Happy Earth Day!
We were lucky enough to celebrate two 6th birthdays! Happy birthday to our dears, Lilly and Kaylee! Thank you for sharing these monuments in your lives with us.
One of the cornerstones of Montessori is the child's natural desire to discover. It is a paramount part of our work and is contingent upon exploration and creativity. Montessori Guides (teachers) are expert observers. They must be intuitively aware of the child's needs, understanding of the child's sensitivities, interests and capable of distinguishing the difference between exploration, experimentation or misuse of materials. Exploration is an innate universal human tendency, which is a hereditary potentiality. The discoveries that the child uncovers is far more powerful than any inferred initiatives made by a teacher. This is what shapes and soothes the soul of the child, fosters independence and entices the child to develop a unique personality.
The Montessori method adheres to all aspects of the child's development. In other words, Montessori is education for life. The children need concentration and in-depth work to be able to truly explore and obtain the hidden secrets/purposes of the materials.
"It all comes back to the importance of the action for learning and the fundamental interrelatedness of the different parts of the human being [(the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical parts) and of all human beings to one another.] Academic achievement, social-emotional competence, and physical and mental health are fundamentally and multiply interrelated. The best and most efficient way to foster any one of those (such as academic achievement) is to foster all of them." Dr. Adele Diamond: Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at UBC, among other impressive roles and is a Montessori advocate. She has spoken at several Montessori conferences and is continuously proving Dr. Montessori's hypotheses.
Thank you to the parents who attended our classroom meeting last Tuesday. We discussed part of the Mathematical progression in the Children's House. I briefly lectured about the history of Montessori mathematics. Dr. Montessori coined the term Mathematical Mind from Jean Piaget who was a Swiss Developmental Psychologist in the 1900's. He was known for his cognitive theories and research on brain development.
Montessori and Piaget agreed that there are characteristics that need to be nurtured in order for the child to develop a mathematical mind:
- Curiosity that leads to investigations
- Interest in the world, which is an affective quality that desires accurate observation especially in calculating and measuring (interest is an emotional state that begins at birth, and if nurtured, interest in the world grows with the person)
- Cognitive ability to reason and make judgments (cognition)
- Ability to make order out of chaos
- Language to help classify data
- Ability to move; physically and mentally - using repetition, exactitude and precision. Mathematics shows us how to achieve harmony and perfect something by repeating sequences until difficulties are met with exactitude.
- Ability to abstract from the above and development of imagination constructs (ages 5+)
The exercises of Practical Life and Sensorial prepare the child for these parallels. Lise Eliot, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School wrote a book called What's going on in there? How the brain and mind develop in the first 5 years of life. I highly recommend this book, especially for those of you with children under 5. Dr. Eliot writes, "Once basic neural pathways are in place, their final function depends on practice."
For each new mathematical concept we follow the same 5 steps:
- Sensorial, concrete experience with a concept, associated with language
- Written signs associated with language
- Bring together the concrete, sign and language
- Practice (sometimes multiple works cater)
- Test (for the child and adult to see what he/she knows)
Finally, I demonstrated several materials and correlated these steps. We contoured three of our mathematic sequences: Numbers 1-10, the Decimal System and Counting. Each series is complex and compliments the preceding. Those who were able to attend our meeting were able to experience first hand the development of a mathematical mind, the importance of repetition and the mentally cumbersome melodies your children compose through these mathematical works. Our next classroom meeting, we will explore the processes of memorization, passage to abstraction, fractions, history in the Children's House, geometry and science. We hope to see you there!
We are always so THANKFUL for your support and partnership in your child's education.
Miss Lauren and Ms. Yadira