Where the child's interest inspires great work
Maitri Learning creates educational materials that are research-based, accurate, beautiful, durable, and usable. Maitri Learning was founded somewhat accidentally by a Montessori teacher who was trying to buy the perfect materials for her classroom and couldn't find them anywhere. Now, the materials she created (based specifically on the precise directions received in her AMI training) are used by Montessori teachers, parents, and teacher trainers around the world. We are named after the Buddhist word maitri which means 'having a compassionate, kind heart.' We keep the principle of maitri at the front of all of our business decisions.
Maitri is a green, eco-friendly, fair-wage, right-livelihood, woman-owned business. We pay all of our employees at least $15/hour, which should be our country's national minimum wage. Our prices reflect these fair labor costs along with the higher costs of environmentally-sound paper, toxin-free laminate, and inks made without ozone-depleting substances.
In so many classrooms I see children using objects and pictures with the movable alphabet. I usually also see that the child is not terribly interested in using the movable alphabet. It is often something they are supposed to do and not really what they want to do. I also don't see any stories or phrases being written with the alphabet. They are stuck on single words.
If you observe in a classroom like this, you'll probably notice a few things that are missing, particularly from the spoken language presentations.
1. Learning that they have something to say
First, the children are not given lessons on how to turn their thoughts into verbal expressions. A key lesson for this is conversations at a picture. In this lesson, you go to one of the beautiful pieces of art your have framed in your room...and swap out every month or so... and say, "I love this picture. I see so many things in it. What do you see?" Of course, this extends beyond artwork to everything of interest in the room, plants, pets, looking out the window,
I was consulting with a Montessori school that is making tremendous effort to improve it's pedagogy and we spent two full days reviewing the Montessori language theory and material presentations. You probably already know that there are three main areas in the Montessori language program for 3 to 6+ year-olds:
- Spoken language
- Preparation for writing
Of course, before you can really do anything beyond the oral language work, you have to steep the child in practical life, especially all of those preliminary exercises. (This school spent 3 days with me on that endeavor last summer.)
Anyway, it took the entire first day just to go over theory and spoken language presentations and we could have spent a second day on it. Now I know that in some Montessori teacher training programs, these lessons get really short-shrift. However, since they are the basis of the entire language program, I thought I'd give you a few highlights here.
First, here's a picture of the spoken language shelves that we set up.