Mars Medina-Montessori on Mars

Mars Medina-Montessori on Mars Follow

For some years, a Montessori teacher; for a while, a school owner. Now I'm a mother, forever. | #Montessori_On! See @montessori_on for more | MNL, PH

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This is Cara's #PreparedEnvironment in our kitchen. I could have easily cropped out that spilled milk on the floor and just write about how she enjoyed making a snack she has invented--sliced bananas with cream cheese and raisins on top (which you may have seen from my Instagram Stories before). But that wouldn't be the complete story, the better story. Because the mess is part of the child's experiments, experiences, and education; an essential part of the story. • Also part of this picture's story is that she decided to do this food prep (and corollary to that, the mess) just right after I was done with my own kitchen work--when all the dishes have already been washed and packed away and the floors have already been swept and mopped. Sure it could have been because of years and years of practice with patience and #followthechild, but it was also probably because of just sheer exhaustion that I just let her do her own work. Then, while I'm finishing the chores I was supposed to just leave for tomorrow, suddenly she's beside me; offering a plate of banana-cream cheese-raisin and a small glass of milk (also with raisins). She said sincerely, "I made this for you, Mom. Because I love you." Ah... the story I am now able to tell! Worth every tired and aching bone and every test of patience! There are so many benefits in setting up a prepared environment for the child in the kitchen. But for me today this is the most profound--the benefit of the child being able to express her love in a concrete, easily greatly appreciated way. Benefits both the working child and the weary parent. Sure there were more dishes and messes, but because of Montessori, they're seen a different way--and so because of Montessori I have a different story to tell. #ThankYouMariaMontessori. And we #Montessori_On. • Join me and our community this week over at @montessori_on where we'll be doing a little tribute to Maria Montessori whose birthday is on August 31 and sharing what is it about Montessori that we are thankful for. • I'm also joining @montessorifromtheheart's #tagfromtheheart project with @howwemontessori this week! Such a blossoming and passionate Montessori community we have!
As a #Montessori #homeschooler, I am often asked about our process. How do I know what lessons to show? Do I present? Leave the materials out for the child to discover and figure out herself? And while I have done several posts about how "the curriculum is the child"; about the genius of the Prepared Environment and how it provides opportunities for practice, repetition, mastery, and self-learning; about preparing ourselves as adults with humility and faith as Maria Montessori said; I always doubt if I am able to articulate enough that "magic" us adults get the privilege to witness when we really, truly follow Montessori i.e., "follow the child". Perhaps here we'd appreciate a little excerpt from Maria Montessori herself (from The Absorbent Mind)--"Ours was a house for children, rather than a real school. We had prepared a place for children where a diffused culture could be assimilated, without any need for direct instruction… Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five, and no one had given them any lessons. At that time it seemed miraculous that children of four and a half should be able to write, and that they should have learned without the feeling of having been taught. We puzzled over it for a long time. Only after repeated experiments did we conclude with certainty that ALL children are endowed with this capacity to ‘absorb’ culture. If this be true – we then argued – if culture can be acquired without effort, let us provide the children with other elements of culture. And then we saw them ‘absorb’ far more than reading and writing: botany, zoology, mathematics, geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously and without getting tired. And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child." To be continued in comments + explanation of what's happening in the video.
[Swipe to see other photos; numbers are the order of photos] • 1 - One day, Cara had an idea: She wanted to paint on the wall.
2 - For two days she worked on little else. She was so joyful and proud.
3 - This was just a few days after her third birthday. And she said she's naming this part of her painting "The Birthday Girl"--a self-portrait, with arms outstretched for a hug.
4 - Then she said she wanted to write her name, to sign her work. Four letters of her name she wrote (copying the sequence from a name puzzle we have)--first an inverted c which she spotted and wrote again; an a; a r; an a. Cara. She wrote her name. For the first time! We don't do writing drills, we don't have writing worksheets, she is never asked to write anything (we only have the sandpaper letters and a tracing tray with salt ready for her to explore the shapes of the letters when she gravitates towards that work); and yet the absorbent mind is working, the horme is undeniable, her inner teacher is scrupulous--she knows the exact work she is ready for at the exact time. "The Secret of Childhood". Oh, if we adults prepare ourselves (two things we need to work on: the "prepared environment" and the "prepared adult")--prepare ourselves with humility and trust--how much of this secret will we truly be able to understand, experience--how much of it's wonder will we be able to grasp and hold dear.
5 - A five-minute work. I was listening to her. She was trying to remember the letters of her name as she sounds it out. Though here you see that the sequence of the letters are a little mixed up (because she put the last a in front of the c and she was writing the letters from memory--and you can tell her focus then was figuring out the letter sounds she was hearing in her name); nonetheless, "C... a... r... a..." She sounded each phoneme out and made her name. • Trust the child.

#trustthechild #montessori #montessorionmars #montessorichild #montessorikid #montessoritoddler #montessoriathome #montessorihome #montessorihomeschool #homeschool #painting #art #watercolor #writing #name #language #childart #wallart #wall
"Painting a present for Addy. A present for Addy," Cara sings as we painted these cards for baby cousin.

