Monday, February 29, 2016

Following the Child, Like Montessori Said, This Time w/ a Camera, On a Random Day

For a while now, sporadically, I have been thinking of doing some sort of a-day-in-the-life/our-day-in-pictures post, but never had enough tenacity (and attention span) to take the necessary photos all. throughout. the. day. But earlier this month, a group of Montessori bloggers posted about their daily rhythms/routines/schedules in their own Montessori homes (I'm linking to some at the end of this) so I was determined that now's as good a time as any to capture and write about ours. So determined was I that at the end of the day, I found that I had exactly 365 photos! 365! It's like a photo for every day of an entire year (well, if it isn't a leap year like this year)!

So here we are, what my 18-month-old and I do at home all day.

Oh, a few things first:
a) We live in a country where you can hire someone who stays in your home and works around the house and we're fortunate to have a house-help, an ate who helps with cooking and does dishes, laundry, and ironing.

b) Since I was a Montessori teacher, I'm used to working around two or three 3-hour-work-periods a day and I have been, in my mind, compartmentalizing my days, now our days, this way.

c) You'll see that what we do at home all day is child-led. I ask her before we do anything (even those that we need to do like eating, taking a bath, sleeping, etc) and she is able to communicate yes or no when she's ready for something. She is also able to let me know, through sign or words, what she wants (especially "out" if she wants to go outdoors, "eat" for meals, sign for nurse to breastfeed, etc). I find that it helps me if I'm preparing simple new activities (or even just bringing out a new old bottle or scooper, for example) often (keeps me feeling excited and positive). I offer/present these to her--some she takes on right away, some she'll prefer to wait another day--and I just go with what she has to say.

So here we go--following the child, like Maria Montessori said, this time with a camera, on a random day.

8:00am to 11:00am

With a little "Mommy" and a wave "hi", Cara is usually up around 8:00am. This works very well for me since this is also the time my classes used to start so I'm really used to being up and ready for a child or 20 at this time. This also means that since I can comfortably start my day around 6:00am if I like, I have some 2 hours in the morning--to be used at my discretion.

This random day, Cara's first activity, aside from cuddles (I'm no longer going to say how much of these and kisses and dancing and singing we get and do around here), is with her crayons.

Eventually, I ask if she wants to eat (or she'll just tell me), and we go to the bathroom first--wash, wear a fresh diaper, change into another outfit if she chooses (which she often does these days)--to get ready for breakfast, which our house-help would have already prepared.

She helps set her table, get her food, pour her drink--everything is accessible, in a low kitchen shelf and drawer.

She practices peeling and cutting up a banana using this tool (she hasn't been interested in using a knife or crinkle cutter with bananas so this is a nice alternative for us).

On the photo you'll see that I tried to show her how we can use a fork with the cut-up banana, but she prefers using her hand so we go with that for now.
She'll drink from the pitcher, too.

A single drop of spill will often send her off to get a floor rag and wipe. This random day she went on to clean the entire first floor. We're a lot into cleaning--it's genes and Montessori. Remember that time we washed the gate?

Watch this video of our then-17-month-old as she presented to me a better way to clean the shelves!

We wash hands over at this washing station. And change into outdoor shoes.
These are not materials on trays, but these are important work, too! The child's work is, among other things, towards independence.

We're spending a lot, a lot of time outdoors these days so I've set up a shelf and work space for her.
We usually water the plants first, but this random day she chooses a bin we have for sensory and spooning work. She's more interested in having this--a bin with beans, rice grains, corn kernels; plus bowls in a variety of sizes; plus different spoons and scoopers; then she spoons from the bin to the bowls--than transferring/spooning back-and-forth two bowls on a tray.

Preparing a simple new activity often (regardless of whether or not we get to use them right away) is therapeutic, sanity-saver for me and that random day, the colored popsicles we (Cara helped by pouring water and putting food coloring) prepared the day before were ready. So I invite her to do popsicle painting! I like that the sticks were perfect for strengthening her grip.

One popsicle fell to the cemented ground and she happily discovers that this gave our floor some color! So we paint on that, too! We were supposed to have these floors tiled one of these days--but I think, since this set-up is working wonderfully for us (no slippery floors when there's a spill), we'll hold off that home improvement project for now.

