Having younger children in an elementary environment

Am so thrilled to finally have my bead cabinet set up.  I had the beads for a long time but found it difficult to use without the cabinet.  Managed to purchase the cabinet from http://www.kydzedu.com for a thoroughly reasonable price.

My 5-year-old, who actually attends a Montessori school, was very keen to do it, so I presented the short bead chains to him.  That’s him doing the 6-bead chain.  He did it twice today (apparently they don’t have this material at school).

I tried to discourage (to put it mildly) my 2-year-old from touching the cabinet, but he was adamant.  Having learnt from the peg-board situation, I let him be – and voila – that’s him doing the 4-bead chain (after a rather un-Montessori/stern presentation about how to be gentle with this awfully expensive material).

The “peg-board situation”? In my training, we were taught to use this wonderful material called the pegboard (it’s the algebraic pegboard or square-root peg board) for not just squares and square roots but for all 4 operations, multiples, prime numbers, etc.  Well, when I first started the co-op in January, my then 21-month-old just insisted on using the material.  Initially, I just tried to stop him but being really busy with a new “school” (and getting used to “managing” children in the new environment), I finally gave up and showed him how to handle the peg board gently (and place the pegs in the hole).

Of course, initially, he was just so messy. I had no time to hover and within a few weeks, he was placing the pegs in neatly!  That really taught me a valuable lesson on why the Montessori method works and why we just need to trust the children and get out of the way.

So, I did the same with the bead cabinet today – and there he was – taking out the beads from the cabinet as gently as he could – and placing them straight on a table mat, then placing the number arrows facing the correct direction (although obviously not at the correct spots).  Again! The beauty of the Montessori method.  And as always, it is the children that teach me…..


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