Monday, February 14, 2011

This whole Montessori's working!

At 17 mos old, I wasn't sure how much the activities we do and things that I have introduced Tyler to would really matter. Sure, he seems to enjoy and understand a lot of it, but is he truly working towards normalization yet? Well, I've been surprised in the last week to see how much it's sinking in!

After doing lessons on his fruit and vegetable nomenclature cards a few times and feeling confident that he knew what to do, I put three sets on the shelf. I wasn't convinced that this was something that he'd choose to do, especially as it's in the same location as his latches board, coin box, color stacker/sorter and farm puzzle(big favorites), but I had an empty spot on the shelf that was driving me nuts. These cards would have a lot of competition, and how much joy would he find in matching? He seemed to like working with them, but how much really? I expected that he would simply dump them on the floor and that I'd need to find a better choice for that spot soon, but it was worth a shot.

Catching him at work

For the first couple days, I saw him take the cards out at least once and do a match or two on the floor all on his own. I was shocked. Since then I walk into the kitchen several times a day to see that he is using them, or I notice the matches together on the floor where he's been. I can often hear him trying to pronounce each as he's looking at those cards as well; he now has a cute toddler-ese word for "potato" that I won't even attempt to sound out here!   

Taking the matching a step further by matching red pentagons from his color stacker as well?

If Tyler hadn't been interested in this work and I had attempted to force it upon him, this wouldn't have been the result. Pushing a child to learn something they're not interested in or ready to learn simply leads to an internal resentment towards learning as well as whatever specific activity you're trying to shove down their throat. The philosophy of Montessori is to follow the child's lead and to allow the child's natural path and pace of learning guide what they do and what you introduce, not to attempt to "create a genius".  I find this is the way some people who don't understand Montessori view the method and it couldn't be less true. Learning is to be seen as joyful to the child and seem like play! If Tyler isn't interested in an activity, we stop and try again another time. If Tyler is showing keen interest in another area, which is revealed by keeping a close watch on his daily activity, I introduce as much of that sort of work as I can create and find. A love for learning develops with the Montessori method, and I can see it truly budding in my little guy!  

Another recent "he's getting it!" moment happened over the weekend. I had been to Hobby Lobby for the first time and I excitedly came home with several bags full of goodies to create activities, a spring display, and art projects. As I was unpacking the bags onto the floor to take-in the sights of my many treasures, Ty became interested in some colorful glass bottles I had purchased. I had bought tiny puff-balls for him to put into these bottles for fine motor practice, and in an effort to keep him busy for a bit, I quickly opened the puff-balls and showed him what to do. He caught on and enjoyed the challenge of managing the tiny balls and getting them into the small openings on the bottle. He enjoys the glass gem and glass bottle activity so much, I figured this would be similar but more difficult. Success!

 After working for a few minutes, he suddenly got up and headed to where we keep his rug and frantically started to pull it out. He realized that what he was working on was an activity that would usually be done on his rug and wanted that area to work on! We've only really used the Montessori rug concept for two weeks, but it is an idea that Tyler clearly enjoys! We helped him move the work to his rug (and have since moved his rug to an easier, more accessible place) where he calmly continued and finished.  Normalization has truly begun!

An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child's energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery."
--Dr. Maria Montessori 


  1. He looks busy and happy! What a wonderful environment you have created for him!