A Closer Look at Theory
With conferences in full swing, our Children's House Guides decided to unveil a deeper look into Montessori theory. Appreciating Montessori Pedagogy/Theory can be helpful in understanding the daily life of your child in our CH community. Below we have outlined the Sub-Plane of development, Mixed Age Groups and the Three Step Work Cycle .
Sub-Plane Of Development
Through Dr. Montessori’s work with children, she identified four planes of development. In the Children’s House, we observe the second half of the first plane of development which consist of the ages 3 to 6. In this sub-plane, we see a tremendous amount of social, emotional, academic, and physical growth. The child moves from unconsciously absorbing impressions of the world around them to the Sensitive Periods of exploration, order, identification, classification, experimentation, independence, and the beginning stage of social consciousness.
The Montessori environment is prepared to assist the children in their quest for independence through the repetition of the activities they find engaging. At home, you may have observed how your child will ask you to read the same book over and over; or they may go back repeatedly to the same toy. Through repetition, the child develops concentration and a sense of order to master a desired skill. They are allowed to explore and experiment with the work as long as it is purposeful and respectful. This encourages creativity and discovery. Through our many Language works, the child begins to identify and classify all the impressions they have previously acquired and through our Grace and Courtesy lessons and the social interactions with their peers, they begin to see the world as a much larger place and that it revolves around many individuals not just themselves.
Each plane of development allows the child to build the adult they will become.
The importance of having a mixed age group in Montessori schools
Mixed age group is one of the unique ideas of Dr Montessori which allows the children to learn from one another and moreover, helps them to develop socially. Having a mixed age group in an environment creates a beautiful daily interaction between the children and it simply let the children take over many obstacles in class without the grownup’s interference.
Just like our society, any community has a mixed grouping of ages. By not isolating the children with their exact age group, we give them the opportunity to learn how to build positive relationship with children younger and older than them. Unlike the traditional school settings, where children are detached from children from different age groups, in children’s house a three-year old child has the chance to enter the environment feeling safe, loved and protected by their older peers. The child does not feel pressured, embarrassed or stressed for being new in a new environment. Once that child has reached their second year in the children’s house, they feel confident enough to be a help to their younger peers while still look up to the older children in the environment. At their third year in children’s house, the child is fully independent and confident to see themselves as a great role model to the rest of the classmates. For some children with no younger siblings or no siblings in general, this is a priceless experience to be able to feel helpful, proud, wanted and a responsible role model.
Another positive aspect of having a mixed age group is observation. Children are great observes and throughout their daily experiment in children’s house, they have the opportunity to observe variety of materials being presented to their peers at different ages over and over. This repetition helps the child to grasp a new lesson much faster since the lesson has been already observed by them many times. Observing an older child receiving a lesson keeps the child motivated, excited and hopeful that soon enough the lesson will be presented to them as well.
Three Step Work Cycle
A Three Step Work Cycle is activity completely initiated by the child.
Here are the steps:
1. Gather and organize materials needed for activity.
2. Purposefully engage, explore, discover and concentrate with the material.
3. Re-organize, replace and return materials to specific place.
We must see a child demonstrate this work cycle before they are presented with the Sensorial Materials or receive a demonstration on any multi-step material. The Three Step Work Cycle is the foundation for independence in a Montessori Children’s House and is directly related to the child’s development of Executive Functions. Executive Functions (EFx) is an umbrella term for the neurologically based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. The subtypes of executive functions include, planning, task initiation, goal-directed persistence, sequencing/prioritizing, organization, response inhibition, pace/time management, shift (flexibility), self-monitoring, emotional control, sustained attention and working memory.
The Montessori Environment and Three Step Work Cycle promote the development of Executive Function by their very nature. The materials in the room and work spaces are limited in number. A child may choose a work that belongs on a table only to find that there are no tables available (shift/flexibility). The child may choose a work only to notice the person before forgot to replenish it to its original state (organizing). A child may go to have snack and another child retrieves the dish right before him (response inhibition and emotional control). These are just a few examples of how the Three Step Work Cycle can promote independence and higher cognitive functioning.
A peek inside our Children's House Classrooms
What a great time of the year, with the weather getting cooler the children spend more time in our outdoor environment. We are able to walk around the campus and go on nature walks. The children taste different herbs from the garden such as oregano, dill, cilantro, rosemary and basil. This month we are practicing a Peace song in different languages and the children seems to enjoy memorizing the words. It has been delightful to observe the younger friends adjusting to the environment and building relationships with their peers.
Thank you for attending our November class meeting and all the positive comments
Ms. Mahsa and Ms. Dinora
With the holiday season upon us, the Gray Fox children have sure been displaying their attitudes of gratitude! It has been amazing to witness the continued development of independence, higher levels of concentration and new bonds emerge. The children are tremendously polite, supportive and courteous towards one another.
We have been enjoying discussing the history of Thanksgiving, parts of the turkey, parts of corn, seasonal vegetables, the change of seasons and the things they value most. They have also enjoyed learning some Thanksgiving songs. During lunch, the children have been taking turns defining their definition of thanks and what they are grateful for each day. It is truly endearing and heartwarming to hear love expressed in the simplest of terms.
May the joy and spirit of thanks remain with us all.
Ms. Lauren and Ms. Yadira.
Thank you to the parents and grandparents for attending November's Parent Night. It is a great opportunity to better understand what the children do everyday in the classroom and the theory behind the lessons we give.
We have been spending a lot of time outside now that the weather is so pleasant. Our radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers are bringing life to our garden. We are able to open the back doors to the outdoor environment and relish in the sights, sounds and smells of nature. The children love it as do the adults.
It is such a pleasure for Ms. Eugenia and I to observe the daily growth and small milestones the children are making. It is a great honor to be part of your child's life and educational experience. At the end of day, we concentrate on the progress of each child and cherish the opportunity to be part of their lives. Thank you for that.
With peace and much joy,
Ms. Johna and Ms. Eugenia