This is third in a series on Bastardized Home Montessori Preschool.
I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, prepared my environment and am ready to rock Bastardized Home Montessori Preschool! Children do their Montessori activities either at a child-size table or by laying out a mat. The mat gives the children a defined space to work, as well as marks their territory; a helpful thing when you have two little Montessori students, one who always wants to do what his brother Montessori student is doing. I found some old place mats that I never use because our original 30-year-old washing machine left rust marks on them that I’ve never taken the time to get out.
You are supposed to “present” each activity to your child before they attempt it solo. That in itself is a lesson in patience since they are like excited little puppies who can’t wait to get their hands on these New Toys! Once that is done, you pretty much sit back and watch them work. The general idea is you give your children activities that challenge them. They shouldn’t be too hard or too easy, and you have to observe their interactions with the activity to determine what’s what. So like most of parenting, it’s one great, big experiment.
The most challenging thing at the beginning was James, our now 17-month-old. He wanted desperately to do everything John was doing and at first I kept him from trying John’s activities because Montessori tells you that if the exercise is too hard, they’ll get frustrated and angry. But after being completely unsuccessful at getting James interested in his own special activities, I let him try John’s. And he couldn’t do them and got extremely frustrated and angry. So I asked forgiveness of the great Montessori in the sky, and eventually James realized that threading beads and playing with the Matryoshka doll was really pretty awesome. Especially when John showed a great interest in those items as well.
Probably my best moment to date with Bastardized Home Montessori Preschool was with teaching John his numbers. I spent hours cutting out sandpaper letters and numbers (while watching The Tudors on Netflix). The sandpaper letters go back to working with the preschool age child’s tactile learning, so they actually get to touch and trace the letter or number as they learn. This particular activity has the child place buttons or blocks in front of the numbers to connect the quantity and the symbol. I had demonstrated this for John one day and he seemed about as interested as a I am in NASCAR. But then a few days later, he pulled the activity off the shelf and I heard him say to himself, “This is zee-o. It has NO BLOCKS.” That was a good day.