December 2016 – Primary Article

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A Visit from Marta Donahoe

A Visit from Marta Donahoe By Heather Gray   Teacher preparation, training, accreditation and continued professional development for the educator are at the foundation of

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The holiday season has begun, but the primary children are keeping themselves busy with work! Since the beginning of the school year, they have developed greater levels of concentration, learned to work more independently, and gained skills to resolve conflicts with their peers in peaceful manners.

Students are independently choosing the lessons they have been shown, and practicing those exercises to reach mastery. Each day, our classrooms are experiencing the “happy hum” of peaceful, purposeful, harmonious periods of work. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with our primary children!

Beyond their day-to- day Montessori work, children are learning through some special activities around our campus. Here is a quick list of some additional learning opportunities…kittens visited a classroom, quails were featured to highlight the SOW, muffins were baked and hummus was made. Additionally, many of our students had a chance to rake leaves and jump in the pile! Further, library days are a favorite amongst our friends.

As the students are building their repertoire of lessons, our primary teachers utilize the concept “Freedom within Limits”. In the next few paragraphs, we will explain the importance and practical application of this Montessori concept. We will explain why “Freedom” needs its “Limits” in the Montessori classroom.

There are ground rules in the primary environment. The children are encouraged to choose their own work from the variety of exercises (lessons) their guide has introduced to them previously. Students are also asked to use the material properly for its purpose, respect others, respect themselves and respect the environment. Basic rules are crucial in the Montessori environment because the students are given so much freedom –– Which lesson will I choose? Should I work on a table or a rug? When do I want to have my snack? Do I want to go to the outdoor classroom? Continually making decisions in a morning work-cycle can get overwhelming. Maria Montessori said, “To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.” (The Absorbent Mind) Limits give students the guideline within which they can be safe and successful.

“Freedom within Limits” can also be applied at your home. For example, imagine you are walking on a hiking trail with your child. Allow your child to observe insects, smell flowers, sit on a tree stump, and pick up a rock. However, while your child has the freedom to explore, you should establish limits that will protect your child from harming themselves, others, or the environment. Basically, “freedom within limits” involves giving your child the freedom to make choices within healthy, age appropriate options. Maintaining a healthy balance between freedom and limits will create a safe, nurturing environment in which your child can thrive!