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Added Oct 17, 2016

Montessori Monday: Transferring with Spoons, Ladles and Scoops

For many parents, observing their children working in the Practical Life area can be a confounding experience. How in the world are children so mesmerized by experiences as seemingly simple as transferring kidney beans from one bowl to another? How is it that the same child who won't sit still at Sunday dinner will remain entranced on such a basic skill?

Our Practical Life materials support the child's intrinsic desire to care for himself, by giving him the chance to practice and refine his independent living skills. Indeed, that's what "practical life," means after all! These are materials that allow children practice in the every day skills they'll need to care for themselves, for others and for their environment. Spooning and transferring are wonderful examples of this. While an adult may be bored silly by the repetition of transferring beans from one bowl to another, the young child is drawn to these kinds of experiences, testing himself and his environment by repeating the process again and again until he's mastered it. Meanwhile, he is offered the right size tray to be able to manage carrying the work back and forth from the shelf, the right size spoon, or in this case a ladle, to refine his fine motor skills in his hands and fingers, and the simple aesthetic of the material itself to draw his attention to the process without distraction. Driven by an internal motivation to control his environment and to be independent, the child is drawn to these seemingly simple, repetitive activities.

As with all the Practical Life materials, parents can remember the purpose of the Transferring work through four goals: developing concentration, developing coordination, developing independence and developing a sense of order. These objectives match the child's natural motivations. At home, look for opportunities for simple, useful skills that your child can repeat. When your child wants to play with the same toy again and again, look for ways to support that repetition, even if you're not yet sure what\\'s inspiring it. Children are efficient in seeking out the activities that match their development, whether or not they can tell us how. If you notice your child deeply attentive to an activity, like trying to put on his own sock or pushing a book back onto the shelf, try to provide the time for your child to struggle through it to do it himself. Although you may be able to finish the task more quickly as an adult, the child is not driven by speed but by the motivation to master. Give him the time to do it, and you'll accomplish more than just getting his socks on.

Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.

Christopher Academy Alumna

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