Montessori Basics – Absorbent Mind

According to Montessori’s research, the “absorbent mind” is the time in a child’s life from birth to 6 years, when the child absorbs everything in the environment completely and unconsciously, without choice or bias, positive or negative, regardless of, and according to, the child’s culture.

“The developing child not only acquires the faculties of man: strength, intelligence, language; but, at the same time, he adapts the being he is constructing to the conditions of the world about him. And this it is that gives virtue to his particular form of psychology, which is so different from that of adults. The child has a different relation to his environment from ours. Adults admire their environment; they can remember it and think about it; but the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear. In us the same things produce no change, but the child is transformed by them.” -from The Absorbent Mind, 2007, Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company, p. 56.

Guide Instead of Control

Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?

“It may not look important to you, but a child’s play is his work — that’s how young humans learn. That’s a good thing–you want a child who’s self-motivated, rather than expecting you to entertain him.”

You also want a child who is self-disciplined rather than you needing to control him or her. How do you create a self-disciplined child? Focus on guiding your child in making good choices instead of forcing compliance without the child’ cooperation.

Play First

Play First

From Teacher Tom’s blog:
“Critics and doubters of play-based preschool often want to know if we are getting the kids “kindergarten ready,” or even, as is the case with the corporate education reformers, “college and career ready.” Oh sure, they see how children, left to learn through their instinct to play, develop a joyful eagerness about learning, about going to school, about life, but, they ask, “What happens when they’re faced with things they don’t want to do?” suggesting, at least in part, that we’re not doing a very good job of preparing children for these dull, irritating, necessary chores. “If all they do is play, when do they learn to work?”
It would be a laughable concern if their “solutions” didn’t suck the joy out of life, leaving too many of us so focused on the dull, irritating, and necessary that we no longer have time for the life of our dreams.”
Thanks for putting this in perspective, Teacher Tom. There will always be time for doing chores and other things we have to do. Why start “prepping” kids for this kind of misery, at the expense of sucking the joy of life out of them and their passion for fulfilling their dreams?

Peaceful Mealtimes

6 Words That Will End Picky Eating

I enjoyed reading this article, and will be putting Satter’s book Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense on my reading list to learn more. I frequently encountered nutrition issues as a teacher in previous preschools, and with every foster child (7 so far) we have taken in to our home. Not only did children have poor nutrition, they also had no interest in trying any new foods. Most children had a diet of processed foods, sugary foods and snacks, chips, crackers, cookies, fruit snacks instead of real fruit, and virtually no vegetables. Rarely did children eat a well-balanced meal, let alone real and natural food. To suggest trying new foods was a fruitless endeavor. So, I like the idea of setting the example of eating healthy meals without forcing or bargaining endlessly. I’m looking forward to learning more, and writing more about healthy food choices for children, and peaceful mealtimes.

Montessori At Home

Montessori At Home

Here are some quick basic ideas for incorporating Montessori principles at home, to help with consistency if your child is attending a Montessori program during the day. These ideas are great to help children gain independence and self-confidence regardless of where they spend their daytime hours. In my house, there is a “classroom” and then there is the rest of the house. For my own children there is no difference, except that certain parts of the house are inaccessible to them while other children are in the home. Not only do these ideas benefit the children when they are put in place, they will also benefit everyone in the home and help create respectful relationships as everyone has a role and works together.

“Terrible Twos”/Sensitive Period for Order

I haven’t been posting so diligently this week because we have recently taken in a second foster child, 26 months old, which has turned out to be a huge challenge for our family. It’s difficult to say how much of his behavior is previously learned, and how much can be attributed to the confusion and changes in routine he has experienced in the past week alone. Regardless, helping the child to adapt to his new environment, while attempting to eliminate further obstacles in his development while he is in our care, no matter how temporary, is our main concern for him.

Montessori teaches that during a child’s second year of life, the child typically begins experiencing a “sensitive period” for order that could last throughout the second year and begin to fade going into the third year. During this time, caregivers must pay attention to routine and try to be as consistent as possible. Tantrums or outbursts, that happen so often at this age and have led to the idea of “terrible two’s” could be attributed to even the slightest of change in the child’s daily routines and experiences. A foster child of this age who is being moved around and placed into a strange home and expected to learn new rules, immediately faces a huge developmental obstacle.

Whether a child is your biological child, a step-child, a foster child, an adopted child, or a child in your daycare classroom, the caregiver’s role is to understand the child’s developmental needs and respond in a caring, consistent, and loving way. This is not always easy. It seems like the child may be constantly testing you and misbehaving on purpose just to make your life miserable!

Although I don’t typically advocate use of “time out”, sometimes, some version of this is necessary for foster children and daycare students who come into a new routines in their early years. It depends on what the child is used to and has already learned to respond to. Life at home may be vastly different from life at school or in another home. In the case of our foster child, it became clear to us that even at only two years old, he has become used to loud angry voices in order to comply with requests for appropriate behavior. Every child needs consistency of routine, and tests boundaries in order to find out where the limits are. It’s important to set boundaries reasonably and firmly, but without being angry at the child or losing control of your emotions along the way, no matter how frustrating the child’s behavior is. Remember, he is particularly sensitive to change during the second year of life, and needs the security of limits and boundaries, as well as calm and understanding caregivers and a pair of loving arms.

5 Things NOT To Do To Babies

5 Things NOT To Do To Babies

From an article published in Psychology Today, research about what babies need (and don’t need). Some suggestions seem obvious while others may spark debate. I’m curious to know what my readers think and why. I was surprised at first about #2 (Never let a baby cry) but was reassured when what was meant was to minimize situations that cause crying, and observing and paying attention are the way to do that. When you establish communication and routine and get to know the baby, everyone can be more at ease.

Watch and Wait

Watch and Wait

Montessori was once asked to sum up her new approach to education. “Attendee, osservando – watch and wait.”

I’m a couple of days late in honoring the anniversary of Dr. Maria Montessori’s death, but here is a beautiful tribute and brief summary of Montessori’s approach according to Dr. Montessori herself. I hope you enjoy this article contributed by Baan Dek Montessori School blog.

Rita Kramer makes the case that, “An educator and teacher, Montessori ended her life by saying that neither teaching nor education brings about the child’s development.” Kramer continues, “in a somewhat radical and far-seeing summary of the Montessori philosophy, one that contains the heart of what makes this approach so special: all educators and teachers can do is refrain from placing obstacles in the child’s path by providing him with an environment in which he is “free to create himself”.


Importance of Play in Preschool

Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm

Studies show that insistence on academic achievement in a child’s preschool years does produce early results in reading, writing and math skills. However, not only does academic achievement equalize among children by the end of 4th grade, social and emotional skills are largely absent, causing stress and unhappiness in the lives of the children.

It’s easy to think that if children spend hours outside or otherwise engaged in play instead of spending time learning ABC’s and 123’s, that they aren’t learning or are somehow wasting time that could be spent “learning”. The reality is, children are learning valuable physical and social skills when they are engaged in play. These skills will help them with academic achievement when the time is right for it. Sitting at a table and doing worksheets has the illusion of real academic learning, but it is damaging to a child in so many ways. It’s not easy to change the mindset of early childhood academic achievement; it takes a lot of trust in your child that academic learning will happen later. If you understand that the child is building a strong sense of self and a strong emotional foundation for later learning, it’s easier to reframe your ideas of what a successful preschool environment looks like.