I am sure you have heard “The best way to learn is by experience” or “We need someone with experience!” When a person shares an experience they are sharing a personal encounter that enable the listener the act or process of directly perceiving events as a reality. The attention to detail that the Montessori approach to education offers is one of many things that sets it apart and makes it more than just a lesson sitting on a rug but a life experience. A Montessori education advances a child because of the hands on experience that it gives. For the foundation of all things is not a matter of talk but of power.
The Power of the Rug
My Montessori education from childhood can be described best as a beautiful tapestry of experiences, some which have gone unspoken. Although, I still remember the lesson “hugging the rug”. This is a creative expression Montessori teachers use to internalize conscious control; a child will carry their rug to a desired work space, but in a manner that is done carefully and without causing disturbance. You literally hug your rug!
Look inside any Montessori Tides classroom and you will immediately notice this major impacting detail. Children often find for many of the activities (works) that they enjoy they are most comfortable on the floor instead of at a table—on rugs or pieces of carpet which can be rolled up or put out of the way when not in use. This marks the work space just as would a table. You will be quick to notice, a Tides Teacher, is diligent in helping children contain their puzzles or other works of interest on a rug so pieces don’t spread out all over the room. The rugs provide children with a defined work space of their own; while the other children in the room understand that they must walk around the space and not intrude. This teaches boundaries, respect for others, and contains work within a proper capacity. Most importantly, a work rug gives the child a position or direction to grow. Therefore, when the day comes for a child to leave the Montessori environment and advance on to a more conventional setting, the absence of the rug does not hinder the child. No longer is the work rug a physical boundary, for they will already know from experience how to position themselves for success. It is now an internalized rug!
Rug in the Home
In the home environment recognizing and preparing the child to have adequate defined works space in every room continues to lay a healthy foundation. You probably don’t want your child painting in the middle of the living-room rug. Think about each work you are making available to the child, and determine where that work should be done.
Establish your plan, and teach your child how to do things correctly. If you notice your child using a toy in the wrong place, redirect him to the proper place for the activity to be done. No criticism necessary, just a gentle leading back. A small rug, around 75x120cm, defines an excellent work area on the floor. Teach your child to roll and unroll his rug and how to store it in a large basket, and if you must, give her a lesson on “hugging her rug”!