A New Perspective on Albums - Part I

Montessori albums can seem overwhelming at first, so I want to help you understand how to use them to find a balance between structure and improvisation.

To do this, let’s take a little trip.

Imagine you and your child are planning this trip. You first have to decide on a continent. From there, you choose a starting country. And then, you start thinking about the cities you’ll visit and what you’ll see in each city. This type of planning is leading you from the whole to the detail, and it reflects the structure that Montessori uses to guide a child’s education.

Now, let’s continue with the travel analogy. To get a good sense of a country’s culture, it’s a good idea to visit several cities or towns. You look at your map to plan in what order you’ll visit these places. You’ll spend more time in some than in others. Some places will intrigue you, and you’ll want to stay there an extra couple of days. Others you’ll be done with in one afternoon.

Some places you absolutely have to visit, because they provide important context for understanding the country’s culture. Other locations are optional. You can even re-visit your favorite places, or go back to places you didn’t fully appreciate the first time. There will certainly be interesting detours along the way, but because you have a map and a plan, you can get back on track at any point. 

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As you travel along, you’ll start making connections and drawing conclusions about the culture of that country based on your own culture and lived experiences. You’ll collect postcards, take pictures, and pick up souvenirs. At some point, you’ll have learned enough about that country to share your impressions and experiences with others. You’ll write letters and fly back home to share your stories with your friends. And you’ll start planning your next big adventure.

The Montessori approach to learning is akin to taking a trip to a foreign country. You might want to re-read the paragraphs above, thinking about how the analogy relates to your child’s education, and your own! 

Do you have to know everything about the country to plan and execute the trip? No. But does it help to have a map and a travel guide, and to plan ahead of time? Yes. 

That’s what the Montessori albums are - a travel guide. And in a future blog post, I’m going to show you how you can use them to chart out your own travel plans. Bon voyage!

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