Froukje Matthews studied for and trained as a primary school teacher in her native Holland, obtained Montessori teaching qualifications (3-6 and 6-9 cycles) in Australia as well as a Post-Grad Diploma in Early Childhood Education from the QUT (Brisbane, Queensland). She taught Kumon Math to all ages, worked as and ESL teacher in Spain and has run her own Montessori Playgroup and preschool for over twenty years. She speaks five languages and has lived in a number of countries.
‘Life skills’ also means how to beautify one’s environment.
I read an article once about a war torn area, Lebanon it was from memory. There was a photo of a middle aged woman, dressed in black and her hair covered by a scarf, watering a rose with three red blooms that grew in the shelter of a tumbled down wall surrounded by rubble.
She said that as long as there was beauty she would foster it, for life would be unbearable without beauty and nature was providing her with hope for having saved this rose…I have never forgotten this article.
Children, even the very young, love beautiful things, but it will mean even more when they see us enjoying and nurturing and appreciating beauty.
Doing the dishes after morning tea is part and parcel of our routine. Jodie is making us a cup of coffee in the grown-up people’s kitchen, ready to give verbal directions when necessary.
The children learn in a natural setting for our culture what ‘standing in line’ means. We give them the vocabulary, we demonstrate how one does it and we point out that this way everyone ‘gets a turn’.
The children in the preschool classes do it as a matter of course. They learned it in the Playgroup sessions when they were still so small that having their hands in the water was an experience in itself!
Each child is unique and so is their way of solving problems. Here is an example of a child who many would judge at first sight as a ‘snatcher’, for he simply takes what he thinks he needs when he plays regardless of whether or not an item is held by another child.
Let’s call him Charlie. He is a very active three and a half year old who can speak in full sentences and totally zooms in to whatever his eyes are attracted to in a kind of tunnel vision manner. He is quite a fearless child and because of his verbal skill appears older than he really is.
Around three years of age a change takes place in little boys: Soft and cuddly babies who morphed into cute toddlers now turn into challenging and defiant little critters one minute while going into complete melt down the next. When this happens parents wonder what on earth has happened or what they are doing wrong! Nothing they have done is wrong; this behaviour is a symptom of little boys having reached the next growing phase.
It means that for the coming three years testosterone levels will be at its highest, NOT to trigger sexual maturity, but to assist the male species to grow more and stronger muscle mass. The side effect is that they will challenge the very people they will actually feel closest to and feel safe with, mostly their parents. They want to be strong, carry big things, are very pleased when someone remarks how their muscles have grown and they often want to do manual things they see dad or grandpa do, the more action the better.
When action is more effective than words
Many 3-6 year olds are still unable to control emotions and pace themselves. When over excited they can get themselves into a spin without knowing how to stop it. It has been our experience that even using language can be too much at some point.
Emotions shoot up and through their body like a lightning bold and are expressed immediately, e.g. when something doesn’t work, it may get thrown. If a door doesn’t open, it will be kicked.
When the child feels happy, he may literally run around in circles. This type of behaviour is more apparent in boys than in girls. The brain is still in the process of constructing the reasoning part and adults can influence how this pathway is being constructed.
The point is that the child has as yet no means of controlling himself unless he is helped how to express strong feelings appropriately. Reprimanding a child verbally across the room does nothing or may even make matters worse.