Thursday, January 30, 2014

Correcting Your Child as a Means to Holiness

Yesterday two different parenting articles appeared that touched on how we correct our children and how we make a mistake when we yell at them.  This one, from a blog, and this one, from the Wall Street Journal, coincidentally came out on a day.

Take the time to read them and post a comment here with the statement that struck you the most.  My husband and I both found it interesting that, as less spanking is going on, more parents are yelling at their children.  Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nerf Guns + Wall Map = Fun Geography!

I wrote last year about these super cheap wall-hanging world maps.  Today, while playing with our prodigious Nerf gun collection, I had an inspiration for a geography game.  Can you help me to name it?

The prodigious Nerf gun collection

First you need these hook-and-loop Nerf darts.  I think we originally got them with a 2-person Dart Tag Nerf set that included fabric vests.  The darts will stick to your wall map.

Then announce your target!  It could be one of the continents, or (if you've labeled oceans or countries) any part of the world.  To make it more challenging you could have them reason through geography questions in order to identify their target.  For instance, "Shoot the largest continent!" or "Hit the ocean that's between North America and Europe!"

"Shoot Australia!"
Since Montessori is all about mixed-ages, send a younger child to fetch the darts by asking, "Can you bring me the dart on Africa?" for instance.

Kids will often respond well to a game like this, and I'm always looking for ways to involve movement and mixed ages.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Holiday Detox, Nest-Building and Preschool

Since when does everyone have to go to preschool to go to a good college?  Above:  dropping off our oldest at college last year.  He never went to full-time preschool (just a little part-time the year before half-day kindergarten). 
Ah, it's finally time to settle into a "new normal" routine.  We've had enough time to detox from the excesses of a long holiday, recover from bouts of the latest "Germs R Us," weather the terribly bad arctic blasts (and adjust to subsequent cancellations)......and we're all still alive--thank the Lord!

This is also the time for many parents across the country to register their little ones for summer AND fall Mom's Day Out and preschool (both part- and full-time).  Are you one of those panicked parents, visiting classroom after classroom?  Obsessing about maximizing your child's potential?  Or scheming about how to maximize your "me time" next year?

Please relax and resist the urge to push.

  • this is your first child
  • your only friends are working
  • your only friends have enrolled their children in programs
  • you find yourself driven by fear of what your child may be missing
  • you feel smothered and think you need a huge amount of time to yourself

There's a time for everything under the sun.  Their first few years are for nest-building.
You need perspective and you need advice from some moms (with similar values) who have been there, done that.  You need a network of more experienced moms to talk to who have sent their children to similar programs and who can tell you whether it was worth it.  You need a group of confidantes who will honestly tell you what kinds of mistakes they made when they were in your shoes, so that you might learn from their mistakes (and make your own!).

I am not a huge fan of full-time preschool for young children.  Why?  There are lots of reasons, but one main one is that the focus of home and family life shifts more and more outward.  When your children are older (especially teenagers) you will regret anything that you let interfere with the nesting and family building of your family's young years.

Maria Montessori's classrooms were purposely as homelike as possible.  It's at home that a young child feels secure and loved, and it's at home that a child learns some of the most important lessons, like how to get along with other human beings over the long term.  It's also at home that a child will know he or she is loved unconditionally.

Not only do I think it's better for the children to be home during their youngest years, it's better for the parents, too.  Our vocation as a married couple and as parents is to learn how to love sacrificially and how to love all kinds of people.  What better way to do that than to spend more time with the little people that are God's gift to you?

Have you considered homeschool preschool?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Please vote today!

My blog was nominated for an award--if you like anything you've read here, please vote for Montessori Messy under the "Best Lifestyle Blog" category.  Thanks!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Birthday of Montessori's First School: An "Epiphany"

In the Atrium today we celebrate the Epiphany,
when the three wise men followed the star and found Jesus.
If you are a Montessorian, today is a special day:  on Epiphany 1907 Maria Montessori opened her first Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) in Rome.  About 50 to 60 children, between the ages of 2 to 7,  from low-income families were enrolled.

I was taught that Dr. Montessori, who was Catholic, read aloud the Epiphany's first reading, which began:

 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn."

What an exciting way to begin her work with children!  And if you work with children--whether your own or with students at your school or parish--you already know that in each child God's image is made manifest in a unique way.  And you already know that, somewhere along the way, you have learned so much more from the children than you've ever imparted.

I read about how the things we behold can change us and vice versa from Fr. Z's blog today:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the Father’s Beauty. He is Truth and Beauty and Glory itself.

St. Hilary of Poitiers (d 367) conceived God’s divine attribute of glory as a transforming power which divinizes us by our contact with it.  After Moses talked with God in the tent of the Ark, he wore a veil over his face, which became too bright to look at.  We pray today, literally, to be brought “all the way to the beauty of glory (species celsitudinis)” of God “which is to be contemplated”.  His beauty will act on us, increase our knowledge of Him and, therefore, our love for Him … for all eternity.   We will be, all the more, the images He intended.

So Happy Solemnity of the Epiphany, Ya'll!

"O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy, that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory."