Category: Inspiration (page 3 of 4)

Lindenschule in Austria: A School inspired by Maria Montessori and Rebeca Wild

Here is an example of one of over 600 Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools in Europe. In May 2012, I visited the Lindenschule in Innsbruck, Austria. Steve, a board member and teacher, showed me around the elementary school environment. Here is what I saw…

A beautiful friendly house:

A spacious, natural outdoor play area:

A big dirt and water play area:

A super-inspiring arts and crafts room with plenty of raw materials available:

An elaborate block and pretend play area:

An indoor water play space:

Measuring and mixing containers:

The kitchen prepared so that children can use it independently:

A writing area:

A friendly and inspiring space for math, geometry, and algebra with Montessori and other hands-on learning materials:

Montessori math materials:

Montessori beads materials:

There were even more amazing environments…a huge indoor movement room, separate rooms for the preschool, an outdoor crafting and eating area…The environments are constantly adapted to the children’s genuine needs. Currently, over fifty children are part this school. Here is a link to their website www.lindenschule.at

I hope you are inspired! Let’s create similar schools here in the US! Get in touch!
Carmen
www.newlearningculture.com
Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

Would you put a flower in the fridge?

In my Montessori teacher training, a student asked one of the teachers: Shouldn’t children be exposed to hardship to get used to the reality of life?
The teacher answered with a question:
Would you put a flower in the fridge to help it get used to the Winter?

Our answer was of course, NO! We would nurture the flower, water it, expose it to sunshine, protect it from pests and help it get strong for the Winter. Don’t you think we should do the same with children?

Instead of creating unnecessary hardships for children, we need to nurture them best we can. Life will bring hardships in its own time, and then a child will be strong and feel ready to overcome any obstacle.

The Natural Rights of Children #6 through #10 by Gianfranco Zavalloni

THE RIGHT TO A “GOOD START”

From birth on, eating healthy foods, drink clean water and breathe fresh air

 
THE RIGHT TO BE IN THE STREETS OF THE VILLAGE / TOWN

To play freely in the center plaza and walk the streets safely

 

THE RIGHT TO BE WILD

To build a shelter or fort in the woods, to have to hide-out in reeds, to climb the trees

 

THE RIGHT TO SILENCE

To listen to the wind, the singing of birds, the splashing of water

 
THE RIGHT TO OBSERVATION

To see the sunrise and sunset, to admire the night, the moon and the stars

Listening to Silence

Fall, with its short days, invites us in a very natural way to more calm, tranquility and meditation. We can accept this invitation.

Instead of planning trips or turning on the TV, we can allow ourselves to light a candle on a dark evening and to do nothing , just nothing.

Resting and slowing down are very important components of natural growth processes. We can sit down and breathe deeply. To our children we can say: “I am resting, just like the plants in winter.” Or “I am listening to silence.”

Basically we can say that we have two different ways of perceiving the world that depend on whether we are relaxed or stressed. In a laid-back mood, it is much easier to be friendly, patient and considerate. However, when we are stressed and in a hurry, it is much harder to demonstrate patience, and it often happens that we are rude – especially with children. We easily lose patience and have little understanding for the nature of a child.

These two opposite ways of looking at the world can even be distinguished on the biological level. For example, when we are in a hurry, stress hormones are released into our bodies and change our way of thinking and acting. Relaxation is almost a prerequisite to understand the child’s world. A stressed adult has little patience with himself and even less with children.

To honor silence, we can concentrate on our breathing, or on the breath of our child and vice versa. The slower and deeper the breath, the more relaxed we are. Then we can think or say: “I breathe in joy. I breathe out sadness. I breathe in kindness. I breathe out stress. ”

Then we can focus on our body and consciously feel and release tension. These types of meditation are very effective for adults, but not for all children.

Children have a natural gift for meditation, if we understand meditation as “allowing ourselves to dwell in the present”. They can focus deeply on a drawing or a game, and all the forces in the body and mind are focused on their activity. Thus, their activity naturally becomes a meditation.

Dr. Maria Montessori recognized this natural affinity to meditation in children. She respected and nurtured this phenomenon and named it “normalization”. An anecdote says that once Dr. Montessori placed a child together with his chair on a table while the child kept working quietly on a learning material. That child was in a deep state of focus called flow.

At home we can create space and time for this type of focused activity. Many crafting works are suitable to bring about calmness and concentration. It is not just about finding wonderful crafting projects for the season, but also about how we present these and lead the child to focused work.

We can ask ourselves: “Is the child ready for concentrated work? Or do we need time for movement first?” If willingness can be felt, we turn off the TV, computer and telephone. On the table we should only place relevant materials – no distractions.
Then we can start, and describe our activity with a few clear words. Step by step we can help the child to do it by him/herself, and once the work is in progress we can work on our own project or watch the child work.

To summarize, whether resting, doing quiet meditation, or tinkering – the most important aspects are the relaxation and well-being that are being evoked. Then, everything can become an important part of a natural learning process.

Wishing all my readers a peaceful and happy holiday season!

Carmen Gamper
www.newlearningculture.com

P.S.: New Learning Culture will be again at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Family Day (Woodacre Ca. 94973) on Sunday January 30! Come by and explore our wonderful learning toys! RSVP here: www.spiritrock.org

New Learning Culture at Green Fest San Francisco

New Learning Culture offered a booth at Green Fest San Francisco at the beginning of November 2010.

We presented a variety of hands-on learning materials from Montessori, Nikitin, Froebel and contemporary educators. The materials look like simple toys, board games and jigsaw puzzles, but are made for math and language skill development, spatial thinking, and sensory development. These materials fulfill the genuine need for deep understanding of subjects and concepts which are often only taught on paper.

Kids and parents enjoyed the materials alike! A few kids focused so deeply on a material, that they didn’t want to leave! A father asked his son: “Now, what do you prefer, this block game or your i-pod?” The seven-year-old boy said: “This block game!” Victory for hands-on learning 🙂

Adults were very interested as well, and explored the materials. Many of us have never had the opportunity to learn math and language with hands-on materials, even less in a self-directed way. While the children were mostly focusing on the materials, we were able to inspire parents and educators to use more hands-on materials and also self-directed learning techniques.

On both days, I gave a talk about hands-on and self-directed learning.

Many thanks to all the people who came by our booth and signed up for our e-mail list! Many thanks to Gustavo Alcantar for the great graphic design and the invaluable support at the booth! Many thanks to Katrina Zavalney for inviting New Learning Culture to Green Fest! Many thanks to Bryan Ting for organizing the kid’s zone.

Look for us at next spring’s Green fest April 2011. We hope to be there!!
Joyfully,
Carmen Gamper

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