I never knew what Montessori education was until I had my own children and started reading other people’s blogs about Montessori homeschooling. I must admit, I fell in love. I’m constantly amazed at what children aged 3-6 years old are learning in the Montessori environment without being drilled or expected to memorise useless facts. Montessori is all about teaching children to become independent. It is broken down into different areas of study: Practical, Sensorial, Language, Maths, Science, and Geography (Culture)
Newborn to age 5 is the most ‘absorbent’ time of a child’s life. They are learning constantly! Montessori education breaks things down into a three period lesson. For example, let’s say you want to teach them the concept of tall and short using the red rods.
Period 1: With slow deliberate movements and speech, you say: “This is the tall rod”. “This is the short rod”. Repeat if you feel you need to. This step is where he/she understands a new concept, object or idea.
Period 2: Ask the child, “Can you give me the tall rod?” “Can you give me the short rod?” If they can do this task with no problem, move on to Part 3. This step helps the child to understand the differences at a concrete level (or understanding through the senses).
Period 3: Point to the object and ask, “What is this?” This allows the child to understand the concept at an abstract level thus solidifying his/her knowledge. Go back to Part 2 if they child is struggling to grasp the concept.
It seems like a simple process but I am amazed at how little I do this with my girls! Even though they eventually learn new things, I have found that this process really accelerates learning (Which is why children as young as 3 are learning things like Botany and Division in Montessori schools, and it’s not because they are geniuses). Children want to learn as much as possible. With the right tools, parents can really help their children with difficult and abstract ideas.
Finally there is the period of complete development in which the capacity to perform some operation is permanently acquired. There are, therefore, three periods: a first, subconscious one, when in the confused mind of the child, order produces itself by a mysterious inner impulse from out the midst of disorder, producing as an external result a completed act, which, however, being outside the field of consciousness, cannot be reproduced at will; a second, conscious period, when there is some action on the part of the will which is present during the process of the development and establishing of the acts; and a third period when the will can direct and cause the acts, thus answering the command from someone else. (Dr. Maria Montessori)
Anyone can do three period lessons at home with their own children. I’m not an expert, nor have I been trained as a Montessori teacher, I just enjoy learning about it and sharing what I have learned.
How can I do the three period lesson in my classroom at school?
Part 1: Show the student an example of the new concept you would like them to learn i.e. similes. Repeat a few times to ensure understanding.
Part 2: Ask students to tell you what literary device a particular quote or sentence is displaying. Repeat as necessary. This is the concrete level of learning.
Part 3: Ask students to create their own simile thus using their prior knowledge to recreate an abstract thought.