Friday, February 6, 2015

Applying Montessori’s 3-step teaching process

Today I’m going to share how I’ve been applying a few of the things I learned about teaching very young children.
Montessori, in her book The Montessori Method, wrote about a process she used to teach colors to the children in her schools. The process involved 3 steps.
It’s incredibly simple. She would hand a child a red object. “This is red.” Then she would hand them a blue object. “This is blue.” That was the first step. She called it associating the sensory object with its name.
For the second step, she would ask, “Hand me the red block.” Or “Hand me the blue block.” (I think they were blocks.) This was called recognition of the object corresponding to the name.
The third step was more difficult for the child. “What is this?” This was called remembering of the name corresponding to the object.
Before I’d even read Montessori’s book I had been doing basically the same thing with Little Pink Girl to teach shapes and colors. I feel that this method is intuitive. Its simplicity is the best thing about it. You don’t need to buy books or DVDs or toys.
It’s amazing what kids can learn without any extra frills, sounds, images or games. In fact, I feel that when you strip it down like that, the child learns much faster and at an earlier age. At least Little Pink Girl seemed to learn faster. She knew her colors and shapes and could count to ten before she was 2.
It’s not much different than what we do with children all the time. We show children a picture and say, “This is a cow. It says moo!” That’s about all we do to teach about animals and their sounds. We tell them, directly or indirectly, what things are all the time without a game or video. We don’t include music when we explain what our couch is called or what the tree outside the window is. Little children can pick things up so much easier than we expect.
These realizations sold me on the idea.
Now that I have the process spelled out for me, I can use it more purposefully. I used it, combined with some Charlotte Mason ideas, to teach Helen the alphabet and all the letter sounds.
This is an A. It says ă. This is a B. It says buh.
Which one is B? What does B say?
What letter is this? What does it say?
Karen Andreola, in Charlotte Mason Companion, talks about how she used Montessori’s method. She says, and I’ve found this to be true, that you may have to do step one over and over, and then steps one and two, over and over, before they are ready for step three, and really have the concept down.
Little Pink Girl now knows all the letters, big and small, and their sounds. It was so simple!
Have you heard of Montessori’s three-step method? Have you used it? How did it work for you?

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