As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Annika has started pre-school.
We got together with a group of friends and put together a Montessori-style learning co-op. We’ll be meeting in our friend’s home twice a week with some other AP kids and mamas.
I’m pretty happy and excited about it, especially the Montessori style. Everything I’ve read about Montessori I love. I’m reading a biography of Maria Montessori right now (of course I am, the huge nerd that I am, I need to know all about Maria Montessori and her approach). It’s pretty fascinating stuff.
Maria Montessori was in med school — an anomaly in itself that a woman would be studying medicine in the early 1900s — when she began studying children and watching how they observed the world. She ended up forgoing medicine in favor of teaching. She began with a group of mentally challenged and neglected youngsters, and turned them into excited learners. Her method caught on fire around the world, making its way to the United States from Italy. Educators came from all over the world to study her method.
Apparently in recent years it is making quite an impact in the African American community as an alternative to No Child Left Behind.
I’m nowhere near done with the book, Maria Montessori Her Life and Work. But so far a few nuggets that have stood out to me are the fact that she found that children actually prefer work to play. At some point in her teaching, someone donated to her school a large number of beautiful toys, dollhouses and the like. She set them out in the classroom. They never got played with.
Also, children have a natural preference for order in the first three to four years. She found that at the end of the day, the children crowded around her while she put away their utensils. At first she thought they were just being pesky. But then she realized that they simply wanted to see where she putting the stuff, so she began allowing them to put it away for themselves.
So far at our school, the kids are catching on to the routine like wildfire.
After today, which was our fourth day, I was impressed by how quickly the kids had caught on to the routine. And they were excited about doing their work. As soon as circle time was done, they all excitedly ran for their boxes and spent several minutes, coloring, cutting, pasting, and examining their “work.” They really enjoy it. And it is a pleasure to watch them expand their brains in ways that don’t involve lots of constant nagging or forcing them to stick to the same project all at once.
All of us mamas are also learning a lot about how to talk to the kids in the right way so as to keep them engaged without negating their creative interest.
One of the other moms is reading, How to Talk So Your Kids Will Learn. She said that the book recommends leaving, “but” out of your directions because the word “but” negates anything said in the first half of the sentence. In daily life this may or may not be so harmful, (I’m not sure) but when teaching, it has the power to diminish the child’s will, which is definitely not Montessori or AP approach.
So, anyway, I’m excited about our new school. Wanted to share. Did any of you send your kids to Montessori, or do it yourselves? What kind of pre-school are you doing? What do you like about it?