Last week I shared a preview of our Valentine’s shelves on my Facebook feed. I had been asked by a couple of Facebook friends to keep them updated when we had new activities on the blog, so this seemed like an efficient way of doing so. However, posting anything in social media where it may be viewed by people who have very different viewpoints can sometimes lead to unexpected responses.
A Facebook friend messaged me, very concerned for Ella and the regimented, too-academic focus that she was concerned that I had created for my two and a half year old. The person was acting from a kind-hearted place and I personally always want to be open to different thoughts and criticisms, but I realized how misunderstood the Montessori way is for people who are so used to disastrous toy rooms and the chaos most assume naturally accompanies children wherever they go.
That is simply not the Montessori way.
Personally, we use a mix of Montessori and Reggio, but today, I will focus on why Montessori is set-up the way that it is, and specifically, the use of tray work
- it normalizes the activity, presenting it in a self-explanatory and progressive way
- children are able to engage when they are interested, revisiting the same tray and work over and over if they want to, or avoiding a tray until they are compelled to (internally or through gentle prompting)
- it removes frustration or distraction by providing what is needed
- isolated (new) skills
- reverence for materials and awareness that it is a new material expected to be used in a certain way
- orderly work environment provided for the child, despite their ability to set-up orderly work stations by themselves