That’s it, I’m completely into it! Montessori has caught me, and I would like to initiate it when we play and see how it goes for us. Knowing that the critical age period is from 0 to 6, it would be too bad to wait
I have read the principles, watched videos and started following great blogs… not much, but enough to know that the Montessori education is a great way to approach life, to approach learning, to respect and trust that she knows better than anyone else what’s best for herself. Her daycare care givers are fantastic women, they are loving and caring and have years of experience. She has fun and does a lot there: she paints, she reads, she sings, she plays, she learns a lot – it’s not in a Montessori environment though, so I’ll try my Montessori activities at home.
Because Montessori approach is designed to support the natural development of children in a well-prepared environment, I have started to search for wooden toys – Montessori material – I searched for meanings, explanations, and I tried to find the purpose of the rituals too… What is that “well-prepared environment”??? Where do I start??? I really want to try, but how??? Starting with Montessori when you don’t know much about it is pretty hard, but the good news is at least some of the principles and activities are intuitive and you are probably already implementing Montessori principles and activities without even knowing it 🙂 My Sarah loves pouring water, she just does it on her own free time, so that’s a good start.
After 8 month reading RIE and respectful parenting blogs, tips… the “freedom within limits” and “independence” concepts are understood – I’m still working on those as it takes time but at least l didn’t need any further explanation. So, putting aside the “well-prepared environment” and rituals for the moment (too advanced for me right now) I’m starting with small steps anyone can do: Use what I have at home, touch, explore, sit for a moment and enjoy without taking for granted the everyday life objects we use.
With help from Blog de Maman K, who suggested Treasure baskets, pouring water and seeds and let Sarah get dressed – undressed on her own (which she does but not always), I searched for Treasure baskets ideas and found the perfect 1st activity ideas for us: The Mystery Bag!
Our Mystery Bag:
- Cinnamon stick
- Cotton ball
- Big soft plastic cup
- Small hard plastic cup (pretend play object she knows well)
- Soft round owl (because I wanted something round and soft)
- Spinning top (she likes it and I wanted a wooden object)
I placed everything on a tray and we went outside. We sat together, touched, smelled and tasted when relevant and named every object. After naming every object, I put every one of them, one by one in the bag and closed it. I presented the bag to her. Usually, this work presupposes the child already knows the names of each of the objects, which she did for most of them except for the cinnamon stick.
It was important for me to start with this because it’s an activity we can easily do together. I concentrated on touch, smell and on the excitement of picking something and guessing what it is. Also because independence and play is not what she does best when I’m around – I wanted an activity that is she can do over and over if she wants and on the other hand doesn’t look unfinished if she doesn’t want to “work” anymore.
It worked very well for a few minutes, she was very excited and then she just took every object out 1 by 1 without guessing. Then she decided that she wanted to cut and tear the cotton ball up, and she led the activity from there. We stayed together, cutting cotton ball with scissors (not very easy actually, even pretty hard), tearing it apart, touching seeds and pouring them from one bowl to another. All this lasted for around 1 hour (very very good for us, I was very excited)
Then she made dinner all by herself: she broke eggs, mixed them, added just a bit of salt so we had a nice omelette for dinner, she gave me some cheese to add to it.
I was in a learning mood and was completely connected to her – she took a hand cream tube and opened it (which most of the time doesn’t end well). When she started taking huge amount of hand cream out and rubbed it all over I asked her what she felt. “Does it feel soft to you?”, “Is that sticky?”, “Do you like it?”… I would have never thought of asking questions like those in a million years – I would have taken the tube away, explained that she couldn’t have it and I would have acknowledged feelings because of course, she wouldn’t have been very happy about me preventing her from having fun…
It turns out that we already have “Montessori approved” toys like geometric wooden puzzles, and we could do that too together.
This is just the beginning for me, and I think that this is just another way to bond with her for the moment, because Montessori really made me realize the importance of every moment. I wish the best for her: independence, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-pride. I wish that she could trust herself in everything she does and knows that she is capable – because she is! I am working very very hard on myself not to step in and get in her way with my fears, I am working very hard to just let her be and working very very very hard to let her do what she does on her own.
Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.