05-01-2004, 06:58 PM
Hi, I lurk around now and then, as I am trying to develop an idea of what kind of parent I want to be. My parents are not good role models to use, so I have been seeking elsewhere.
I have seen Montessori school and Montessori parent mentioned. Could someone give links/an/or explain this for me??
05-03-2004, 12:09 PM
Maria Montessori was an Italian educator who developed a unique way of teaching children, modeled strictly off how children learn and teach each other when left to their own devices. She pretty much sat back and OBSERVED kids learning how to do things, and teaching each other what they knew, and then developed materials that fit in with that to teach concepts of language, math, geometry, social skills, dexterity, and so forth. The materials work from the child's understanding toward the adult understanding, unlike many teaching methods we have that start with the adult understanding and then break it down for the child into digestable bits. For example, early math skills may start with playing with some beautiful wooden rods, that feel nice in the hand to encourage kids to want to play with them... they have a box to put them into, and kids will automatically start to sort them in different ways. The way the box is made encourages them to sequence them in quantities, so that they grow a grasp of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as natural quantities, before anyone ever shows them the symbols for 1, 2, 3, etc. They progress from there through multiple materials that encourage them to grasp numbers in groups of 10, and then group those again and again, visually and in a tactile way, so that these children end up with a deep understanding of 'how much', which then leads to an easy grasp of addition and subtraction. They also learn the symbols in similarly obvious and logical ways (to them), building upon previous materials to be able to use numbers as mathematical constructs long before most 'mainstream' educators consider it feasible to even introduce such concepts.
Montessori programs fall into two main categories - American and European. Typically, American are a bit more flexible and imaginative, and more willing to gently encourage children to explore areas in which they are not terribly interested. Conversely, European style more often follows a strict adherance to Maria's initial materials and sequences, so that children are not permitted to use materials in ways they were not designed, and they are NOT pressed to explore areas in which they are not interested. For example, Gabe wasn't much interested in the math area at first. He is an auditory learner, so the concept of a visual quantity was foreign to him (sequence, no problem, quantity... huh?). So he avoided the materials that 'didn't make sense' to him. His teachers (american style) gently encouraged him to try the other materials, so that he would develop more of his visual skills, rather than just leaving him using his existing strengths alone (which would eventually be flexible enough, but weren't yet). He also loved physics materials, but there were only a few materials in the room for exploring inclined planes, levers, and pulleys. His teachers noticed that he was using a set of materials designed for creating visual patterns as ramps, and permitted it because it was clear to them that he was working with the concept of inclined planes, even if the materials weren't intended for that. He was permitted to use the materials creatively, as long as it was respectful (not damaging), and he was learning something from it (their idea of learning is also very subtle and child-centered). In a typical European style setting, he would not have been encouraged to explore the math area until he WANTED to, and he would have been instructed to put away the materials he was using 'not as designed', or use them 'properly'. There are some benefits to either approach, but (as you can probably tell), I definitely prefer the American style.
Montessori classrooms are also structured much differently than typical classrooms. There are multiple areas broken out (such as 'sensorial', 'practical life', 'language arts', and 'math'), and the children choose their own 'work' to pursue each day. They manage their own time to large degree (within a structure with rules - it isn't a free-for-all), and are expected to handle the consequences of their decisions at age-appropriate levels (in preschool, they gently encourage time management, by 1st grade, they are expected to finish most tasks on their own, or lose time to do other activities). Classes are multi-age, usually three years/grades together, so that there are experienced children who can guide and tutor younger children, and learn the benefits and pride of leadership and authority (not to mention how strongly learning is reinforced when you teach someone else!), and the younger children benefit from the guidance and support of older peers, have someone on which to model their expectations and behavior, and have a sense of continuity in the classroom, with the materials, and with a broad set of peers. Classes tend to be a bit larger than average, with two teachers for about 25 kids in the preschool-K level, but because of the peer-to-peer support, more teachers are not required for effective classroom experience.
What else... Philosophically, Montessori leaves children with their self-selected peers (usually age-related, but some kids self-select to different ages, and that is considered acceptable, at least in American style), and materials are brought to the child to meet their intellectual needs. So they aren't 'jumped ahead' grades in order to pursue academic interests - grades are primary peer-dependant (social relationship-base). This means that in any classroom, children will be at widely differing intellectual and educational levels. Each child is expected to progress at their own pace, and will usually go faster at one time than another, and in one area than another, and those areas will move and shift continually. The teacher's job is to adjust to the child, each child, so that their needs are met - after all, the teacher is the grownup!
Again, for example, Gabe. He loves reading, but more than that, he loves math (you'd never have guessed that three years ago!). As he began to move through the materials available in the classroom, his teachers brought in higher-grade materials, so that there was always something a bit more challenging than he could do, and plenty to explore in the range he could already do or mostly do. He loves the challenge, and will beg to do new materials every week. He's in K, and is doing multiplication. His best friend is also in K, and is doing subtraction. Both are exactly where they should be. When he starts 1st grade, the teachers will assess him and the other kids along with him, and expect that the reading levels will vary from 2nd to 7th grade averages (the usual range!), and math levels will be from 1st to 4th. Each child's learning program will be developed from where they start, and continue at the rate they are comfortable (and still challenged), without regard to whether another child is ahead or behind them, relatively speaking. Children are encouraged not to think of themselves in competition with their peers, but in relationship to them - able to help, able to seek help, and always centered in 'right where I/they should be' rather than 'ahead' or 'behind' anything or anyone.
