What is the purpose of education? Take a moment to ponder that question, perhaps reflecting on some of the methods your parents and teachers used to “motivate” you to study harder. Have you been told that if you don’t study hard, you won’t be able …
… and there are countless benefits of it!
Our school cat had been showing a persistent interest in what has been happening inside the class. She would poke her nose through the door in the mornings and enjoyed the attention she would get from the students. This gave us an idea to make her a permanent member of our community and the children simply loved it! Prior to granting her entrance, we made sure that all parents were ok with this and that no child was allergic (the cat has been well taken care of with regular vaccinations and checkups taking place at the vet).
We were excited to arrange her a corner with bed, food, water and toys. Cat food, together with lots of love and cuddles, started pouring on a daily basis and lessons that this fluffy creature gave us in return have value beyond measure.
If you have a chance to have a healthy and gentle pet – at home or at school – here are 7 valuable lessons this experience will provide to your children and students:
1. Developing responsible behavior in the children who care for them.
2. Increasing responsibilities can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
3. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others.
4. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.
5. Growing up with a pet can provide lessons about life, including reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death, and bereavement.
6. Pets provide a connection to nature.
7. They can teach respect for other living things.
One of the first things new Montessori parents notice when their child starts attending a Montessori school is the awakening of their independence and the rising need to do things on their own. It is the human’s innate characteristics to fend for oneself, developed and …
As some governments ponder the decision to reopen the schools this coming September, parents and teachers naturally feel anxious about potential repercussion on the health and safety of everyone involved. Even if we try to be absolutely positive for a moment and believe that all the necessary measures will be taken to ensure social distancing at all times and regular sanitation of hands and surfaces, the most important factor still remains unaddressed – children’s mental health.
Predicting and navigating some of the complicated and often confusing emotions children will be facing, is job of all of us, but it has to start now, at home. Here are some scenarios that might be hard for your child to cope with and what can you do to support them.
1. My child is scared to go back to school
Sit with your child and let them tell you all about the worries and fears. Returning to school is always a stressful period, mostly because of uncertainty associated with it. Be honest and open with your child and explain to them what is to be expected. Find out about the school’s daily routine beforehand and go through it with your child. Practice washing hands “around the clock” and remind them about the need to wear protective clothes and masks just like any other time when being outside of home. If your school has videos or pamphlets promoting planned precautionary measures, watch it together. But most importantly, focus on the positives – seeing their friends after so long!
2. Social distancing from friends
Your child may naturally find it difficult to be physically distanced from friends and teachers while at school – you could encourage them to think about other ways to bond and stay connected. Practice keeping personal space with skits and prepare your child with answers and strategies when someone approaches too close. Even if you spent eternity to promote “sharing is caring”, revise and alter this motto into not sharing food and personal items. It might take some time to unlearn, so start as early as possible.
3. Masks and protective clothes make my child frustrated
The key is again in listening to your child with empathy, ensuring them it’s healthy to talk about emotions. You can reassure your child that a lot of people around them are working hard to keep your family safe, but emphasize that it’s important that we all follow the recommended measures to take care of more vulnerable members of our community. You can watch videos and sing songs such as this one:
4. Dealing with changes in school plan mid-year
It might happen that schools might close again after reopening. Letting your child know ahead of time that this might be a possibility again will help them to be prepared for the period of adjustment ahead. It’s also vital to remind them that learning can happen anywhere – at school and at home – and that they can also keep in touch with their friends online in the meantime.
5. Expressing a roller-coaster of emotions
It’s important to regularly check in with your child to see how they’re doing. Be calm and proactive in your conversations and show them it’s okay to have all these emotions and moods that might often change. Engage your child in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, to help them express and communicate any negative feelings they may be experiencing in a safe and supportive environment. This helps them find positive ways to express difficult feelings such as anger, fear or sadness.
As children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives – including parents and teachers – it is important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them.
