Thursday, January 16, 2014

On Montessori

A facebook Reader asked a question about Montessori, Early Education, & Traditional Islamic Education.

The Question (paraphrased): Do you feel it to be better to start early education, like with Montessori or wait until 7 years for formal education? What is your experience?

Our Answer: Big A was 1 years old when I began my Montessori Training. My wonderful friend, Halima had the idea of "Let's do Montessori in our Home" Essentially Montessori homeschooling for us began with my friend's idea and us attending the classes together. We were living in Northern California, and the Community Colleges in the Bay Area at that time had Montessori classes for $12 a unit. It wasn't as expensive as many Montessori courses are. It is a shame how expensive Montessori education is because Maria Montessori believed in the principle that Education is the right of the poor. Her first students being children who were from the slums of Italy and children that others had given up on as teachable.

I made different Montessori material for Lil A to make our environment more Montessori by the time she turned 3. The first class I took was Practical Life, essentially home education, what a mother should be training a child and/or letting a child do anyways. Or if they are like my children will find a way to do it. ;)

* Helping to make their own peanut butter & jelly sandwich, rinsing their own dish, using kitchen utensil like an ice cream scooper to pick up puff balls (cotton) or chicken baster to suck up water. Proper hand washing and wudu making, clothes washing and folding, are all ways to teach a young child practical skills, but is also developing their fine motor skills that they will need later for writing.

Montessori is all about encouraging the natural growth of the child, just as the Islamic principle of playing with the child from 0-7, teach them from 7-12, and become their friend after puberty... Montessori and the Islamic Tradition are not opposing views, they compliment each other. Montessori gives the mother or educator a structure of what to do, more than have a structure for the child. It is your job to create a "Prepared Environment", so that the child can naturally progress in it. (*Note: The lack of a structure for the child is why Montessori schools have been criticized by other early childhood educators)

In a traditional Montessori classroom, these Practical Life materials is child's play, there are no workbooks, it is all about manipulating materials that will help with their natural development. At home, we also did not have workbooks for Big A. However, I did go through the book "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" She was reading by age 4, but she also developed a "lazy eye" and had to wear glasses. This was not a Montessori book, the reading cards in a Montessori classroom were traditionally alot bigger than they are today. Big A reads no better than S Man who learned to read at age 6 or Z Man who began reading at age 8. Here I would suggest learning about the eye development of children, look at the strength of the eye, and the arguments for bigger text for early readers.

So the question comes up if the child wants to progress, wants workbooks, but they are not 7, do you stop them? My answer is no. Children are different and develop differently. Montessori believed in sensitive periods, with a stress on "periods". A Traditional Montessori classroom has children of multiple ages (i.e 3-6 years old) and the learning material corresponds with the natural sensitive periods, producing an enthusiasm for the material. This is so the child can pick up a material within that period when he/she is ready.

**In my experience the problem does not lie in parents holding back a child who wants to progress, but many parents/teachers will push a child towards work they are not ready for. The child becomes defeated and builds insecurity in a subject matter at an early age which many older children and adults have never recovered from.**

InshaAllah, I created a blog post just for this question. And I will list helpful links for Early Montessori Education, but I would first encourage you to read Maria Montessori's books, if you are unable to take a Montessori course.

Two of my favorite books are The Montessori Method & The Absorbent Mind

My absolute favorite Montessori support and blog is Living Montessori Now. Not only because Deb Chitwood was one of the first supporters of my own blog, but because she embodies the spirit of Montessori and the resources she shares is beyond anything you will get anywhere else.

Montessori Blogs:
Living Montessori Now
What did we do all day?
Montessori Beginnings
The Helpful Garden
The Learning Ark
Homeschool Den

Montessori Resources:
Alison's Montessori
Montessori Materials
Montessori Curriculum/Albums
Montessori Research & Development
Montessori for Learning Downloads
Montessori Services

♥  More Montessori
Why Montessori?

1 comment :

  1. Assalaamualaykum sis,
    I'm glad I've stumbled upon your post here when I tried to search for ideas on montessori activities at home. I'm a mother of a 3yo girl & 3.5mo baby girl. My eldest is going to nursery school next year. I enrolled her to a nearby mosque kindergarten. In Singapore where we live, there's a very popular islamic montessori based school for 4-6 years old. A lot of our friends raved about it, and we did consider about it too initially. But it's pretty costly and I'm wondering what's actually the differences to the children's characters between those who're taught in montessori school and those who are not.
    From what I've read online about montessori method, i think they encourage more creativity, independence, initiatives, using learn thru play activities. I'm thinking that montessori ways can be done at home too. It's just that, it would depend on whether parents are willing to spend extra effort & time to prepare & actually doing the play with the kids.. but please CMIIW. Perhaps you have your views on this..? :)
    I love reading articles or blog posts about toddler activities/homeschooling, and finding one which is actually applied to a moslem household is a big plus! Thank you so much for having this blog :)


Your comments inspire me!

Blogging tips