Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Window washing, Montessori-style
As Elijah continues to grow out of babyhood and into preschooler land, I have found myself reflecting more on the best way to for us to spend our days. As I have looked into different philosophies of education, one that seems to fit with my own ideas is the Montessori Method.
(A disclaimer: my own experience with Montessori education has thus far been purely second-hand, through reading and talking with others. I am not a Montessori teacher, and make no guarantees that I am doing things the "right" way. For that matter, I make no such guarantees about my parenting. Moving on...)
Since I don't have a lot personal experience with Montessori education, but I find it intriguing, I started by reading Moneessori at Home!, recommended on this blog. I found this book to be full of great information...so much, in fact, that I had to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed. I decided to focus on Practical Life activities as a start. Elijah loves helping me around the house, from "washing" the dishes to putting the laundry in the dryer to sweeping, so it seemed like the right place to start.
One important point in Montessori seems to be that children need to be given real tools to work with, whether they are cooking, writing or cleaning. With this in mind, I found a small spray bottle and some rags, filled the bottle with a vinegar and water solution, and showed Elijah how to spray the bottle once or twice on a surface you want to clean, then wipe the water away with the rag. The front storm door seemed like a good place to start, as it is always kind of smudgy, plus he can watch cars go by as he cleans.
Perhaps it is just my inexperience with Montessori, but there were a few things about this whole experience that really impressed me. First, I was surprised at Elijah's ingenuity. When he first tried to the activity, he couldn't use the spray bottle himself because he was trying to operate it with one hand, as I had showed him. For the first few times that we did the activity, I sprayed the water and he wiped it off. Yesterday, though, he tried the activity again, and, using two hands, he was able to work the spray bottle himself. (This caused much delight on both our parts.)
Secondly, I have been struck by how much Elijah loves doing this. Now that he has gotten the hang of the spray bottle, he will spray and wipe, spray and wipe, for 20 minutes at a time. He moved from the storm door to the regular door, and then wanted to clean the wall. He even recruited his stuffed puppy as an assistant.
What can I say? My life is full of goodness.