The threshold of the 21st century has brought a debate within the Montessori circles, whether computers should or should not find their place in the modern Montessori classrooms. Advocates of computers integration in classrooms base their standing on the idea that the World Wide Web …
One cannot enter and leave a Montessori classroom of any age group without being amazed by the sense of responsibility these little people have towards their work and daily routine. From the youngest ones, to teenagers, they are all striving for the same thing – …
The mankind has been interested in spirituality since the dawn of time. People all over the world believe in God of their own, even in remote villages that have not been in contact with the rest of the world. This proves that the spirituality is a deeply rooted characteristic of all of us, something that Carl Jung taught to be a part of collective unconsciousness of all humankind.
Being born as a spiritual being, puts a great accent on nurturing this spirituality in the earliest age. Unfortunately, schools and parents have always been more interested in children learning their letters and numbers and many of them believe that religion has no place in schools. However, being religious is different than being spiritual. As the book explains, the main difference is that religions give answers, while spirituality raises questions. Having a curious and inquisitive mind is something all teachers should strive to develop in their students. In order to achieve it, the teacher herself/himself must be in their own way spiritual, having done a lot of work on herself/himself and continuing this introspection throughout their whole professional life.
If we think of young children, we immediately think of chaos, running, screaming and any other possible restlessness we can imagine. But deep down inside, all children express this inborn need for spirituality in an opposite way; they seek calm, relaxation, periods of quiet and solitude. In the Montessori environment we try to respond to those needs by incorporating various calming techniques into our curriculum and daily routine. We have peace tables and quiet corners where children go to when they need to run away from the noise or to resolve a problem with their friends. We practice quietness through Silence Game and Meditation and align our bodies and mind through Yoga. We take these practices seriously as we believe that “each child […] has special spiritual gifts that may gradually diminish if they are not adequately nourished.” (pg. 29) The chaos we see in most of the classrooms is the result of teachers focusing on academics and failing to nurture the spirits of their students.
Besides Maria Montessori, many other educational philosophers, being influenced by her or not, preached about the importance of spiritual development, such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Fröbel. They all believed that the education of the child should be approached in a holistic way, taking into consideration intellectual, physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Some educators went a step further and practiced what they preached, such as Rudolf Steiner and George Fox, whose philosophies are spreading in schools across the planet.
By being spiritual we are deeply connected to our root which is our planet and taking care of our Mother Earth becomes our main mission in life. Montessori developed a whole curriculum area dedicated to what she called “Cosmic Education”, taking the name from the Greek word “cosmos”, which is more than just “universe”. According to Webster’s dictionary it is “the universe conceived as an orderly and harmonious system, contrasted with chaos”. (pg. 90) She put a lot of accent on having order deeply embroidered into every aspect of the curriculum, as she believed that children, at one point of their development, become very sensitive to order. This high sensitivity represents the best time to nurture this orderly spirit as it will create a life-lasting impression, or a habit.
Us teachers, must follow this and other sensitive periods, if we want to guide our students “to follow their bliss”. (pg. 96) We must prepare our environment, so it reflects the deep care for our planet and encourages the spirit of community service. Everything in it must entice calmness and peace. The book provides so many valuable and practical ideas that can be incorporated, some of them briefly mentioned in this review. It is a great read for everyone involved in upbringing of young children, as only together we can make a difference. The world we know is moving opposite from these goals in full speed, as the book sadly and beautifully concludes: “How can we as spiritually aware teachers, a relatively small group of adults, work effectively in a culture that seems to be rushing headlong away from the values of stillness, wonder, simplicity, peace, compassion and care of the earth?” (pg. 167) This should not discourage us, as the goal is not unattainable. If every teacher works on her/his classroom as a microcosmos, these microcosmoses will surely make a positive impact on the wider community.
Montessori Farm The most enticing part of every Montessori classroom is the Farm. Those beautifully crafted animals are a treasure for preschoolers who are naturally drawn to such small objects. The creativity goes beyond limits when children immerse themselves in imaginative play. But …