Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years - Elizabeth G. Hainstock

I've heard about Montessori preschools and know several friends with kids in Montessori schools, but I didn't really know much about how things are actually done and what the philosophy is. This book is a neat, concise introduction to the Montessori method, followed by a list of exercises (practical-life, early sensorial, reading and writing, and arithmetic) along with suggestions to make your own equipment for home use.

The Montessori philosophy is largely about letting the child direct the learning. Children are naturally inclined to learn, but the way they learn is by doing and not by being told facts. To accomodate this, the classroom should be set up without any distractions or dangers; nothing in the room should be out of bounds (or out of reach). Freedom and libery are emphasized, with the teacher acting more as a facilitator, starting with a demonstration and then only stepping in to correct a mistake. Exercises are designed to follow each other, building on previously-learned skills.

One big difference in the reading/writing method is that instead of teaching the names of the letters (C = "see"), you teach them the sounds (C = "kuh"). It's phonics-based and allows them to start sounding things out without getting confused by the letters that don't necessarily sound like their names (C, G, H, and W for example). I hadn't heard of this approach before, and I've noticed that Ridley tries to guess how to spell words and gets confused by certain letters. Of course, this means not using the alphabet song until later, but there might be something to it.

An important feature of the exercises is what's called the "control of error." The idea is that generally the teacher shouldn't have to tell the child whether they've done something correctly or not, because there's an automatic control of error which shows them if they made a mistake. For instance, in a rice-pouring exercise, spills are a control of error. The problem I see here is that there are some activities where I don't think the child will know anything is wrong unless you tell him: when carrying a chair, the control of error is hearing noise or feeling bumps. But when Ridley carries a chair, for her the only control of error is if the chair gets stuck; otherwise, the chair got to where she wanted it to go, and she considers that a success.

The "Practical Life" exercises involve things like washing dishes, washing hands, setting a table, tying shoes and getting dressed. But they also include things that, frankly, I don't do myself: polishing silver, shining shoes, folding a napkin. The Sensorial exercises involve different shapes and sizes, colors, weight, and temperature.

Overall, I found the book a little outdated, but still useful, and I may try to incorporate some of the methods and materials presented here for my own kids.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 22, 2007 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Remember Me?