How Brain Science Supports Montessori Wisdom: afternoon notes

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How Brain Science Supports Montessori Wisdom: afternoon notes MMS fall conference, Nov. 2, 2013
with DR. DEE JOY COULTER ([email protected]; www.kindlingtouch.com)
Introduction: Born without Switches
Sensory switches:
Off = Calming
On = Handling Stimulation
Motor switches:
On = Exploring
Off = impulse control (brakes!)
The four karmas of enlightened activity:
Pacify
Enrich
Magnetize
Destroy=Overcome desire nature
Sensory off = Calming – Pacify
Sensory On = Handle Stimulation – Enrich
Motor On = Exploring – Magnetize
Motor Off = Impulse Control – Destroy (overcome desire nature)
PART 1 SENSORY OFF THE CALMING SWITCH
First Window
Pre-birth to 3 months
Continues as a lifelong practice!
Ideal Outcome
Being calmed teaches self calming
Bonds to caregiver(s)
Cuddles, relaxes when held
Tranquil and content
Obstacles
Chaotic environment; Stressed caregivers
Loud noises, bright lights
No schedule
High risk birth
Worst Outcome
May shut down/give up
Nature’s last ditch plan
Bad for health
Immune collapse
Poor digestion
Protests/crying stops
Remedy [in childcare programs]
Coach for calmness
Vivian’s class
Be calm to teach calm
Use calm elements in classroom
How’s your calming skill?
Feel at peace (usually)
Calm others easily
See problems as workable
Little worry or fear
PAGE 1
PART 2 SENSORY ON THE ENRICHMENT SWITCH
First window
3-6 months for taste, smell, touch
Second window
6-12 months –eyes take the lead
Ideal outcome
Delight in the world
Sense of humor (even as baby)
Coach for enrichment
Savor the sensory world
Touch/textures
Breezes/snowflakes
Smell/tastes
Color/lights
Tone/echoes
Coach for enrichment [continued]
Learn to tell ‘jokes’
Turn routines into ceremonies
Choose perfect ‘gifts’
Match gift to child within
“Look to the child that’s not yet arrived.” (M. Montessori)
Obstacles to enrichment
Child can’t settle in
Child can’t find enjoyment
Child is always “wired”
Possible reasons
Over stimulating home life
Never learned to calm [no coach]
Born “excited” [not “well organized”]
Irregular breathing
Muscles too tight, too loose
Jerky movement
Startles easily
Digestive problems
Remedy: Return to calming practices
Prepare environment
Simplicity, order, subdued
Quiet, protected work areas
Prepare ourselves
Slow breathing, slow moving
Firm caring touch
No surprises
Healing pace
OK to rest
OK to repeat same activities – a lot!
How’s your enrichment skill?
See goodness in others
Good sense of humor
Enjoy the arts and performances
Love nature’s beauty
PAGE 2
PART 3 MOTOR ON THE MAGNETIZING SWITCH
Two stages: movement and language
Stage 1 movement
First window 10-14 months
High arousal brain chemicals for 4 months
dopamine and opioids
Center of the universe
Cycle between adventure and reunion
creates pleasure receptors
Second movement window 14-18 months
Low arousal brain chemicals for four months
Corticosteroids
Discover “NO” – very distressing!
Cycle becomes distress, repair, relief
Repair = comforting, fixing mistakes
Relief = Ah, I am still a good person!
Sets up new brain zone – perfect for language
Serious obstacles if cycle breaks!
No repair = high shame
Shame now = rage disorder later
No new zone = low language skills
Low language = low impulse control
Third movement window 10-24 months
Master movement and balance
Frees ears to begin listening
Now language burst can begin!
Stage 2 The language burst
First window 16-18 months
In these two months:
Heart rate slows down to handle excitement
Breath drops “submerge and dive” reflex
Throat drops “swallow” reflex
Speech centers link up (insulate)
Second window 18-36 months
The miracle of language occurs!
Ideal outcome
Love of words; Naming the universe
Copying inner speech
Learning songs and stories
Socializing and explaining things
Becoming a language coach
Be fully present
Monitor voice tone
Savor special words
Use “their words” a lot
Use inner speech for demonstrations
Obstacles to speaking
Too much shame
Overly vigilant and fearful
Silent, afraid to make mistakes
PAGE 3
Worst outcome
No sign of inner speech
Not attending to words
Acting out, not using words
Remedy
Rebuild calming and enrichment
Coach movement skills [how to behave]
Use visual cues [stressed ears can’t hear words]
Stay predictable, keep it simple
How is your motor on skill?
Strong social skills
Initiative – just do it!
Playful, adventurous
Love new projects
PART 4 MOTOR OFF
THE IMPULSE CONTROL SWITCH
First window 4.5 years old!!
IF they have good language skills!!
explains high rate of child abuse
with 2-4 year olds!
Ideal outcome
Clearly use inner speech
Able to learn from demos
Able to wait for turns
Able to handle snack ceremony well
Able to follow instructions and rules
Obstacles
Unable to obey inner speech
Unable to delay rewards (can’t wait)
Worst outcome
Extreme behavior problems
Unable to socialize
Unable to relate to grownups
Remedy
Rebuild calming and enrichment
Lots of delayed rewards
Simple repetitive rules
Pick your ‘battles’ [Danny and the bubbles]
Clear choices
Special coaching skills
Point out payoffs for waiting
Don’t expect self control yet
Help them be successful
Point out their successes
They usually won’t see them
This helps them build self worth
Practice saintly patience!
How’s your impulse control skill?
Strong endurance
Resist (most) temptations
Finish what your start
Even tempered, trustworthy
PAGE 4
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