#montessori #montessorionmars #montessorikid #montessorichild #montessoritoddler #montessorifromthestart #montessorinewborn #montessoribaby #montessoriinfant #montessorigift #gift #blackandwhitecards #painting #art
With daily objects, topics opened up by books, countless conversations; experiences of language and opportunities for "lessons" are everywhere in the house. But we do have niches and corners for language materials--all just thoughtfully responding to a previously observed need or sensitive period and pleasantly inviting and patiently waiting for the child to "conduct his own experiences" since Maria Montessori said, "The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." (Descriptions of photos in comments) • For those new, but determined to do Montessori, I invite and encourage you to prepare your child's environment and curate the stimuli at home--they all contribute to his experiences and memory and personality. "The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul." In Konmari they tell you to take every piece of clothing/item you own and ask "does it spark joy"--maybe for Montessori, start by asking what message is this space/material communicating to my child"--is it telling my child that you are valued here, you are trusted and encouraged to explore, you are capable. Next post will be about our process (I'm being asked a lot)--an example of how I spot the child's readiness for the material (in particular for the next post, letter sounds) and how I respond to that. For the meantime, do check comments section here for more about each photo. #montessori #montessorionmars #montessorihome #montessoriathome #montessorihomeschool #montessorimaterials #homeschool #homeschooling #language #phonics #montessorienvironment #preparedenvironment
In a London Training Course, Maria Montessori, talking about observation and cautioning against "boredom or tiredness of observing" and encouraging us to observe patiently said, "We have to be prepared to observe phenomena which are not obviously interesting." Like maybe seemingly random doodling. She goes on to say, "Otherwise, what would happen to those observers, who are waiting, let us say, for an egg to hatch? Or who wait for a physiological phenomenon, not knowing exactly when it will take place?" And oh what "physiological phenomenon", what natural work took place on its own and my patient waiting and observing was treated to witness here! Swipe to see. • 2nd frame. She was pretending to write the name of one of her aunts. "Maryka. Maryka. Maryka." Over and over she was saying her name and pretending to write it until she realized, you'll see in the very beginning of the video, that the ending syllable of Maryka is the same beginning sound of her name, Cara. So she'll start exploring her name--"Ca... ra..., Ca... ra," she'll say again and again. Until she started isolating phonemes more--"Ca... rrr..., Ca... rrr..." And then this--"Ca... rrr... and aaa. Ca... rrr... and aaa." Isolated the phonemes/sounds in her name on her own (and that's the reason why we chose a phonetic  name😀)! • 3rd slide. And amidst these seemingly random doodles, she tries to make /c/, and in this video you'll see her make /l/ for Lucia and /i/ for Ia--two of her cousins; she sometimes pretends those are her names. • Had I sat her down with lessons and presentations on these--drill her on how to isolate phonemes or give her worksheets to write the letters--I would have robbed her of these own discoveries! And myself of witnessing and enjoying these "physiological phenomenon", these natural work of the child. Oh, the child's inner drive! What a journey (and sometimes I imagine myself on a scenic road trip) it is to just let her take the lead, to let her steer and navigate and explore the path, and to sit back patiently, enjoying the ride and view. #montessori #montessorionmars #montessoriphilosophy #sensitiveperiod #sensitiveperiodforlanguage #horme #montessorichild #latepost
This week's theme for our community project to #Montessori_On is Cleaning Up & Packing Away. The past weeks, we've been seeing (see the hashtag) Independence and Water Source, Independence in the Kitchen and Dining; and while all the inputs have been inspiring, I know it can also be intimidating--particularly when we didn't see and realize all the practice and patience that was put in, the shift in perspective and the managing of expectations, all the modeling and all the mess! Oh the mess. But cleaning up and packing away is a valuable part of the work! And this week, we'll look at the mess (the acceptance of reality) and the clean up (the attempts for solutions) over at @montessori_on (follow the account and use the hashtag). • I was just thinking about what my contribution would be when our almost 3-year-old suddenly, her own idea, all on her own, did something one afternoon that I thought was so in line with this week's theme! Part of our work at home is maintaining the #garden. Pulling weeds and picking rocks--with our hands--then putting them in bins--a #practicallife hand transfer activity! But one afternoon, Cara invented her own activity--here you see her using a tong to get rocks, collect them in a smaller bin, then later on pour them into a bigger bin. Tong transfer + pouring work; fine + gross motor! She was at this, concentrated, for more than half an hour (side note how organically, through work, Montessori allows for the child's concentration)! • So Montessori On, despite maybe feeling that a Prepared Environment can be daunting--Montessori On, keep on doing Montessori remembering that the child is your clue for you to know what would go into your environment, and that the child is capable for its care. #montessori #montessorihomeschool #montessorihomeschooling #communityproject #montessorians #montessorikid #montessorichild
Do you know how she liked practicing her flower girl walk? By choosing which sandpaper letter she would pretend was her basket of flowers--the beginning sound of flower or the beginning sound of girl--then she'd fetch and use /f/ or /g/ depending on her choice. #WeAreMontessoriNerds • And you know what convinced her to really walk this afternoon? When we were telling her that she is the first flower girl who'll walk so all the others behind her will have to follow her example. It's her role, her responsibility, her job, her work. #MontessoriKid #MontessoriChild #flowergirl #wedding #JoJoFab
