“Never do anything for a child that they can do for themselves.”
This morning I woke up a bit later than usual. The 7 year old was making himself pancakes and the 3 year old was using a towel to clean up where she had just vomited.
I assure you I did not force any of these things. My first thought was to get that little girl back in bed and why in the world was she trying to clean it up herself? She had, in fact, been up all night the night before with some sort of coughing/stomach/everything bug. My second thought was how was the other one making pancakes when we are out of flour???
Last year I started an online course through KHT Montessori. I tend to be a little bit of an education junkie and it was something to keep my brain going. While I signed up for use of the manuals and the resources, I didn’t realize how powerful being a part of a greater community would be.
The course is set up simply. Karen gives you access to all of her manuals from the very start. Each month she posts questions and ideas and we work through all of the subject areas over the course of the year. There are a few optional book studies and no course “requirements.” You get what you put into it.
Karen addresses as many questions as she can and guides you as you work through the manuals. There is a lot of misinformation on the blogosphere and this helped me a ton realize what I was doing “wrong” and what I could be doing better. While this was for the kids, it was also for me. I grew just as much this year as they did and I am so very thankful for the opportunity.
“It is clear therefore that the discipline which reveals itself in the Montessori class is something which comes more from within than without. But this self-discipline has not come into existence in a day, or a week, or even a month. It is the result of a long inner growth, an achievement won through months of training.” (The Absorbent Mind).
If I learned anything this year, it was how important the role of the “guide” really is. My goal is not to sit down and work through the manuals one after the other, reading the instructions and waiting for my good little pupils to follow suite.
It is to provide an environment in which learning happens even when I am not around.
It’s a lot harder (and a lot simpler somehow) than I thought it would be. It took doing it alongside other educators and hearing their success and failures. It helped me understand why internships and observation are so important in a Montessori classroom. It is not about the manuals or the cards or the resources- it’s about the mentality behind the whole thing.
Are you watching your kids? What do they love? What are their tendencies? What do they need to work on? How can you guide them to strengthen weaknesses and encourage others with their strengths?
“It is the consistency of a plan, which goes hand in hand with each individual’s needs and development, that makes Montessori unique.” -Essential Montessori
I was also freed from the feeling that I needed to have all these wonderful materials in my home to make it successful. Some materials are beneficial and hard to replicate but many can be done differently and still gain the same result.
“If Montessori is to continue to be beneficial, people must overcome their undue emphasis on the materials and not be so obsessed and fascinated by them that they forget their relative position within the method.” -Essential Montessori
Karen has new classes starting every month or so (I believe March is the next one!) so check out her website: http://khtmontessori.com/ and see what you think.
I’m a little sad about this course ending and I am deciding whether I want to work through Keys of the Universe next year. We have fallen in love with the Charlotte Mason style of learning this year. I feel content in our rhythm of learning for my older son but I am also curious what Montessori looks like in older kids and how it differs from other philosophies. Remember the whole educational philosophy junkie thing I mentioned earlier??
Curious about more but the course isn’t the right fit?? These are the books that I loved reading this year:
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson