Why Are “Characters” Not Allowed in the Primary Program?
There is a “no character” policy in One World Montessori’s Primary program. This policy is often questioned by parents — “Why no characters?” or “What are characters?” The answer to this seemingly simple question is a broad and complex one. To keep it brief, we will focus on our main concerns.
First, characters can be defined as any human or non-human seeming creature depicted in cartoon form, not just ones that perform super or violent actions. We do not allow any of these because we are concerned about the commercial exploitation of children. In our society, children are exposed daily to advertising in many different forms of media. This makes them particularly vulnerable to commercial exploitation by corporations which make vast amounts of money by explicitly marketing products to children. Research has shown that children who are exposed to commercials and advertisements often become more materialistic. This exposure can also result in children, especially girls, developing a negative body image.
Just think about what happens after a popular Disney movie is released — suddenly in every store there are toys, games, dress up costumes, pajamas, socks, underwear, swim wear, towels, lunch boxes, bottles, bags, shoes, slippers, pens, pencils, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and more all emblazoned with the characters of the latest movie. Then Halloween arrives and everyone wants to be dressed like one of their favorite characters from the latest movie and they all look the same. Last year’s characters are old and need to be replaced with the newest fad, contributing to our “throw away” culture.
At One World Montessori, we believe in the uniqueness of each individual child. We want to encourage the children to find their own means of self-expression and sense of self. True self-expression is creativity that comes from within the child, not the imitation of stories created by adults who are exploiting the children for commercial purposes. We also wish to foster reusing, recycling, and being satisfied with what we have rather than throwing things away and always needing something new, something more.
Secondly, during the period of the absorbent mind, children are not yet capable of consistently discriminating between fantasy and reality. They often confuse what “super hero” characters can do with what is really possible. Children have seriously injured themselves when attempting to imitate super human actions. These “super heroes” also often resolve problems through the use of violence, so the children, in imitating this behavior, can injure others.
Another concern is regarding role models. Good role models are especially important to children of all ages. At One World Montessori, we believe in exposing our children to real “super heroes.” We talk about people like Maria Montessori, Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall and many more. We talk about how these people used their human “super powers” of kindness, love, justice, integrity and courage to make a difference in our world. We all have powers within us and we can contribute in our unique way to make the world a more peaceful, loving, kind and fair place for all.
Circle Time Songs
We give all new families a CD-ROM that contains a few of the songs that children sing every day at circle. Hearing the songs at home and signing along with them help children feel more comfortable about their new school.
Enjoy this recording together with your child as you begin the transition to One World Montessori.
One World Montessori Peace Curriculum
This Education for Peace Curriculum is a pragmatic, concrete way to prepare children for peaceful conflict resolution; it helps to create a more nurturing environment with more supportive, interdependent relationships. We have incorporated ideas and activities from the workbook, Peace Making Skills for Little Kids, Hearthmath techniques, Sonnie McFarland’s Peace Mandala, and our collected peace songs, with Montessori’s philosophy for peace to create a tool that we can utilize in our classrooms. Our goal is to help make the world a better place and to assist in the evolution of people.
One World Montessori Song Book
Our song book is a compilation of many of the songs we sing with the primary children at circle time, for special occasions, and for celebrations. We hope that having the words and lead sheets available to you will make it easier for you to sing along with your child(ren) and enjoy this important part of our curriculum.
Why Montessori for the Kindergarten Year?
There are many reasons why it is important for your children to remain in a Montessori program for the Kindergarten year. Below are just a few:
First of all, the Primary program is one that is developmentally suited for children from 2 to 6, in which they are able to learn through interaction with the environment. During the Kindergarten year, most children begin a developmental shift wherein they change from the period of the absorbent mind to that of the abstracting, reasoning mind. By staying within the Montessori environment during this shift, they are able to abstract all the information they have absorbed sensorially, inculcate it and apply it to other environments and situations. If they leave prior to this shift, much of this experiential learning is lost.
Secondly, as they participate in the culminating year of the program, the children have the opportunity to act as leaders and teachers of their younger peers. This helps to solidify all that they have learned: you discover any holes you may have in your knowledge when you teach something to someone else. This is also an excellent way for children to gain in self confidence and self esteem and learn to take on additional responsibility for themselves and their peers.
Thirdly, if your child leaves the Montessori environment for a traditional one for Kindergarten, they will spend the first few months adjusting to a different form of schooling, a new teacher, and different demands on them, as well as new peers. This often slows their learning and they may feel both bored and frustrated, which does not lead to a happy school experience.
We have also listed some additional resources for you to explore: