Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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Nurturing the Years of Wonder
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Meredith
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 11:40am | IP Logged Quote Meredith

Here we go with our very first guest speaker at the Montessori Forum!!! Please welcome Lori from Montessori for Everyone as our guest today and Let's Talk Montessori!!! She has already inspired many of us with her wonderful Blog and I know she'll be happy to share more with us here! Thanks so much for being here Lori!!

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SeaStar
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 11:41am | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

Welcome. Lori- your blog is so inspirational!


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Posted: June 12 2007 at 11:48am | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

I guess I will go ahead and jump in with a question. I am wondering about what time frame it takes for the children to learn how to use their work spaces (mats and trays). By "use" I mean how long should it be before they are taking care of the materials, cleaning up, putting things back, etc before moving on to a new activity? In my house my 2 yo dd frequently drifts away from whatever activity we are doing, and if I need to go after her, I find my ds (4) will often abandon his activity, leaving all the pieces and parts scattered, to see what we are doing. I want to start over with a mat presentation after I have my shelves set up and stress again the need for order and cleaning up.

If I am more consistent, or try to be more so, would it take a week/ month/ until college to see results in this area?

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Donna Marie
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 11:48am | IP Logged Quote Donna Marie

Welcome Lori!! I really love your blog too! Thanks for sharing with us!

God love you,
Donna Marie from NJ
hs momma to 7dc

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 11:49am | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

Thanks for stopping by today Lori. I'm a big fan of your blog (and webstore ,) particularly because you are such a big help with the challenge we are all facing - incorporating the beautiful ideas of Maria Montessori in the home setting. So glad you could take the time to visit with us!

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:00pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

Hi Lori! Welcome and thanks for joining!

I'll go ahead and pose a question, if it's ok.

What would you say are the main differences between how Montessori education is approached in the home, versus in a school setting?

And a related question:

When we alter the school methods and materials to suit our home setting, what aspects are important to leave largely intact, and which can be relaxed or altered without defeating the whole system?
Thanks!

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:30pm | IP Logged Quote ALmom

Hi and welcome. I just saw your site from this and am just trying to start with my children. Do you have experience with involving older children (ie 10 and up) in some aspects of Montessori? The reason I ask is because I have some children who have vision problems, definitely have eye-hand lags and I'm thinking some of the activities may be good for them even though they are way beyond that level conceptually. I am also uncoordinated and I keep reading about how you are supposed to show your children how to do this quietly, smoothly, etc. Now, if I'm uncoordinated, will my imperfect presentations hamper them?

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:33pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

Okay, it took me a few minutes to get the kids settled. Can anyone relate? =)

Seastar, that's a great question. In my mind we expect way too much of kids too soon. Keep in mind that completing the work cycle (which is exactly what you described) is part of what they are learning when they actually do work.

In other words, just as they will need tons of repetition to learn colors, numbers, letters, etc., they will need tons of repetition to learn how to put out a rug, choose a work, complete it, and put it away correctly.

To give you a frame of reference, one of my trainers said that a child should be able to complete the work cycle by 1st grade (age 6, roughly). So at 2, or 4? It's too much to expect.

That said, you can continually give gentle reminders ("did you forget to put something away?" "do you need help to finish your work, or can you do it yourself?")

You can model the correct way to roll and unroll a rug, everyday if need be, until those ideas take hold.
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:39pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

Wow, you guys are on the ball! Let me know if I miss anything.

Okay, lapazfarm asks: "What would you say are the main differences between how Montessori education is approached in the home, versus in a school setting?

When we alter the school methods and materials to suit our home setting, what aspects are important to leave largely intact, and which can be relaxed or altered without defeating the whole system?"

There are actually many differences. Sometimes I feel like there are two versions of Montessori; the school version and the homeschool version. Both are great, but they are different.

First of all, many times the parent doesn't have the Montessori training. It's important that in that case, they read Maria's books, purchase albums, read blogs, etc. which it seems like all of you do. There are online courses to be certified in Montessori and I highly recommend that if it's at all possible.

Definitely, one of the biggest differences is socialization. I don't mean it in the sense of a traditional classroom (20 kids, all the same age, working side by side at desks). But in Montessori, the social interaction of the combined ages has a definite purpose: older kids are supposed to teach the younger, and I would go as far as to say "nurture" the younger ones.

Now, that can happen at home to a certain extent. But there may not be enough kids, or the right ages, to really make it work.

What should we keep from traditional Montessori when we homeschool? The idea of respect for the child's choices, the idea of a beautifully prepared, organized environment (even for toys!)

What can we leave behind? Not much, if we want to truly call it Montessori. There are group presentations that will naturally be tailored to one child at a time; there are certain activities we can't do with only a few kids. Hopefully we are keeping most of the theory, though.
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:40pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

montessori_lori wrote:

To give you a frame of reference, one of my trainers said that a child should be able to complete the work cycle by 1st grade (age 6, roughly). So at 2, or 4? It's too much to expect.

Well, that is very comforting! Thank you!

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:42pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

Oooh, I was in such a hurry when I started that I didn't say "thank you!" to all of you, both for asking me here and for your kinds comments about my blog. My blog has taken on a life of its own; sometimes I'm surprised about the kinds of topics I end up blogging about. The great thing is I've been able to be disciplined about it (even if everything else has fallen by the wayside!)

