Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Montessori : The Sensitive Period with Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends

The time window of the Sensitive Period is the best time for a child to absorb as many things as he can from the environment. Languages, early math skills, learning about good mannerisms and being gracious, exposure to the nature around him, the order of things and so many more... for once it has peaked, this window will slowly close and slows the rate of what the child absorbs as compared to when it first started. This is why experts have shared that the age range of 0-3 years old is the best time for a child to learn as many skills as he can.

Early childhood programmes like playgroup, gym and right-brain training have become so much popular in recent years for more and more parents are better informed. There will be working mothers who spare no time in clinching the best play schools for their children to occupy their days with and savvy stay-home-moms research on all the tested and proven early childhood methodologies to work with their children at home. 

The Montessori Method of Education is one of the most family-friendly method to impart skills be it in academic form, in values, in appreciation of nature and the world, in nurturing a child towards independence and so many more! A Montessorian child is prepared not only for academia but for life itself.

Fully utilizing on the Sensitive Period together with the chubs' current craze of the year : Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, I hope to interest him as much as possible in areas he enjoys doing and in areas he finds the challenges somewhat interesting. Interesting enough to push himself to overcome the challenges and interesting enough to sustain his concentration ability. I never realized I could have fallen head over heels in love with Thomas... and his friends too of course. LOL! 

Chubs' vocabulary bank is increasing by the day and he speaks to us often about his wants, his likes, his emotions for the day and never forgets to tell me he loves me... especially right before his breastfeeding session. LOL! Hubs likes to tease me that I am not playing fair as I have a secret weapon... or rather... gotta make that as "secret weaponS" instead cause there are two of them! ROFL! He claims I have the upper hand because I hold the food source!

Honestly, during this Sensitive Period... it takes less of the parent to teach for the child is a very observant & keen learner. He grasp concepts REALLY fast and can apply what he has learnt equally fast. It takes little effort on the parents' end. But what it does take is of course the parent's time. Time to be spent with the child. Simple and interesting resources are an added bonus.

Now, back to Thomas... the flavour of the season... the moment I observed his keen interest in everything Thomas, I didn't waste any time. I got everything over the shelves I could lay my hands on that I know he would love to work on. Then, I hit the blogshops, forums, spree sites for other Thomas related items not easily available in Singapore. Perhaps some are pretty easy to get but because I am normally holed up in my pigeon hole, the net is the easiest way out for me. I get to shop in my PJs!

I got hold of these books from an open fair at Yew Tee Point, in Choa Chu Kang. They are PERFECT! #1 : Boardbooks. #2 : Large A4 sized. #3 : Extremely colourful illustrations. #4 : Options for follow-up with activity books.

There were two Math inspired board books available at that time. I bought both definitely since both books offered different pleasures to a child. Apart from the beautiful illustrations on them, they each brought out something for the child to work with. Something interactive to engage the child's interest. 



The A4 sized Thomas 123 book shows the engines, the numbers each engine represents and finally the names of each of them (the engines). Chubs could relate to the engine shape from their colours, size, engine shape and their distinct faces with the help of his real engines. Yes, hubs and I bought him a few. Okay, that's not true. We bought him almost half the collection already. Teheeheee..


Chubs gets all his engines together and tries to match them on the board book itself. The control of error is that the last tender's number or the engine's number won't match with the one on the book, should any of the pieces were not placed correctly. 

Montessori apparatus comes with control of error. The special feature about Montessori equipment is that they allow for auto-education. A child can check and self-correct his work without much intervention from the directress after the material has been presented to him. The auto-education feature allows Montessorian children to learn from mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and through these mistakes, we learn. We will make conscientious effort to do better the next time we do the exact same thing again. 

This is where the Montessori education is special. It provides freedom to learn anything and everything and yet offers comfort to the child's emotional worth that it is not wrong for him to make mistakes, it happens... in fact in happens to everyone because no one is perfect.

There is no one to ridicule the child for the mistake. There is no norm to conform to. The directress continues to guide and facilitate the individual presentations as repeat lessons everytime a child is in need of reinforcements. Hence explains the "no child left behind"... It has been said that time waits for no man. The Montessori Education offers the assurance that it is okay to learn at one's own pace. When a child begins to show the love for learning, that learning comes from within him and learning becomes easier. If the child finds it hard to learn how we teach, then we can teach him how he learns best. 

The second book (again a boardbook) which is slightly smaller entitled My First Numbers, feature catchy rhyming pages to help a child learn the numbers as well. Children once again relate to all the engine names and are led to rote count from number 1 via the simple rhymes. This book offers language opportunities as children explore the pictures used in the illustrations.



Using simple books as resources, chubs was able to learn one-to-one counting, recognize the symbols/numerals and got reinforcement on colours. 

Last Thursday, while waiting for DD1 to finish her violin lesson chubs roamed around the music school. I observed him looking up at every studio door. I realized he was looking at the numbers pasted on the doors. Without any prompting from me, he showed how he applied what he had learnt about numbers thus far. He said, "Mommy, this is room. Room is number 1. Thomas is number 1." He went on to the rest of studio doors in quiet request that I accompany him around the school using his little fingers wrapped around two of mine. "This room is number 5, James is number 5..." he resumed. Then, DD1's violin teacher called signaling the end of lesson for that day. Before that, chubs said, "Mommy carry. Mommy help chubs please.. I trace 5." With my wittle dragon_boi in the baby carrier pouch in front of me, I carefully lifted chubs to the side of my body and he got to trace the number 5 on the door of the studio before we went over to meet DD1's violin teacher. As I slowly let him down, he flashed me his handsome grin and let out a contented sigh.

It's amazing how I thought I'm the one who is supposed to be teaching him and reinforcing the concepts with him... but instead he taught me and shared with me that he has indeed learnt and understood... for today, he applied what he learnt. Perfectly.

Thanks to the Montessori Method and the discovery of the Sensitive Period, to Thomas and of course his friends too... LOL! and thanks to chubs today for showing me how learning can be so natural, so effortless and so much more meaningful when the desire to learn comes from within him.

I'm looking forward to chubs sharing more of his learning experiences with me. 








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