Today's post is special because it is NOT a message from me, but a message our almost-3-year-old said she wanted to tell people (she really said, "I can tell this to the people"). • Earlier today, over afternoon snacks, we were talking about the endangered animals in the Philippines because she requested to see the 2016 calendar from @healthyoptionsph I was keeping in our storage (you can temporarily see it in my Instagram Stories). I told her that many animals become endangered because some people kill them for body parts and some destroy their homes--not respecting them and their spaces and their work. To this Cara said, "I can tell this to the people... We can not cut the trees. So the animals not not will damage. We need to take care their homes." Her own idea and own message. Oh my love, I hope you will always feel empowered that your words and your work can move people and effect change; enthusiastically, tirelessly engage in the causes you will speak up for; and be a good, kind example. • "Children are born mindful and with wisdom we can keep this skill alive: Montessori is wonderful in this way." - The Dalai Lama #montessori #montessorikid #montessorichild #cosmiceducation #cosmictask #montessorihomeschooling #montessorihomeschool
She was pretending to read a #letter she wrote for me. "Thanks I'm born. I love you, Mom," she kept on saying even before I thought to take a video. "Thanks, Mommy, for food. Thanks to food for me. Thanks to Mommy for me food." Then she ends the letter saying, "I know you are my friend." • If I was going to dissect this video, break it down and analyze it, I can write about the wonder of a child's thought process (how did she come up with "thanks I'm born"--how did she arrive at saying thanks for being born--that being born is something she's thankful for, for one--and I know she couldn't have gotten it from anywhere). I could write about her auto-education, her self-correcting and experimentation--exploring the prepositions on those "thanks for food for me" sentences. Or write about how I share Maria Montessori's fascination for language and the child's work with it ("I know you are my friend"--a precious sentence she has put together all on her own). Or her sensitivity--did she "write" me this letter this particular night because she saw I must be particularly tired and broken. So much I can write about from a 36-second video of our almost 36-month-old--dissecting it, breaking it down. But all I really want to say is--regardless of college philosophy 101 and its discourse on personal identity--Cara makes me whole. #montessorionmars
How do we know that the child is in the sensitive period, naturally ready for something? 1. Choice (their inner drive, Maria Montessori called it the "horme", will steer them, pull them towards the material or the activity) | 2. Concentration (look and length may vary from child to child, but you'll see them focus on the work) | 3. Repetition (oh how they will do it again and again, for their own fulfillment and towards their own mastery--you won't even need to plan a curriculum--just prepare an environment that allows for choice and repetition) | 4. Joy ("One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." - Maria Montessori) | 5. Success (because they are in the sensitive period for the activity, naturally and precisely ready for it, they will be successful at it--working on it by themselves with us as observers and guides) | And this. 6. The child greeting the material like a treasured friend. "Hi /g/. Hi /f/. Hi," our then 33-month-old said (she was saying the same to more letter sounds before I thought to take a video). #montessori #montessorichild #montessorikid #montessoritoddler #montessorihomeschooling #montessorihomeschool #montessorihome #montessoriathome #preparedenvironment #language #sandpaperletters
She's now almost 3 (in August), but I have never really asked her to obey me. Not once. I do ask for her--and also necessarily offer her my--cooperation. Meaning we have a goal/work (getting ready to go out, cleaning, etc) and we both have to contribute, to be involved, to do our parts to achieve that goal, to accomplish the work. And every time we have a task, whenever I need her cooperation; I articulate it that way--what her role is and what mine is. Or let her choose: We need to do such and such. Which part would you like to do--this or that? Hopefully giving her a mindset where she finds her possible contribution, her unique role, her cosmic task in her home, community, world, universe--instead of maybe a picture of her being the only one having to comply with whatever I say. And here you see her articulate our cooperation in the kitchen. "You're the giver and then I'm the cooker." I give her the ingredients in containers for now (so she can put them in in order and at the right time--though increasingly I'm also showing her how to check for signs when something is ready like when garlic is brown for example), she sautés and cooks--so just as she said here, I'm the "giver" and she's the "cooker" (her words 😊). Cooperation and contribution. • Also a guide for me to help me figure out how to handle myself when we have scenarios like the previous two nights--when we've been having issues with cooperating with each other during teeth brushing (she has a turn and then I take a turn brushing her teeth). The first time I thought she's just sleepy; but still, sometimes when you just want to finish this last task you have to do before books and finally bed, it's a challenge to rein in the "listen to me, obey me, I'm only trying to take care of you"--instead of communicating "I hear you. Let's find a way for us to co-operate, do our work. You are capable of participating in your care". The next night I remembered--it's a signal that she's needing more involvement, more participation. So excited was she when I asked if she wanted to do the part of making sure I brush every single tooth, checking on the mirror to be sure. Now she's the "checker", she said.