1. Movement & Cognition
Movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning.
Sir Ken Robinson did a TED Talk on Schools Killing Creativity. He told the story of Gillian Lynne, a school girl whose parents were told she may have a learning disorder because she was fidgety and couldn’t concentrate. They sent her to a specialist. She restlessly sat on her hands while the doctor and her mother spoke of the problems Gillian had at school.
Eventually, the doctor said he needed to speak to the mother privately, he and Gillian’s mother left the room. As he was leaving, he turned on the radio that sat on his desk, when they left the room he said to her mother, “Just stand here and watch her.”
The minute the doctor and mother left the room, Gillian recalls coming to her feet and moving to the music. The adults watched her for a few minutes from outside the room.
The doctor turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer.”
Gillian Lynne went on to study dance and eventually become a world famous choreographer, her work included the productions of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. (Thank goodness for that doctor.)
Humans need movement, each in their own way.
Learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives.
- Make a list of work assignments for the day and have them create their own schedule.
- Keep a basket in the refrigerator of healthy snacks for them to choose from.
- Create a basket of pre-selected (high quality) books for them to choose from.
People learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.
- Fill a basket with oversized, ‘coffee table’ books from the library. These tend to be filled with beautiful, inspiring photography that will spark conversation and interest.
- Create a lapbook or unit study around a favorite hobby, period in history, musician, author or animal of your child’s choosing.
- Love letter writing? Create a letter writing station or box for kids to help themselves. Be sure to include everything needed: stationary, pens, stamps, address book, (laminated) copy of a properly written letter.
4. Extrinsic rewards are avoided
Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like money for reading or high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn.
- This challenges normal practice for many of us. I don’t feel inclined to hand out money or treats for every job well done – but there is a pass/fail, win/lose mentality in our culture, and the older a child gets, the more they become aware of that. To be honest, I’m working on this one.
5. Learning from & with peers
Collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning.
- Host a knitting group in your home
- Meet at a funky cafe for a weekly study group
- Form a young writers or poetry group
- Seek out a homeschool debate team
- Into film making? Gather with friends to make a short film.
6. Learning in context
Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts.
- Make homemade yogurt rather than talk about how their favorite yogurt is made.
- Learn about flora and fauna with field guides in hand and an afternoon trek through the woods.
- Take a morning trip to the grocery store with a budget and menu plan.
- Play with science by making homemade lip balm, soap, or natural remedies.
- Keep chickens or bees!
7. Teacher ways & child ways
Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes.
- Have Week In Review meetings with your kids, individually if possible .
- Children can partner with you on designing a garden, rearranging furniture (design), or reviewing curriculum choices for the coming year.
- Collaborate on literature list for next year.
- Have them recommend a few titles of books they love for you to read. (Does not matter the age of the child or if you wind up reading Jack & the Beanstalk – they will appreciate you honoring their judgment.)
8. Order in environment & mind
Order in the environment is beneficial to children.
- Maintain an art shelf with easy to access projects that rotate from week to week.
- Keep your learning environment clear of clutter.
- Adopt “10 Minute Tidy” period at the end of the day.
- Some families find workboxes to be helpful.
These principles can provide a helpful map to those in need, or simply a source of inspiration.
In the Primary classroom, we have started our Community Helpers unit! We have been talking about and reading about different helpers in our community and what they do to contribute. We have already had Eva’s mom volunteer to come in and talk to the children about being a nurse. If any of you are in a “Community Helper” role, please let us know if you’d like to come in and talk to the kids! (Police, firefighter, garbage collector, vet, doctor, construction worker, paramedic, etc.)
We also have been wrapping up our apple lessons. We also got to try several different apples (provided by Autumn Bruner, Linden’s mom–thank you!) and talk about the different tastes and textures. I even learned that I really like cripps pink apples! I had no idea!
Lastly, I hope those of you who have never attended a “Montessori in the Home” night in the past, I hope you can join us on the 18th at 6:00! For new families, it is usually a very helpful and eye opening experience as to what you can do in the home for your own child to build their independence, concentration and confidence!