Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Montessori's Three-Period Lesson & Teaching at Home

The Montessori Three-Period lesson is a well-known staple of the Montessori teaching method. We discuss it in more detail in our teaching material, but it basically breaks a presentation down into three parts: 1) name something, 2) use the name when you ask your child to identify the object (do they recognize the association between the name and the object), and 3) point to the object and ask what it is (can they remember which object is called what).

What is difficult is applying it with each different child. Especially at home if you have not had practice presenting material in a Montessori way.

The key is to observe your child carefully, so you do not go too fast or too slow. Montessori teaches us not to quiz young children, but to present knowledge so that they can soak it in. We are not looking for rote memorization at this age. Instead, we are trying to impart knowledge in a way that creates a foundation of knowledge that can be used when your child looks at the world and wants to learn more about it. For example, teaching your child the names of three primary colors helps him or her identify many other things in the world. But, what about those other colors? Now it will be time for another lesson on more colors. We follow up with secondary colors because when your child learns to combine colors it will make more sense to have learned first primary colors and then secondary colors.

Sometimes when we are teaching at school, we do not go beyond the first two periods of the lesson because the child is clearly still in the process of absorbing the material and will probably not be able to answer the third period. Sometimes we just stick with the presentation phase in the first period when it looks like the child has not processed the information. Just wait, and then re-present the material in a few days.

It is easier in a classroom setting because one does not feel the pressure of working with one's own child, and you see the natural progression of a group of children and how it all comes together at the end. There should be no rush in presenting knowledge and material!

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