With that said, I find that 6 year olds without a work-plan at all, are missing out on a *huge* piece of Montessori elementary.
Aren't we supposed to follow the child?
YES! That is why there should be some form of a work plan and/or work journal, and best is both - starting around age 6.
Remember the 4 planes of development?
In the first plane, the inner teacher of the child directs their learning and growth. Children will generally grow and learn and develop certain skills regardless of what WE do. Most parents know to give their children food, warmth, snuggles, conversation. Thus children who are even abused and neglected gain SOME skills, develop at least SOME. I realize there are extreme situations, but here we are focusing on *most* parents.
The child's inner teacher guides that growth. All that we adults can do is provide the *optimal* environment. I say "all that we can do" - but I also say "that IS what we should do."
And we trust that inner guide to utilize the good things we have placed in the environment to develop that child before us.
By the second plane, as the absorbent mind peters out and the social connections become hungry, children now need societal expectations; they live on rules and order - creating their own clubs, their own languages - that herd instinct that still craves identity. The first plane achieved strong identity of self, the second plane now works on strong identity of group dynamics.
Just as we fed that ego in the first plane, now we feed that need for group dynamics in the second plane. If the need is fulfilled now, we will have adolescents who seek to be members of the world, not clinging to the vestiges of "group belonging" that should have been fulfilled in the second plane.
Wow. What does that have to work plans? ;)
This work plan and/or work journal is one small way we create those societal expectations. We also have the following:
- studies on the fundamental needs of man
- meeting those needs throughout time
- reasons for laws in society
- continuing the same skills from primary - preparing work for the next child, completing a work cycle
- environmental expectations (chores)
- Goings Out - formal or informal - interacting with society
- prepares for 3rd and 6th year in elementary when the child should be working a bit with the local school standards
- there's more but Legoboy keeps interrupting me with some Lego creations I need to post about soon!
The work journal is most handy when preparing for the upcoming work plan - review what was done, how much progress was made, ask further questions.... "You didn't really do anything after our story on the (fill in the blank). What have you thought about that story since then? Let's have another story in that area this coming week - here are some choices, which would you like?" (this doesn't force an interest, but does develop other important social skills, such as making choices in an area of no interest, taking some ownership for learning, and could potentially develop an interest).