Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Order from Chaos

One of my favorite parts of teaching is watching my students spontaneously take interest in learning.  Their joy over their new found abilities and knowledge is the sweetest reward a teacher can know.  Last spring I felt that I was having many of these moments with my children. It was wonderful.

After our cross world move, I feel like we've lost that synergy, and I was at a complete loss on how to get it back.  It reminds of me of my first year in the public school and that one class that never really got on track.

Last night, I finished Maria Montessori's Absorbent Mind. In chapter 26, Discipline and the Teacher, I found some help.  Here are the steps I'm going to take.

1.  Create an attractive, simple space.   I'm going to put more effort into coaching my children in maintaining an well ordered environment in our home.   This is my motivation to deal with clutter in our home.

2.  Intentionally spend my time and energy in helping my children use the toys we have in our home well.  The abacus is a perfect example.  I know it's a powerful way to interact with numbers, but I'll have to help my children learn to appreciate it before it can really begin to do them good.  I also need to accept that having disordered our world by moving, it's going to take a significant amount of energy before the learning process can really flourish again.

One of the important things I need to do at this point is give my children is a way to self-correct.  When working with a puzzle, they can easily see whether they've completed it correctly or not.  But I'll need to work on adding some ways for them to check themselves on other tasks.  This gets us ready to take step 3.

3.  Give my children the space to develop their interests without interfering by critique or praise.  Montessori says that children who have begun to focus on a task are distracted by praise and discouraged by criticism.  Her advice is to leave them alone and let the desire mature.  I've noticed that my children hate bribes as much as they hate criticism, so this makes sense.

4.  Pour on the praise when they're ready to share!  Having completed their practice, the children will be ready to preform, and that's when I get to rejoice with them.  I'm looking forward to it!

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