Yesterday, I sewed Oliver a superhero cape (that was possibly supposed to have been a Christmas gift. From 2012). He’s been flying through the house so all my pictures of it have been a blur. While I was working, he worked too on a pin cushion activity with my pins. Yes, they are real pins. He carefully takes a pin out and puts it in the bowl or sometimes, from the bowl to the pin cushion. As you can see from his face, this is important work.
He attends a Montessori preschool and I have been absolutely blown away at what he can really do as a newly minted three year old. Montessori assumes a child’s intelligence. They assume that they CAN. It’s such a difference than what we often assume about children. That we should wait to let them handle real objects. That they can’t handle it or be careful enough to work with real household objects. That they need help, big help, intervening help. My three year old has learned how to do so many incredible things since he started this school six months ago. Does he do everything perfectly? Nope. But he’s shown how to handle an object and he is allowed to do it.
I’m not trained in Montessori. I’m a mom. So please take my story with a grain of salt and the freedom to work with your child the way that works best for your family. With this activity, I showed him how to move the pin from the cushion to the bowl. Then the bowl to the pin cushion. Sounds simple, but there are tenets of demonstration that I follow:
Demonstrate the activity silently. If you are speaking, the child is watching your face or hearing you without listening well. Move your hands, not your mouth if you can. (This is hard for me. Very hard.)
Exaggerate every movement. I opened my hand wide then exaggerated my first finger and thumb coming together into a pincer grasp, then with a big movement, picked up each pin to move it. You feel weird for sure, but the child can see your movement very clearly.
Get out of their way. Don’t over demonstrate. Don’t start talking about the activity. Just back off and let them DO the activity!
Oliver didn’t prick himself once.