Playing Favorites in the Montessori Environment

We might not admit it, but it’s true- we teachers have our favorites- be it a child or something in the environment that speaks to us directly.

Yes, a child often touches our soul in a special way over the years and long after she may have graduated from our school.  And yes- I have a favorite Montessori material that I can’t help getting my own hands on.  One  I wish I had access to during my early childhood experiences.

One of my teacher trainers, Pat Pope, recognized the special bond Montessori Guides may form with a child or work in her environment.  While these feelings may exist, while in the classroom Pat advised “checking it” at the door and focus on the unique gifts and beauty of each child and material comprising the environment.  How would you know if you were getting it right?  I remember Pat saying, “The child should feel safe emotionally and respected by the guide at all times.  You should remember something special that he did during the week and share it with the parent.  When getting together one mom might say to another, ‘You know Sue is Ms. Nicole’s favorite.’ while the other will remark, ‘That can’t be for it’s certainly Mark.’  With the materials, Guides should visit each throughout the week working with the material yourself, deepening your own understanding and appreciation for the genius of Dr. Montessori’s understanding of connecting the environment with the child’s sensitive periods of learning.”

I often share Pat Pope’s words with our faculty members and issue a challenge of sorts.  While not allowing them to advise me of their favorite child or material, I’ll make a guess.  While they have yet to inform me of their favorites- I’ll tell you one of mine.

The Montessori chains.

I stand at wonder that Dr. Maria Montessori conceived that such a material is of importance to the Primary Aged child of 2.5 – 6 yours.  Really?  The square and cube of each number one through ten-  color coded and often memorized at completion of the Kindergarten year- a material that can be adapted to meet the needs of a child who has yet to recognize the symbolic representation for the numeral 5, while at the same time be absorbed seemingly without effort by some at the completion of the Kindergarten year.

Yes, I love the Montessori Bead Cabinet the most .  What a gift that some will avoid that tedious memorization at the dinner table of square and cube of 1 – 10.  But shhhh….. don’t tell anyone.

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