Monday, July 25, 2011

An Overview of Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is a methodology based on the scientific/psychological work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs and developed by Dr. Jane Nelson.  The main goal of the program is to teach children to be responsible and respectful of themselves and their community.  The idea is to allow children to learn from their experiences.  It is always respectful of the child and encouraging.  When teaching, Jane Nelson alway reminds us that "children do better when the feel better".  It is not punitive in any way.  

Parents/teachers and children work together to develop a plan for reaching a goal.  That goal may be to get chores or home work done or to stop hitting a sibling.  Really it can be any issue that needs a solution.  Once a mutually agreed upon plan is constructed, parents/teachers must be very consistent to do what they have said they would do.  In the Parenting with Positive Discipline Training, there is an experiential activity, as this is the way all the skills are taught to parents/teachers, to teach this idea of following through.  The  "Parent"  tells the two young "siblings" that he/she can't safely drive if they are fighting in the back seat.  He/she explains that she will bring a book in the car, and the next time they have something they have to fight about, he/she will simply pull the car over to the side of the road and read his/her book until they are finished.  He/she will know they are finished when they are quiet and calmly tell him/her they are ready to continue the trip.  They all act out the scenario with the "siblings" seated n chairs behind the "parent's" chair.  When they begin fighting the "parent" pulls the "car" over by moving his/her chair to the right, and the "children" follow.  The "parent" then takes out the book and reads.  Eventually the dueling "siblings" realize they are never going to get where they are going, so they agree to calm down and tell the "parent" they are ready.  The "parent" never acts angry or raises his/her voice.  He/she simply follows through with the plan to adress the issue, and will repeat the same strategy any time needed.  To help the children succeed, the "parent" will remind the "children" before car trips of the plan.  As you can see there are simple ideas that work very well and don't require that anyone feels bad.  

Some other important skills that are taught with this method are:
  • Using encouragement instead of praise
  • Being kind and firm at the same time, not permissive or punitive
  • Looking for the belief behind the behavior - "why is this undesired behavior occurring?"
I hope that I have shared enough to a least peak your interest in this program.   Positive Discipline training for parents and teachers is a truly life changing experience.  I highly recommend it to anyone who works, lives or interacts with children, or adults for that matter.  It is really just a treasure chest of skills for respectful communication and conflict resolution!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What is Montessori?

Montessori is the last name of a woman named Maria Montessori(MM).  MM was the first female medical doctor in Italy.  She later became interested in educating the "uneducable" children (special needs children) of Rome.  During her work with these children she made many observations and noticed a universal pattern of development in children.  She also noticed that children go through, what she called, "Sensitive Periods".  Special times in their development where they have a heightened ablitly to learn a certain thing or acquire a certain skill.  For example, there is a sensitive period for language development during which children can learn many languages without effort and with perfect pronunciation.  She then developed materials to respond to these sensitive periods.  These materials allowed the children to learn through their manipulation of them.  The teacher, or guide as we call her/him, is then responsible for connecting the children to the materials with one on one lessons.  MM was able to help the "uneducable" children learn at or above the level of the "normal" children in the public schools.  Eventually she was able to use her new method to educate many "normal" children.  She began to train teachers all over the world in her method.  Her exact teacher training continues in Association Montessori International (AMI) training centers all over the world.  Teachers receive the AMI diploma, certifying them to teach in Montessori classrooms all over the world.
Some identifying characteristics of the Montessori Method of Education include:
  • Mixed age groups 
  • Three year cycle in one classroom
  • Individual lessons, following the interest/development of each child
  • Emphasis on independence in the child
  • Child sized materials and furniture
  • Self-correcting materials
  • Real materials, made with wood, glass, metal
  • Three hour work cycle each day
MM never called her method "The Montessori Method", if anything she referred to it as the children's method.  She felt that it was the children who showed her the way to educate them, the children learned spontaneously through manipulation of the materials.  She wrote many books to share her philosophy on educating and raising children. Some of my favorites are listed on my book list.
    There is so much more to say about what Montessori is and means to me, but that is enough  for now.