Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Some Progress

I really hate to jinx it, but we're having a better week around here. The chart "contest" is proving to be a lot of fun and really does help us all focus on better behaviors. Matt lost a check on Monday for putting his work short ON the bag, instead of IN the bag! And, I was a little less patient than I want to be with Devin last I lost a check. But, Dev's going strong with all her goals! We've had no tears in the mornings this week (so far) & much better control of herself in the afternoons.

Devin even started Chess Club at school and seemed to enjoy it. Last night she told me, "I worked with the Binomial and Trinomial cube works today!" So, it appears she's starting to settle in to the Montessori routine. The intense structure in the morning, has been a challenge for her. But, Dev likes structure...once she knows all the rules and routines. She enjoys the second part of the day, as over 1/2 the class goes home and they have rest/recess/free play. Our school's playground is...well...simple. No equipment, just trees and grass. The kids don't seem to notice and Devin has new LOVE of climbing trees.

The following, I copied from her teacher's classroom blog. It helps explain why they spend so much time doing "practical" things in the classroom: Written by Michael Olaf:

It is in learning to do such seemingly mundane activities as dressing, dusting, sweeping, preparing and serving food, and fixing or building, work that the child sees going on around her all day long, that she learns to use her body and mind for a purpose, to concentrate, to complete cycles of activity, to finish what she started, and most importantly to contribute to the important work of the family, the social group.
Practical life activities provide superior groundwork for physical, mental, and social development, and teach the work habits that lead to success in all later academic work.
Practical life work provides practice in eye-hand coordination, the control of large and small muscles, the ability to walk and to carry objects with control, and to behave with knowledge of good manners. These are the activities that bring the child's attention to his own progress and development, and that open up a world of important work. Learning to look a person in the eye when speaking, to listen patiently, to exhibit thoughtfulness through good manners, enables the child to be welcomed into a social group, to be happy and to make others happy.

Children have for eons shown an interest in daily life through make-believe cooking and cleaning. It was one of the pivotal discoveries of Dr. Montessori that, given the chance, children usually choose real work over imaginary. Allowing the child to participate in the daily work he sees going on around him is an act of great respect for, and confidence in, the child. It helps him to feel important to himself and to those around him. He is needed. We can empathize if we think about the difference in treatment of a stranger, perhaps a dinner guest in our home, who is served and waited upon, compared to that of a good friend who is welcomed in our kitchen to talk and laugh while we prepare the meal together. Children don't want to be the guest, they want us to help them to do it themselves.

The child's reason for, and way of, working is different from ours. Adults will usually choose to do things the most efficient and quickest way and to rush through or avoid anything labeled work. A child, on the other hand, is working to master the activity and to practice and perfect her abilities. She may scrub a table each day for weeks, then turn her attention to some other activity to master. We must not look upon this method as inconsistency or laziness but rather cumulative mastery of abilities. The child's purpose is not to complete the task as much as to construct the self. Practical life activities may well be the most important work in the Montessori 3-6 class. By means of these activities the child learns to make intelligent choices, to become physically and mentally independent and responsible. She learns to concentrate, to control muscles, to act with care, to focus, to analyze logical steps and complete a cycle of activity.
This lays the groundwork for sound mental and physical work throughout life."

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