Eating in community is one of the signature moments in an Montessori toddler community. An important part of the day, the children often spend much of their work cycle preparing the foods that will be eaten at their meal.
Here are some of the benefits from such a wonderful ritual:
Social development: The art of conversation, passing food, saying please and thank you, and the benefits of enjoying food with friends.
Fine motor development: The dexterity and control required to use a fork and spoon strengthens the hands can be learned before the age of two.
Large motor development: Setting and clearing the table takes balance and coordination. Each step with a breakable dish or a glass of water takes concentration and the control of the whole body.
Intellectual development: The work a child does to understand the sequence of events to set the table and enjoy a meal is quite extensive. The memory is exercised as the return to the shelf for each item in their place setting.
I child waiting for his favorite fruit to be passed must be patient. He watches as the dish moves around the table.
For all of the reasons we offer a community snack in many of our classes at studio June. Check out or new class listings to see which schedule works for you.
Some parents never say anything, others will ask me straight out, “where are the rest of the rings?”
The ring stacker with a rocking base and the ring stacker with a stable base are important materials in an early Montessori environment. These are easy to find on the market today and just need a bit of modification to maximize your child’s success.
The first is made of plastic and can be found at your basic toy store or even Target. The second is green sprouts brand and I found at a Natural Foods Grocery store. Each comes with a full set of rings. But the question remains, why are they not all there?
I remove every other ring so that your child can get his hand around the ring to remove it from the post. When the rings are stacked one on top of the other he has a difficult time getting his finger in between. And although we want to prolong the time he spends with an activity in order to build concentration, we don’t want to frustrate him in the first moments.
By removing every other ring he can remove the first ring, the second, and then work to put them back on. The short cycle to this activity allows him to feel the success and satisfaction that comes with completing work and he is more likely to repeat. And as I have posted so many times before, repetition leads to concentration. In her book What’s Going On In There, Lise Eliot writes, “Encouraging children’s attention even very early in infancy, helps foster the persistence and motivation they need to master more difficult challenges.”
When your child is no longer interested, remove the stacker from the shelf. After a few weeks, return he stacker to his activity shelf with all of the rings. He is now ready to tackle the full tower!
This is an common question. In many of the activities we do, we ask a child to carry one item at a time. Why is this?
These are my reasons:
1. So they can have both hands on the item and have the best chance of successfully getting the item to the intended location without dropping it.
2. In order to increase memory. When you say, “Please get a fork”. You offer your child the word ‘fork’. She hears the word, finds a matching image in her memory and then holds that image in her mind as she goes to the shelf, chooses one, and then returns to the table with the fork. Sometimes they loose the image somewhere in between and may return with a different item, or even nothing at all. It is important to repeat the command and have your child try again.
3. Efficiency isn’t the goal. If it were, it would make perfect sense for a child to carry as much as possible in each trip. However, when your child is moving with purpose, it is more important for him to be accurate over efficient. It is accuracy in his movements that will help him strengthen his muscles and master his movements.
4. Repetition leads to concentration. When your child repeats her movements she travels back and forth to a shelf, gathering the materials she needs. Each trip she is challenging her memory and mastering her movements. And each trip adds to a deeper connection and level of concentration with her work.
5. Movement with purpose increases the ability to learn. Studies have shown that adding movement to your child’s learning experiences can greatly impact her experience. The whole child is involved in learning. Her hands must move to feed her mind. Your child is wired to learn through her senses and this includes, her kinesthetic sense, also called the muscle sense.
Living in the moment can be so freeing. As adults, I don’t think we can ever let go of thinking about what comes next and completely live in the moment. But young children definitely can teach us a few things about enjoying life.
A young child can completely lose himself in a moment. Although adults can do this when extreme emotions come up or when we make a conscious effort, this is the way of life for a young child.
What does a child gain from living in the moment?
He can be joyful. Children experience great joy from learning to do things for themselves and master their movements. He builds his understanding of his own capabilities and in turn, learns to trust himself. It is this trust that allows him to try new and challenging things. As he challenges himself, he repeats his work (play).
