Thursday, March 29, 2012

Montessori Parenting, A Book Review

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet the 2011 American Montessori Society's Living Legend, Sonnie McFarland, at a conference.  It was my first time meeting her, and she hugged me like a friend.  She was giving a talk related to her other book, Honoring The Light Of The Child.  When I heard that she later wrote a book that pertained to my life so specifically, I just had to contact her.  She send me the book just in time for my recovery from hernia repair surgery, and it was a blessing in many directions.  On my spring break from school, I read this book front to back.  I had dog-eared nearly every other page, to remind myself later to discuss a quote or idea with my husband or to share some tidbits with the readers of this little blog.

First, I'd like to say that this book, entitled Montessori Parenting:  Unveiling The Authentic Self, speaks to the philosophy of Dr. Montessori within parenting style, this is not a book about Montessori Materials for parents. The world is rich with books and blogs about materials.  However, anyone who studies the method knows that philosophy is the backbone of Montessori.  In the book, she describes each Montessori-inspired parenting tool within the chapter, then summarizes next steps and follow through for parents end of each chapter.  So many parenting books give you tools, but leave you wondering what your next steps will be.  If you have the chance to read this book, you'll see how easy it is to keep yourself present and ready in your parenting by journaling and asking yourself questions about what is happening in your home.  I have found myself more reflective and calm since re-starting my mom journal.

Who should read this book?  Parents of children enrolled in a Montessori School, Montessori Homeschoolers, Attachment Parents, expectant parents, or parents who wonder about the work of Dr. Montessori in relation to parenting.  So, basically-  if you read this blog- you probably want this book.

One unexpected happening occured while I was reading this book.  I'd read a quote of Dr. Montessori, and then run to my bookshelf to re-read some of her writings from a parental perspective.  I must have read The Absorbent Mind and The Discovery Of The Child a million times over the past 10 years, but this book got me thinking in a Mommy sort of way.  It was special, I was enlightened and re-charged.

Being a Mom and also a Montessori teacher, a few things about this book felt like they were written just for me to hear.  Here is a list of some things that I highlighted, dog-eared, and underlined:

1. Chapter One.  It's exactly what I want to say when people ask me to tell them more about Montessori.  It is a concise, itemized, and sums up Dr. Montessori's life and her findings.

2.  The Authentic Self, for parents and child.  The book outlines how to find your own authenticity, and to aid your child's.  That piece is a priceless tool, considering all a Montessori Parent wants is to 'follow the child'.

3.  Creating the home environment:  She describes the hows and whys of your home environment.  It is so similar to the findings from my thesis, I nearly ran around the house-  yelling,  YES!
"Scientific observation then has established that education is not what the teacher gives;  education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual. and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment."  - Dr. Maria Montessori

4.  Identify your parenting style.  Montessori is not permissive parenting.  Follow your child within limits, and with love.

5.  I adored all of the big names used and quoted in this book.  While studying Psychology and education over the years, I have collected some favorites.  I ended up re-reading some Piaget, Maslow, and Jung once I was finished with Montessori Parenting.

Bravo, Sonnie and Jim McFarland!!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Watercolor Eggs, A Color Mixing Activity

This weekend we painted wooden eggs with liquid watercolors.  The girls mixed their own shades using the primary colors.  Once dry, we coated them with a bit of beeswax.  It was a simple, easy, fun craft that came out to be a sweet decoration.  The eggs are proudly displayed in the living room to explore. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Color Sorting

Today, the girls spontaneously began sorting their living room toys by color.  Peanut shouted, "I'll be right back" and returned with color box 2 to match the color piles.  I snapped these photos of their fun.  What colorful little kids!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sensorial Fun

These photos were taken last weekend, when I started dusting-  the girls were suddenly re-interested in the sensorial works.  They spent a silent (it was Daddy's turn to sleep in) Saturday with the materials, while I drank my coffee and read my new book.  This is the life.

Red Knobless Cylinders, she's making a tower
She's sitting on the Pink Tower.  It's okay, we're at home  :)
Bean wants to draw the Knobless Cylinders as towers.
Working with the Binomial Cube
My blue tower, on paper
"It's an elephant"
I threw this photo in so that you can see their creative play with
Montessori and Waldorf items.  It's not all neat and tidy all the time....
....they're little kids!!!  

Silver Polishing (wow, that came in handy!)

Wow, this tea pot was UGLY!  I let it get that way on purpose, so that my girls could have something else to polish.  If you need to get silver looking tarnished for Montessori, wash silver with bubbles and allow it to drip dry a few times. My old vintage hippy jewelry is small and cleans up quick.  This is a great multi-surface to polish, it took a long time!

See the end of the post for the lesson.  Today I used cotton swabs instead of squares.

Silver Polishing
Silver Polishing Tray (be sure they polish on the tray, or else the
tarnish can get on the work surface)

Concentration.  She didn't notice me watching.

Big Sister gives the lesson she remembers from
being at Montessori  :)

NAME OF ACTIVITY:  Metal Polishing

GENERAL:  Practical Life
SPECIFIC:  Care of Environment
  Cotton swabs
  Polishing mitt
  Object to polish

DIRECT:  Coordination, Concentration, Independence, Order 
INDIRECT:  Learning to polish

PREPARATION:  Mirror polishing, shoe polishing, bead stringing

AGE:  First year Montessori Student

  Untwist the polish, or open container
  Dip swab, wipe it on lid
  Apply polish on whole item
  Wipe off polish with cotton square
  Buff until shinny with polishing mitt
  Place cap on polish
  tidy  up
1.      Put square and swab in trash
2.      Get a new cotton square
3.      Get a new polishing mitt
4.      Roll mat, place ring on it
5.      Return to shelf

  Choosing an object to polish
  Get all polish off
  Applying polish
  Tidy up

  Non-verbal first
  Item being polished
 Shinny vs. dull
  Polish mitt
  Cotton swab

  Item being polished
  Applying/buffing polish
  Seeing residue coming off

  The more I buff, the shinier it gets
  Awareness of needs to polish

  Any polish left on object
  Amount of polish put out

VARIATIONS:  Objects in the classroom, door knob or faucet

EXTENSIONS:  Other polishing activities

                        Written by Jessica Beerman

NOTE:  Only one polishing work should be out at a time

March Practical Life Work

Although I got no photos of my little rascals at work, I managed to snap some pictures of the trays after bedtime.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!

Wooden Rainbow Scooping
Green Sparkly Pom Transfer
Pom Tweezing
Rainbow Bead Stringing (made by me!)  I soaked the wooden
beads in liquid watercolor, and covered them
with beeswax.  Be sure the string is the same length as
the child's wingspan.