The Children’s House level of Montessori education stands alone in its provision of an incubated space and time for a child to cocoon himself in anticipation of a metamorphosis, an entirely new species of human being.
Outside my bedroom windows, along the back property line where my neighbor’s yard begins, I can see the four cherry laurel trees we planted a few years ago. Three of them are flourishing – getting tall and treelike – while the fourth is not doing so well. It is not as tall as the others and is skimpy in canopy. It’s not its fault. When we planted these trees we were not terribly discerning about the location. The gardener helping us said that the laurels should do well whether in sun or shade. So we planted them in an offset row across the back of our yard to serve as screening. We hadn’t taken into account the future growth of all the surrounding trees that now cast that part of the yard into deep shade, where the fourth laurel lives.
The Guide walks about the room, slowly and with calm focus so that she will not distract or disturb the children in their work. She repeats this routine a few times a day, deliberately choosing a different route each time, in order to make herself available to the child that might need some scaffolding in […]
When he came to the community at three years old, he established himself right away as ‘individual’ and ‘decider’. The guide thought he was extraordinarily self-aware and self-defined, with a prodigious vocabulary and an adult-like presence. He had a head of blondish curls and a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of his nose. He intense brown eyes peered out from his glasses with dark rims – somewhat the little professor in appearance. She liked him right away. She had long since found this “liking” to be the key to working with each and every child, regardless of the challenge she might find herself facing.
It begins with the increasingly noisy tap – tap – tapping of brush on bucket, that first signal of digging in and lying low and simultaneously signaling readiness for the potential struggle to come. This is soon accompanied by nonsense chatter and noises. “How quickly we can get into these cycles, “ the guide thinks to herself.
For children who are at home during the summer break, parents will wish to work diligently with slowing the pace of life. Children will savor the leisurely passage of time in which they can relish individual choices, uninterrupted play, ample rest and sleep, unhurried meals and unplugged screens. Here are just a few ideas of how a child can fill her long lovely summer days and return to school refreshed, nourished and eager:
Years ago when I took my Primary training, the assistant trainer presented us with a picture of the word ‘chaos’ being slowly re-formed into the word ‘order’. I would love to locate that diagram but alas, it is, paradoxically, lost in the chaos of old notes and articles and thoughts jotted on papers still too meaningful to toss. Yet it remains in my mind’s eye as a reflection of the young child’s journey from the chaos of a short life of acquisition of myriad images from an adult’s world to the beginnings of an ordered self-creation acquired through interaction with the Prepared Environment of the Children’s House. It is a reflection of the creative powers in the child herself.
Everything that is worth doing is worth doing well, or so my dear mother always said. Whether it is a holiday celebration, a dinner for 2 or 6, a trip to the Bahamas or the preparing of a perfect soufflé, each endeavor demands forethought, planning and the execution of those plans to ensure success. Although some of us seem to do this naturally and effortlessly, closer inspection would probably reveal the secret to success: hard work and prior planning.
This very same principle can be applied in our daily lives with our children. To be fully present, to be fully on cue, to be fully there when encountering your child can serve as one of the greatest gifts your child can receive. How often do we let the cares of the day distract us from these little people? How focused are we, really, in our contacts with them? With a nod to Lama Suyra Das, I would like to suggest 10 mindful moments drawn from your daily routine that you, as a parent, can use to bring your awareness and focus totally into the present moment while being with your child. You can establish each moment or activity as a call to focus, to mindfulness.