He can master his skills through repetition. We have all heard “practice makes perfect”, and for a young child they are internally driven to practice. This repetition draws them deeper and deeper into their interactive play. As a child repeats a puzzle, a book , or a peg board, he slowly eliminates extra movements of his hands and body. The movements become more refined and specific. The more refined these movements, the stronger the hands and eventually the more beautiful the handwriting!
Repetition leads to concentration.
Without the worry of what might come next, he dives into his play and finds a moment of Flow (Where his interest and challenge are at the perfect balance)
All of this builds his personality and self-actualization. He is building the person he will be for all his life. His time spent in the moment is constructive time for understanding who he is and eventually the role he will play in this world.
Allowing children under three to live in the moment helps build a better and more understanding community. To understand yourself and how you effect the world is the first step in making a meaningful contribution.
So I just want to say thank you to all of those who are not yet three. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of each moment.
Edison is now ten! And this morning he is finding his center. I don’t think he sat this still in the whole movie Edison’s Day! His Montessori teacher has shown him the benefits of meditation. Don’t forget to sign up for our news and tips and be entered for a chance to win Edison’s Day!
Here he is, then and now. Don’t forget to sign-up for your chance to win your own copy of Edison’s Day. Don’t miss our next newsletter with an update on Edison’s Day – now that he’s a decade old!
As the school year comes to an end, so does the spring session of our Parent/Infant classes. Today I was watching the babies in our pre-crawling class inch off their movement mats. They are moving towards toys that are just out of reach and they are no longer content to lie on their backs and reach for the mobiles. The progress each child makes in 8 weeks always amazes me.Tomorrow I will meet with our crawling to walking class for the last time this session. These children have become more comfortable with moving away from their parents, have discovered repetition to perfect their movements, and have all enjoyed the pride that comes with crossing the bridge.
This summer I will be offering three summer sessions, and I already have a new session planned in the Galleria area starting in August. We are expanding our offerings to make sure we can continue to support children and their parents as they both grow. I hope to see you at one of our new sessions!
Tomorrow we will give away another copy of Edison’s day. Already have one in your collection? Sign up for our tips and news and you nay win a copy to donate to your local library! Don’t miss your chance, we will randomly choose another winner tomorrow!
- Each Friday in the month of May I will give away a copy of Edison’s Day. That’s 5 chances to win!
- One winner will be randomly drawn each week.
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This is your chance to add this video to your personal library. Edison’s Day has helped thousands of parents around the world gain a better understanding of what it can mean to have Montessori at home. Packed full of ideas to empower your toddler at home, this video shows what a day in the life of a young child can be.
Hurry, your first chance to win is today!
The work-cycle is the time, everyday, the children have to work/play at school. Once a child has adapted to the routine of school, he moves from one activity to the next, with very little adult interaction. He sometimes will choose to be in a group activity, or check-in with the teacher through conversation. Generally, he plans his day and proceeds with his “auto-education”. The children’s ability to do this is what allows each child the specific education they need, and each teacher the ability to observation each child and their growth.
Here are five characteristics of play that allow the child the ability to move through his morning effortlessly, as described by Dr. Rachel E.White for the Minnesota Children’s Museum’s report, The Power of Play.
- PLAY IS PLEASURABLE. Children must enjoy the activity or it is not play.
- PLAY IS INTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED. Children engage in play simply for the satisfaction the behavior itself brings. It has no extrinsically motivated function or goal.
- PLAY IS PROCESS ORIENTED. When children play, the means are more important than the ends.
- PLAY IS FREELY CHOSEN. It is spontaneous and voluntary. If a child is pressured, she will likely not think of the activity as play.
- PLAY IS ACTIVELY ENGAGED. Players must be physically and/or mentally involved in the activity.
When parents tour a Montessori school they often ask about the difference between play and work. Play is the work of the child. We use the term ‘work’ in order to hold it in high regard and respect it as purposeful and meaningful.
This info-graphic is made from the observation of one child for the full two hour work cycle.(2 hours for 12-36 months, 3 hours for beyond 3yrs) I have used different colors and shapes to highlight the different types of activities chosen throughout the morning.