Monday, November 16, 2009

Amazing Children

I just finished reading How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin. Because there is so much in the book that I underlined and because it took me so long to read the book (two years--not because it wasn't good, just because I have read it on and off), I thought I would go back through the book and record some of the things that were especially helpful.

Chapter One: Why Montessori?

The Highs and Lows of Parenting
Montessori is a comprehensive, systematic approach to parenting.
Montessori principles are based on a holistic approach.

What is Montessori?
Little Children experience a sense of frustration in an adult-sized world.
Children have their own logic at each stage of development, along with certain preferred activities and natural tendencies in behavior.
Children respond positively to a calm and orderly environment in which everything has its place.

Sensitive Periods for Learning
Montessori recognized that children go through stages of intellectual interest and curiosity (occurring from birth to age six) and she called these stages Sensitive Periods.
Parents need to watch and respond to their children individually because the beginning and end of each sensitive period differ from child to child.
Given the right stimulation at the right time, children are able to learn almost unconsciously.

The book lists 12 sensitive periods. I am only going to comment on the ones that pertain to the age of our children.
Movement--birth to 1 year
Language--birth to 6 years
Small Objects--1 to 4 years
Toileting--18 months to 3 years
Music--2 to 6 years
Order--2 to 4 years
Grace and Courtesy--2 to 6 years
Senses--2 yo 6 years
Writing--3 to 4 years
Reading--3 to 5 years
Spatial Relationships--4 to 6 years
Mathematics--4 to 6 years

Seldin's comments
Language--begins with cooing and goes through to words and sentences.
Small Objects--they adore small objects and their details as they refine eye-hand coordination.
Order--Everything must have its place. Children love routine and desire consistency and repetition.
Music--When music is part of his everyday life, the child will show spontaneous interest in developing his pitch, rhythm, and melody.
Toileting--As nervous system develops, child will be able to control bladder and bowels.
Grace & Courtesy--Child will love to imitate polite conversation and will begin internalizing these qualities into his personality.
Senses--From 2 years old, child will become fascinated with sensorial experiences.

My Thoughts
Language--Our three are definitely talking in sentences, building their vocabulary, making connections among words and objects and relationships.
Small Objects--I notice the girls attending to details more. But, for example, today when I was changing Elliott's diaper, he played with the movable eyelid of a doll that was lying next to him.
Order--Yes, I really notice this one. They very much notice when something is out of place. I really need to write an individual post about order. It is one of my weaknesses. This is an area I need to attend to for my three's sake.
Music--I am glad to see this stage doesn't begin until two because they haven't shown much musical interest. In seeing the parades lately, they have become very interested in marching bands. They also will pull out the drum every so often. Their musical instruments are not where they can be accessed easily. I need to move them to a better location. Also, the other night I pulled out my guitar and played the three chords I know. They enjoyed listening as I played, though they mostly enjoyed climbing on the guitar case.
Toileting--Here again, I need to do a full individual post on this subject. They have such an interest in going to the bathroom. Elliot, surprisingly in leading the way.
Grace & Courtesy--This is one I need to pay attention to. We are repeating, repeating, repeating things like, "How do you ask nicely for something? Say, 'May I please have...?'" I know one day it will (may?) sink in, but for now they are demanding more that either of us would like. They do okay though with please and thanks.
Senses--I feel like we do okay with taste, but I need to give them more textures to consider. I also try to balance playing music with having quiet. I don't do much at all with smell.

The Magic of Montessori Schools
Children who are treated with respect and who are encouraged to try new skills learn more readily to do for themselves.
A child who feels respected and competent will develop a far greater level of emotional well-being than a child who is simply loved and doted on.*
Success in school is directly tied to the degree to which children believe they are capable, independent human beings.
When children develop a meaningful degree of independence, they set a pattern for a lifetime of good work habits, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility.
Children are taught to manage their own community.
Children are expected to put the materials back.
If you create a welcoming but orderly space for your children and allow them to work and play freely, their confidence and independence will blossom.

"A child who feels respected and competent will develop a far greater level of emotional well-being than a child who is simply loved and doted on." This statement may be my favorite tenet of Montessori. I certainly do more for my children than I should. I once read the statement "Never do for a child what she can do for herself." I think about this statement pretty often, but frequently I let the "need" to keep moving forward rob my children of time to practice new skills (putting on their own shoes, taking dishes to sink). Something to work on.

I am not going to comment on the sections
Right from the Beginning
Your Growing Baby
Planning the first perfect bedroom.

Making Your Home Child-Friendly
Design a home that conveys a sense of beauty and order.
Organize your home to help your child become more independent and self-confident.

Adapting Your Home to a Growing Child
Children have a tremendous need and love for an orderly environment.
Have accessible shelves.
Avoid having too many toys and books out at a time.
Have two or more sets that are rotated out of a closet every month or so.
Have small rugs for your child to set out when they are playing on the floor.
Avoid clutter.

in the kitchen
Set aside the bottom shelf in the fridge for your children.
in the bathroom
Child should be able to reach the sink, turn on water, reach toothbrush and paste without help.
in the hall (or entry)
Have a low bench where child can take off shoes and clip them together with clothespin. Have low hooks where they can hang coats by themselves.
in the bedroom
Put extenders on light switches so child can turn them on and off.
Hang a bulletin board low so child can hang own art work.
Provide a simple stereo and teach child how to work it.
arts & crafts area
it is important to provide the best materials you can afford.

Watch and Follow Your Child
There is no better way to begin using Montessori principles in your home than by sitting back and observing what your child is looking at, what he is saying, and what he is doing.
Children have so much to teach us about their needs and interests if we will take the time to pay attention.
Keep a notebook or journal where you take notes and record observations.
Make notes every so often about what you see.
This will help you notice patterns.
Try to interpret what your child's behavior means.
When you notice a new fascination, try to think of ways to introduce some new activities that will feed and extend this interest.
Focus on what is happening right now.

Wow. So much in this first chapter. I noted many more posts I need to write about concerning these subjects. I think writing down my thoughts about this book will help me to implement some of these practices into our routine.


AMY said...

You and Holly are the epitome of raising children in a "Montessori Way"...absolutely LOVE it! Touch it, taste it, smell it, hear it, see it...the most important, I believe is touch. You have the most beautiful babes EVER!

AMY said...

You and Holly are the epitome of raising children in a "Montessori Way"...absolutely LOVE it! Touch it, taste it, smell it, hear it, see it...the most important, I believe is touch. You have the most beautiful babes EVER!

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