In a Montessori classroom, we don't teach children to do concentration-building activities like Washing a Table or Polishing a Cup, we show them. And the way we show them is very deliberate. First, there is very little or no talking. That is because children can listen and children can watch, but not at the same time. Second, we use analyzed movements. What we are teaching a three-year-old when we show him how to wash a table, is how to follow an intricate set of steps that are sequence dependent. By slowing it down, and using movements that are clear, easy to follow and demonstrative, those little tiny children are able to take it all in and replicate a complex activity through imitation. It's simply brilliant.
And that is where analyzed movements come in at home. Naturally, after many years of spending my days using analyzed movements to demonstrate lessons, open and close doors, push in chairs, carry trays, wash hands, sharpen pencils, trace shapes, wipe up spills, pour water and sew buttons, it spilled over into my everyday life. I am not claiming to be a ballerina, but I do tend to make an effort to be gentle and careful in my movements. I tread lightly, I put things down softly so that they don't make a big noise, I close doors quietly by turning the handle. And most of the time, I do this without thinking about it because it has become a habit for me.
The real beauty of this is that Coco is imitating my every move!
Oh my gosh, she is as delicate, careful and graceful as a 14-month-old could possibly be. It truly blows my mind. Part of it is just the way she is, of course. Within hours of her birth, the midwives and nurses all made remarks about how feminine and refined her movements are. And newborns barely move! But a lot of Coco's movement comes from modeling. Today I watched her take the lid off of a little toy metal stock pot and replace it again and again and again. She did it so carefully, with such concerted effort and inquisitive curiosity. She bent down to look closely at the lip of the lid and how it fit into the pot and she did it without making a lot of noise. (A few minutes later she was banging on the pot with a spoon! ;) But the point is, she wanted both experiences. She wanted the typical (and wonderful and exhilarating) toddler experience of banging on a pot with a spoon. And then, on the other hand, she wanted the refined, fine-motor experience of taking and replacing the lid with finesse. It really took me by surprise and made me thankful once again for my Montessori experience before becoming a parent.
Have you ever considered how your everyday movements translate to your child's movements? What do you think of the idea?
(Photos of Coco at 9 months carefully turning the pages of a book)