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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Leisure time?

At a party, recently, someone asked me how I spend all the free time I have over the Christmas holidays.  Smothering a less-than-polite snort, I managed to splutter out "Oh, I keep myself busy". 

Any Montessori teacher will tell you that's a bit of an understatement for we are a restless breed.  Not content with the usual hustle and bustle of this holiday season, we also set ourselves impossible material making deadlines, valiantly attempt to catch up on our journals and try to read all those books and articles that have been accumulating on our desks.

Things are done no differently in our house.  Once the house cleaning is all caught up and the holiday festivities have subsided (momentarily), I set out to mess the whole place up again.

This is what our dining room table looks like right now.


This stack of books is waiting for me on the coffee table.



Here is the computer desk in the kitchen (where I spend many happy hours getting ideas from other blogs).



This stack of laminated cards is waiting patiently beside the bed to be cut.




And here is the first load of things to go back to school - all repaired, cleaned and spruced up just waiting to be put back on the classroom shelves.


Phew!  No wonder I feel like I need a vacation from my holidays!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Guest Post

The following post was written by a teacher at one of our schools "up island".  The piece was originally written for the school newsletter but I felt it should be posted here, too.  Danielle graciously gave me permission to print it for you.

Montessori at Home: 
by Danielle Gauthier

I want you to imagine a scenario. Imagine that you have been given a test. This test is not hard. This test contains things you know. Things you've learned along the way either through personal experience or general knowledge gained in life.


It is a test that looks something like this:

Name: _____________

1. 4 + 5 = _____

2. What country contains the province of British Columbia? ______________

3. Do we read English from left to right or from right to left? _________________

4. When eating a Mandarin orange, do you need to peel it first before eating it? yes/no

5.. An eagle is a
 a) bird
b) insect
c) type of soil

6. What does H2O stand for? _______________

     Now, as you read through these questions, you probably answered them all along the way, but our scenario isn't finished yet. Before the teacher gives the go-ahead to start writing your answers down on this test, she/he says this to you, "You may start your test now and by the way, the answers are 9, Canada, left to right, yes, bird and water."

     I understand that not a lot of people like tests and may feel relieved that they were given the answers, and if this was you, try instead to apply this to something that you actually enjoy as a challenge in life. For example, you are doing a crossword at the table and someone walks by and tells you the answer to that word you have been working out. Or a Sudoku puzzle that has had you stumped for a minute or two. Some other people may have been disappointed or discouraged or felt their knowledge was belittled by being given the answers to this test.

     Shift these feelings and thoughts you have surrounding this scenario, someone doing something for you that you were TOTALLY capable of doing, to your child. Here's just one example...I know there are times when it is nice to have things done for you but I guarantee you that all of your children know how to take off and put on their own clothes, jackets, socks and shoes. I guarantee this to you because I have witnessed it time and time again at school. If something is too hard for your child to do, perhaps it is time to look at the fastenings on their clothing or the types of shoes you tend to buy them or the containers their lunches are sent in. We want successes for your children.


     Maria Montessori said, "Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." Learning independence is something that is ongoing and comes from making decisions from limited choices in which the child can succeed. With independence comes self-esteem, confidence in choices made and ultimately a sense of responsibility for ones actions. Every time you find yourself doing something for your child that he or she can do for him/herself, remember this quote from Maria Montessori, "He (She) who is served is limited in his (her) independence."