Each year on the last day of November, my husband, son and I make our own advent calendar that has been passed down in our family for generations. It is a colourful paper chain that we hang from the ceiling and use to count down the days until Christmas. One can be made for the whole family to share and hang in the main room of your home, or each child can make their own. I grew up with 3 siblings, so each of us had our own chain hanging by our bed. Continue reading
One crisp autumn day Lucy and her parents decided to go mushrooming on Mount Arrowsmith. The weather conditions were perfect: it was damp and cool after a week of rain and fog. The family hiked along the hard-packed trail for a stretch, then veered off the path and headed deeper into the forested canopy. Lucy loved this family ritual of hunting and gathering wild mushrooms each year. She used a short sturdy branch as a walking stick and peered under fallen tree logs and layers of moss for the hidden treasures. Lucy’s mom always knew the best places to look for edible species and how to identify them. Lucy’s dad carried the basket with their harvest. It didn’t take long before they found two varieties: a handful of golden chanterelles poking out of the wet moss beside a large rock outcropping, and large red lobster mushrooms under the base of a Hemlock tree. Continue reading
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving I suggested to my family that we skip the pumpkin pie this year and make something different for dessert. Our pear tree was heavily laden and I couldn’t resist the temptation to bake a pear crumble. Well, the idea was met with groans and disappointed faces. Apparently, I was told, it is a family tradition to bake pumpkin pie and it just wouldn’t be the same without it!
It is a common practice for families to pass down rituals from generation to generation. Some are based in religion; others are treasured cultural customs.
In the Montessori classroom, independence is an integral part of the day-to-day program. Each morning the cubby area hums with activity as the children get ready for school. It takes practice and persistence to get in and out of coats and shoes. Often a five-year-old, who is ready in a flash, will linger and chat and help a new three-year-old classmate tug at a zipper that won’t go up. In the rush to catch up to friends, the floor might be left with boots and bags strewn about, but it isn’t long before one of the four-year-olds notices and puts everything in order.
Theirs is a classroom that is designed to invite children to take ownership and interest in its use, care and maintenance. Child-sized tables, chairs, shelves and learning materials all promote and stimulate independence. Small hands feel at ease and able to manipulate tools that are made just the right size. It is fun to sweep with the small broom and dustpan – so much fun that sometimes spills happen just for the pure pleasure. Continue reading
“One of the most urgent endeavors to be undertaken on behalf of the reconstruction of society is the reconstruction of education. It must be brought about by giving…children the environment that is adapted to their [nature].”- Maria Montessori
The core framework of the Montessori pedagogy consists of four planes of development: 0-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24. From birth to age 6 the infant is forming the child, and from ages 6 to 12 this person consolidates; then from ages 12 to 18 the child is forming the adult, and from ages 18 to 24 this person consolidates. Each plane is divided into two three-year periods, often referred to as 3 year cycles of activity. Continue reading
In the Montessori program children have the opportunity to learn about the physical world, including the language and classification of plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth. The nomenclature cards and booklets in the cultural area of the classroom illustrate and name the various parts of the tree, leaf, flower, snail and so forth.
The work with the nomenclature cards involves matching the illustrations with corresponding labels to learn the names of the parts. For example, the parts of the snail cards depict: Shell, foot, mouth, tentacles, eyespots. Each part is isolated in colour to draw attention to that particular part. Continue reading
Given paper and a few crayons, the young child finds satisfaction and joy in the creative process, expressing herself with an ease envied by the adult who does not considers themself an artist. For the adult, their work is directed to the end product and is often limited by self-imposed ideas about quality and perfection. The child, on the other hand, is focused only on the process, free from judgment.
Observe the three-year old who will sit for long periods of time swirling various colours around and around the page making abstract shapes. The five-year old might paint a picture of her family, their elongated figures with oversized-heads and arms standing under purple clouds and a large yellow sun. Both are pleased.
The child’s artwork is complete when an inner level of development has been reached. Almost without any outward sign, the little artist puts down her crayon or paintbrush and walks away. She is done. She might even forget the picture on the table, or drop it en route to her next activity; she might give the picture away to a friend. There is no attachment to the end product. If there is, it is likely because the child has been requested by an adult to do a painting for them. Continue reading
The flower arranging activity is a good example of the direct and indirect delivery system of the Montessori philosophy. On one level it is a creative and satisfying work. It also leads to work in the language, science, and art areas over the course of the three year primary program. Continue reading
The first 4 to 6 weeks are usually a period of transition during which the children become familiar with the routine of getting to school on time and accustomed to the pace and expectations of the school day. Their ability to cope will look different at each age. At any point during this time it is common for a child who appears to have settled in comfortably to suddenly express feelings of resistance to going to school. This is a phenomenon teachers often refer to as ‘the end of the honeymoon period’. Continue reading