By Linda Karchmar
Montessori is a lot of things – the philosophy, the materials, the beautiful and calm environment, but without The Lesson, it won’t all come together.
The Lesson is one of the MOST important parts of Montessori to master. It isn’t easy! Anyone who has gone through a Montessori training program such as AMI or AMS will tell you about the hours of practice just to pour rice from one jug to the other or to spoon from one bowl to the other, hours practicing building the Pink Tower, counting the Number Rods, and writing down each step we took. This is how we mastered The Lesson long before we sat down with a child (which was a whole new experience!)
Through these most important lessons, or “presentations” the child gains freedom in the classroom, to gain independence and self-discipline.
- Never underestimate the power of The Lesson! It is a gift to the child. This is where self-discipline starts.
- Always do what you have shown the child to do! Lead by example, carry jugs, bowls trays with two hands. Be quiet and graceful when placing objects on the table. Sit on the child’s dominant side. Move slowly.
- PRACTICE the lesson before you give it (more than once). Notice or record all the steps you need to take. Have everything you need for the lesson on the tray. If you give fantastic lessons, everything else should fall into place.
- Name the lesson at the start. When you are finished the lesson, ask the child “would you like a turn?” and observe.
- Silence during a lesson has the child paying attention to what you are doing, not what you are saying. Always give the lesson without talking.
- Give the complete lesson, including cleaning up and putting back on the shelf before inviting the child to have their turn. Small reminders may be given if the lesson was long, but try to mostly stay out.
- Observe the child with the lesson. If she doesn’t want to do it, she may not be ready. If he misuses it, he may not be ready. Note points of interest (example, placing the object quietly and gently on the table if you notice that he bangs it on the table) and show on a re-presentation of the lesson if it is being done incorrectly. This can be done by pausing at the point of interest, to make sure the child sees what you are doing, and can be enhanced by a quiet “watch”.
Linda Karchmar Cameron holds a B.A, B.Ed. from Queen’s University and received AMI training from Toronto. She taught Montessori for 32 years, and is now retired. Linda ran her own Montessori School (Kingston Montessori School) for 28 years, with her husband, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. While she misses teaching very much, Linda has started a new business called Linda’s Nurturing Nest (www.lindasnurturingnest.com), working with adults, art and life coaching. She is also still selling off materials and books from her school at Linda’s Montessori Shop (www.lindasmontessori.com).