Montessori cosmic education teaches children about the interconnectedness of all living things. In the first plane (0-6) this is experienced with sensory learning and connecting with nature. Sensorial experiences are also incorporated in the classroom to deepen the understanding of our planet.
Once the child is introduced to cosmic nesting boxes and sandpaper globe, we begin our study of the planet Earth. These topics are introduced in the form of Unit Study in the classroom. Not all unit studies will interest all children, so it really depends how deep you delve in the unit study topic based on your child’s interests.
Cosmic education starts with macro (whole) and moves toward micro (parts) of the Earth. The lessons in early childhood (3-6) includes: Land, Air, Water Sorting, Sandpaper Globe, Montessori Puzzle Maps, Study of Planet Earth, Botany, Science, Geography, Geology, History, and more.
In our Monti-Story Box, we decided to look at the layers of the Earth. The book we chose for this box, represented illustrations of planets to as accurate as possible and the activities are simple but purposeful. There are 5 activities pertaining each curriculum of Montessori classroom and 1 art activity based on the artist study of the box.
Transfer with tong activities prepare hands for writing. It promotes and strengthens tripod grasp. This activity builds concentration and allows repetition. With repetition comes normalization.
One to one correspondence with ten frames. Ten frames are a great graphic tool to teach children place value. This graphic organizer can also be used for simple addition and subtraction activity
Always pick a book with realistic illustrations for younger children
“Pointillism, also called divisionism in painting, the practice of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”
Impressionistic lesson of Layers of the Earth. We used avocado pit for inner core, ketchup for outer core, gravel for mantle, and apple skin for crust
This box also comes with sensorial activity, paint, parts of Earth layers three-part cards, digital downloadable instructions. All of this you can get for only $50 in our Etsy Shop
Lately, on social media I am seeing a trend, almost a push to make toddlers into these mini adults. While I do believe toddlers are extremely capable and can do a lot of things, but this perceived independence associated with Montessori is really a misconception of independence. There are things toddlers are learning to do in the area of self-care, which is a very big sensitive period; however, these tasks aren’t mastered in this stage, nor it should be forced as a level of mastery. That is developmentally not appropriate.
Toddlers are more in a stage of collaboration versus independence. We collaborate so they can learn the skills that they will need to be independent.
Independence is a big mistaken goal of an adult. In United States, there is this push to make children independent early on. My favorite one is that they should be able to sleep in their own crib by themselves. From early on, we force independence. It isn’t an independence that comes naturally without healthy connection. That’s a forced goal by adults who are terribly misguided by social media and false advetisement.
Brain does, what?
A child’s most important and basic need is a need for SAFETY. They feel safe when they are closer to their primary caregiver. In the first stage of child’s life, a child is completely dependent on us for food, love, warmth, safety, cleanliness. When these basic needs are met, child develops TRUST. Child’s need for safety is so much greater at this stage that we are still researching and learning the full effects on brain when these needs are not met. Studies have confirmed that when infants and children need for safety and love goes unmet, they produce a stress hormone called cortisol. ” Children who are continuously exposed to traumatic and stressful situations, which is if they are left alone to cry for longer period of time, or when their emotional and attachment needs go unmet, they develop a hyper-reactive stress response. This destroys the developing brain’s architecture and has harmful effects on a child’s ability to learn.”
Yet, we push for sleeping independently and playing independently. Why? What exactly are we afraid of? That our children will be too attached to us!
Is independence in toddlerhood a realistic goal?
A simple search on Google on this topic gives us all the tools, tips, and strategies to make our toddlers independent. However, none talks about the connection. I wonder when or why this push for independence in the mainstream became so big.
When our children are infants, we are in tuned with their need for connection but suddenly when that same infant begins to talk and walk, we begin to think they should be doing more. They should be cooking breakfast, eating independently, playing alone by themselves, putting their shoes on, clothes, giving themselves a bath etc. We start the process of making them adults. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be doing all those things when they are ready or that we shouldn’t introduce those care of self-care lessons; I am saying that it shouldn’t be a goal. It should be a natural process that simply happens because of prepared environment not from the frenzy of an adult deciding that today my child will put his socks on by himself and will achieve the mastery in a week.
In toddlerhood, children are beginning to gain a LITTLE independence. And I want to emphasize on this word, little. In this stage, when child’s basic need of connection is met, he will exert independence and will. Doing this with a healthy connection will develop healthy autonomy in our children.
So, if your toddler isn’t ready to be independent yet that’s okay, they are fulfilling their strongest human need, a need for connection. Let them be a little closer to you now so they can develop a healthy independence.
Thanksgiving is turned into a day of gratitude. A mere symbol to be grateful for bountiful food, football, Black Friday shopping, and really celebrating the excess. However, nobody remembers or even thinks that when Pilgrims reached this New World in the Mayflower, it was followed by the annihilation of the Native Americans. They were slaughtered because they were different. Their way of living, their religion, their skin color, their language were different from the Pilgrims, so they felt like a threat. Apparently, being different is a crime.
