"To aid life, leaving it free however to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator."
Maria Montessori, MD.
I was inspired by other wonderful bloggers, featuring the evolution of their Montessori-inspired-rooms, so, I decided to put together "our" evolution: it is not of a nursery, but of our Learning Space. (Read more on Infant Space here.)
Within a month of discovering the Montessori Method of education, (while being four-months pregnant with our son), I was eager to set-up a little learning area for Julia, who was 3 1/2 years old then. Julia just have entered a second sub-phase of the First Plane of Development (lasting from 3-6 yrs) called “conscious absorbent mind”. “It is as if the child, having absorbed the world by an unconscious kind of intelligence, now ‘lays his hands’ to it ... Now, it is the hand as a ‘prehensile organ of the mind,’ not just the senses, which moves the child through a period of constructive ‘perfectionment’ – refining the acquisitions already made." A power of an "absorbent mind" - when the child effortlessly assimilates the sensorial stimuli from senses, languages, cultures and so forth, fades as the child approaches the age of 6.
Realizing the transient nature of any sensitive period (a critical 'window of opportunity' when the child is ready and willing to acquire new skills), I was so eager to start implementing the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori in our daily lives. I wanted our Learning Space to have plenty of natural light and be aesthetically inviting and pleasing. Low shelves would afford easy access, and floor mats and a floor table with flower pillows should provide comfort.
This is where and when Julia's Montessori journey began ...
The materials for this plane (stage of development) should be for child's individual use. "Having done the work of self-construction during the first three years of life, the child now wants to master his/her environment by intentionally directing and focusing the attention on experiences that have been created during the first three years of life." Dr. Montessori believed that such is achieved best during the individual work. Practical Life Activities are the easiest to set up as they generally do not require specialized materials, and are easily found in a regular household. So, I set up water pouring (see more on water activities here), as well as dry pouring, beads transferring and so forth.
I have been adding some traditional Montessori materials such as a colored-globe, cursive movable alphabet, metal insets, spindles with boxes, sandpaper numbers, World map-puzzle and others.
Read more here on Adrian's weaning table.
Two years later, we moved. With Adrian being 2 years old and Julia 6, we all needed more space, and we so wanted to be closer to nature. We had a great view from our apartment on the 21st floor overlooking the river and a skyline, but the "noise" was that of firetrucks and cars, and the birds we saw (mostly seagulls and hawks) were gliding in front of our floor-to-ceiling windows, not chirping. So, we moved to the suburban to be close to Julia's new Montessori school and to be close to nature ...
Having a house now, I am able to allocate the entire room for our Learning Space :)
We have come a long way - and I rejoice daily with my children - cherishing each opportunity to learn, explore, and create. And I am so grateful to all the Montessori-Friends and bloggers who keep inspiring me daily by sharing their wisdom, knowledge, and love for Montessori. We would have not been here, now, had it not been for all these inspirations!
I would love to know how you set up your learning space.