A small repeat
I'd like try something a little different for this newsletter. This is an exercise that demonstrates why our Montessori foundation is so valuable and we had done this at back to school night.
First, I'd like you to name as many electronics as you can think of in 10 seconds. My list consists of: iPhone, iPad, tablet, Kindle, X-Box, computer, laptop, WII ... and so on.
In an effort to explain the terms "abstract" and "concrete", let's play a game:
Appleness - For this game you will need:
1 apple (of any variety),
1 plastic apple
1 photograph or picture of an apple
1 image of an apple on an electronic screen
Instructions - Place each of the above items in front of you. Assume you have no prior knowledge of an apple. On a sheet of paper list as many attributes as you can for each item. The attributes have to be factual conclusions you can gain by handling each one of the representations of the apple. Remember, you have no prior experience or knowledge of an apple.
For the actual apple, you can conclude ... it is a sphere, it is smooth, shiny, firm, green, smells sweet, it's sticky, juicy, wet, slippery, hard, bitter, cold, you can cut it, it tastes sweet or sour, it contains seeds, it has a stem and core - the list could go on for so long.
From the plastic apple, you could glean that it is a sphere, red and smooth. You really can't determine the texture, smell, taste, etc.
From a one dimensional picture or from image on a screen, you could determine that the picture presents a circular object (but you would not be able to determine that the object is a sphere) and the color.
Assessment - If you did learn something from this exercise, you would conclude that feeling, smelling, tasting and manipulating the object provides such a rich, concrete experience. A photograph (what you may see in a textbook or other reference material)and an image on an iPad screen provides a memorized fact sheet, but really doesn't provide a solid, memorable experience. Actual brain development requires more than just the simple facts about the world around us. True brain development comes from exposure to similar and different circumstances and materials to really connect dots and patterns, which in-turn create curiosity through actually comparing and contrasting the attributes of tangible and real experiences.
A child's brain takes an impression of the sensory input it receives, these are passed on to the child's mind and then are passed on to the subconscious to be absorbed and categorized for later retrieval and use. As the child processes more and more of these impressions, the brain compares and categorizes the new information which continues to build on the prior experiences and information. This is how a child evolves into a self-sufficient, experienced and well-adjusted being.
Memorization is simply a demonstration of shallow knowledge. Memorizing data does not provide the developing brain with the discernment and tools necessary to make conclusions based on concrete experience. How can we expect a child's brain to adequately develop in a world filled with abstract images when we know, without a doubt, how powerful the result of concrete experiences and observations can be on the developing brain.
A deep understanding and valuable knowledge of the world comes from a child interacting with many types of materials and everyday concepts. Children need to develop the cognitive tools to be able to respond appropriately to stimuli, challenges and the many new situations they will surely encounter throughout their lives.
This is the essence of why we strive to provide a multitude of sensory activities and make use of many forms of 3 dimensional materials. These provide opportunities for children to build their knowledge base by experiencing, first hand, the world around them. We hope you see the benefits of the Montessori method and that you realize the importance of the work that the children do while they are at school. You are providing your child with a firm foundation for future learning and development.
"The simple reason the Montessori method works is that it meets the developmental needs of children." - Understanding Montessori - A Guide for Parents by Maren Schmidt M. Ed.
Extension exercise - Try this same game with other every day materials and situations such as a book, the beach, a swing, a slide, a sandbox, a train set, snow, a rose, various foods.
I encourage you to find as many opportunities as possible to put away the electronics and feel, smell, taste, hear and enjoy the world around you. Your time with your child is precious!
Happy New Year
~ Miss Barbara