|Seven Virtues by Francesco Pesellino|
As I have referred to chores, I shall not go over the necessity for character building in doing chores, including helping keep the home school area tidy. Children should not be allowed to home school in pjs. or play cloths. I had my son change into school appropriate cloths, and this was a help in discipline.
The fact that the child takes and places things on the shelves, cleans up after art or other activities, says prayer before and after class time and so on created the environment of peace needed in the home school.
The environment should be light, airy, clean and large enough for the separate materials and separate subjects to be on shelves. The subjects should be in different areas. And, if one is setting up a Montessori environment, the child, after being shown how to use the materials, should choose what he wants to work on by himself. What Montessori calls practical life is easy to incorporate in any method. So can the sensorial materials, to capture the sensitive periods of hearing, seeing, and touching. If you do not know about the sensitive periods, one can read about those here on this chart from Wiki or more on Montessori websites. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitive_periods
I shall follow this order for virtue and character building, as well as the specific subjects. This is why there will be more posts. My comments at the end of the sections are in bold.
Birth to 6 years
The absorbent mind: the mind soaks up information like a sponge.
Sensory learning and experiences: the child uses all five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing - to understand and absorb information about his or her environment.
1.5 to 3 years
Language explosion: a child builds his or her future foundation for language.
1.5 to 4 years
Development and coordination of fine and large muscle skills, advanced developing grasp and release skill spawns an interest in any small object.
2 to 4 years
Very mobile with greater coordination and refinement of movement, increased interest in language and communication (they enjoy telling stories), aware of spatial relationships, matching, sequence and order of objects. Sequencing starts at age 2 as well as ordering of objects in my experience with children.
2.5 to 6 years
Works well incorporating all five senses for learning and adapting to environment.
3 to 6 years
Interest in and admiration of the adult world: they want to copy and mimic adults, such as parents and teachers. This is a good age to start chores, at 3, like dusting and sweeping, dishes and such.
4 to 5 years
Using one’s hands and fingers in cutting, writing and art. Their tactile senses are very developed and acute.
4.5 to 6 years
Reading and math readiness, and, eventually, reading and math skills. This can happen a year earlier at three; I find this chart later than experience as most children have the math and reading explosion starting at age three.
In the next posts, I shall try and get through all the major virtues showing practical applications of how a parent can encourage and nourish each virtue.
I must state again, that I am not writing about special needs children, although I know that the Montessori Method works well for such children. And, I remind people that this approach takes not only time and planning, but a spiritual journey for the parents as well. Make sure that both parents chose the spirituality of the curriculum, as I presented in previous posts.
Chose one and stick with it. One must be consistent in approach.
In fact, I grew as much spirituality as my child did in character building and virtue training.
One relies on the inspiration of God daily, for God gives parents insights into their characters and their vocations.
Montessori writes about being "well-balanced" and that one attains an "equilibrium" through obedience and through the intellect. Such equilibrium brings peace and strength. In this day and age of coming persecution, we need to raise strong children.
Even today, I was speaking with a seminarian, who told me that the sems talk about the possible destruction of local and centralized institutional Church in their country. The country is not Nigeria or Egypt or Lebanon, but Great Britain. The need for spiritual strength to be fostered in young people is now.
Years ago, in 2001, when it became clear to me that we would see great catastrophes in our lives in the West, when I was in the Canada, I was aware that the generation of Millennials would be a generation of either martyrs or persecutors. Then, I knew that the home schooling course was the only viable option for creating a generation of saints. Ten years later, this is even more obvious. I started home schooling in 1991 because I saw the rot in the Catholic schools; by 2001, I saw the rot in the entire culture, conspiring against the spiritual health of all children.
The child must become his own master, over his body, his mind, his heart, his soul. And, as Maria Montessori wrote, "A prepared environment, a life of peace, the required concentration for meditation and contemplation, mastery over the body, silence and the same exercises repeated from day to day.....produces the greatest heroes, namely the saints, those who were ready for every strife, struggles against every temptation, endurance, martyrdom..." She was making the comparison between the monasteries and her schools.
She continued, "Such heroes are not formed by heated speeches, nor by sounding the trumpet of war; on the contrary they have traversed the noiseless road of formation."
She went on to write that the child's inner life, given by God, will form the child and that concentration is the centre of development, not the monastic rule. But, an order it does demand.
The fact that pre-school should include language skills, including grammar, maths, science, logic, music, and nature studies, such as looking at the stars, means that one can apply this virtue training not only through the practical life, cutting, pouring, cleaning, folding, sewing, buttoning, but through the classical subjects. Again, look at the graph above for the ages.
to be continued...