Unformed Thoughts and Embryonic Ideas

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.


About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

4 responses to “Unformed Thoughts and Embryonic Ideas

  • Jawan

    If you haven’t already, you should sit down with Nikki one day. This is the model that she is passionate about (not in all regards) and has been a part of when she taught in South Carolina. She has great input.

  • Roberta

    Well, with one kid graduated and another in 10th grade, I have a different perspective, but I remember poring over books when the kids were toddlers and trying to figure out what was best for our kids.

    We ended up homeschooling (one until 7th grade, one until 10th), but the one thing that I am most certain of after the whole experience is that God created each family and each child unique. Feel free to pick and choose from everything you see- plunder the Egyptians. And know now that what works for one may not work well for the other. There is NO best method. There is only what works best for a specific child as a part of a unique family. (I’ve met too many kids who are schooled very carefully in a manner that best suits their eldest sibling.)

  • AJU5's Mom

    I have to second Roberta. Although I am just int he very early stages, I have read a bit and have many friends who homeschool. I even taught Math for Elementary School classes at the local CC, so I have that perspective on how people learn too. If there are things you like about Montessori, use them. You don’t have to take the whole program and follow it step by step. Instead, do what feels good to you. Many homeschool parents change curriculums at least a couple times because what they thought would be perfect just didn’t work for them. If you are considering homeschooling, I would look and see if there is a homeschool convention in your area so you can get more ideas of what may or may not work for you!

  • Marianne

    My kid better be on that list, Coralie! 😉

    I know very little about Montessori, except that a sibling of one of Nathan’s daycare friends goes to a local Montessori school. BUT … I do know that a nurturing environment encourages learning. My just turned 2-year-old has been in the same (very small) at-home daycare since he was six months old (please know I’d much rather be home with him) and he’s thriving, both socially and intellectually. The spiritural stuff is (hopefully) coming from me. Hmm… I now realize that this isn’t even remotely feedback. Please feel free to delete.

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