This is a great question:

"Do you have experience with involving older children (ie 10 and up) in some aspects of Montessori? The reason I ask is because I have some children who have vision problems, definitely have eye-hand lags and I'm thinking some of the activities may be good for them even though they are way beyond that level conceptually. I am also uncoordinated and I keep reading about how you are supposed to show your children how to do this quietly, smoothly, etc. Now, if I'm uncoordinated, will my imperfect presentations hamper them?"

I think that the Montessori practical life and sensorial activities would be fantastic in this situation. No one presents materials perfectly; make sure you have some references (there are several online Montessori albums; check out my "Montessori Basics" post at my blog for those) and practice ahead of time. I used to practice all my presentations on my husband.

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:43pm | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

Lori, thanks so much for answering my question. I am relieved to hear that we can have this as a "work in progress" rather than something I need to check off my list before we move on.

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:44pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

lapazfarm - even with that goal, we had kids start 1st grade who needed help with the work cycle. So it's probably different for everyone!

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:45pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

Oh, and I should say too - if you take a break (vacation, etc.) from work, be prepared to present rug-rolling and tray carrying and all of that again...and again...and again. *grin*
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:45pm | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

We've talked a lot about rotating here - the need to offer the appropriate limits so the children can exercise their freedom without CHAOS!

I pull things off the shelf when things are misused, or a level of boredom is achieved. Do you have any other suggestions for rotation - how much do you leave out for your children at once?

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:50pm | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

Another question- I made a homemade spindle box that the kids have no interest in. I have to admit it is not very pretty and is not keeping in line with
having beautiful materials available. I feel this way now: if I make it at home, it had better look pretty darn good.

In your experience, do you feel the beauty of the working materials makes a big difference in keeping the kids attention and interest? My sad spindle box got sad results. Was it because my kids are too young/not interested at this moment or because they just weren't attracted to my version?



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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:51pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

Yes, there are several theories about that, Mackfam. There's one school of Montessori theory that says everything a child needs for the year should be out from the beginning; not only because all the work should always be accessible, but it keeps the classroom stable in the sense that the same work is always on the same shelves in the same place.

In practice, however, not only is there often not room for everything (especially at home), but as you said, kids become habituated to certain materials and stop using them.

I rotate a lot more for elementary than 3-6. To me, the pink tower, red rods, cylinder blocks, etc. should always be available if at all possible. They can be used in different ways for different ages/stages, and if the child is in the right stage but the material isn't there, a teachable moment/sensitive period is lost.

But in elementary, the child is now in a different stage of learning. If they've completed Roman Numerals Set 1, you can put out Set 2 in its place and they're not going to need Set 1 again. It's a different developmental plane. So I rotate out a lot of stuff for that age.

I have a closet in my front hallway that's filled with shelves and bins - I keep everything there and grab it when I need it. I try to leave out as much as I can at one time - as I said, you'll never know when you might need it.
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:54pm | IP Logged Quote montessori_lori

SeaStar, that is an excellent observation. It's like green ketchup - it might taste the same as red, but there's no way I'm going to eat it.

Since we are so visual (even if your primary learning style is something else), the materials do need to be attractive. It's one of the cornerstones of Montessori; kids don't need to be forced to do work because the work "calls out" to them.

If they aren't drawn to the spindle box you made, make or buy another or add a detail they can't resist (beautiful satin ribbons to tie each bundle of spindles together, etc.).

Guys, I'm going to go put my daughter down for her nap. I'll be back in about 15 min. Keep the awesome questions coming. Do you mind if some of them become a blog post?
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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:54pm | IP Logged Quote Meredith

montessori_lori wrote:
What should we keep from traditional Montessori when we homeschool? The idea of respect for the child's choices, the idea of a beautifully prepared, organized environment (even for toys!)

What can we leave behind? Not much, if we want to truly call it Montessori. There are group presentations that will naturally be tailored to one child at a time; there are certain activities we can't do with only a few kids. Hopefully we are keeping most of the theory, though.


This is one of the main reasons I have chosen to go with more Montessori inspired teaching/learning for my kiddos, it's that sense of respect for choices and the orderly environment that I want to present for them, even amidst the cheerios on the floor

Would you encourage an 11 yo to work with the 2 & 5 yo's in a nurturing/teaching mode? Would this be representative of the model you described above?

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Posted: June 12 2007 at 12:58pm | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

Meredith wrote:
montessori_lori wrote:
What should we keep from traditional Montessori when we homeschool? The idea of respect for the child's choices, the idea of a beautifully prepared, organized environment (even for toys!)

What can we leave behind? Not much, if we want to truly call it Montessori. There are group presentations that will naturally be tailored to one child at a time; there are certain activities we can't do with only a few kids. Hopefully we are keeping most of the theory, though.


This is one of the main reasons I have chosen to go with more Montessori inspired teaching/learning for my kiddos, it's that sense of respect for choices and the orderly environment that I want to present for them, even amidst the cheerios on the floor

Would you encourage an 11 yo to work with the 2 & 5 yo's in a nurturing/teaching mode? Would this be representative of the model you described above?


Meredith, I was just about to post the same question. I have a 10 yo. And the whole idea of concrete before abstract has illuminated so many missed areas of learning for her. There are many presentations I know she will benefit from.

Lori, in what ways can we encourage this nurturing and socialization you speak of in our homes where older children are very much present to their younger siblings?

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