Friday, December 3, 2010

Misusing Materials, Lefties, Correcting Mistakes, and Montessori Groups

This should probably be several different posts, but since they are all applicable to me in the past few days, I'm going to lump them together.

Montessori Groups
For those of you not in-the-know, there are these great little things called Yahoo! Groups, specifically, there are Montessori Yahoo! Groups. Essentially, they are message boards specific to a particular topic that you can join. In addition to other people's blogs, these message boards are a fantastic way to connect with other Montessorians. What is really amazing about them is that there are people out there with tons of experience, education, and advice who are members of these boards who take lots of time to share ideas, answer questions or debate different topics. There are also people (like me) who have no experience and are asking questions and getting guidance. If you search for Montessori, you get tons of them, but the ones I joined are Montessori Beginnings, Montessori By Hand and Playschool6.

The reason I bring up these groups is because I've asked a few questions lately and I want to share the responses I got. Which brings me to the other three topics.

Misusing Materials and Correcting Mistakes
So I mentioned in my post Observations-Scooping Beans that Link really enjoyed the activity and did well with it. He liked it so much, that I decided to add it to the shelf. And since he has never really bothered the stuff on the shelves without someone in the room with him, I thought he wouldn't take it off the shelf. Well, a little later in the day I heard glass clinking and found that he had removed it and taken it into the other room where his little table is. (we only move the table into the room when we need it and he uses it daily for eating and playing). I was tickled pink! So I poured the beans into the bowl for him and just stood back to watch him. I was excited that he liked it and that he had carried it so carefully to his table. He scooped a couple of times, then walked off. So, I was like oh well.... then he came back, scooped a few more times, then picked up a handful and threw them in the air. Whoa! Please don't do that! So I do my best not to get aggravated (please remember, I am NOT a Montessori teacher and I am learning to be more patient). I say "we don't throw beans, lets clean these up" and while I'm on my hands and knees picking black beans off the carpet, he comes over and throws another handful..... I pick up beans faster, and put it all away again.  (heck, I was just proud of myself for not yelling)

I asked on the Playschool6 message board how I could handle this misuse. I really needed to know what to do after the fact, but they had good suggestions on preventing it from happening (this is a common theme with Montessori I think) I edited the responses a little bit (and didn't include who said what since I forgot to ask if it was okay for me to repost their responses)

We've all struggled with these two at one time or another (usually more often than that!) :)
For the materials and environment (including words spoken)
*Must be respectful of the materials, their maker/purchaser, and the child(also phrased: respect for self, environment, materials, people within the environment)
*Does it help attain some portion of a direct or indirect aim?for the beans, exploring with hands is a sensorial act at a time the child is sensitive to this, as well as the use of practica life - it is helping connect with the material - for the tower building, there are toys (blocks) specifically for that and the material is designed for perceptual purposes (ok, not that castle building doesn't have some lessons in perception - but it's not close enough of a similarity)

For error-correction - honestly, most mistakes work themselves out over time. If he "knows" something and is a bit beyond the activity at hand, it may be playing a role into silliness. OR he's stretching his imagination - if the answers are possibilities, let it go. If the answers are just silly (a photo of a toilet going into the kitchen), he's probably beyond that particular aspect of the activity.

And that's what the control cards are for when you are using such sets of cards - so the child can check for himself. This alleviates the "judgement" aspect of correction, yet still provides the correction.

To prevent it, I would think you'd either have to direct the child to a different activity or be very vigilant when they are using the beans, for example, and stop the child before they throw. Then go find something they CAN throw. :)

I also posted this on Playschool6:

I believe I've read somewhere that it is good to encourage your child to use their right hand to make writing easier. But how much should that be encouraged? Today I introduced a scooping activity to my 2 1/2 son. I showed him how to do it using my right hand, and he started out with his right hand, but switched to his left because it was easier.

If I constantly switch things I feel like he is loosing out on fine tuning his left hand if he does end up using it, but if I don't, I feel like I may be missing out on the opportunity to help him be right-handed.

Is it really possible to switch him from left-handed to right-handed? How should I handle this?

And boy did the lefties cry out!  Someone also very kindly came to my blog and left a comment.  So, I won't be worrying about switching his hands anymore!

I'm still getting used to being active in the whole online-community, but as I do, it's becoming more and more encouraging and helpful.  It can be both discouraging and helpful when all you read about is how wonderful other people's kids are when your kid is driving you a little batty, or how creative and well organized their homeschool environment is when yours is a total disaster.  But, I'm learning that the hardest part is getting started and that there are other people out there in the same boat as me... and its kinda cool to find people who can relate to you and offer advice... so thanks to everyone out there who has no idea they've been a great help :)

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