Adult Work/Children’s Work
Happy New Year to all the Primary families! I hope that all who attended enjoyed the holiday performance. I was very sad not to feel well enough to attend! Now that Kristen is sending out a weekly email with relevant news and upcoming events, I would like my monthly blog to focus more on Montessori philosophy as it relates to the 3-6 year old (“Primary”) child. This month, I focus on the concept of ‘the child’s work’ in the Montessori context and how adults can support the work of the child.
From birth to age six, a child is in the ‘First Plane’ of development. The work of the First Plane child is self-perfection. During this time, the child is literally constructing themself. Just think of all the amazing physical, cognitive, and spiritual changes that takes place during this period of time! The child constructs the ability to creep, crawl, stand, walk, babble, and talk. No one can teach this to the young child, and yet, by the age of three, your child is on his or her way to mastering speech and movement and has established a very clear personality.
The work of the young child is largely unconscious, but the child is guided by an innate drive to gather ‘data’ from his or her environment, including observing how adults move their bodies, listening to the sounds of spoken language in the child’s environment, and experiencing the forces of gravity and other physical properties of the environment. We see this in the young infant who studies the lips and faces of all around him, in the toddler who must climb up every stair she sees, in the child who repeats and activity countless times, and in the insatiable urge for the young child to touch everything. The child exercises ‘maximum effort’ with all tasks. The child is not concerned with external goals, societal norms, or the most efficient way to do something.
The work of the child is very different from adult work. While the child’s work is internal, the adult’s work is external-- we work upon the environment to change and improve upon it. We have internal goals and visible results. While the child’s work is solitary, adult work is social; it is influenced by societal norms and often includes division of labor. In addition, adult work is organized and efficient.
Montessori wrote that both work is essential for human life. Adults create the human environment in which the child develops, and the child brings fresh perspective and new ideas with each generation. However, the differences of our work can become a major source of conflict due to misunderstanding. In The Secret of Childhood, Montessori writes, “the adult and the child, made to love one another and to live together, find themselves in conflict through an incomprehension that corrodes the roots of life and which takes place in impenetrable secrecy.” Montessori writes that it is the adult’s work to create a developmentally nourishing environment for the child. We must provide an environment rich with ‘data’ for the child’s developing body and mind, including spoken language and rich sensory experiences. We must not do for the child what he or she is attempting for themselves. As teachers and parents, we must adapt when interacting with children. We must lead two lives, consciously slowing down, setting aside our need for efficiency, and being sure not to apply adult standards upon the child’s work. While this can be difficult and humbling, creating such a child-centered environment can heal this conflict between adults and children and is at the heart of Montessori education.
The children were happy to welcome the snowy season! They have had lots of fun making snowflakes.They practiced cutting the folded coffee filters in small triangular shapes to make the snowflake shape.You should have see their expressions when they slowly opened up their artwork! No same snowflake was made...each one was so unique. I absolutely loved their creations.
“Pomander ( Apple of Amber)”
We loved making pomanders this month as our gift to each family. (Thank you Ms. Emily for your great idea!) Children poked navel oranges with a perforator and then stuck a clove in each tiny hole and decorated it. It was a great fine motor skill exercise! The natural scent of oranges and cloves was beautiful and children had a joyful time making a seasonal gift to their families. I would like to make them again next year.
Food Bank Trip
Thank you for your food donations.The Kindergarten children proudly brought the food donations to the Vermont Food bank on December 14th. Mr. John Sayles, the Chief Executive Officer showed us around the distribution center.The excited children encountered the forklift in the warehouse and saw how the machine worked.The children continued to explore the spacious warehouse, including the cooler room and freezer filled up with lots of good food for people in need. Thank you Mr. Sayles for spending time with our children to show us around and teach us your great program!
We will learn about animals in winter and the Arctic Tundra. We will look into their food web/chain.
-Thank you Ms. Doris Martin for giving us a beautiful small flower bowl, pitcher and a flour sifter from Small Hands order. We appreciate your kindness and generosity.
-Thank you to Benson’s family for getting us new snow sleds for our children to use at the playground. We can not wait to use them!!!!
Happy new year/Bonne Annee/Feliz ano Nuevo/ Buon anno/ Frohes Neues Jahr/ Ah keh-mah-shteh omeh-deh tou .We are wishing all of you the BEST in 2018!