I have been trying to get myself ready for this new age range (6-9) and how exactly to go about it with a Montessori perspective. A friend recommended Montessori Today by Paula Lillard and it really has been an amazing resource.
Lillard talks about the three essential elements to a Montessori Environment: a prepared environment, a prepared adult, and freedom with responsibility. I'm going to work through these aspects in the coming weeks while we take a break from focused work time and new lessons.
First, because I think it's the hardest thing for us, is the balancing of freedom and responsibilities. Having a prepared environment is hard in it's own right and I think maybe the prepared adult may also be a big factor in our day to day experience but we'll focus on one at a time....
Freedom seems to stir up a lot of emotions in the educational realm. Freedom is not letting your kids do whatever they want all day and hoping for the best. I know that many times Unschooling philosophies get melded together with Montessori but they are not the same. In fact, in risk of alienating a few of you, they are so different it would be an insult to consider yourself both an Unschooler and a Montessorian. I don't think I can do the conversation justice on my own right so please do some research if this creates some confusion.
Lillard states that: "To be free means to be in control of self, to be able to do what one choses to, not what one's feelings or illogical thoughts of the moment may dictate."
I think that is an amazing view of freedom.
Many Montessori Classroom have a student bill of rights. I'll write them down here but I also made a simple printable version if you would like one for your own work space. These "rights" are something we are going to hold onto very tightly in the coming academic year.
Student Bill of Rights
-to act by oneself and for oneself
-to act without unnecessary help or interruption
-to work and to concentrate
-to act within limits that are determined by the environment and the group
-to construct one’s own potential by one’s own efforts
During snack today we talked about what each of those meant and how to apply it. I think we all really needed it. We decided that after meals the kids would be responsible for washing their dish and their cup. We talked about not interrupted people while they were working and how to address it if they were interrupted. We talked about "one's own potential" and putting forth "effort" in their day.
It's not worthwhile if you don't have a conversation about expectations so don't be afraid too! How often do I make a choice that affects all of us that they had no idea was coming???
Right now I hear the happy sounds of a boy washing his dish after waiting quite some time for his turn.... I think we can do this... we'll keep trying at least.