//Desire for Activity

Desire for Activity

In her 1936 book, The Child in the Family, Maria Monessori explained,

We must support as much as possible the child’s desires for activity; not wait on him, but educate him to be independent.”


Adding signed numbers with color-coded beads.


Talking it through as we go.



Here, children who have just received a lesson from their teacher relish the opportunity to set up an example and work it out themselves, using sets of multicolor beads for positive numbers, and gray beads for negative numbers.



They know that the temperature can be “below zero” and that elevation can be expressed as “below sea level,” so the need for positive and negative numbers can be explained, but how to add and subtract with them?



The natural desire for activity takes over when the manipulative material makes sense and when the teacher retreats to allow the children to talk it through themselves.  “Let’s see, a positive six and a negative four. . . . the difference is positive two, so leave that in the row and put the positive six here and the negative four there. . .”



And, at the end, the children check their work with second sets of beads, gold, for the positive numbers, and combinations of red-and-white for the negative numbers.



So, here we are “supporting the child’s desires for activity”.  We are also “educating the child to be independent”.  The child is not independent of friends, for it is among and with friends that this independence is made possible; he or she becomes independent of the adult’s step-by-step guidance.



“Not waiting on him, . . .” what does that mean?  Is it difficult to refrain from doing something for someone you care about when it is something the person can find joy in doing independently?  Or with other friends?



This is an example of how a very specific exercise with Montesssori materials can illustrate an everyday principle underlying our work at Northwoods Montessori School.



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2017-11-14T22:22:50+00:00By |Early Education|