Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simple, Montessori Toys

We received another item off our baby registry, which was the infant bell from Nienhuis Montessori. Its simplicity and beauty are striking. I'm a little embarrassed by how much time I could spend holding and looking at it!

I am so in love with the Montessori idea of using natural materials and paring down an object's stimulation factor to just the proper dose. The trapped bell is highly likely to provide the perfect amount of stimulation for a little baby. The object doesn't also have to be rainbow-colored, blinking, and playing a lullaby.

I think it's hard to remember that what stimulates a baby is different from what stimulates an adult. We have developed the capacity to tune out extraneous stimuli, while babies tend to absorb it all.

Of course implementing Montessori isn't just about the prepared environment and the perfect objects. It's about carefully observing how the child interacts with the environment and modifying it to meet the baby's developmental needs.

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Sara E. Cotner said...

Yes, this is another maternity leave post, even though I'm not really on maternity leave yet!

I went to yoga last night, and I'm heading to work today. Yesterday I read that the average gestation period for a Caucasian, first-time mother is 41 weeks and 1 day. I don't know how true that is, but that would put my "due date" at tomorrow. We'll see...

I'm still happy to be pregnant and am just focusing on savoring each day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update... I was wondering about ya!

Michele said...

So happy to hear you are doing well, I've been thinking about you so much.

Our Little Beehive said...

Thanks for the update, I clicked through just to check. I hope you're still feeling well!

Anonymous said...

oh good! still wondering!!

have never met you, but had a dream that you had the baby... strange! good luck, sara x

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking of you too, Sara. Glad to hear you're still doing well.

Jen said...

Hi Sara, I live in Houston too! I am also a teacher (2nd Grade)for the Cy-fair district. I see how much you love montessori but I was wondering how is it different from a public school? I don't know too much about montessori and wanted some more info. on it in case it's something I would be interested in doing. Thanks!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Jen! I actually teach in a public Montessori school. The Montessori approach to education is different from the traditional method (which I taught for six years) in the following ways (although this list is, by no means, exhaustive):

1. Montessori classes are grouped into three grade levels. That means I have eight 1st graders, nine 2nd graders, and six 3rd graders. The multi-age classroom means I get to spend three years with each child and their family. They also get to play a different role in the classroom each year, first as the newbie who learns a lot from the older children and then more as the leaders of the classroom.

2. Because it's a multi-age classroom, there is little whole-class instruction. When my students enter the classroom in the morning, for example, they start working on their own assignments (most of which involve hands-on, concrete materials, not worksheets). They work that way for 3.5 hours while I pull children for individual or small-group lessons.

3. Montessori places much more emphasis on educating the whole child. There is a lot of work around building a peaceful community and on practical life activities. The children are also constantly practicing self-direction, time-management, and pursuing their own projects.

Those are the main differences, although the list goes on and on! You're always welcome to observe my classroom, although my maternity leave won't end until the end of May.

There's a great Montessori certification center in Houston called The Houston Montessori Center.

Definitely let me know if you have more questions!

The Education Of Ours said...

My littles, now 3, still love their bells. It is so beautiful. Congrats on the coming little one!

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