Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Montessori Moment

One way that Elijah constantly expresses his "two-ness" these day is through wanting to do everything himself.  He buckles his high chair (before he gets in it - still working on that), takes off his own bib and is quite nimble with a spoon. 

The challenge, of course, is that although he may want to do everything himself, that doesn't mean he knows how to actually get it done.  One thing that I have found helpful in this area comes from a quote from Maria Montessori: “If talking don’t move, if moving don’t talk”.  I have tried to make a conscious effort lately to employ this bit of wisdom.   When I demonstrate to Elijah how to do something, I tell him first what I am going to do.  Then, when I am done with my short explanation, I show him what I mean.  I know that I have difficulty processing several modes of communication at a time, so I imagine that he might, too, and by separating speaking and then doing, I give him a chance to hear then see.  Even though this seems intuitive, I had never thought about teaching in quite this way before.

At first, separating the explanation from the demonstration felt awkward, but it is slowly becoming a habit, and I find that each day there are many small opportunities for us to practice this process.

Today, for example, I cut Elijah's orange into slices instead of peeling it, which I had never done before.  He looked at the orange for a few seconds, and I could see that he wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

So...I told him in words, "To eat an orange slice, you hold the peel and take a bite out of it.  You don't eat the peel.  When you are done, you set the peel to the side so you can throw it away." Then, without speaking, I showed him how to do it.  After that, he tried it himself.  He didn't get all of the orange the first few times, but the idea was there, and knowing his love of fruit, there will be many more opportunities to practice. 


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