Awesome Ken Robinson Ted talk

Sigh! If only we could revolutionize education all over the world…. with Montessori!


Never force a child to say sorry

At last, at last. I have always believed in this but finally, an article that explains it perfectly and gives steps to follow!

“Good” days

I’ve been having a couple of “good” days with the children. I’m not sure if I’ve accomplished much with them (gosh, that’s so teacher-centred!) but they were incredibly peaceful doing the work they wanted to do. On Wednesday, I was making materials. I allowed my 8 year old to cut them (she was very proud to be trusted with the task of “making materials” which I’m so particular about). Meanwhile, my 2 year old was busy (for a good 45 minutes) cutting up paper and my 5 year old was sorting the card material into the drawers of one of those multi-drawer tool boxes.

Then today, I forgot that a student was coming and yet, again it was a good day. My 5 year old settled him to do the pink tower and some threading of beads. Then the former went to do his favourite average work whilst the latter engaged in his favourite animals of the continents work. Meanwhile, my 8 year old wrote a letter to a friend in the US and thereafter starting copying all the Chinese words she could find on Chinese red packets and Chinese New Year cards.

We ended off with some songs (which I am ashamed I do so little of with the children in the co-op. My own children get their fill with all the cds they manipulate). It was a good day.

Students’ research

A fantastic question came up today on Montessori_online. How do we guide research? Children often drift from topic to topic. How do we get them to “complete” a research project.

Aleta Ledendecker has a brilliant way: to have a “Great Brain Fair” where children plan, research and upon completion, display their finds to their friends and family after a few weeks. A great way to motivate children. I most certainly want to look into that.

Sharon Caldwell, on the other hand, came up with some philosophical points that, I must say, make a lot of sense to me. I suddenly realised that often, I am uncomfortable with “making” a child complete a research topic. And yet, I wonder if children need more support than we realize? Perhaps what I should do then is continue to allow the children to spontaneously flit from topic to topic BUT give a separate lesson on how to complete a research project…. That will definitely require some creative thinking. More food for thought….

Below is Sharon’s post:

“This issue of “projects” and “finishing” is something that has interested me for a while – as I saw exactly the same thing in our school. To me it seems that we need to ask *why* we want children to do projects. This relates to
what do we mean by “finished”? I think there are a lot of factors and children may be picking topics for projects simply because they need to to projects – they weren’t really interested in the broader topic at all – or
the topic is too broad … lots of different factors, which may be different for different children. If the goal is to give the child the broadest possible spread of “seeds” for learning as Dr. Montessori describes in her
then we need to question what we mean by “finsihed”. The idea is to provide a deep interest and stimulate curiosity, not necessarily get a completed finished product — but that leads us back to the question of whether we see
learning as process or product. Learning as product does not fit well with the understanding of indirect preparation and planting seeds. A finished project, in a sense says “Been there, done that!” rather than I was
interested in horses, now I’m interested in Antarctica – but I can go back and find out more about any of them at any time.

So I am thinking of myself here – I move from topic to topic in reading and writing and probably only 20% of the articles I start writing end up completed – but the 80% uncompleted ones always feed into those that are completed.

So rather than “researching a project” I would say the idea should be to provide lots of opportunities for learning about different things in different ways, and supporting that learning in multiple ways. Learning how
to do a project may be one thing you can learn – maybe separately of the actual content? I remember when my son was learning how to do powerpoints – he designed his style first and then chose “spices” as the topic because it
went well with the style he had chosen! He wasn’t interested in the content at all. I’d posit that putting too much emphasis on getting finished products could limit the range of learning for some children. [Others may
enjoy doing short projects – others long projects – some may prefer a lot of grazing.] Are we wanting the same type of product from everyone?

Another thought is that, by asking children to commit to something we are asking them to know what they will be interested in before they really know what it is about. They don’t possibly know all the aspects of a topic – so
for example a child who wants to do a project on horses may actually want to learn to ride – starts the project and realises it is a poor substitute for what she wants and moves on to something else. I would, personally love to
visit Antarctica but have very little interest in reading about it. What I am trying to get to is that a real understanding of why children don’t like finishing projects (and will seldom do so unless there is some real
compulsion or force to make them) may be more useful in supporting learning than finding ways of achieving what looks to us adults a completed product.


