What Parents Want

I guess I can’t generalize this for “all” parents, but I can say for myself that I want so much for my sons (the 3 1/2 year old AND the one to be born in August).  I read this article from the Wall Street Journal (“The Montessori Mafia”: the title just cracks me up!) and thought it did a nice job of showing and reproving to me why I do what I do each day for my children.  Sure, I would LOVE to put him in a school where he was surrounded by endless resources, Montessori materials and trained Montessori teachers.  But, this journey to learn and discover and implement all I can about this method of learning is no doubt worth it.  We can do this right here at home.

The characteristics that were mentioned in this article are ones that I would love for my child to possess:  following his curiosity, knowing the joy of discovering things on his own, questioning the world around him, being self-motivated, learning on his own terms.

“…most highly creative achievers don’t begin with brilliant ideas, they discover them.”

Be encouraged.  Just know that the efforts you put forth to teach your child means so much more that you or I could ever know.  It is worth it all.

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Education Begins at Birth

Shockingly diverse kindergarten group in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

One thing that Maria stressed was the need to better understand children’s capabilities.

Sensitive Periods

birth – 3 years        Absorbent Mind
Sensory Experiences

1 1/2 – 3 years        Language Development

1 1/2 – 4 years        Coordination and Muscle Development
Interest in Small Objects

2 – 4 years                Refinement of movement
Concern with truth and reality
Aware of order sequence in time and space

2 1/2 – 6 years         Sensory refinement

3 – 6 years                Susceptibilty to adult influence

3 1/2 – 4 1/2 years  Writing

4 – 4 1/2 years         Tactile sense

4 1/2 – 5 1/2 years  Reading

I would love to hear where your child is and some ideas of how you’re making the best of where your child is right now.

Looking over this list and thinking about where Carter is now and the periods we’ve come through, I definitely saw his language development BOOM from 1 1/2 to 3.  At the one year point I wasn’t sure he’d ever say “mama”.  I constantly prompted him “Say mama, say mama.” and he would just smile.  Around 15 months I couldn’t imagine why he didn’t have something to say.  After all, from the first night he came home, he was read to constantly.  I flipped out whenever anyone would attempt to sit him in front of a tv.  I talked to him ALL the time and still there were no words.

Around 18 months, the light bulbs coming on in his language development were evident every day.  It was as if he has stored up every word he had heard in those 18 months and he began to let them flow to the tune of 10-20 new words each day.  I started trying to keep a list, but I lost track.

Today, he’s 3 years 2 months.  We have hilarious and interesting conversations.  Though there are days when the word “Mommy” loses all meaning from the sheer number of times it’s uttered, there’s nothing I love more than communicating with my son.

Meet Maria

Before we begin stealing all her great ideas, I thought it was only fitting to first meet the lady who dedicated so much of her life to studying the way young children should be educated.

Maria Montessori, born in 1870 in a small town in Italy, changed the face of educating young children forever.  Though her parents encouraged her to become a teacher, she took a very unlikely path for  a woman in her time and decided to study engineering.  She didn’t love it and changed her path again to study medicine, which was nearly unheard of.  She became the first woman in Italy to attain a Doctorate in Medicine.  An internship at a pediatric clinic working with children who had mental deficiencies lead her to believe that their problems were not so much a medical issue, but more of a pedagogical problem.  In other words, if these children were taught differently their abilities would increase.

Her research and understanding gain from studying these children prompted her to begin her first “Children’s House” in 1907 in the slums of Rome.  Though she faced harsh critics who laughed at her efforts for working with such young children, she ultimately gained worldwide acceptance for her methods.

What was so different about her methods?

She believed that education begins at birth and that the first few years of life are the MOST FORMATIVE and the most important.

She believed that what happens from birth until age 6 largely determine who the child becomes and it must not be wasted.  And, within those 6 years, there are “Sensitive Periods” that occur when the child is most receptive to learning certain skills.

The classroom is completely and totally arranged for the child, giving them the opportunity to work and develop freely.

The furniture is proportioned to the child’s size.

Materials are arranged on shelves ARE within reach of the child so that obtaining and returning them can be the responsibility of the child.

There is beauty in the classroom – both natural and artistic.

The materials are well-made, well-maintained and neatly arranged.

There is nothing that the child cannot see and touch.

The child proceeds at his or her own pace.

 

This quote sums it up so well:

In this way we shall notice that the child has a personality which he is seeking to expand; he has initiative, he chooses his own work, persists in it, changes it according to his inner needs; he does not shirk effort, he rather goes in search of it, and with great joy he faces obstacles within his capacity to overcome.

As parents, this is such a huge part of what we want for our children.  For them to seek out what they want to learn, face challenges, know themselves, solve problems and grow in the process.

For my son, I am doing what I can when I can so that these years are not wasted.  This blog is our story.