Saturday, February 26, 2011


So picture Saturday morning.  Turtle (my 3 year old daughter) has had her breakfast already and is demanding another snack.  I am in weekend mode:  laptop and tea within comfortable reach of my perch on the sofa.

"Mama, I want something to eat!"

"We have some tangelos, would you like to eat an orange?"

"No, I want you to make orange juice!"

"Sorry Sweetie, I'm not making you orange juice right now."  I selfishly go back to reading my daily dose of blogs while she goes to the kitchen. Crash. Slam. Bang.

"Mama, I don't see the oranges."

"They are in the white bag on the counter."
Crash. Slam. Bang. Bump.

I look up to see Turtle carrying a cutting board, juicer, butter knife and orange toward the table. OK, I get it.  She really wants OJ and she wants it enough she will do it herself.  I let the go of the fear of the mess she will make in trying to squeeze the orange and I break free from the gravitational force of the sofa to help.  I get a bowl to squeeze the juice into and a bowl to put the rinds into after being squeezed.  I remove the butter knife and get a sharp knife to cut the orange into wedges small enough to fit in the juicer.  I show her how to place the wedge into the juicer, we squeeze the handles together.  We do it one more time and I'm told "Mama, I want to do it myself!" 

So I go back to my laptop and drink more tea.  Soon I hear  "I did it!" 

"OK, but before you drink the juice you need to clean the utensils."  I go to the kitchen to fill the sink with water for her.

She brings the juicer to me and says, "I want you to wash it."

"No, it is your job to wash it."

"I don't want to!"

"What do you do after you finish the apple work at school?"

"I wash up."

"Do you want a lot of bubbles in your water, or just a little?" When she replies "Just a little" I know I have won the battle. Soon she is happily at the table drinking the orange juice she made for herself.

I must admit that although I work very hard to maintain a prepared environment for my students, I don't make the same effort at home for my daughter.  We try to keep things neat and organized. But we live in a small, older home and I spend the bulk of my day with a large group of 3-6 year olds.  I need a break when I get home at the end of the day and thus my house is not a model of "doing Montessori in the home." But somehow, my darling daughter found what she needed to get what she wanted.  I trusted her to take the chance to do it for herself, and now we both feel better about ourselves.

And now that I know she can squeeze her own orange juice, I will NEVER have to do it again for her :D

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Montessori Sensitive Periods

In her observations of children, Maria Montessori discovered patterns of behaviors shared by all children. She called them “Sensitive Periods” and we use this knowledge even today to determine what work to offer children. Sensitive periods could also be thought of as developmental stages or windows of time when children have a special capacity for a particular area in their development. They may demonstrate such an energy to repeat actions that it is impossible to stop them! Unless it is a matter of health, safety or well being it is best to get out of the way and not interfere. Once a sensitive period is fulfilled, the child drops the activity and moves on. Unmet needs lead to frustration and difficulties. All ages mentioned are approximate and stages vary by individual. Sensitive periods overlap so a child may be in several stages at once.

From birth to about age 5 is the sensitive period for sensory perception. As a child's "equipment" is new the senses are sharper and children explore richly and deeply. What we may see as foolishness or recklessness with materials is in someway a sensorial exploration. To assist the child during this phase, provide access to a variety of natural objects, tastes, sights, scents and sounds -but not all at once!

Birth to age 6 is the sensitive period for language. You can help during this phase by naming things in the moment or what is currently present to enrich vocabulary. Know names of things. Avoid fantasy and abstraction. Tell your children what is going to happen. Language is not fully developed until the age of 7 so model proper grammar (but don’t correct - they will eventually get it!)

From 1 to 3 is the sensitive period for order. During this time children depend on consistency to know what to do. Whereas adults crave variety, children find variety threatening. When life is predictable, it is easier to become autonomous. Especially in the beginning of the school year we try to stick to a predictable schedule to help meet these needs. Order in the environment is also necessary so items need to be exactly the same every day.

Also happening during this time frame is the sensitive period for small detail. You may notice that imperfections bother your child or that they are fascinated by small things. For example, if your child is captivated by a ladybug, let them observe uninterrupted.

From 2 ½ to 4 is the sensitive period for the coordination of movement. It is natural for children at this stage to walk around carrying things. Children work on the mechanics of moving first with the whole body and then the hand. Teach your child to carry one object at a time. Not only will there be fewer breakages, but you give the child more opportunities to walk.

The sensitive period for social relations occurs from 2 ½ to 5. Children watch us to see how we behave as well as how we move and how we treat others. In this stage children become conscious of how others make them feel. Give your child ample opportunities to play and be around other children outside of school times.

Following close to the social phase is the sensitive period for grace and courtesy. At this stage children are open to lessons on grace and courtesy. Remember, seeing gracious behavior happening in real life situations has more of an impact than lessons in courtesy alone. This means model the behavior you wish your child to learn!

Children have a tremendous capacity for self-construction. By understanding the sensitive periods in a child’s life we can help them to do so successfully.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Welcome Directresses, Assistants, Early Education Teachers, Daycare Providers, Mothers, Homeschoolers, Students, and Everyone Else Who Works With Children,

I can't promise to make daily posts.  I'm a Lead Teacher (Directressl) in a 3-6 year old Montessori classroom.  Those of you who have the same job know how time consuming it can be.  I'm also a mother.  Put the two together and there is very little free time left.

But because both jobs can be so time consuming, I wanted to create a space where I could share the materials I make for my classroom.  I'd also like to share the work I did when I was studying to get my Montessori certification.  If I can make your life a little easier I'll be one happy camper.  Along the way I'm sure you'll share things with me as well  :)

Please, please, PLEASE ask if you have any questions or concerns.  I'm not an expert, but I'm very creative.

Thanks for reading,