Monday, 24 February 2014

Montessori materials in our home


We decided to buy a few Montessori materials for Finn as he will be home educated using the Montessori method. We figured out that it was worth it money-wise as we can sell them on later. We bought a few second hand (Pink Tower, Brown Stair, Insets) and a couple new (Knobbed and Knobless cylinders). The only other materials that I would like to purchase are the Geometric solids, possibly some Puzzle Maps later on and that will be it. We'll make the rest (well, some of it!) ourselves.

Finn pretending that the cylinder block is a train. You press the green "buttons" to make it go, apparently!

 
Something that I had not thought about regarding the Montessori materials became most evident this week. Finn has done a lot of peg puzzles in infancy and toddlerhood. He progressed so much that he lost all interest in them many months ago. I have now put all of his puzzles away, awaiting a better day than the one you get thrown down the stairs out of boredom!
 
When I received the cylinder blocks, shortly before he turned 2, I had a hunch that he would be able to replace the cylinders easily due to his work with peg puzzles. I gave him block 1 to try and he seemed to enjoy the work... for a few seconds. He replaced five cylinders in a flash before running away.
 
This means to me that he was ready for the puzzle part of the cylinders a while ago, and I have missed an opportunity for concentration. Also,  and most importantly, at the time when he will be interested and ready for work with size gradation and seriation, he will already be bored with the exercise of replacing the cylinders and the material will hold much less learning value for him.  
 
By complete coincidence, I stumbled upon this article last week. Written by Angeline Lillard, it addresses the issue of add-on materials such as puzzles in a Montessori environment and the effect they have on children's learning. It mirrors exactly what I have observed with Finn.
 
This leads me to think in a different way about these materials that Maria Montessori specially designed with children's learning in mind. What is their place in the 21st century when they are competing against other educational materials? Especially in people's homes?
 
Have you observed a similar situation with your children?  What are your views on bringing Montessori materials into the home?
 

 

7 comments:

  1. Hi Elsa, I feel like this post is so timely for me - these are all topics I've been thinking about lately. I'm planning on homeschooling Elise, too, and I'm trying to figure out what that will look like. I know that it will be different in many ways than a traditional Montessori classroom - no mixed ages, for one thing! I'm not sure what materials will make sense for us to have - I appreciate seeing your list - many are ones I've planned to buy. Even as a teacher, I felt that the Montessori materials had some tough competition with other educational materials and toys - especially the sensorial materials. Your example of Finn and the cylinder blocks is really interesting - I haven't exactly experienced anything like this with Elise, but I have noticed that she is ready for some things before I expected her to be... does that mean she will lose interest in an activity before she's learned all that she could from it? Hmmm... I'm off to go read that article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne, thanks for your comment! It would appear that Finn spent most of his day yesterday proving me wrong! Of all the materials (Montessori and non-Montessori) in our "learning room" he chose nothing BUT Montessori materials! He chose the cylinder blocks 1 and 2 three times each, as well as the corresponding knobless cylinders, which he likes to match. He also chose the Brown stair and had a passion for the dressing frames. He chose nothing else all day! His concentration wasn't phenomenal but he'll get there, I'm sure! I'll have to edit that post! Which Montessori materials do you think you will want to purchase? I loved your comparison between the Pink Tower and stacking boxes, you should write more of these comparative posts!

      Delete
    2. I can't stop thinking about this article and this topic in general! How interesting that Finn is now seeming to prefer the Montessori materials more than the other materials. I think I need to try your idea of reserving time for a Montessori work period - this may help Elise become more engaged with some of the materials I've prepared for her.

      Delete
    3. We have the room but we don't have any kind of timetable yet. I would also like to put some time aside for Montessori work in the future (still working on my Montessori course at the moment) as I also think it will help him focus.

      Delete
  2. I think Susan Mayclin Stephsen's book, The Joyful Child, might be worth reading. I am told that she writes about not having Montessori materials in the home, reserving them for work in the child's prepared environment at the child's school. I'm not sure what she does suggest for the home, specifically homeschooling. I hope to purchase the book soon to read it for myself.

    Keep blogging!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andree, thanks for your comment! I have been thinking about reading The Joyful Child, and also Child of the World by the same author. Finn has been working with Montessori materials a lot more since yesterday so I'm not quite sure what ground I'm standing on anymore. I'll have to observe and report! Thanks you for your encouragement to keep blogging, it means a lot!

      Delete
    2. Are these written by the Michael Olaf people? I'd like to read them, too!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...