Montessori Monday 1 2013/14
Who would imagine that such a simple activity could engage a child for such a long period of time? To adults, with their developed hands and refined finger muscles, tonging is a deceptively easy skill. But for the young child, it requires all the strength in the hand to transfer objects from one container to another.
Like many Montessori materials, tonging develops skills that are easy to see while also supporting cognitive structures that are more easily overlooked. This child is developing the muscles in her palms and wrists, the strength in her fingers and the coordination between her eyes and hand. Meanwhile, because the objects are always transfered beginning with the left container and moving to the right, she is building implicit cognitive patterns that organize movement from left to right as well: a perfect preparation for reading. Because the simple, graceful material captures her attention, she is developing her concentration through practice. The concrete boundaries of the tray allow her to focus her attention on a manageable work space, building her ability to maintain her own intellectual order. This skill will be transferred to food preparation, for selecting and transferring portions of snack. Try it at home by making large tongs available for your child to serve him or herself during your family dinner... a warm dinner roll or small baked potato is the perfect size for practice!
The tonging materials can be found in our Practical Life curriculum, where materials primarily support children's independence, concentration, coordination and order. This early activity is one children enjoy at the beginning of the year, although it will remain available with varying objects throughout the year for children to return to again and again.
Catherine McTamaney Ed.D
Christopher Academy Alumna