I don’t know if you know this, but I have two children. I happen to think they’re the cutest, most brilliant children in all the world (followed very closely by my nieces and nephews – and then your children, of course) and I am equally convinced that I am completely failing them daily by not helping them to develop their minds to the fullest potential. Two things have proved this to me.
A few weeks ago, the mackerdoodle brought me a book, her shoulders sagging to the point they almost met at her chin, and said, “I no can read. I too yiddle.” This was followed up by daily requests for “what those ABCs mean?”
On Tuesday, my 2 1/2 year old pulled out her alphabet flash cards and identified the lower case “j” as an “i”. When I corrected her, she pointed to the dot and said, “No, I. See, white dere.” I found the I card and showed her that the “j” had a hook and the “i” didn’t, but they both had a dot. She carefully looked between the cards as I folded laundry, and then began to sort through the rest of the cards. I was convinced she was on the cusp of reading, and casually asked her, “What letter is that?” She held up the “C” card and said, “Now THAT’s a W”.
Clearly I am not feeding my daughter’s developing mind.
So I’m reading about different philosophies of education, trying to decide how I want to educate my daughter until I (hopefully) send her to school. Right now I am reading Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three and I’m trying to sort through how I feel about the Montessori method and approach to education.
- I like the emphasis on teaching children independence.
- I like that one of the key ideas is that children must learn to develop their will and self control. Maria Montessori did not believe that children were born good (she also didn’t believe they were born sinful.) She believed children are born incomplete and it is our job to guide them to completion of mind, body and will. While I believe that we are all born sinful, I agree with her goals to help children grow to completion. I think that’s biblical.
- I like her emphasis on including children in the every day events and chores of the household as early as possible, while they still see this as an adventure and extension of play.
- I like the idea of helping children to learn through their hands with things like Movable Alphabet, Sandpaper Letters, wooden beads, discs and boxes, etc. I would like to add a lot of those things to my toy room.
- I like that they recommend close supervision, rather than avoiding “dangerous” skills. In a Montessori model, 3 year olds can cut carrots and peel potatoes, because they have been taught to do so properly and are supervised while doing so.
- I like that they don’t think children should sleep in a crib, but should sleep on a mattress on the floor.
But . . .
- I don’t like that they insist an infant have his/her own room from birth.
- I don’t like that the emphasis on independence extends to the child having his/her own table and chair for all meals. I think inclusion in family meals outweighs independence in skills.
- I generally don’t like that independence is emphasized often to the exclusion of family and community.
- I don’t like how this method has illustrated to me how haphazard and disordered my own life is. I can’t teach the mackerdoodle and cheesedoodle to approach their lives with order if I don’t have order myself. This is convicting and not a reason to set the philosophy aside.
If you have personal experience with the Montessori model (positive or negative), I would love to hear about it. And as I read more about different educational philosophies, I’ll post my observations and seek your input.