPad. Of course there is excitement and joy from playing with technology, but it’s a different feeling to be proud and feel accomplished after mastering a physical task. Aren’t adults the same way? The sense of accomplishment in having painted a room or a sewn project or planting a garden is more satisfying than having watched an hour of TV or puttered about on the internet. (I’m guilty of the latter, for sure) It’s a physical accomplishment demonstrating our mastery (attempted or expert) in something. Trying to get children up and moving has become a big focus these days. Why not encourage that from a young age?

[Please realize that I’m not saying I hate technology – it’s really the opposite. We’ve never been more informed or educated, and that’s something to be celebrated. But as is everything in life, MODERATION IS KEY. ]

Observing a child at work is a beautiful thing, especially when you see the confidence and smile afterwards. A child walking away from a shelf after putting down the tray of a completed work walks a little straighter and a little taller. Isn’t that the best result?

Montessori Throughout Life

I’ve been a longtime reader of the amazing blog The Moveable Alphabet. Susan has an amazing way of writing and dissecting theory and getting to the base of what makes Montessori so awesome.

Lately Susan is a pioneer in Montessori- She’s working at a Senior Care center for seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and is using the Montessori method to help keep the mind active. She’s posted some other resources and examples of this new Montessori movement, and I can’t get enough! It’s so amazing to see how the basics of Montessori are valuable and valid in multiple stages of life. I’m happy to see that there’s been other articles posted about this new implementation, and I’m eager to read more once it becomes available!

Montessori Worldwide

It is definitely a dream of mine to travel the world and visit different Montessori schools where ever I go. What I love about Montessori is that the concept stays the same across the globe. I myself follow many Montessori blogs that aren’t based in North America, many of which I have to use Google Translate to even read! I found the results of countries that have visited this blog to be very inspiring: look how much of the world has come to visit! Say hi, even if you are just stopping in!

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Where I’ve been/Where I’d like to go

Where I’ve been: As many other people on the internet, I’ve been splitting my time between pondering for this blog, and starting a business on Etsy- www.magentamoo.etsy.com . I’ve designed a few Montessori Infant materials that I’d like to put up in the shop eventually. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I’ve always been rather crafty. It feels very pleasing to have a tangible product of your time!

Where I’d like to go: I want to become more engaged here with the people who view and read this blog. It was my hope when I started writing here that I share the Montessori method with those who aren’t sure of what it is, and to spark conversation with my fellow Montessorians. I’ve got so many posts half-written that talk about what my training discussed and how we learned to approach things, but then I question if by posting that I push AMI Montessorians away.  This is not my intention at all! I want us to talk about why we learn different ways with friendly and open-minded discussion. I know there’s a rift between AMI and AMS as well as other schools of Montessori education, and I think that communication between the groups is quite valuable. One of my teachers told us that Montessorians view their training and the Montessori Method as a religion. We defend it fervently to anyone who brings up education, even going as far as disagreeing with other Montessorians who attend different training.  If the education of the child is what’s important, why can’t we get along? I digress – still, I want everyone to know that no matter what training or school of thought you come from (Waldorf, AMI, AMS, Home Based Education, Public Education, ANYTHING) that this is a safe place to discuss and question everything. 

I encourage any and all comments and questions for anything on this blog so long as you keep an open mind and an open heart – for isn’t that what we teach our Children in our classrooms and homes?

Different Styles and Methods

All Montessorians have their own little ways of running the classroom. Some things are not set in stone and are left up to the individual style of the teacher. Methods may be learned in training or from your mentor. Sometimes they’re borrowed ideas from observing other classrooms. What are some of the different areas that a Montessori teacher can shine with their own personality? (aside from the obvious decor) I’m going to examine different areas one at a time, starting with the Snack Area.

The self-serve Snack Area is a truly beautiful part of the Montessori classroom because you see so many fundamentals learned coming together at once. The child must use Practical Life, Math, Social, and Language skills to properly serve themselves. I’ve seen many examples of individual teacher’s snack areas and through my own experimentation have come across many different ideas for a well-loved area of the room.

In my own classroom I generally had two snacks available for the day. One was a self-serve style snack usually for two children at a time. The other was some sort of Food Preparation that involved the child doing all of the work themselves and then serving friends first, then enjoying their own portion.

Self-Serve Snack Areas

A Snack Table at a school I visited during my training. Healthy options are always important!
An entire snack cupboard at a different school I visited. I love the real plates they used and how everything was contained in this cabinet.
This was the snack setup in my classroom. I made a set of the cards seen in the back. All of the cards were color coordinated with the beads from the math area to promote continuity in the classroom and had the appropriate bead pictured. I had a set of 1-10 and multiples of each card for the snack table inside and outside.

The snack area is really an area that is dictated by the individual teacher’s style and the ability of the children in the classroom. I know there are many different ways to set this up, I would LOVE to see pictures of everyone’s tables!