Sunday, June 28, 2009

Update from Colorado!!

Well I have been here for 2 weeks, only 41/2 left. It is going by faster then I thought. I am so excited for Mark to come out here on Thursday for a few days. So my day consistes of 8hrs of training and then about 4 to 5 hours of reading and paper writing almost every night. I have learned so much though I am not complaining. I sit in the classroom everyday looking at how nice it is outside and then I come home to this. It seems like every night it storms.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here is my first paper for the training. Let me know what you think

Absorbent Mind and Sensitive Periods

When a child is in the womb of its mother they are an embryo. The embryo is developing into a physical being. For this time the child’s needs are all taken care of by the mother. He is safe, warm, fed and always protected in the womb. Maria Montessori describes that from birth to nine months the child is like a “spiritual embryo”. While he needs to be fed, bathed, clothed, kept warm, and protected, spiritually the infant is developing who he is just like he developed his physical body in the womb. As an adult caring for the infants, understanding the needs of the child and how he is developing is important so that we do not become obstacles in the child’s life. To understand this process of development we learn about the “absorbent mind” and the “sensitive periods”.
“The ‘absorbent mind’ welcomes everything, puts its hopes in everything, accepts poverty equally with wealth, adopts any religion and the prejudices and habits of its countrymen, incarnating all in itself. This is a child!” (Maria Montessori) Maria Montessori uses the term “absorbent mind” to describe the child from birth to six years of age. At this time in a child’s life they are taking in, or absorbing, every element around them.
From birth to three years of age the child is in an unconscious absorbent mind. From three to six years of age the mind is in a conscious absorbent state. In the unconscious absorbent mind the child is truly like a sponge. Like a sponge a child at this age can not control what they are taking in. They are taking in their whole environment, it becomes who he is. “Before three the functions are being created: after three they develop.” (Montessori, the Absorbent Mind 166). In the conscious absorbent mind these children are refining the skills that he has previously been acquiring. I think of this as a child of two years of age, using their index finger and thumb to bead a string, a five year old is then refining this skill by holding a pencil and writing. The child is perfecting the skills that he has taken in, becoming more familiar and comfortable with his self.
During the stages of development Maria Montessori describes “sensitive periods” that the children have. If these sensitive periods are missed it is harder for the child to develop those skills. “A Sensitive Period is a special time in a young child’s life when he easily incorporates a particular ability into his schema if allowed to practice it exhaustively. The period is of short duration and intense in its focus. The apex of a sensitive period is usually for one acquisition at a time. Sensitive Periods are referred to by some as Critical Periods or Windows of Opportunity”.(P. Donohue Shortridge) From birth to six years of age there are three sensitive periods, movement, language and order.
From birth to three years the child is developing basic skills of movement. First he moves randomly and then as he discovers more he moves purposefully. He discovers the hand, that it can reach and touch things. He also discovers walking, an adult walks to reach a particular goal, and an infant walks to explore his surroundings. From the ages of three to six they are refining these skills of gross motor, fine motor, and elaborate movements. As a newborn a child is not able to reach for an object and obtain that object. However, a five year old can reach for an object under the chair, in the dark or even if that object is moving. The five year old has developed and perfected the skill of movement.
The sensitive period of order includes external order and internal order. External order is what happens outside of the child. External order includes: Spatial, which is the order of things in space (how the furniture is arranged around the child), Temporal, which is the order of events ( such as we have snack and then we go outside), Sensory, which is the order of qualities of the objects (the color and texture of objects around them), Social and moral which is the order of relationships and peoples role in their lives (what mom does, what dad does, and what the teacher does), Natural or cosmic: which is light verses dark, cold verses warm, night verses day, weather, and seasons. The internal order is what is inside the child. This is the connection of the body to outer order and the connection of the body parts to each other. From three to six the sense of order is refined. You will begin to see more complex activities that have more intense truth and reality. They refine the senses of perceptual discrimination and social grace.
In the sensitive period of language the child from birth to three goes from silence to speaking. From his environment he observes many elements of language; auditory: listening to speech, visual: watching speakers, motor: movements that go with words, music: musical aspect of language. The child from the ages of three to six move from speaking to thinking. He has the complete use of language, and now is able to use language as a tool for socialization. The child is now more susceptible to adult influences and enriched vocabulary. He begins the process of writing, drawing and reading. He is trying to increase his vocabulary and loves music. I have seen this take place as I watch newborns watch every little move of those around them. They study the way we move our mouths while we speak and the sounds coming out. Then they grow to be that three and four year old that you can not keep quite. (Melody Patton, “The Sensitive Periods” lecture 6/19/09)
The child has gone from the womb of the mother, being totally dependent on the mother for every need, to jumping, running, reading, writing, and singing. They are in total control of their own body. They are happy and free to move about in their own way.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

a month has passed

Okay so it's been almost a month. Where does life go? School is out and my crazy summer is about to begin. I am done teaching for the school year, however I think I have the craziest summer ever. I leave on Sunday for 6 weeks to Boulder Colorado for a training to be the lead teacher at the school I work for. I will be teaching the toddler class I am really excited and scared all at the same time. I will be missing a lot this summer,(my best friends wedding :(, swimming with my nieces and nephews, 4-h shows and motorcycle rides) but I think I will really grow as a person. I don't know anyone there and I am staying with complete strangers. So wish me luck. I will try to keep everyone updated on my blog but I don't know how much time I will have. They say that this training is pretty intense.