The Work of the Hand
Dr. Montessori talks about the hand and the connection with the brain and heart.
She shared with us that the best recipe for normalizing a child is giving the child the freedom of choice; the child then chooses an activity of interest, and it is done with the hands, leading to concentration, and the child completes the cycle of work; returning the materials to the shelf.
When children come to lower elementary (6-9 years old), they have already reached normalization; they have discovered a love for work and developed prosocial behavior.
In the first plane of development (0-6 years old), children become conscious workers and experience concentration through practical life activities. They explore with their senses and experience the activities and materials the prepared environment offers, aiding their self-construction.
They have become self-sufficient and independent at home, and efficiency has become part of the child’s life.
Montessori talks about observations, and I observe. What is it that the child is interested in working with? The answer varies depending on the child. If I notice children who come to lower elementary but have not discovered the joy of work, I invite them to do work with their hands.
The Elementary curriculum is vast and the powers of imagination guide it. We call it Cosmic Education. We introduce lessons and invite the children to manipulate concrete materials; as they manipulate these concrete materials with their hands, they develop the ability to form abstractions and intelligence.
The work of the hand in Elementary is so essential because the hands are the tools humans have used for millennia, and now children are refining their use of it. The hands are the instrument of their mind.
That is all nice, but how does this work at home? How can the hand be the instrument of self-regulation?