Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Timelines: Doing the child's work for him

The contents of this post might offend some people - that is NOT my intention at all! I do acknowledge it might hit some of us personally, so please see this as an opportunity for personal reflection and growth of your own choosing.

Why, in Montessori environments, are we doing the work FOR the children? Why are we providing them with materials they are supposed to make on their own?

Per this Montessori Nugget on Timelines in Elementary, I field many questions on this topic.

In a nutshell, there are 8 key timelines for the elementary environment. Just 8. One is SO easily handmade; the others you will have to decide about making or purchasing based on your time, abilities, beliefs, and financial situation. (teehee - you'll have to look at the Montessori Nugget to find which 8!)

Any MORE timelines present in the elementary environment should be made by the children. Pique their interest, provide them materials. The materials are SO SIMPLE - you will simply LOVE how simple they are - the burden is OFF OF YOU! Why buy or make more timelines when you don't have to!?

What are these mystery materials? You'll see at the end ;)

Purchased timelines, outside of the 8 keys, are someone else's interpretation about what is important. They are an opinion. What about your child's opinions? Do you notice how the key 8 timelines are based on key information that is pretty universal in regards to importance? Montessori selected those points of interest for very good reasons - they ARE universal, and correspond to fundamental human needs, not someone's opinion.

What if you are in a situation that the child has some educational requirements (state-mandated requirements, family requirements) and there is just NO INTEREST at all in this subject matter? You've tried everything to entice their interest, it isn't happening, but they MUST do it!?

  1. Hopefully you have laid a strong foundation for freedom and responsibility. Use that work plan - freedom to choose within a day or within a week or within a month - filled with the requirements for that time period. You must be using some form of work plan in elementary to truly have a Montessori environment. Some form - not any  particular form!
  2. You may need to create a timeline for them. A sketchy timeline, that only displays the bare requirements - they can study this timeline, learn what they need to learn and MOVE ON. The elementary history album should have information on how to go about doing this in a very Montessori fashion. 
  3. It is very possible that the particular topic is just not going to be of interest at this time of life - wait a few more months if you can. But if it's a requirement that you can't get out of, refer back to #2. 
  4. By the time a child gets started on the bare minimum requirements, we find that most children are then enticed by the information involved and will add in at least a few things that are of interest to them. If there is still a continuous hitting of a brick wall, either the adult is pushing too hard, too fast and at the wrong time; or the child is pushing back because the adult is being too forceful. More often than not, the issue is with the adult's pressure and expectations than the child. We need to follow the child's developmental needs and abilities. 

Our home life:

My son (the ancient history buff!) really could not get into American History despite it being a "requirement" for this past summer - well, we're late on it now. So we found a family study that we just started on yesterday. This study includes only the most pertinent information for memorization, with which we will create note-cards to lay in order and create a timeline; along with additional suggested activities in case interest has indeed been piqued and further study is desired. I am NOT going to sit and make a timeline of US History for him; and I am not going to spend money on one either - because he can make it himself when the time is RIGHT for him. In the meantime, we do what we need to get through any requirements.

Interestingly enough, here is a selection from our local public school requirements for grade 2 social studies:
Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Research
2.1.5 Develop a simple timeline of important events in the history of the school and/or
2.1.6 Create and maintain a calendar of important school days, holidays and community
2.1.7 Read about and summarize historical community events using libraries and a
variety of information resources*.
Example: Write paragraphs or draw illustrations.

Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Analysis and Interpretation,
3.1.5 Create simple timelines that identify important events in various regions of the
3.1.6 Use a variety of community resources to gather information about the regional
communities. (Individuals, Society and Culture)
Example: Libraries, museums, county historians, chambers of commerce, Web
sites, and digital newspapers and archives
3.1.7 Distinguish between fact and fiction in historical accounts by comparing
documentary sources on historical figures and events with fictional characters and
events in stories.
Example: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John Chapman (Johnny
Appleseed) and Harriet Tubman
3.1.8 Write and illustrate descriptions of local communities and regions in Indiana past
and present.
Example: Shawnee villages in Southern Indiana and Conner Prairie settlement

Even THEY want the children to create their own timelines!

Fourth grade in my area even wants the children to study the history of artists and musicians - in the history standards, not just the art and music standards! So, if the public schools require the making of timelines by the children - why are we just handing them to the children?

In essence, why are we doing the children's work for them?

The materials - do not have a cost a fortune and YOU don't have to work for it!

First: History Question Charts; the 8 key Montessori timelines

register tape
or call a local paper company and
ask for ends off their rolls
(usually free!) - in various widths
Add scissors, writing pencils, a ruler
and maybe sets of blank notecards or small paper
to take notes, place in order; then add to the timeline

That's all folks!

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