Annabelle and Elliot’s silverware drawer
I’ve sort of put myself on maternity leave from the computer, but I have been reading and communicating on mobile quite a bit, as I’m putting in quite a bit of time pacing with or nursing a nearly asleep newborn. This has meant lots of conversing in various Montessori groups. Yesterday, someone raised a question about silverware in the group: Bringing up Montessori Infants and Toddlers and many of us chimed in to make suggestions.
I have said before that we Montessori guides often become curators of beautiful collections of small objects, delighting over bits and pieces discovered for use in the classroom. Some of us take this role more seriously than others. In honesty, though, I can frame this any way I like, but a couple of decades from now one of my children might be putting me on the modern-day equivalent of hoarders after they open a cabinet in my house and find themselves buried under a pile of miniature pitchers, tiny bowls of various kinds and, well, cutlery. Reading the comment thread about silverware yesterday, I realized I could put my collection to good use, as we own all of the various options that were suggested. I snapped a side-by-side comparison picture for those considering their options and a few moms found this helpful, so I thought I’d grab some better photos and drop them here in the blogosphere for easy reference. Continue reading
Oh so many options!
I wrote about introducing a water glass when Annabelle, my now three year old, was a baby. Her little brother has just turned one and has recently become obsessed with drinking water from a glass, so we’ve had fun letting him try out various drinking vessels. The kitchen in our new home has far, far more cabinet space than our previous space, where we stored all of our kitchen goodies in the original 1950’s cabinetry. What that change means in practical terms is that a whole lot of space has been opened up for Annabelle and Elliot’s things, including their drinking glasses. Continue reading
The last few installments in my early math and language series have focused on language. Today, it’s time to talk a bit more about math. As with the alphabet, many adults are in a hurry for children to learn numbers. Like the letters of the alphabet, however, written numerals are actually quite abstract and, without a thorough understanding of what they stand for, are not particularly useful to young children. Early preparation for mathematics can come from many of the activities already discussed in this series, such as matching, sorting, and grading. Beyond that, there is much to do before bothering with learning numbers and operations.
My point in discussing these ideas is not to point out still more that we as parents need to worry about, but instead to highlight the complexity of the preparatory skills young children develop before they can have a meaningful understanding of numbers and other mathematical concepts. For most children, everyday life will provide plenty of opportunities to develop these preparatory skills, but it’s important that we honor the child’s process and allow them plenty of time to learn and absorb these pre-math concepts before we stress about teaching them math in a more formal way. For those interested in providing tools and activities to assist with early math learning, the following Montessori based ideas may be helpful. If you have ideas of your own, please share them! Continue reading
I’ve been talking about early math and language skills here for the past couple of weeks, and today for part three I’ll talk a bit about preparatory activities for writing. The main point of this series was to highlight the fact that many skills actually precede reading and early math, and that these academic skills are often pushed far too early. The skills I talk about can and do unfold naturally in children with time, but I believe it’s best to give them time to unfold before guiding children toward formal academic reading and writing work. If we wish to work with our children and move toward the mastery of these academic skills, we can begin with some of the activities discussed in this series.
Once again, I’ll look first at how these skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom. That’s the inspiration for my ideas, and can surely spark many in addition to mine. Continue reading
Last Monday, I talked a bit about early math and language skills. I mentioned that I don’t believe teaching numerals and letters is typically the best focus with toddlers or young preschoolers. I also described the complexity of the prerequisite skills children develop as they prepare to read, write, and do basic math – with foundational math skills actually being an important preparation for early language skills. Today I’d like to look at how some of those prerequisite skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom, and how we as parents can nurture them in the home.
For my fellow parents, I’ll reiterate something that I have to remind myself of frequently: Most, if not all of these skills are learned naturally and implicitly. If creating activities and trays is not your thing, your child will still learn to sort various objects. They will eventually figure out that when we count, each number corresponds with one and only one object. Don’t worry. If you enjoy creating trays and coming up with games, go for it! They’re sure to be enriching and fun. If that’s not your thing, just an awareness of the skills your child is building will hopefully help as you go about your days together, by giving you ideas for language to use, attributes to point out, and the various ways you can approach the experiences that come up in your everyday life.