Friday, May 2, 2008

Brain Development & Montessori

Through the years, Montessori equipment has become an entity in itself. Attractively assembled, interesting to the eye, and very expensive, this equipment has become a focal point of classrooms and the idea of Montessori.

However, the original intention of the equipment was simply to use precisely-crafted materials that would allow children to employ their sensory abilities to learn. Using the senses of touch and sight, a child can order a set of ten knobbed cylinders that vary only by height. It is the process of trying to fit these cylinders into their holders that is the point of the exercise. Many teachers and parents mistakenly focus on having children succeed in the getting the cylinders into their holders and, unfortunately, lose focus on the key value of the exercise, namely, the process itself that is key to brain development!

So, forget about having your child "learn how to use the equipment" or "getting the exercise right" and let him or her use the equipment for it's original purpose.

1 comment:

Jen Raiche said...

Greetings! I am beginning to homeschool my sons (ages 5, 3 and 18 mos.) using as much inspiration from Maria Montessori as possible. I have purchased a number of books and am currently taking Karen Tyler's online "class" through the Yahoo! groups.

One day as I was perusing my local library's catalog, I noticed that they had a copy of Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook. So, I put it on hold and have been reading it since. What a valuable tool! The other books/albums that I have explain the execution of the activities, but as a mom that isn't "certified" I didn't have much info as to the "why".

As a homeschooler, the book has given me great insight into why she developed the materials. Also, as you said, to focus less on doing the activity correctly and more on working with the materials and allowing the child to learn/explore and eventually really master the activity.

Also, I found it interesting that she is says, "This type of school is not of a fixed type, but may vary according to the financial resources at disposal and to the opportunities afforded by the environment."

As a homeschooler, that made me feel so reassured! I am working to create as much of an environment as possible, but with a family budget (that is limited when compared to a school budget) I cannot provide all of the materials immediately to my boys. I think Maria would be okay with that. ;-)

Sorry this is so long. I just wanted to share! =)