In everyday life, our children's week is marked by defined routines, which help them to orient themselves in time and space. Instead, in the strange time of quarantine, order is upset and families have to restructure their days together with their children, organizing work, play, housework and school commitments, making continuous decisions and improvising.
The Montessori pedagogue and writer Annalisa Perino created the book Children at home and happy. Montessori activities (Longanesi Casa Editrice), in which she guides parents in the delicate task of rebuilding the domestic order for their children, proposing weekly programs and 24 Montessori-inspired activities divided by age group.
We interviewed her asking her to tell us more about the book and to suggest some Montessori activities that the children can do at home. Annalisa Perino also curates the Montessoriacasa website.
In this article:
- "Happy children at home. Montessori activities"
- How is it possible to organize children's days at home?
- How can Montessori activities help us especially in this difficult moment?
- "A family-friendly house"
- Montessori activities to do with children during this quarantine period
“Children at home and happy. Montessori activities "
Annalisa Perino said that, in addition to being a Montessori pedagogist, she is the mother of three daughters, aged 1 to 7, and that, at the beginning of the quarantine, she found herself wondering how to manage the situation.
"Longanesi's proposal came at the right time to share food for thought and some suggestions on how to move during quarantine to ensure the well-being of all members of the family unit with other families in the same situation as me," he explained.Read also: 4 Montessori activities to promote autonomy at home
How is it possible to organize children's days at home?
«First of all we need to think about them and plan them. There is a risk that children face these days in a disoriented way. On the other hand, we must not saturate them by making a tight schedule and with continuous stimuli. Instead, it is necessary to organize these days by letting oneself be guided by the needs of children and to structure a macro-routine, identifying the fixed reference points that children need, allowing them to find individual spaces and planning their personal activities.
You can create a very extensive program of the day, in which there are defined times, keeping the times as regular as possible (alarm time, lunch time, bedtime, etc.). There must be small rituals that make children perceive, for example, the beginning or the end of the day.
Older children can be made to schedule study time, in the morning or after lunch, for example. You can also plan a time related to movement during the day: muscle awakening ((yoga, gymnastics, etc.) in the family can be done perhaps in the morning, before breakfast.
What becomes routine helps children to perceive the passage of time and the sequencing of actions. The usual routine decreases their stress level and anxiety about not knowing what is about to happen. In the book there are suggestions for building family programs, even for younger children, which allow them to "auto-respond" when they don't know what time of day they are.
Another tip of the book is to involve the children in the management of the house. During the quarantine time is extended more than before, so you can participate with the parents more in the tidying of the linen, the preparation of meals and all other household chores. You could also assign tasks to each one based on a work plan (a bit like when you go camping). This makes the children feel involved and makes them responsible ».Read also: The educational management of children at the time of the coronavirus
The schools are closed. How can Montessori activities help us especially in this difficult moment?
«We must not remove children from what real life is, relegating them to an artificial environment made up, perhaps, only by toys. The greatest need of the little ones is to be involved in real life. It is much more valuable to involve them in simple activities rather than building wasteful activities (difficult chores, etc.) from the point of view of energy and time.
All the indications given in the book are aimed at train parents' gaze to daily activities, so that the latter can become learning opportunities for children. For example, a 7-year-old child at home could prepare a small dish in the kitchen following a very simple recipe, independently. This gives the child the opportunity to carry out a complex activity and the parent only intervenes in what the child cannot manage independently ".Read also: Montessori activities to offer to children from 0 to 14 years
"A family-friendly house"
“In my opinion, the children are experiencing this period of quarantine in a simpler and more natural way than we think. This is an opportunity for them to spend much more time with their parents than usual: for them it is a precious gift, which we underestimate.
Each member of the family has specific needs that must be satisfied within the confined space of the home. The child needs to move, to use his hands, etc. Parents need creativity and sensitivity, who must be able to give children a way to satisfy their needs, unfortunately, even in unsuitable environments.
Since children need to get tired, the book is advised to loosen the rules on domestic space during this period, since, since there is not adequate space and time for motor activities, it is clear that these will be carried out in the home environment.
Then, it is worth mentioning that cleaning is also a physical exercise: giving children the opportunity to wash, for example, offers them benefits, also because they love to be involved. The little ones love to participate in the care of the environment. For example, it is possible to give a 3-4 year old child the opportunity to wash a small table, with the necessary instructions and the right tools ».Read also: Montessori, personal and environmental care activities for children
Montessori activities to do with children during this quarantine period
«In the book the activities are divided into age groups, also because the child, going through various stages of development, changes his needs, his questions and his approach to the environment.
The little one, for example, from 0 to 3 years he needs to explore different materials, so the ideal activities for him are:
- SIMPLE TRANSFERS. All you need is a mat, two identical bowls (one containing material such as sand, etc.) and a special tool (or the use of your hand) to do the pouring work.
- FISHING FOR OBJECTS with corks or stones. You can give the child a bucket with water, in which he can put the caps or the stones (not too big or dangerous), allowing him later, with a skimmer, to fish the stones and pour them into an empty container. This activity can also be done on the balcony (or, if there is one, in the garden of the house).
- PAINTING WITH WATER. Painting is leaving a trace of oneself, so it is important for children. It can be done, with a brush and water, on a stone or on the floor. This activity allows the child to see the trace he has left. Later the track disappears as it dries up and it is possible to start over. This operation is very simple and for the child it is very fascinating.
By To 3 6 years the child needs to put in order all the information he has explored independently in the first three years of life. The little one, in this age group, wants to understand: it is as if he were in front of a bookshop and he wants a library to sort everything out. Activities for this age group are therefore important to tidying up. Here are some of them.
- SHAPE HUNTING. A geometric shape can be placed on a mat, perhaps a triangle of cardboard or other material. Then the child is invited to look for all the objects in the house that have the basis of that shape. The ideal is to retrieve at least 10 objects and place them on the mat, to then observe and manipulate them.
- Il SEWING it is part of the activities related to fine manual skills. The child pierces the cardboard with a pencil and then with a toothpick connected to a thread or with a plastic needle (from wool) begins to do the sewing work. The same activity can also be offered to an older child, 6-7 years old, by teaching them, for example, to mend a sock. In fact, in this extended period of isolation it is possible to teach skills that otherwise it is not said would still be experienced by the child.
With older children, however, you can do:
- THE STRIP OF TIME. From a piece of cloth you can cut out a long strip, inside which the child can write or represent his "curiosities", in order to view very abstract concepts such as the "before, the after, the old, the new one". It is possible, perhaps, to place all the members of the family on the time strip, starting with the great-grandmother. For example, historical events, such as the birth of the computer, etc., can also be inserted on the time strip, learning the succession of events and temporality.
Finally, the book suggests that it is possible to carry out Montessori activities with simple materials and that it is possible to do them in any environment. No specific materials are needed. In the home environment there are an infinite number of ideas for setting up activities that can be valid learning opportunities for the child ».20 PHOTOS
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