Updated: Jun 13, 2020
Two weeks ago, I attended the Silent Journey and Discovery Session with other parents who will also be enrolling their kids at the same school. In just 2 hours, I fell more in love with the Montessori Philosophy.
Some moms have been asking me how I got interested with this.
My husband went to Montessori in US and he was the one who introduced me to the whole philosophy. I wasn't completely sold on the whole concept until I started reading on the various teaching methods. Coming from a traditional school, I discovered I had all the wrong notions about Montessori education and philosophy. I got so hooked after reading the “Absorbent Mind” by Dr. Maria Montessori that I ended up downloading 5 other titles in my Kindle Paperwhite.
It may be tempting to just ask Google everything but for you to fully appreciate the method and the benefits of a Montessori education, I really suggest to read the following books:
Unfortunately, local bookstores don’t have any of these titles (believe me, I checked them all – called National Book Store, Power Books, Fully Booked, etc). However, I was able to talk to Fully Booked about acquiring the titles I mentioned. They said it has to be done by special order (i.e. you have to pay 50% of the total cost and wait for 6-10 weeks for it to be delivered to the Philippines).
FROM THEORY TO APPLICATION
After finishing up with my readings and knowing more about how it can benefit my child, I just had to start integrating the philosophy at home.
Now the question was, how do I start?
Prepare a Montessori Home Environment
According to AMS, Having a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, encourages both independence and self-discipline. Children know where to find what they need, and where to put it when they’re done. An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand.
To make things accessible to your young child:
Provide low shelves or drawers for clothing; lower the rod in the bedroom closet.
Keep a small wash basin accessible so your child can wash her hands.
Arrange toys and activities on low open shelves with a particular place for each. Sort smaller items into trays or baskets by category, such as puzzles, art supplies, and blocks.
Put healthy snacks and foods on a low pantry shelf so your child can help himself.
Do note that the appropriate activities will vary depending on the age group. You can check Pinterest for inspirations on how to set-up. I recommend repurposing whatever you have at home instead of buying new furniture (whichever will be more cost-effective for you).
Demonstrate How to Do Practical Life Skills
Children have always shown us their interest in practical life by pretending to cook and clean, taking care of a doll, etc. But when given the chance, they would much rather be doing the real work of the family and community, instead of pretending. A child would prefer to sweep the floor with a real child-sized broom, to help collect the dirty laundry, or to fold it, to take part in preparing real meals, rather than to pretend to do these things with toys. Give them a chance. Prepare your environment for self-learning. Just ensure safety and set age-appropriate activities.
Practice Having Uninterrupted Work Cycle
The uninterrupted work period according to AMS is fundamental to the Montessori approach, which recognizes and respects individual variations in the learning process which is great by the way - each kid's learning style is unique; it's difficult to dictate what you want them to learn and when you want them to.
Within the Montessori environment, the children need to have time to work through various tasks and responsibilities at their own pace. This uninterrupted work period is vitally important, as that is when the building of coordination, concentration, independence and order, and the assimilation of information are able to occur. Once they reach the age of 3, they can already do the 3 hour uninterrupted work cycle. For younger children, this will be shorter. They key is to follow the child's schedule. I was able to take note of Kara's preferred schedule over time. We let her finish her activity and not stop her because it’s time to eat or whatever. We also plan our schedule accordingly to avoid disturbing her “routine”.
And as Dr. Montessori Says, “Follow the Child”
Give your child the freedom to choose what s/he wants or needs to do and to work/play on his/her own.
Rather than telling the child what s/he has to do, present him/her with choices of different materials/toys. QUIETLY DEMONSTRATE how each material is used. Then, stand back and watch what the child does, there is no need to intervene all the time unless the child is really just making a mess and can potentially hurt him/herself or others (this is a good exercise of freedom within limits which is observed in a Montessori classroom). Just present a different set of choices. Knowing when to intervene is a skill us parents will learn as we get to know our child.
Let your child work with materials at his or her own pace, repeating an exercise until it is mastered. You are there to gently guide the process, but your goal is to inspire rather than instruct.
P.S. It’s also good to hear from parents on the same learning journey so join a group dedicated to understanding the Method – search for “Momtessori PH Group” in Facebook.
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