Are we so different now?
Come to think of it, we are not so different even now. The death of Black Americans, Muslims, Asian Americans, the deportation of Hispanics, and keeping them away from their children doesn’t weigh on any of us as long as we are sleeping comfortably in our beds knowing our children are safely tucked in their beds. We do not care about these issues or sometimes we care but we don’t do anything about it. But, those are still major issues and sometimes require a different kind of courage and resources to stand up. However, we don’t do anything about the micro-segregation that most of us have faced in our society. We accept it sheepishly because we think speaking up will be too much effort.
Segregation in Montessori is as real as the air we breathe….
What about the segregation we often encounter in our Montessori world? It is sad to say but it is the truth that the Montessori world is a highly segregated world. The idea that it is for rich white people isn’t wrong. That stereotype is very true and not just in private Montessori schools but also the so-called charter Montessori schools. Shouldn’t Charter schools accept everyone?
Is this even developmentally appropriate?
Recently, we had an interview in a local Montessori school for my 2-year-old. First of all, the whole idea of a 2-year-old interview seems preposterous. My son was invited for an Open House which is basically vetting out the process of anybody that doesn’t fit their “Montessori Box”. He was invited along with 6 other children and they were asked to go to the classroom all by themselves with a brand new person (a teacher, an assessor). Everything about this process is developmentally and humanely wrong! A toddler is not equipped to be separated from their primary caregiver and judging them on how well they will separate from parents isn’t a realistic expectation.
My son passed this test but at the cost of what, I wonder. How much harm did I do? How did he feel? Did he feel that I abandoned him? His fears seem so real and I couldn’t help to think that something in our mother-son connection was broken that day. The shame and guilt that followed were so big for me to recover from. I felt helpless because if he doesn’t go through this process then he may not get in and our financial conditions require me to go back to work. The schools that prey on parents’ fears like this are NOT Montessori in my opinion.
He was invited to a second interview, this time in the full functioning classroom with students. The teacher didn’t come out of the classroom to greet my child or make him feel comfortable one on one. We walked into the classroom and my son totally freaked out to see all the children and this time a brand new teacher, not the teacher who he was with the first time. The trauma he felt was so visible on his face. He was anxious and wanted to get out and at this moment he wanted to be with his safe person, which wasn’t me. He wanted to be with his dad because he identified me as the person who dropped him in this strange place before.
It broke my heart and I don’t think I will be able to gain my child’s trust the same way again. My husband and I were interviewed and the series of questionnaires felt like a big vetting process. I was asked if I had any complications during pregnancy or if our family had any mental disorders, if my son was ever told to be diagnosed for special needs, if he needs speech therapy, and the list goes on.
The idea is to segregate any neurodiversity. Neurodiverse children are not welcomed. Everybody should fall into the category of their “normal”. Needless, to say that this particular Montessori school is 98% White population even though they claim to be a “Charter” school. There are other charter schools in the area but when it comes to diversity of any kind they are all the same more or less.
Nobody talks about desegregation in schools
How many times do you open Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest do you hear about segregation in Montessori? None, of the influencers or content creators, talk about the topics that really matter. What do we focus on, wooden toys, prepared home, things that we can just buy with a swipe of a credit card. And lately, there has been a trend of talking about “Risky Play” and once again completely ignoring neurodiversity. Not all children are into risky play and continuous posts about showing off toddlers rock climbing or independently doing things that may not be developmentally appropriate for all, leave parents feeling inadequate in themselves.
Segregation is happening everywhere and all the time. From the smallest world of Montessori in social media to Montessori schools.
We must speak up and start small. We must start with our Montessori world and stand up to schools that are practicing these unethical ways of choosing students. Only then we can honor Dr. Montessori’s work and bring the change. We must believe in our hearts, “All are Welcome, Loved, and Respected.” Honestly, the whole idea of “Normal” when it comes to children seems highly “Abnormal”.
“November is a month in which nature prepares to numb”. This month reminds us to be more grateful for all the wonderful blessings in our lives, to slow down and enjoy simple things in life, to give more, and to be more present. We all have something to be grateful for and when we shift our mindset from what is lacking to what is already here, we manifest more joy in our everyday life.
One of the most important things we do every night with our son is to practice gratitude. Before we go to sleep, we count all the things we are grateful for, which for my toddler means he is grateful for his quails, his trucks, and the little blankie that he sleeps with. However, that is not the point but the point is to really appreciate little things in our lives by being more grateful than complaining.
November is also my favorite month to do some fun shelf work. Some of the Montessori activities that we are doing this month are simple nature-based activities. Here are a few ideas from this year and the previous years for you to try at home.
