Thursday, January 10, 2013
Frequently Asked Montessori Homeschooling Questions 6 and 7
Q6: My child won't let me give him a presentation or keeps taking the materials and trying to show ME. What should I do?
A: This is definitely one of those things, along with mistreating the materials, that is more of a "behavior" problem than a "Montessori" problem. If you take a good hard look at your child's interactions with you and with toys during the rest of your time together I bet you'll find some similarities.
When your child goes to school outside the home it is possible for them to learn two sets of rules...one for with you at home and one for at school with his teacher. However, if the child is homeschooled the parent and the teacher are the same person. Parents are often willing to put up with certain bad habits in the way the child interacts with people or toys around the house that they are not happy with during a time set aside for learning. It isn't surprising that the child doesn't understand that there are different rules in "this room" with "this toy" than in "that room" with "that toy." He doesn't understand why he can grab the dump truck roughly from your hand and drive it around even though you were "showing him something" but he can't do the same with the red rods.
I would argue that the best time to change the way he interacts with you or handles objects is NOT when you are using your expensive Montessori materials and the atmosphere is loaded with the tension of what he "should" be learning and your anxiety about "whether this is going to work." The easiest and best time to change things is outside the school room. While in a Montessori environment we try to "invite" the child to a presentation with the knowledge that they have right to refuse, the reality as a parent in the home outside of the "school room" there are certain "presentations" they don't have the right to refuse. They boys were required to learn not to run in the road. They were required to learn what they can and cannot touch in the kitchen. I have an expectation outside the school room that when I want to show the boys something or how to use something properly they are expected to listen with good manners. They are expected to handle the objects in our home, including their toys, with care and respect. This probably makes it a lot easier for me inside the school room.
Q7: I followed your advice above and my child is STILL refusing the work/presentations I am requiring. What do I do?
A: I don't make a big deal out of it. Eventually at some point later in the day there IS going to be something he wants from you. With my boys, it is likely to be that they want to watch an episode of "Power Rangers" on Netflix. It is ridiculously easy to say very matter-of-factly something like "We can't do that right now because we didn't practice violin today." The first time this happened they ran and got those violins out right away. At some point it occurred to them to fuss but the fussing didn't change the outcome and they soon gave that up. I think it's better to suffer through one or two days of fussing than have a battle every day in the school room. Because things have always been like this the boys tend to (but not always) get things done early in the day so there are no impediments to what they want to do later.
If you would like to read all sixteen frequently asked questions and their answers right away, you can find them at the FAQ tab at the top of the blog under the header.