Letting Go and Moving On
It seems that I have been thinking a lot about the materials that make up a huge part of the Montessori way of educating. They seem to quickly becoming less and less necessary and I have say that makes me a little sad. Plus a little unsure if I did it all right. Since we didn’t use all the materials, I am afraid that I missed something really important. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bunny is doing really good and understands everything in her math work. But she didn’t do the memorization sequances because they bore her horribly. She began to hate math and that is what I didn’t want to happen. So I switched to doing what she thought was fun and that was worksheets. So we went with that. She would rather use her hands and head to work things out and I think that the memorization will come with time. However, it means that all those materials I bought are now sitting on a shelf and have been replaced with an $18 workbook. We do use them, just not often. Pup…well she is DONE with so much of the 3-6 sensorial and practical life work that it worries me a bit! After all she is only four! I managed to get her interested in the knobless cylinders, but it is forced and not something is wanting to do. So I ask again, when is letting go of materials good and when is it too soon? After what is the goal of the materials? The goal is to get the child to a place where they can know the information and apply it on their own without the materials! So if Bunny is applying her math skills without the beads and boards, then that is ok. She is learning, abstracting and understanding math. Pup is pouring her own water, sweeping the floor, and easily grading and sorting things. So maybe its time that I let go. Some materials are needed long term and some,…..well some just aren’t needed any more. I think that we are there. They are growing, changing, and so should I. Nothing stays the same and if the materials accomplished their work, then its time to make way for new learning opportunities! Plus, if we missed something I can always grab then back out right? 😉 What do you think? Weigh in! I would love to hear how you handle this issue of moving forward and maybe what you do when the materials aren’t working! Happy Schooling!
Amy @ No Greater Honors
September 24, 2013 @ 3:24 am
oooh oooh – I have no advice, but definitely want to hear others thoughts as well! In my situation, with some of mind being so much older, do I try to use materials that they missed to teach some things that they have learned a little with abstraction, or just lead straight in to abstraction, and at what pace? When you have an 8 year old that would, ideally, be in his third year of lower elementary, but lost time with some things, and spent a year tagging along while I changed everything to a new way of thinking and working – wow, when is it time to stop??? This is what I would like to know! I am so glad you posted this, because I look forward to everyone’s thoughts on this as well! And how do you continue to implement a Montessori method to encourage a love of learning, long after materials are put up or sold for good?
September 26, 2013 @ 1:10 am
I think it really depends on how your kiddo learns! I know that there are so many of the Montessori sequences that are really helpful, even when you are older. But sometimes it is just too hard or boring for them. It really is a tricky and interesting to see what the right path it! Good Luck Amy!
September 24, 2013 @ 3:55 am
I think we as moms sometimes get hung up on a method. We fear we’re not doing the best for our kids. But the truth is there is no right method! It’s all about observing your kids and choosing to use what works for them. That’s true Montessori right there. If Bunny would rather do a workbook and you are following her lead, isn’t that Montessori? Aren’t there brilliant people out there who never did Montessori? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Montessori materials and the Montessori method, and I used it for the preschool years for Bear. J-jo enjoyed some of the sensorial materials, but he used them from before he was 2 so by 3, he was done and wanted nothing more to do with them, so I sold them. I guess I am trying to say, don’t beat yourself up and don’t feel guilty if Montessori (certain aspects of it) don’t work for you anymore. I felt incredibly guilty about leaving Montessori behind and selling our beautiful sensorial material, but it no longer suited either of my children. I had to spend many months giving myself permission to let Montessori go. For what it’s worth, they prefer to memorize via card games, not the Montessori sequences. I’ll have to do a post about those games. Bear, like Bunny, does not like to use manipulatives for math. She insists on doing everything in her head. Singapore Math and Rightstart taught her amazing mental math skills and she can add and subtract in her head large numbers that I can not do without pen and paper.
September 26, 2013 @ 12:58 am
I think that I am right where you were. Pup is older and ready to be done with a lot of materials and Bunny really is not going to use materials for her math. It is so hard to let go of something that has been a big part of our lives, but if I don’t I am afraid that will be worse! Plus I really am following the child, and that is the main point of Montessori! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
September 27, 2013 @ 3:59 am
When it comes to the materials – yep, let ’em go when they become a crutch and no longer an aid.
The elementary children are moving away from the materials anyway 😉
So many people who use Montessori for preschool and maybe for kindergarten instinctively say “it’s not for my elementary child” – because they can see that the prevalent “vision” of Montessori (all those beautiful sensorial materials, epl on trays, etc.) isn’t appropriate for the elementary child.
So it’s an adjustment for us adults into what elementary Montessori looks like – and then to emotionally allow our children to go there… I am speaking for ME right now – My son just hit upper elementary and, well, I’m just NOT ready for him to be this old! Sure I have the materials, the know-how, and he’s just soaring right along, but this is my little man! He’s not so little these days 😉 We can do so much without materials – it’s just presenting further keys now.
BUT, with that said, my lower elementary co-op children LOVE “challenges” I created with the sensorial materials. They didn’t use them long-term, but they did get their hands on them and perfected at least some of the skills the sensorial materials are meant to do achieve. As a challenge and not something the littler ones were allowed to do, it definitely kept their interest. (of course I have also seen many sensorial albums/presentations that DO stop at age 3 – but my primary sensorial album has activities for all the sensorial materials that go from ages 2-5 – all the games, extensions, follow-ups, etc.)
I’ll admit – that co-op is my excuse not to let go of the materials 😉 I get to use them some more! 😉
September 29, 2013 @ 11:29 pm
I totally understand what you mean about using materials other places! My Atrium us a great place to keep making practical life work for kids even though my girls are past wanted to do trays! lol. I did work on some extensions with sensorial materials for Pup, and she seemed to enjoy it. I even found some that Bunny may like to do! However, I think that you are right about the materials not being needed anymore as much, and there is lot that can be done following the method! Thanks for stopping!