Sensorial Color Matching
Practical Life Acorn Spoon Transfer
Math: Roll the die and match the number of leaves on a tree
Did you know that our body responds faster to our basic emotions than our thoughts? The next time your toddler throws himself on the floor with an emotional meltdown, watch which emotions triggered that behavior. Emotions can move us to react quickly. When our children are feeling scared, tired, hungry, sad, or overwhelmed, they often express that in form of tears, meltdown, or asking us for extra love. Children do not know how to express what they are feeling and often do not know what they are feeling. More so, it is a cry for connection. It is a way our children is telling us to be PRESENT.
Toddlers are learning to self-regulate their emotions but before they can do that, they need us to help them co-regulate those emotions. “Feelings and emotions begin deep inside our brain.” They can affect our body in many ways that we are not even aware of. For toddlers, these emotions can be scary. Think about it, they’ve only been here since only few years and experiencing those emotions for the first time can be such an overwhelming experience.
Social Emotional Development is often neglected component in early childhood education; however, it is the most important skills for our children to learn. We cannot expect our children to be never angry, what we can do is teach them how to cope up with those emotions in a healthy positive way.
This process begins with us. We need to assist our children by co-regulating their emotions. Follow the steps below for co-regulation to help your toddler develop a healthy relationship of expressing and embracing all emotions. “All emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness are important for our growth. They are natural and make us who we are. So embrace them all.” – Elinor Greenwood.
Creating a peace corner can help your children by providing a safe space to regulate those emotions in a positive way. In Montessori environment, peace corner holds a very special space. This is the place where children learn to calm themselves down, resolve a conflict with a friend, or simply learn to make silence. To find out how to create a peace corner in your home environment, be sure to order our upcoming Monti-Story Box. This box will include activities to help your child identify their emotions and self-calming strategies. It also includes detailed step by step resource to create a peace corner.
July Activity Box is All About Emotions. This box includes many activities for your toddlers to help identify their emotions and for you to help your child create the calm within themselves.
Dr. Montessori have mentioned a lot about the different planes of development. She has spoken widely on the importance of planes of development and the sensitive periods in each planes. Below is a chart by Aubrey Hargis that helps us understand these planes a little better.
The first period of child’s mind is what Montessori called it “The Unconscious Absorbent Mind” which lasts about the age of 3. In this period the child just absorbs through their senses. They learn about the world unconsciously and absorbs from the environment without any effort. This is a very sensitive period in child’s life and it is extremely important for us to prepare her environment carefully as this environment will transform her to an independent child.
The second period of child’s mind is called “The Conscious Absorbent Mind”. This period is still in the first plane of development but this period is between 3-6 years of age. In this period, the child is no longer a helpless infant who is mastering her neck muscles but this is the period of learning and refining those skills that she learned as a baby. This is period of repetition where the most cognitive development will take place. In this period, most children learn to read, develops the memory, and can do multi-step lessons.
The second plane of development which is between 6-12 years of age, which we call it “The Mathematical Mind”. Dr. Montessori also refers this phase as peaceful period. In this period, child has a reasoning mind and it all about big ideas, social justice, social connection, and also an ability to do conscious learning. In this phase the child is no longer absorbing from the environment. In this plane, the child is actually memorizing, analyzing, computing, and organizing.
Hope you enjoyed this brief overview on planes of development. Please share it with your mom friends who and give some love to our blog and our instagram page!
Truly Montessori has always been my dream that is now coming to a reality. Let me begin with a short introduction of myself and my family. My name is Disha Bonner and I live with my beautiful family in Florida. I am happily married to the love of my life . We have a beautiful, strong willed, curious, fun little guy in our lives who just makes everyday a joy.
A little about my teaching background, I’ve been a Montessori Teacher for 10 years. I also taught ESE (Exceptional Student Education) in the public school and have been an elementary teacher in a magnet school. My Montessori training began while I was teaching ESE. I yearned for alternative learning style and knew that the public school education does not working well for everybody. I stumbled upon Montessori and absolutely fell in love with this teaching method.
My first training was as the primary guide (3-6 years old). I loved this age group as these children are discovering the independence and the world around them. It was fascinating to see them work and guide them in their journey of discovery. Later on I was hired as the Curriculum Coordinator to help other teachers with classroom design and curriculum development. As I gained more experience in the Montessori world, I finished my Masters in Montessori and also went for my second training as the elementary guide. This is the second period of development that Montessori puts a lot of emphasis on as she calls it a ‘peaceful phase”, which is the age group of 6-12 years old.
I taught in the Lower Elementary classroom in the fully accredited AMS Montessori Charter School for the rest of the time that I taught until I met my son. When I had my son, I knew that I wanted to implement Montessori from birth. Thus, our home became a Montessori Laboratory. We curated an environment to promote independence and a love for learning in our child from the birth.
This blog is about our Montessori journey and how it works in our home. It may not work the same way in your home but we want to give you a little glimpse of our prepared environment and we hope that it can inspire you to create your own Montessori space for your child.
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