AMI is FREEing
(WARNING! This post is blunt. And honest. I just sat down and spent 12 hours reviewing a myriad of albums based on the comments I mention in the next paragraph. I like many aspects of those albums; I would consider using portions of some of them and I can expound for several articles on their virtues. I just want to set the record straight regarding AMI vs non-AMI inclusions.)
I have read a few recent comments comparing different types of albums from different people and different affiliations.
One common thread:
The AMI (fill in the blank) album is missing (fill in the blank).
But is that blank ***really*** missing? Let’s look at this more closely.
AMI includes the “keys” – the essential core experiences that fulfill the universal child’s development stages at particular moments.
Anything else is getting into individual children – not the universal child.
Anything else added into the album unless VERY clearly identified as “optional for a child with this particular interest” will appear to the typical homeschool parent or Montessori teacher as a requirement. It becomes difficult to separate the “keys” from the “interest”.
And NO album can cover every single interest of any given child, let alone every interest of every child, worldwide.
THUS. True AMI albums stick with the keys and provide some guidance as to “what to do with particular interests of particular children” (hint: research, exploration, using real world resources).
Montessori is based on reality. Reality doesn’t come from a book. Reality comes from living life in relationship with other people and the rest of creation. Books are a small part of that.
Thus all of a child’s learning should not come from an album of lesson plans.
Common “missings” at the primary level:
Particular Exercises of Practical Life. Solution: Add them in. Your child won’t need every EPL exercise out there; no album can cover every single situation; the AMI album provides the keys, with clear instructions to accommodate for cultural and local needs.
Language is missing all the multiplicity of steps to learning to read – AND we need to have graded readers. Solution: Those steps just aren’t needed. Children go from reading the languages materials as provided by the album to “2nd grade reading level” – they don’t need the intermediary steps to slow down this “Explosion into reading”.
Mathematics needs command cards for the operations, 1/11 through 1/20 for the fractions, and lots of worksheet-type paperwork to prove they are “doing” math. Solution: Adding in these extra things 1) takes away from the key experiences and the focus on what those key experiences provide (children should be working in the abstract when they get to 1/11 – they CAN do it – why give them a crutch?) 2) eliminates creativity and problem-solving skills (when children don’t create their own materials, create their own equations and find the patterns therein) and 3) they are experiencing math, not doing it – they don’t need all the paperwork (there is SOME paperwork involved). 4) Adding in some of that stuff is why children don’t get to the passage to abstraction when they should (between 5.5 and 6.5 if they started primary at age 3) — and then they start elementary at a lower level then they had the potential to do so.
Sensorial is missing the Power of 2 cube (don’t give this work in primary – it’s not necessary) but non-AMI albums have almost no extensions or follow-ups or games as compared to the AMI album pages.
So what we have then are a set of keys for the universal child. Few and focused. Essential.
Then we have a myriad of resources to fill in for particular situations, particular interests. Other albums could be used or just real life resources (real people, getting out into the world, other materials, books, videos, projects, relationships, etc.).
Instead of being tied down to trying to “do it all” or trying to sort out what is essential from what is for particular children, we can spend our time focusing on exploring the essentials and enjoying REAL LIFE.
Joy. True Joy. That is our aim.
Achieved through the freedom to truly Follow the Child.