Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flea Market Treasures

I was perusing my church carnival's flea market leftovers and stumbled across a Montessori teacher's treasure chest! Here's what I found...

This miniature bamboo book stand will fit perfectly in the Cultural area of the classroom. It will showcase Aline Wolf's Cosmic Wonder books beautifully. My kids (when I refer to "my kids" it will typically mean the children in my class. My actual kids will be referred to as "G"-the big girl and "g"- the little girl) adore these little books and sometimes choose one to copy and take home. When I say copy, I literally mean they sit down with a blank booklet and hand write the entire book, along with illustrations. Poor kids, little do they know they can go online and buy one copy for about $6!

...as if I don't have enough miniature baskets in my storage area. I just couldn't resist.

It's hard to see in the picture, but this is a bag of small wooden apples and a bag of sea glass. Perfect for Practical Life activities in September (apples) and June (sea glass).

This pint-size pitcher and bowl will make good use in the classroom for fingertip sensitizing before using the sandpaper letters or touch boards.

All of this for a whopping $2.50!!

Girls will be Girls

I typically spend a lot of my free time reading, usually about Montessori or other related education books. However, I've started reading this book, Girls will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak. It's fascinating. She explains the distinct difference in the core neurological system between males and females, and relates that information to the way we should teach our boys and girls for optimal brain growth and retention. It's amazing how "typically", girls will venture toward the language area and boys will find interest in building and constructing. Deak states,

"For optimal lifelong neurological balancing and growth, girls generally need to spend a lot of time in the block corner and boys need to spend a lot of time in the writing/drawing corner. Provided in an enjoyable way, these early against-the-grain gender experiences help create a well-balanced brain that is better equipped to handle the range of tasks and challenges the brain will have to contend with all through life."

As a teacher and parent, I do notice the majority of girls showing a great deal of interest in the Language area. The author does mention that approximately 20% of girls' brains have male-differentiated predispositions. Simply put, 20% of girls will prefer blocks to drawing. "Follow the child" is the cornerstone of Montessori education. I just wonder if we need to focus more on what the child does not choose in order to give each child's brain an equal opportunity for later success in life. Once this blog starts getting some followers, I'd love to hear your experiences with gender-related neurological predispositions in the classroom or at home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Beginning

So, I've decided to embark on this little blog journey. I am passionately, and sometimes obsessively, dedicated to the Montessori philosophy. I run an authentic, home-based Montessori classroom and love every minute of it. I feel blessed to be able to do what I love with my family right beside me. My husband often reminds me of how lucky I am to have found my "calling" immediately, without having to dabble in a series of unsuccessful professions. I knew this was the path for me the minute I stepped out of the public school and into the Montessori classroom.

My vision for this blog is to give parents a closer look into the classroom and to give them a better idea of what Montessori is all about. I'd also love to inspire traditional teachers to try something a little different. My goal for this upcoming school year is to better educate parents on the philosophy and to get them more involved in the classroom.

The blog's title is taken from one of Montessori's famous quotes that reminds us that the teacher is NOT the center of the classroom. People joke around about Montessori teachers being difficult to find in the classroom...it's true! He or she is typically crouched in a corner on the floor surrounded by one or two children, with her back comfortably to the class, trusting them with full faith. Letting go of the dominant, traditional "teacher" role is very difficult for newly-trained Montessorians, and continues to be a struggle for substitutes and volunteers in the classroom.

I'll be spending this summer rejuvenating the classroom, with a new arrangement and (hopefully!) some new materials. I'm hoping to start replacing some of my inexpensive shelving units with these beauties from Community Playthings. It'll be a slow process, but my plan is to eventually equipt my entire classroom with these shelves, tables and chairs. I'll post any new additions to this site.

I don't plan to post every day, but do check back often to either see what your child is doing in school or maybe to get some new ideas for your Montessori classroom.

Thanks for checking in!