There are numerous ways a child shows growth and progress in the classroom. Some are obvious: being able to write his name, mastering sounds, identifying numbers. Then there is the progress that without careful observation can go unnoticed. This growth is typically in the social aspect of the class and can encompass work habits, attention span, and maturity. A seemingly simple work lesson can offer many clues to this growth that can easily be missed.
A few years back, a new 4 year old joined my classroom. He was a typical 4 year old boy that loved all things “boy”…blocks, computer, rough and tumble on the playground. None of the works kept his attention for longer than 5 to 10 minutes. He kept busy with these works; but moved from lesson to lesson without much focus.
One day, early in the school year, he discovered the necklace lesson. At the time, he enjoyed the work just for the sensorial aspect of it. He liked to run his fingers through the box of beads, experimenting with seeing how they bounced but not making a necklace. He would end up with one bead on the string and he often had to be invited to put the work away to move to another lesson that would address these sensorial needs. The necklace lesson would only sustain him for the typical 5 minutes.
As the year went on, he continued with the same ritual with the necklace. Then one day, he brought his string over to me to be tied and he had put four beads on it. In watching him a little closer the next few days, I observed him staying with the necklace work for closer to 10 minutes with less beads dropping to the floor.
We moved on into spring and the class had settled into the routines. I watched this child choose the same necklace work and do it now with a purpose. He would carefully move the beads in the box, specifically looking for certain beads. He had a plan in mind and showed more organizational skills. He would put 10 to 20 specific beads on the necklace and now he could focus for 20 to 30 minutes.
It’s easy to miss this type of progress and to not see the benefits in a lesson as simple as stringing beads. But this child, in doing the same work all year, improved many things: fine motor skills, concentration, attention span, organizational skills, planning, creativity, focus. This type of progress is just as important as the more obvious “academic” progress.
Are you looking for this improvement in your child? Have you seen the value in a lesson as simple as stringing beads, even to a 5 year old?
Jenny Formon has been working at Charlotte Montessori since 1995. She enjoys being in the classroom as well as sharing the Montessori philosophy with others. Jenny writes with her fellow teachers for her school’s blog at http://www.charlottemontessori.com/blog/.