The picture above is when buds_chubs was about 16mths old working on an Object Box. To be specific.. it was the Pink Object Box 1. I have shared about this material in this thread. Click the blue link to go there. > Pink Object Box 1
I introduced chubs to the mat, which defines a proper work space in a Montessori classroom. Practicing Montessorian moms and dads can and should also introduce this in the home as a good discipline of working with one thing at a time. Children are encouraged to return an existing material before working on another. Because of this routine, Montessorian children are able to keep stuff back in their original space most of the time. Encouraging this effort in the home helps keep materials in place and ready for use the next time the child decides to work on them. This teaches a child responsibility and independence.
You can consider the placemats at IKEA. I bought a nice green mat from Guardian Pharmacy's home & decor section in the old outlet in Lot 1 Shoppers Mall, Choa Chu Kang. It came with those nice frills. Working on a mat (on the floor) gave chubs lots of practice sitting cross legged while working on his materials. While he was at first, kind of clumsy.. he can plonk comfortably and at longer intervals now, working on the stuff he takes from our shelves in the work room. Our primary school children hafta sit cross legged on the floor in primary schools as well, so by then.. our Montessorian children can sit nicely without much fidgeting uh?
In a few Montessori centres i went to/worked at... there were directresses who did not encourage children taking materials which were not age appropriate. For example, this Pink Object Box 1 which is for children who are at the pink scheme of 3-letter word formation (for children anywhere around 4yrs onwards) was not being allowed/discouraged from use for a student i was teaching many years back. The head directress showed the child another material, somewhat as a form of distraction. I was taken aback. Likewise for the parent who accompanied the child for the parent & child session. I was a junior then, but appalled no less for i thought i was learning from the best. Supposedly...
Montessori Education is child-centric. It can cater to the child's individual pace and inclinations. This allows the directress to maximize on the child's absorbent mind during that Sensitive Period. A Sensitive Period is a phase where the child is really into something that a Montessori environment supports. (layman explanation from me here). For example, if a child keeps going to the sandpaper letters tracing this way and that for most times she attends her session or keeps going at the/a certain material first the moment session begins, it shows that the child is inclined to work with it.
A directress, the observer... helps to facilitate this learning interest and shows the child how to work with the said material in a proper fashion after which, the child is free to work with it on her own; still being observed by the directress. The directress notes down this observation and returns to the child with the material again the following session and checks back if the child can work the material correctly else she will present the lesson again.
In the case of chubs in the above picture, he was interested with the materials inside the pink box. I let him work with the objects first observing his keen interest. I named the objects as he picked them out from the box and observed what he does next. The first few times, he just listened and didn't respond. After he took out everything seemingly just like any normal free play, he will want to keep them.
After a week.. he said, "Hat."
The next few days, he said, "Man."
Mid the following week, he took out the man and i simply repeated the word 'man'.
He said, "Daddy."
I merely reinforced and said, "Yes, daddy is a "man".
By the following two weeks, i already repeated the names of the objects countless times. This is because he was extremely fixated on "playing" with the items. However, he was actually working with the materials. Every session a child has with his directress is a working session.... which literally means, purposeful play.... not just free play. The directress facilitates the session by observing.. offering support for language/vocabulary.. allows for unlimited repetitions (child is free to take material from the shelves to work with them).. presents to the child in the proper fashion, how to work with the material each time he selects it from the shelves.
The following month, chubs surprised me when he did the exact same action in the above picture but instead said, "Hat on daddy. Daddy's hat." I repeated after him. "Yes, that's a hat. A hat on a man. Daddy's the man." The emphasis for this object box is for the child to match the word card to the corresponding object... which chubs could not do yet. Any realistic parent knows that. Likewise for a realistic educator. However, i presented the material aniwaes, each time he wanted to work with it. After about approximately a month and a half just working that same box, chubs went..
Chubs : Pink Box 1! I want.. I want.. peas. (please)
We went to the shelves, he picked it up and placed it on his already unrolled mat on the floor in the living room.
Chubs : Hat!
Chubs : Ram!
Chubs : Cap.. (paused) Daddy.. (paused) Daddy's cap. *smiled*
After a longer pause and looking at the two objects. He said...
Chubs : Cap on man.
Then he went on with all other materials.. putting two objects together and forming his own silly combination of words..
"Cap on ram."
"Hat on dad."
"Cap on hat."
"Hat on cap."
"Cap on hat."
"Hat on cat."
He didn't stop until he was contented he did enough of the material and he just kept them all after that. The following few days, he ventured with other combinations like...
"Man on van." *chuckled*
"Cat on van." *chuckled harder*
"Ram on van." Laughed his insides out when the ram fell over and he gave a loud baaa bleat.
At the end of the second month fiddling with the objects, chubs took out the cards one by one and placed them on his mat. He didn't say it all correctly but he made attempts to name them and put them on what he thought were the corresponding objects. Likewise, i merely repeated the words on the cards and he haphazardly places the cards sometimes near and other times far away from the corresponding objects. It's still work in progress but i was happy i tapped on his sensitive period for learning language.
The above is just sharing one of those moments i had with chubs. More to come. In the meantime.... Look out for those sensitive periods for learning in your children! If you are patient and support them enough in their learning adventures, they will surprise you with what they actually know but was dying to show/tell you.