When she was done with popsicle painting, there was a lot of pouring work, a lot of gross motor exercises outside. I try to step back to let her work independently and to do other things myself when I can (clean up, fold the laundry, tend to the garden, etc), but I'm just close by, since Cara will, at one point or the other, invite me to sit and/or work with her.

Minding her cues, I ask if she would like to sleep. She signs for nurse and we go up to our room.

We nurse, but it looks like she's going to try to ward off sleep for a bit.
By working some more.

By trying to fit inside a shelf. Or climbing on it.

I ask if she wanted to climb the stairs...
She says yes...

So we do.

Up in our room again, she gets a book for me to read. After which she lies down on her floor bed, signs to nurse, and sleeps. She naps (and I work) for 1 to 1.5 hours, sometimes 2, rarely 3.

11:00am to 2:00pm

I realize I still wasn't able to take enough a-day-in-pictures photos since I wasn't able to get some of us in her Montessori-inspired bathroom where we head after her nap and she chooses to change into this dress.
She hangs out by the balance beam for a while. Then we go down and she balances some more.

Lunch wasn't quite ready yet so here she is on the slide. She's been trying to climb up the slide and just this week, with me close by just in case she needs me; she was able to climb it by herself!

We usually help around the kitchen when we can. See my posts on Montessori practical life activities we've had. But this random day there wasn't much to help with and she chooses to wash hands and read books while waiting anyway.

No pictures of lunch, but we did have that.

When we need to get something from the grocery or my usual go-to stores, we leave after lunch and we're back, imperatively, before 4, in time for her afternoon nap. But this random day we were just home so...

We're out again after lunch. The first thing she sees is the cat and she pours water into a container and offers that to the cat. She had such intention and purpose in her actions.

Remember I said I ended up with 365 photos of this day? Many of them came from here. A lot of pouring, scooping, transferring, carrying, exploring, maximum effort, cause and effect, gross motor, fine motor, etc! At one point she discovers that water pours out from the popsicle mold differently since there were 8 compartments and she happily pours water into the mold and pours that back out repeatedly!

We delayed our usual bath time here, but I don't mind one bit.

2:00pm to 5:00pm

Can you tell from the photo on the left that I was invited inside the ball house?

Snack. Then she goes up to nap.

5:00pm to 8:00pm

Candles on the clay (while standing on the chair). Climbing up the couch (and feeling content because this was a pretty challenging climb).

Rocking horse and colors--two of her favorites these days.

More time outside until the last of the day's light.
We always have paint out here. It has become a staple since that time we painted with cotton swabs.
Some more work inside before dinner.

Dinner. (I realized that the reason why I don't have lunch and dinner photos despite my intention is probably because meals are not the easiest parts of our day. These are the times when I usually have to remind myself to trust and respect the child.)

Hopefully, it's just a little over 8:00. 

Except when Daddy's home--with all the sudden excitement upon seeing Daddy and the extra cuddles--it's really hard to predict when bed time will be! But usually it's when Daddy has read every book inside the basket!

From the time she sleeps until anytime between 12:00 or 2:00am is when I get most of my own work done. So it's like I also get one or two 3-hour work period myself at night.

Sometimes I wonder if we're really doing enough in a day. But looking back to this random day, I see that when the environment is prepared, with age-, readiness-, developmentally-appropriate activities, and when you leave the child at it (remember that interfering too much can be hindrance enough), they'll actually have a productive day, filled with endeavors they chose to take on themselves. He knows what he's supposed to be doing--so follow the child--the way Maria Montessori said. And when we do...

"We shall be confronted by a child not as he was considered before, a powerless being, an empty vessel that must be filled with our wisdom. His dignity will arise in its fullness in front of our eyes as he reveals himself as the constructor of our intelligence, as the being who, guided by the inner teacher, in joy and happiness works indefatigably, following a strict time-table, to the construction of that marvel of nature: Man." - Maria Montessori

For more of our Montessori, we're at Montessori on Mars on Facebook and @montessorionmars on Instagram.

Check out the days of other Montessori homes:


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1 comment:

  1. Wow! I am amazed how your whole day went well with all the activity of your child. Good job!