Thursday, August 16, 2007

More on Elizabeth G. Hainstock's "The Essential Montessori"

Over the past 30 or so years, Montessori schools have become increasingly more expensive and popular. Because there is no control over the name Montessori, everyone can start a school and there is really no quality control. AMS, the American Montessori Society, and AMI, Association Montessori Internationale, provide teacher training and, hence, teachers themselves can be more closely evaluated.

A result from all this is confusion as well as a lot of questions about what a Montessori education is supposed to accomplish.

This is a nice quote from "The Essential Montessori" as it addresses a key misunderstanding about Montessori:

Hainstock writes "Evidence clearly shows that the early years, from birth to six, are the most formative and are too often wasted by not realizing the child's true potential. Gradual, sequential learning at this stage can be easy, fun, and important to the developing child. As the sensitive periods show, these early years are when the child learns with the greatest ease and is most responsive to particular phases of learning. To the young child, learning is a natural function of childhood -- effortless and challenging, and more meaningful than idle play." (page 32)

Most parents notice that infants and toddlers start out preferring to handle and explore adult objects. How often do you guide your child away from digging in your purse or computer bag and re-direct him or her towards a toy? The Montessori approach would advocate creating a small bag for your child that is full of ordinary objects that he or she can hold, touch, and even bite.

Objects in the bag should be child-safe, so these recommendations should be scaled for age, but here are some suggestions for children under six:

  1. a small book
  2. a picture flashcards with name label
  3. a set of keys
  4. a padlock with a key
  5. a marble
  6. coins
  7. a feather
  8. a stone
  9. a smooth pebble
  10. a twig
  11. a simple calculator
  12. a braided length of yarn that is tied on one end, so it can be braided and unbraided

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