I’m a mom to a 2.5 year old active and extroverted son. He is smart and retains information easily. I’m trying to introduce some Montessori activities to him. And that’s where I need some help. I have the feeling I’m doing something wrong/missing the point.
For example: I introduced the pink tower to him, and than handed it over to him. He seemed happy just stacking the tower in whatever order he grabbed the blocks and was all proud and smiled at me when he was done. What am I suppose to say then knowing that the tower was not build “correctly”? He also likes to tease and I couldn’t tell if he is testing me. When we did the tower again, I was curious if he could identify the blocks by size and he did just fine when I asked him each time he choose the next block which of the remaining was the biggest one. He finished the whole tower but I had to be with him, guiding him verbally. When he does it alone, it seems like the stacking activity distracts him. He can tell me which one is next when I stacks them, but both activities together just seem to throw him off, if that makes any sense. What do you think? Is he too young? Should I reduce the number of blocks? He loves stacking though.
Another activity that we recently did was sorting. I introduced 5 cups and colored bears and asked him to sort the bears into the cups. Well, he did one color perfectly and started the next, but then began to put bears randomly into the cups and started pouring them and them dumping them on the tray and beating on them with the cups. That’s where I ended the work. He asked for the bears again and I wanted to know if he could actually sort them so I stayed with him and guided him again, not saying where the bears go, but asking him what color the bear has and where the right cup is, and he could do it and had fun!
I guess, my question is, what am I doing wrong? What can I do to have my son focus more without me and be interested in the outcome? It seems to me as if he is not interested in the result/doing it right. Any advice or book recommendation would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for reading my post!
It doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong . I think it might help if you adjust your expectations a little - for yourself and for him. It's okay to let him explore the materials, even if he doesn't perform the task quite right the first time out. If he isn't ready to focus on accomplishing the task and starts misusing the materials in a way that might be damaging, it's good to remove them and move on. You handled it well.
Some helpful books:
Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school Years by Elizabeth Hainstock
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
Montessori Play and Learn by Lesley Britton
Teach Me to Do it Myself: Montessori Activities by Maja Pitamic
Montessori From the Start by Paula Polk Lillard
Thanks for your quick reply and the book suggestions, ollyoxenfree! Good to hear that I'm not totally off track. I guess, I'll just continue letting him discover the materials hoping he'll get to the point where he is interested in completing it in the intended way.
I can relate to a lot of this with my son, who turned 3 in January, and is also bright, active and extroverted.
I agree completely!
I suspect he's not doing the activities independently and in the intended way due to still being very young and perhaps also his personality and learning preferences. My son is also extroverted and at least when at home with me, pretty much *always* chooses to do an activity with me rather than alone... even if he thinks what I'm doing is boring (of course, in this case he will try to convince me to do an activity of *his* choice instead, but if that fails, still chooses to be with me).
My son goes to a Montessori preschool, which he started at 2 years 7 months, so I've only tried a limited number of practical life activites with him at home... but he's never shown an extended interest in the activities I've set up, unless they were directly related to something he had seen my husband or I doing and wanted to learn how to do himself. That seems to be a tremendous motivator for him. For exaple, with the sorting - at your son's age, there was abolutely zero chance that my son would choose to sit down alone and sort small objects by size, color, etc. BUT if I brought out the laundry, he would gleefully help me sort and fold all the clothes, even noticing really small details to correctly make pairs from a bunch of similar socks. Now at 3, he occassionally has the patience to sort a deck of cards into suits or pick out the honor cards, etc. but only if it's part of a game, not purely for the sake of sorting.
At preschool, it's different and he does seem to choose more independent, structured work. I think the big difference there is the example set by the other kids. We're told that he often stands back and watches another child do an activity and asks to be shown it when they are finished. This particular part of Montessori is bit trickier to create at home - but if it turns out to be an issue (ie. if your son seems to be strongly motivated by seeing others do something, like my DS is) then if might be worth trying to base your activities as closely as possible on things he sees you do. I also find I'm more successful at capturing my son's interest if *I* start doing something myself first and then wait for his inevitably request for me to show him how to do it.
I can relate to the frustration when you *know* they can do something but for whatever reason, choose not to. For example, a few times I have seen my son draw very advanced people, with full facial features, torso, arms, legs, hair, etc. but most of the time he just wants to scribble randomly, pressing down the pencils as hard as possible. Of course, in this case, I realize I need to lighten up and I do keep quiet and let him draw whatever he wants - but I'm still feeling rather impatient for him to draw something a bit more advanced again. Another example - I showed him how to play the card game "War" recently. I explained the rules and dealt out ten cards each (no honor cards). We each flipped over our cards and I asked "So who won this battle?" DS: "Me!" Me: "Umm... which card is the highest?" (DS points to my card) Me: "Whose card is that?" DS: "Yours" Me: "So who gets to take the cards?" DS: "You"... We flipped over the next cards and it was the same story. Seems to be more to the game than being able to identify the highest card...
I think it can be a bit of an extra challenge when kids are advanced to keep expectations at the right level - so many times, my son surprises me with what he *can* do... It's inevitable that there will also be times when the opposite occurs and it usually takes me by surprise, ie. "But wait a second, if you can understand A, why would you have any difficultly with B?" And I step back and reflect a little on what exactly he's having trouble with - sometimes, I figure some gentle guidance might be appropriate but often all that's required is for me to relax, step back and give him some time to work it out for himself.
Anyway, I'm sure how much of this is relevant for you but hopefully there will be a few bits and pieces of my experience you can relate to. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought and effort into doing these activites with your son and I really hope you and your son will find the experience fun and rewarding.