Author Archive
Apr
22

The Value of Not Knowing

With a dismissive gesture of the hand, Paula replied, “Nah, don’t ask her. She doesn’t know anything! I saw a chemistry book in the library, let’s look there.”

Oct
5

If At First You Don’t Succeed… GREAT!!

“We learn from failure, not from success,” wrote Bram Stoker in Dracula. Mistakes are essential to our growth and development, and yet in our society, they are taboo. At some point in our lives, most of us have passed the buck instead of taking responsibility for our errors; in our culture, messing up isn’t something you readily acknowledge. Since we have such a negative view of failure, we try to protect our young children from making mistakes, and this is the biggest blunder of them all.

May
18

The Journey of Discovery

During my pregnancy I crafted a series of Montessori mobiles that are designed to isolate certain concepts (black & white, primary colors, gradation, etc.) and to stimulate the visual sense of newborns. When my son, Zachary, was 7 weeks old, I introduced the third mobile in the series: the Gobbi Mobile. It is designed to isolate the gradation of one color – in this case the color blue.

Mar
19

Connecting the Dots

And so, Peter spends his days in his Montessori classroom engaged in work that he finds fascinating, challenging, and deeply satisfying. In his mind, a vision of the world is taking shape – a world of tightly woven relationships. He begins to understand cause and effect at a universal level. Above all, Peter’s experiences will help him appreciate the achievements of past generations and realize that he, too, can make positive contributions to the world.

Jan
9

Keeping It Real – Part II

The definition of fantasy is: “ideas that have no basis in reality”. Fantasy can be a great tool for escape and entertainment for those of us who have a strong grip on reality. However, young children (before the age of 5 or 6) are not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality; a phenomenon that has dire repercussions on their ability to learn and problem-solve.

Dec
13

Keeping It Real – Part I

We are all aware that creativity stems from a well-developed imagination. You have to imagine something before you can create it, right? We also rightly assume that the capacity to imagine is formed in early childhood (a time when children are read fantasy stories and are encouraged to participate in pretend-play). And yet, you won’t find a single fairy tale, doll, or talking animal in a Montessori classroom!

Oct
30

Who Taught Wyatt How to Write?

Peter and Margaret had heard that children in Montessori schools were precocious learners. Their neighbor’s five-year old daughter, Jenny, began to read and write while she attended the local Montessori school. They didn’t know much about the method, but when the time came to enroll their three-year-old son Wyatt in a preschool, they decided to give Montessori a chance.

Sep
29

If Only We Learned About Montessori Earlier…

I expected her to ask, ‘What’s Montessori?’ or to disdainfully say something like, ‘Oh, isn’t Montessori where children do whatever they want?’ Instead, she almost jumped out of her chair and exclaimed: “Oh my goodness, I LOVE MONTESSORI!!!” Before I could get a word in, she began to tell me her story, and I realized that I had to share it with the world.

Jul
23

Conflict: Break It Up And Break It Down

In a previous post, we explored how natural consequences can help children learn to control their own behaviors. A question arose in the comments: “How should adults (parents and teacher alike) handle a child who is disruptive and aggressive to others?”

Jun
27

It’s Only Natural

A parent of a new student called me to let me know I should “put Steven in a time-out if he is being naughty.” I thanked her for her suggestion, and mentioned that in Montessori we don’t believe in using time-outs. She didn’t seem convinced that I could “handle” her energetic son any other way, but after observing Steven in the classroom just a few months later, her perspective changed.

Jun
25

Independence: The Birthplace of Self Esteem

Lacy’s dad was one of those hands-off fathers who never changed a diaper or warmed a bottle of milk. Naturally, the thought of spending a week alone with a three-year old girl terrified him.