Music and Math (Upper El?)

Got this fantastic link from the M-list. I have not quite understood it except that it has to do with music, math and upper elementary students. Nonetheless, it’ll provide endless amount of fun!


Today, my mum made a comment about me. Here I am, doing everything for my “school”, my children, CGS…. but I have so much “potential”, how can I tap that potential? I guess she was saying how can I development myself to the fullest?

Of course, I responded that by doing what I am doing, I am developing myself. I have never really realised how much development occurs when you are a mother. I have grown in ways that are completely immeasurable and yet, they are areas of substantial growth. Of course, as the growth is unquantifiable, no employer in their “right mind” would find me desirable, since, in many ways, I look like I’ve “gone soft”. I was a pretty driven corporate worker in my other life. I would “get things done whatever it takes”. With that, came a development of part of me that today, I am not proud of. So, I have worked (and am still working) to diminish that part of me.

That is why I love Montessori. I was just thinking (in line with this discussion on “potential”) – there are all these enrichment classes to “develop the child’s potential to the fullest” but what of the potential to love? Children are born with VAST amounts of love and potential to love. Heaven forbid they have classes to develop that. However, so much focus is on the other types of (so-called) “potentials” that often, the potential to love is eaten away.

How often has a child stopped an adult to say – oh that lady dropped something, or that child fell down, or there is a beggar along the road – only to have the adult yank the child away to say, “We are in a hurry” or worse still, instill indifference or even judgment in the child by saying something negative. As they grow older, we stop children from helping one another on the pretext that the other child would be “cheating”.

And then there’s the living in the moment – the complete joy of watching a butterfly, of seeing the clouds moving through the sky, of listening to the waters of a stream… moments filled with love of things natural, things that feed our soul…

Montessori is a way of life. It is so strange that on the one hand, I am told (and I strangely, I actually understand it) that you can’t really “do” Montessori in a homeschool setting. Yet, on the other hand, I see Montessori in everything I do. I am becoming a little more patient and loving to children every day (and more “in the moment” with them) and then, today, thinking about this idea of “potential” and love, I realise I need to become even MORE patient and loving to the adults I meet. They may have bad habits that have now “become” part of their being (unlike children who still have the potential to change), but why should I treat them any differently from the children? Why is it that I am justified in saying – they are adults, they should know better? Some adults never had the opportunity to learn or know whatever it is we assume they ought to know. We need to meet them where they are.

This work is, as they say, life changing. I see God’s hand in it very strongly and I am blessed for that.


A couple of people posted this list on montessori_online.

Thought I’d save it here before I forget. Haven’t been able to post it under my links yet. Will get to that another day.

They make stamps for the bead stair and decimal system material as well as
lots of dice and quilted mats for decimal system work.

> Alison’s Montessori:
> Widening Horizons:
> Maitri Learning:
> Montessori 123:
> Classroom Creations:
> Montessori Materials Group:
> In-Print for Children:
> Lakeview Montessori School Learning Store:
> Montessori Print Shop:
> Montessori Images:
> Montessori Language Materials:
> Michael Olaf Company:
> Montessori n’ Such:
> Montessori Research and Development:
> Montessori Services:
> The Juliana Group:
> Adena Montessori:
> Montessori Concepts:
> Eduaids:
> Early School Materials:
> Montessori Stores:
> Montessori Made Manageable:
> Priority Montessori Materials:
> Phonetic Reading Program:
> Montessori for Everyone:
> Heart in Hand:
> Nienhuis Montessori USA:
> Materials Company of Boston:
> Lord Company:
> Kaybee Montessori:
> Hello Wood Products:
> Cabdev Montessori Materials:
> Bruins Montessori:
> Albanesi Montessori Curriculum:
> Conceptual Learning Materials:
> Laughing Star Montessori:
> Bambini Montessori Materials:
> North American Montessori Center Curriculum Manuals and Classroom Guides:
> New Child Montessori Curriculum and Guides:
> The Prepared Environment:
> Curriculum Manuals:
> Philosophy Gift Shop, Montessori Attire: