Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Not to Yell: Breaking the Trend

I think as a teacher and a parent we all loose our cool at some time or another, but how effective is it when we do?  If your children or students are anything like mine, not at all!   My children seem to almost get and irritating joy from making mom break.  And why wouldn't they?  As a recent article I read (here) pointed out, when you yell at the child you invite, or even trigger, the human nature to "save face".  Think of how you react when someone yells at you.  The hairs on your neck are up, as are your defenses, especially if others are near.  How dare they treat you such a way?  Yet we do so to our children because as a society we have been taught that children are some how different or lesser people.  Just because the child is less educated does not make them a lesser person.  Nor does it mean that they do not have similar reactions to confrontations.

At each  stage of childhood, the child is learning to be an adult and to develop as an independent, free thinking person.  However we all to often forget this and instead try to form brain washed clones.  I admit (not so proudly) that there are times that I fall back to these traps of conventional parenting.  We say "old habits die hard" or "well that is the way my parents did it"  to justify our actions, but we know in our hearts that is no excuse or we wouldn't feel the need to justify.  However the results speak the truth.  We are either left with aggressive rebellious children or the fore mentioned clones.  The clones do well in our society because they do not think on their own and most of the rest of society is comprised of clones.  If you need evidence of this just drive through the suburbs where every house looks the same.  The rebellious can be okay but normally have a hard time in life because few like someone that is not co-operative at all.

If we can't yell,  how do we correct?

Our children are bound to see what they are allowed and not allowed to do.  First, you must teach the child what no means.  How many times have  you heard a parent say "What part of no don't you understand?" or even felt the desire to say this.  We fault the child for not listening, but perhaps the question being asked is the key to the problem.  What is the part of no that the child does not understand?  Is the child aware that no means "you can not do that"  or have you like many parents taught them that it means something else.  In my household growing up "no" meant, you can't do that until you annoy me enough and I either threaten to beat your butt or give in and say "do what you want to do you're going to anyway". Who the child is interacting with can even change their understanding.  How many times have you heard a stressed out mother exclaim "I just don't get it!  I yell until I am blue in the face, then their father comes home, says "No!" in a clear calm tone and they listen." In this case, it is often because Dad has set a clearer no nonsense demonstration of the word no and the consequences of not listening or pestering.  Yet again we see that the yelling is not the effective mode, but giving the child a clear understanding.

I myself reached a point where I felt I was constantly yelling at a child to stop and....(fill in the blank). I found myself very stressed and with nothing accomplished for it.  I decided enough was enough.  I do not wish to live in a combatant home, but I do not wish for unruly children either.  I had to find something so that I could have the home I wanted.  I decided to try emulating a sect of characters from a book series I love called the Aes Sedei.   They maintain outward calmness no matter how they are feeling at the time and never shout. Instead when others begin to shout they whisper so that the shouting person must strain to hear them.  Low and behold, my children began to simmer.  I was feeling more piece than I had in a while and my children seemed less agitated as well.  We are still in the beginning stages of this return to a calm effort, but I already see a shift for the better in both my children.  When they do something rude or unacceptable I simply tell them that it is so and how they should behave.  I give them the choice of stopping the action and making the correct one or sitting in the corner until they are ready to act in a civilized manner.  There is not altercation, there is no room for argument, the child has two choices and I give them time to consider it.  They are normally frozen in place after given the choice.  Sometimes they elect to sit in the corner, but more times they say they are ready to stop the action and be civil.

Now let me add the disclaimer that should the child be in harms way and yelling is the only way that you can think to get the attention fast such as, "No! Don't run into the street" or "No! That is hot don't touch it!"  should arise, I believe it does not harm to yell, though you most likely will startle the child and may even expect it to cause tears.  At this point it is important to go to the child and tell them why you yelled.  How you were scared that s/he would have gotten hurt and needed the child to stop quickly.  If your child is not yelled at daily, yelling in these cases will even be more effective at getting a quick stop, than if that tone is a normal one.  Thus my final argument against yelling as a general rule.  Eventually, as the cliche states, "it goes in one ear and out the other".  In effect, the child will learn to tone you out and not listen at all.  For if you do not respect the child, the child will eventually stop respecting you. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

History Comes Alive

As a parent using the Montessori method, history is one of the largest challenges as my daughter ages. I was ecstatic this morning when my husband showed me a link to the oriental institue catalog. Our daughter has elected to learn World History in periods.  We are currently on Ancient History. I followed a link from the catalog to the teachers resources where I found a wealth of lesson plans and worksheets!  We are currently on break preparing for vacation (I'm also preparing for lessons when we get back), but I can't wait to use these with the kids!

I love that it allows me to take the kids to the primary source and teach them how to study such thing.  After all isn't this what the Montessori method is about. I will not be shoving boring text books down the kids throats.  I will be teaching them to explore history from its roots.  I know this is why I am fascinated with this section of history myself and can't wait to spread that love to them. Kudos to the Oriental Institute of Chicago!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Free Friday!!!: Leaves

So we all know in reality nothing is free.  But it is my goal to share something every Friday that you can either get for free or do/print at a minimal cost.  When possible these will be my own creations. Let's face it though,  I am not fast enough to create a kit a week so when I do not have something of my own I will find something of equal quality(in my opinion) to that which I would create and share a link to it!  To start off this I am going to come in with a bang  sharing my best work yet!!!!

It is an Upper Elementary Unit on Leaves in the Montessori system.  Including Wall Charts, Booklet, and 3-4-part cards. While I call this Upper Elementary many people would view the information in this set to be high school or even collegiate in nature.  It consist of 3 sections: Leaf Shapes, Leaf Margins, and Leaf Vein structure.  Students should have at least a basic understanding of the parts of the leaf before using this kit.


 Or you can down load it directly from here. 

Taking time to be greatful

In this world it is easy to see the things that are wrong. In this country it is easy to forget how much we have.  In our house we do not have the fancy T.V., brand name clothes, or many other things that people like to flash at each other.  We are not poor.  We do not miss these things. 

Online I frequently read people typing about how hard it is and how poor they are.  They are not poor!

Recently I have been bombarded with stories of what poor is.  Such as:

The Story of Whitney Elementary School
Where 85% of the children are homeless and one principal did what she could to keep her kids in school and learning by helping the families.

North Korean Starvation
Where it is reported by escapes that the people live like dogs.  Some reports even talk about people eating grass and tree bark because it is all there is.

Whether it is looking at our own country or another, the fact remains that in our house we are blessed.  We eat what we like and regularly.  We have clothing and shelter and internet.  Most importantly we have each other.  We are blessed.  And today seems like a day to just sit back and appreciate it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Practical Life Lessons

In the future I plan to write about my classroom.  When I do you are likely to point out there is not practical life shelves.  It is not because I do not value this work.  I do, very much.  I just don't have shelves for it because we are at home!  Practical life happens everyday every second at home.  My children make their own lunches, while I observe and even guide when asked.  They bake with me, clean messes up when they are made, and many other things.  My son  knows how to use a screw driver to change the batteries in his toys.  And better yet knows that if you use a tool you must put it back and take care of it while using it.  Sometimes homeschooling is harder because you are at home.  This however is an area where homeschooling is easier!

This morning is a great example of this.  We had muffins for breakfast.  I prefer making them from scratch but when the kids are making them we use packaged mix so that J can do all the work himself.  The mix we buy only requires 1/2 cup of milk to be added.  The kitchen is my favorite place to teach fractions!  He measures it out and stirs it up, while I preheat the oven and spray the pan with bakers spray. 

Next he uses the cookie dough scoop to fill the muffin cups.  This is great for measuring practice, as well as discussing volumes.  The whole time he is learning to control his body and developing hand eye coordination!

After all the mix is in the pan I put the pan in the oven while, he washes the dishes!  His wife is going to love me some day. =D


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teen and Tens Board From Materials Everyday Materials

 I recently made a ten and teens "board" for my son out of random items that I keep on stock in the classroom.  Normally I try to make things more like the traditional items found in a Montessori classroom, but that takes time and money and he wanted to do the work right then.  So I wanted a cheap, easy, project to act as a stopgap until I could work on something better.   I already had  free printable materials from  montessoriforeveryone.com so I started with that.  The white paper on white background didn't quite do it for me.  It needed more.  Of course I always have construction paper, which was perfect for adding color. After I had color,  I just needed something to connect it and give it strength, for this I grabbed a folder.  Now, add scissors and glue and I had every thing I needed.

Making the number tiles and ten/teen frames
  I stuck to the traditional Montessori color associations for the place values through the use of construction paper glued to the bottom of my white paper (the printable materials).  This also worked toward adding more strength to the material.  I used green for the ones place movable number cards and a blue background for the tens/teens.  I cut the blue construction paper a bit larger than the the white paper tiles on the top and bottom to form a  frame to slide the ones cards through.  The frame look was achieved by simply folding the construction paper tabs up.

 I then glued the blue framed ten/teen to the folder ("board") and this was the result:

 Now I recognize these are not as nice looking as the wooden boards, but they are lighter, easier to manipulate and just as functional.  Most importantly my son loves them!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Small Movable Alphabet

Every since my son started working with letters I have wanted the small movable alphabet set.  I bought and printed several things to replace it, but none were right.  I have magnetic letters from Melissa and Doug and they are great, hold up well, but cost to much to have several sets to make words with the same letters in them.  So, you can imagine my complete delight when during my bi-weekly trip down the craft isle while shopping for household goods I find a little $2 bag with 60 pieces of wooden letters.  Down side they only had capitals, but we can live with that for now.  I have large bottles of multi-craft latex paint at home at all times in primary colors. With a little work and this gym of a find we now have Movable Letters!!!!!  J was so excited to work with them I had a hard time getting him to let the paint dry and still need to go back for some touch ups on some. I think that will have to wait until he is asleep.   This just goes to show if you keep your eyes and mind open you too can have GREAT Montessori tools on a tight budget!