I guess some of the main obvious factors in the philosophy are that if you let kids, they WILL DO IT THEMSELVES, and that you should expect them to be able to handle themselves, so that they have the opportunity to do so. Remarkably, this works far more often than we'd expect, even with very young children!
Montessori parents are parents who have kind of absorbed the concepts, and apply them. It took us a while to become 'montessori parents' - but it is sinking in. For example, we put bowls, plates, and cups (including sippy cups with valves) within reach of Gabe and Brendan, in a cabinet. If they want a drink, they ask us, but they get their own cups out, bring them to us, and help put things away. Brendan knows that if he wants cereal, he's expected to give me a bowl and pick which kind. He's been responsible for his own dishes since he was about 18 months old, and neither rebels at the responsibility nor resents it. He is rather proud of it, it seems. HIS bowl, HIS spoon. :) With Gabe, we were still getting everything for him, as if he couldn't do it perfectly well himself, if we just put things where he could do so! We were still putting on his coat at 3, while Brendan has been not only putting on his coat himself with the minimum help, but also getting it off the hook, putting it BACK on the hook, and putting away his mittens, hat, and boots... since he was 18 months old. We learned to assess what required help differently, and instead of just doing, provide situations in which he could learn to do for himself, and gain that sense of autonomy and satisfaction from being responsible for his own belongings.
Granted, our house is still overcome with tides of toys and lego on a VERY regular basis... ;)
05-03-2004, 12:09 PM
Anyway, Montessori parents tend to be very intentional about education choices, tend to think of children as capable learners who need to be provided an effective environment in which to learn - as one of the school posters says (Quoting Maria Montessori, I believe, paraphrasing here): "The goal of education is to enable the child to get along without the teacher." Montessori parents deeply understand that competence is inherint in each child, it only needs opportunity to be developed. Even the most rambunctious child, the most easily distracted, the most challenging ... all of them are capable of much more than we are taught to expect of them (in our culture, anyway). Heck, DH and I always come away from our parent-teacher conferences saying 'you know, if Gabe was in a different school, the thing they were just lauding in him as a great gift would have been labeled a 'challenge' or a 'problem'...' His deep desire to form social relationships (tends to seek play interactions with other kids rather than focus on his own work), instead of being something that the teachers grin about and say "it is SO great to see him pursuing his peer relationships. We have to work with him to differentiate appropriate timing for doing so, and retain focus on his work, but we've just shifted work-pairings so that his work partner is less tolerant of distraction, and he's learning that to maintain that relationship, he has to stay focussed. But it is really cool to see the depth of friendship he's developed in this year!"... I imagine that would come out to 'doesn't pay attention to lessons, easily distracted' in most approaches.
Anyway, does that explain some? You can check around for Montessori information online. Just be aware that a lot of places CALL themselves Montessori but are not - it isn't a licensed name, so anyone can use it, legally. And it isn't for every child - some really thrive better in highly structured, guided, teacher-directed environments. But far more thrive in Montessori than I think most people expect.
Any specific questions?
05-03-2004, 12:19 PM
American Montessori: http://www.amshq.org/
The American Montessori Society is committed to promoting quality Montessori education for all children from birth to 18 years based on these key concepts:
*The aim of Montessori education is to foster competent, responsible, adaptive citizens who are lifelong learners and problem solvers.
*Learning occurs in an inquiring, cooperative, nurturing atmosphere. Students increase their own knowledge through self- and teacher-initiated experiences.
*Learning takes place through the senses. Students learn by manipulating materials and interacting with others. These meaningful experiences are precursors to the abstract understanding of ideas.
*The individual is considered as a whole. The physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, spiritual, and cognitive needs and interests are inseparable and equally important.
*Respect and caring attitudes for oneself, others, the environment, and all life are necessary.
The Montessori teacher is educated in these areas:
*Human growth and development.
*Observational skills to match students' developmental needs with materials and activities. This allows the teacher to guide students in creating their individual learning plan.
*An open-ended array of suggested learning materials and activities that empower teachers to design their own developmentally responsive, culturally relevant learning environment.
*Teaching strategies that support and facilitate the unique and total growth of each individual.
*Classroom leadership skills that foster a nurturing environment that is physically and psychologically supportive of learning.
A Montessori classroom must have these basic characteristics at all levels:
*Teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology appropriate to the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice.
*A partnership with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual's total development.
*A multi-aged, multi-graded, heterogeneous group of students.
*A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities, and experiences, which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.
*A schedule that allows large blocks of uninterrupted time to problem solve, to see the interdisciplinary connections of knowledge, and to create new ideas.
*A classroom atmosphere that encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching, and emotional development.
05-03-2004, 12:45 PM
Wow, he's doing multiplication in K?! Thats great!
I don't realy have specific questions right now, but you definitly gave enough to spark my interest. Alot.
vBulletin® v3.8.7, Copyright ©2000-2013, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.