IV. Outcomes & Expectations The Three Period Lesson The Importance of the Third Period: The Child’s Synthesis and Responsibility for Knowing in the Montessori Elementary Years by Jean Peters, published in the NAMTA Journal, vol. 36, Number 1 (Winter 2011) The Three Period Lesson in the Children’s House The three period lesson is a technique for teaching nomenclature to children in the Children’s House level. The three period lesson follows the pattern represented thus: this is… show me… what is?... Naming, recognition and recall are the three steps used to offer vocabulary to the child in this stage of development. The three period lesson honors the unique cognitive powers of the absorbent mind and takes advantage of the connection between movement and learning. Three to six year old children absorb their culture and build confidence through the memorizations of precise language. They, in turn, build a solid foundation of knowledge in order to fully exploit their next great adventure in the elementary level; creating mental order through the powers of the reasoning mind. The Three Period Lesson in the Elementary The second plane child is anything but simple and elegant and the lessons reflect this! This is… show me…what is?... is a technique that will result in bored and disengaged students. However, the three period lesson, understood as a deeper, more complex experience is still a powerful metaphor for how elementary children’s brains work and learn. What does the three period lesson look like in the elementary? The first period is the key lesson or Great Lesson. The child is introduced to the concept or skill through materials, lessons or stories. The imagination is sparked. Interest is whetted. The second period is the independent work or experience in which the student engages. The students work toward abstraction by doing research, using materials, conducting experiments, and planning going outs. This is where the challenge lies! A genuine second period requires action and motivation. Our society trains children to be passive and to need constant feedback. In order for the second period to be fully realized, the students need to be nudged, supported and inspired along the way to keep the work going. They cannot be abandoned, but independence must also be fostered, during this stage. Luckily the Montessori child gained the ability to concentrate and a remarkable stamina for work during his early childhood years. The second period in elementary is tricky. It can take an hour. It can last years. The third period is when a student achieves mastery; the show me stage. However it is important to take seriously Dr. Montessori’s profound counsel. She stated, the secret to good teaching is to regard the 64