Monday, November 21, 2011

A Precious Pause -- Observing My Children in a Not-So-Montessori Moment

"See my letters and my toes," says the photographer.
Sometimes, I berate myself for not providing a more picture-perfect Montessori-inspired homeschool for my children.  You know, an environment that is totally decluttered and beautifully prepared with thoughtfully designed works set out for the children to direct their learning through once I have presented these works to them.

At other times, I realize that environment and materials aside, if I am observing my children and providing opportunities for them learn through following their interests, I am doing okay.  For, while our homeschool might be a far cry from those more concretely inspired by Maria Montessori, it is still one that allows my children to happily develop with an “I can” attitude.

These following notes I tapped the other day speak to this:

I don’t want to get up to get my camera right now, since my movement might disturb my children’s play.  Thus, I am making a mental recording of this moment of joy.

Luke and Nina found homemade mocha-scented mud-dough in the fridge earlier when they were looking for their “special butter” for breakfast.  They wanted to play with this dough and quickly transitioned into making letters with it.  They are now rolling, cutting and shaping the homemade playdough in order to “prepare for a presentation”.  As they do so, their happy song fills the air almost as much as the mocha scent does:  “The ‘x’ says…”

Meanwhile, Jack’s giggles on a ride-on toy as he navigates his way around Tinkertoys and blocks on the floor.  Luke and Nina take no notice of him, because they are too immersed in preparing for their presentation.

Preparations completed, Luke “Leap” and Nina “Lily” come over to Jack “Tad”.  “Lily” proclaims, “You know all the letters, Tad,” and then “Leap” whispers in her ear to prompt further lines.  “Tad”, clueless, does not answer them.  Instead, he simply climbs up beside me on the arm of my cushy chair, digs his fingers into his mouth and bounces while gurgling with content.

I smile at my youngest and his siblings.  Then, I look around and realize that the morning has become anything but traditional Montessori:  The floor is a mess.  The dishes are not yet done.  The laundry is piled high.  Formal lessons are waiting.  Routines have been broken – or at least paused.  But, that’s okay.  We are experiencing a blessed moment

Relaxed play and learning unfolds before me.

Letters and Word Whammer Moved by Luke-Photographer
So Inspiration Could be Captured as Well

Luke and Nina work cooperatively together dramatizing a letter factory.  Jack gets down to growl with dinosaur figurines.  Luke fetches a camera to take pictures of his playdough letters so he can remember them, because “I just don’t want to forget them.”

Nina takes a potty break.

Jack offers me some play food.  Then, he wanders into the kitchen, grabs a spatula and begins stirring bits of playdough in a pan and transferring it to a small plate.

Luke puts the camera back.

Nina sings out from the other room in choruses of, “Alleluia!  Praise the Lord!”

I smile and enjoy the very precious present moment.  One that is so ordinary, yet so extraordinary.  The children and I are learning and on so many levels – embracing life with all our senses.

Literacy.  Gross motor practice.  Fine motor work.  Faith.  Cooperative play.  So many target areas of early learning have been woven into the morning’s play-filled pause.  The skills the children have acquired from prior Montessori-inspired work trays and baskets, along with inspiration invoked by their imaginations (and, yes, I admit, a recent viewing of a Leapfrog video) are all working in concert.

Life is good.   

Not every moment and experience needs to be prepared.  Sometimes, the pauses are the most precious times of all.

What pause have you and yours enjoyed recently?

This post is being shared at Montessori Monday hosted by One Hook Wonder and Living Montessori Now, where you'll find more traditional ways to use Montessori in your home than I just shared about.


Unknown said...

I find your family to be a wonderful example of a homeschooling family. What I love most about you guys is your commitment to your faith and it definetly shows through your children. Thank you so much for sharing.

Martianne said...

Thank you, Discovering Montessori. My aim is to train up individuals who love God and find a way to meet His call through whatever work they choose to do in life. I don't always feel I am doing the best at this, so your comment is very encouraging. Thank you!

Karen said...

seriously - way more productive in one morning with your children - letting them be - than I was the whole day!
your children are happy and fun to be with (I can not say that about everyone I know! LOL) and you are so an inspiration to me to be a more relaxed and happier mom!
Thank you

Martianne said...

Delighted that we can be mutually inspiring, Karen. You inspire me with the rich materials you have provided your children and the way you so obviously are doing a great job raising them. Your children are awesome with mine. I love seeing how they take care of them and play with them when we're at the playground.

laughwithusblog said...

Yes I am so thankful that everything doesn't always have to be prepared. Some days of homeschooling you just wake up with a wrench thrown in. :)

Mommy to the Princesses said...

What a great post! You are absolutely right, pauses are the precious times of all!

Rach said...

I couldn't agree more. I am finding more and more that my daughter (toddler) learns best just through everyday life.

Deb Chitwood said...

Great post, Martianne! You're so right that the most important Montessori principles are to observe and follow your child! It's hard to imagine homes being perfect examples of Montessori environments at all times, and the love and happy times more than make up for any seeming imperfections! Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:

The Monko said...

What a great post, I felt like I was there with you watching your kids enjoying their learning. And how great for Jack to be absorbing all that at such a young age.

MinnyHa27 said...

Oooh, how lovely. It's so special to watch when siblings are in harmony with each other. Can you post a link to the mocha scented mud dough? Sounds exciting.


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