Q&A: Montessori Philosophy and Lessons, with a sprinkling of controversy Part II

Where do you teach your lessons?  Do you have a special room for that?  Or is all day a learning day?

Well, certainly, as pretty much all parents do, we take advantage of learning moments all throughout the day.  However, we do have specific Preschool time for about two hours in the mornings.  That is mainly set in the playroom/schoolroom, but there are parts of it in the living room, dining room, front porch, and back yard, depending on the day.

Where do you pull your lesson plans from?

Part of my three-year Montessori training was to make my own manual for each “subject”.  Those include all the official lessons for a Montessori Primary class (ages 3-6).  When Drama Queen was very young, I purchased the same type of binders that I would have made if I took the 0-3 training.  So at this point, I just pull from those manuals.

If you’re simply looking for some of those putting-the-Montessori-philosophy-into-play ideas, though, I would recommend books like How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin, Teaching Montessori in the Home by Elizabeth Hainstock, and Montessori From the Start by Paula Polk Lillard.  Another one I highly recommend to anyone interested in Montessori is Montessori:  The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard.  That one gives incredible information about the modern research concerning the guidelines originally set forth by Dr. Maria Montessori back in the early 1900s.

Do you allow TV at all?*

Ugh.  You had to ask about t.v.?!  I prefer to avoid this topic because people get really emotional when it’s brought up.  For whatever reason, this seems to be one of those really controversial issues for a lot of parents.  But you asked, so I’ll answer…

Yep.  However, that is definitely not the ideal.  Before age 3, children really shouldn’t watch any television.  During that time, they should be given constant opportunities to explore the physical world around them and interact with the important people in their lives.  There is no benefit for children under three to watch t.v.  Above that age, children still are better off not watching t.v.  They learn so much more interacting with the world that they do sitting and passively watching it.  I just read about a study which shows the very minimal amount that children actually learn from watching t.v. – even “educational” programs, not to mention the recently released report about the actual damage caused by even brief exposure to hyper shows like “SpongeBob.”  (Disclaimer:  This is not a professional blog.  I am not a researcher.  I don’t have specific quotes or stats or websites or anything for you.  I’m just sitting here in my rocking chair, listening to the rain, and typing things that are in my little brain.)

So, anyway, to actually answer your question.  I let my kids watch one program a day.  We don’t have cable, so they choose something from Netflix or Amazon’s parallel service or from our huge DVD collection – which consists of about 5 choices total.  It’s usually a half-hour show like Word World or something.  I think the only full-length movie they’ve seen is Nutcracker:  The Motion Picture.  They didn’t really watch any t.v. until about a year or so ago.  I remember one time when Drama Queen was really young, I was reviewing a Dave Ramsey video in preparation for the Financial Peace University class The Brain and I were facilitating.  She plopped herself on the floor in front of the t.v. and stared at it in amazement.  It was pretty funny!

What types of things do you have your 2 year old do while you are working with your 4 year old?

Mr. BANG has lessons set out on the shelf just like his big sister.  He practices cutting by making Play-doh snakes and cutting them; sets the foundation for pouring by spooning rice from one bowl to another; sorts objects by color, shape, size, etc; practices throwing by tossing ball socks into a basket; pours from a child-sized pitcher into a child-sized glass; etc.  Sometimes he sits or stands quietly by Drama Queen’s work so he can watch what she’s doing.  (Of course, I gave him a specific lesson on how to do that.)  He’s actually more focused during preschool time than Drama Queen is!

(Mr. BANG sorting 3 types of nature items:  seashells, rocks, and acorns.  This was a couple weeks after he turned two.

Btw, in case you’re curious about those plastic, battery-operated toys in background, the truck was a gift and the kitchen was something I bought for practically nothing.  Neither has batteries in it.  :-))

Is rest time mandatory?  I have a 4 year old who will NOT take a nap.

As with toys in the bedroom and permitting t.v. watching, I don’t think this is necessarily a Montessori topic.  I think that’s one of those “follow the child” things.  In our house, Drama Queen has always loved having time to herself in her room.  As a baby, she would be fussing and acting all kinds of tired, but when we put her in her room, she would laugh, play and talk for 30-45 minutes before falling asleep!  Then when she woke up, she wouldn’t cry for us to rescue her – she would just continue laughing, playing, and talking to herself!  Now as a 4YO, she does have a 2-hour rest time every day.  Maybe a third of the days she actually takes a nap, but she always has that “quiet” time to herself.  (Trust me – when she’s not asleep, it is NOT quiet in her room!)

Mr. BANG has always been much more of the opinion that bedroom time is for sleeping.  He frequently falls asleep right away, and usually sleeps (or at least lies quietly in bed) until right around the time his clock turns green.  It could be that as he is leaving napping-age, he won’t have that daily rest time.  I can’t say at this point how we’ll handle that.  My mom friends who have non-napping 4YO sons guide them to spend an hour or so each afternoon looking at books, coloring, or other quiet activities.

How do you keep from going nuts?  🙂

Well, now, I guess you’ll have to ask a sane person that question!  😀


*Update:  I just found a long but fascinating article, titled Strangers In Our Homes, on brain development and the impact of t.v. on it.  It’s written by Dr. Susan Johnson, a Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician.  The article is very detailed, and for awhile I even wondered when we were going to get to the t.v. part, but it is well worth the read.

3 thoughts on “Q&A: Montessori Philosophy and Lessons, with a sprinkling of controversy Part II

  1. Hello, may I use your ‘manuals picture’ for my facebook page?? My intention is to portray the beginning of my Montessori journey. Many thanks.

  2. Pingback: Q&A: Montessori Philosophy and Lessons, with a sprinkling of controversy Part I | Our Montessori Home

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