Many moons back, we had our oldest son, and for one year, our younger son enrolled in Montessori schools. When I began homeschooling, the first books I bought were the Teaching Montessori at Home books by Elizabeth Hainstock and Lee Davis. (There is one for preschool and another for grade school. I think I lent my preschool one to someone, but I have no idea who. If I lent it to you, could you let me know? Thanks 🙂 )
Anyhow, as I went through the preschool edition, I was struck by some of the activities. In particular, the ones involving pouring activities hit me as very odd. You see, in Montessori, they take the kids through a whole series of activities leading up to pouring water from a pitcher into a cup. First you pour beans into a bowl, then into a cup. Then you do it all with rice. Finally, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you are given a pitcher with water and allowed to pour water into a cup.
And I thought that this was rather odd – as were some of the other activities for reasons I figured I was just too uneducated (indoctrinated?) to really “get”. And then it hit me that these were generally activities that most 3 or 4 years olds would probably already know how to do. Which makes sense when you consider that Maria Montessori refined her ideas while working in ghettos in Rome with children who had (probably erroneously) been labeled retarded. So most of these kids probably were growing up in deprived environments where they were neither exposed to or given the opportunities to practice doing some basic, household and self-care tasks. And we’ve taken this method and are now using it with mostly affluent children (we were poor as used up dirt when we had our kids in Montessori, but most kids there weren’t). Hmmmm . . .
What brings this to mind is the fact that my 1 1/2 year old daughter Sophia is driving me nuts by practicing pouring liquids back and forth between cups, bottles, bowls or whatever else she can get her hands on. She’s getting pretty good at it, although I could have done without Kool aid and chicken broth being spilled in random places around the kitchen as she practiced. Of course, if I had been doing it right, she would have been given a lovely tray to contain her practices in and I would have made sure she passed the beans and rice stages before allowing her access to the left over drinks my family is prone to leaving around.
Then again, I bet properly trained Montessori children come from homes where only organic juices are served and Kool-aid is viewed as a methaphetamine for kids. Ah well.