What a frustrating day...and it was just my kids today, Norah having a sick brother at home, and Janie throwing up last night (I'm not sure if she's sick or not...but better safe than sorry). I decided to do a bit of school to give us something to do for the morning.
I realized that my frustration mostly stems from expecting perfection from the kids. I want Janie to do her work in a designated area, and instead she wants to carry it all over the room. I want the kids to speak in quiet voices, and instead they talk normally and sometimes even shout. I want them to use the works on the shelves exactly as they have been shown, and instead they "get creative".
Examples of what went on today:
-Janie wanted to work right next to Lucy, and kept scootching her chair, and later her floor mat, so she was almost touching Lucy. It didn't seem to bother Lucy, but it sure bothered me!
-Lucy drew a picture and then proceeded to cut it up and tape the pieces onto another piece of paper. She took the tape from the "taping tray" where it was designated to tape colorful triangles onto white paper.
-Gene used the taping tray correctly (all the kids are learning how to get pieces of tape off...it's harder than I thought it would be!) but then got some markers and colored it as well. This wasn't terrible, but the markers weren't designated to go with the taping tray...
-Gene spilled a whole cupful of beans all over the hard floor, where they scattered all over. This interrupted everyone.
I find myself wanting to correct them alot, but this doesn't serve the purpose I wish it would. It makes them feel bad for being creative, especially when they are really excited about what they did. And it makes me feel like the big bad mama.
What a Montessori teacher would do (I think!) is to give lots of lessons during circle time and privately about the correct way to use materials. And not at the time they are being used inappropriately. At a completely different time, so as not to make anyone feel bad. At the moment of incorrect use, a teacher would simple come over to a child, and either redirect them to another work (if it looked like they were either bored of what they were doing or didn't really want to be doing it) or ask a leading question (such as, which triangle are you going to tape on next?) Asking questions like this should hopefully lead the child to remember what they are doing/supposed to be doing and get them back on track. If it doesn't, they could put the work away and choose something else.
This is a great way to keep the school environment under control...but alas, with a toddler things become much more difficult. Because these things don't work for a toddler. Janie can't handle lessons or circle time yet. She doesn't have the attention span to watch me do something...I can simply do the first part, and then let her explore with the rest. Most of her works are things that don't have a specific purpose, like blocks, small bean bowl, playdough, shape sorter, etc.
I find myself constantly trying to re-direct Janie or help her with something. At the same time, I am fielding questions from the other kids and noticing if things aren't being used correctly (but can't always address it right away). At circle time, when it would be nice to address some of these things, Janie is getting really tired of "behaving" and often just wants to play with the kids. Maybe this would be a good time to give her "crib time" as the Babywise books suggest... (I don't know how to link to another site, I should learn sometime, but the idea is to have a certain amount of time (probably up to 30 minutes at 19 months) for a child to play in their crib (and later just in their room) quietly. I have never tried it, but it's appealing.
Anyway, I haven't done my job very well, and I am suffering the consequences. And the kids are, too, because their concentration is often broken and things seem to be escalating. And hence the frustration...