Thursday, August 11, 2011

1, 2, 3, Montessori!

I wanted to begin transitioning to Montessori style learning with my daughter (lovingly nick named named Stink Bug) for quite some time now. I really just didn't know where I wanted to start or felt like I really had the right materials. It was one of those situations where I had all of the information that I needed. I was just frozen and not able to move forward. Today, I decided was the day to start the transition into more concrete Montessori! For those of you unfamiliar with Montessori learning, here is a quick little definition by good old Wikipedia! (I know, I know, don't give me a hard time about my source. It was just very quick and concise.)

"Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to eighteen years old.

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. Although a range of practices exists under the name "Montessori", the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:[2][3]

* Mixed age classrooms, with classrooms for children aged 2½ or 3 to 6 years old by far the most common
* Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
* Uninterrupted blocks of work time
* A Constructivism (learning theory) or "discovery" model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
* Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators

In addition, many Montessori schools design their programs with reference to Montessori’s model of human development from her published works, and use pedagogy, lessons, and materials introduced in teacher training derived from courses presented by Montessori during her lifetime."

Now your a pro too! Ok, so there is a bit more to it than that but, that is enough to have a basic understanding of where I am coming from. I plan on using some Montessori elements with a blend of traditional education and a smattering of Waldorf. How you might ask? Well, I have it all floating around in my noggin somewhere. I just have to dig it out.

If you have stuck with me so far, you might be asking, "So where is this Montessori transition you are talking about!?" Well, I starting transitioning over the play area to incorporate the Montessori idea of a "prepared environment." To me, this means a space that is thought out ahead of time. The space contains a limited number of materials that are organized, each material has a specific location that it belongs, and the materials are chosen with the child's "sweet spot" for learning and development. Just difficult enough to be challenging but, not so difficult that the child becomes frustrated. The space should also be appealing to the child, with plenty of materials made from natural woods and fibers. Not just a giant toy box filled with plastic toys. (If you don't want to go digging through it, would a toddler?)

Although the Materials in our play area are not traditionally Montessori, I have chosen them with care. Being sure to rotate out materials that are no longer challenging or that she has become bored with. I think as time goes on I will begin to incorporate more Montessori materials, but not ONLY Montessori materials. As I add them I will be sure to blog about them, especially those that are DIY. I will share the printable that I make and will link them in my "Printables" section. For now, enjoy a picture of our new Montessori inspired space!

(Alright, I know. The picture stinks. I am working on it though! I hope to have a better camera soon!)

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