Monday, June 16, 2014

What are the first steps for preparing the Montessori environment?

1. Modelling the exercises of practical life
First thing in the morning in the class, we put away the laundry and refresh the water in the flowers and sweep, just as we do in the home. This is the daily life in the classroom. If they see us adults doing these things and an older child doing these things, they will want to do these things as well. The children will respond to those critical periods. They may not see flower arranging at home any more, so it becomes part of the daily life of the classroom.

2. Offer the presentations
This is when you show the exact sequence of work and order. In the House of Children, you give two types of presentations: direct presentations and indirect presentations. The mind of the child absorbs everything, so the child is taking in how you are carrying the chair, how you are carrying the pitcher of water, how you are sweeping the dirt. So, we are constantly unintentionally presenting to the child. Every time we do an activity, the child is taking it in. The manner and attitude we express to children is all absorbed.

If it is not done in the way the child needs to see it, we teachers must unlearn the manner we had previously performed the task, to be what the child needs us to be. This will lead to the ultimate change in the way I speak to people and how I move in my space. If we do not offer the best quality for the material of construction for herself as a human being, we damage the child. And if the presentations do not reflect the way that the adult performs the task, the child will have no interest in the exercise of practical life.

Once she has an interest in the task, we can consciously draw attention to all the details. We cannot give a presentation until we have prepared ourselves to give the lesson. Relearning the technique the way the child must do it leads to us practicing and practicing the task until it is easy for us. Only then can I present the lesson to the child.

Jeannot Jonte Boucher is a Montessori educator and parent in Dallas, Texas.  

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