Which young child would not want to clean a window? Water and a “squeegee” – how much more fun could there be? The gathering of needed materials, the laying out of necessary equipment, the careful spraying of the area to be cleaned and the removal of the water…and all the dirt! Careful not to leave streaks – attention to the “lines” in between each swipe and the glorious noise of the tap - Leaving things in readiness for the next person – can only create an atmosphere of pride and satisfaction. The promotion of the “readiness of the environment” and worthwhile activities, real jobs with purpose, are the core of Montessori’s century old approach to sound, well rounded education.
Working with the materials to clean a window.
The joy and quiet excitement of every rice grain being transferred from one jug to the other. The Practical Life materials offer a chance for self satisfying accomplishments. The simple exercises of transferring pasta or beans between jugs or containers allows me a great sense of confidence when I am ready to pour coloured water between vessels. Think of the self confidence component. Usually, as adults, we steer children clear of water that can spill and need cleaning up. Here, almost unbelievably, adults are encouraging me to pour! All by myself! Over and over again to my heart’s content! And…I can even do it again tomorrow – getting better and better at it every time.
The pouring exercises both dry and wet, while once again allowing encouragement of a typically adult activity, encourage finger strength, dexterity, left to right reinforcement, organizational skills and the always important tidy preparation of the tray for the friend who will have the next turn.
As I glanced into the classroom the other day – I was once again grateful to see that my belief in Montessori and my dedication to the method was being once again, reinforced.
A young lady at the ripe age of 22 months sat at a table, in front of her mat, with an absorbed concentration that was wonderful to share. I watched as she put her scissors down, looked around, got up and walked over to the shelf and helped herself to an orange strip of paper. Moving back to the table she centred her strip over her container and oh so carefully and meticulously cut her strip into tiny snips. She glanced up, saw me looking, smiled and went back to her task. Montessori at it’s finest.
Here is an excellent example where you can observe the concentration, dexterity and hand control required to carefully cut the strips.