Sami had just finished reading the introduction to our Parts of the Frog booklet. Definition booklets are usually challenging for our five-year-old readers. Some of the vocabulary was new to Sami, but he sailed through the reading with ease. He paused once at the end of the first page, to comment and ask a question.
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.
The very first article I read that sold me on Montessori did not have the word “Montessori” anywhere in it. Seven years ago, when our first child was at the cusp of transitioning from baby to toddler, my husband and I walked into a Prospective Parent class at a local Montessori school. Until that evening we had understood Montessori to be an alternative method of education worth investigating. We walked out with several handouts, one of which was written by the founder of the school, Donna Bryant Goertz, and titled “Owner’s Manual for a Child.” It is written from the point of view of a child in the first plane of development and begins with these words, “Dear Parent, I want to be like you. I want to be just like you, but I want to become like you in my own way, in my own time, and by my own efforts. I want to watch you and imitate you”. I still possess my copy from that evening: creased, tear-stained, and printed on green paper.
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 fundamental basis of education must always remain that one must act for oneself. That is clear. One must act for him or herself.” –Maria Montessori
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 […]
Give the experience of listening to poetry by reciting poetry to the children. The guide selects short poems that he/she really enjoys from among adult poems, not children’s poems.
The elementary years are years of vigorous, continual growth, stretched between the two poles of the first and third planes of development. Building on the foundation – whether solid or shaky – of the first six years, they aim for the heights of adolescence. Everything that we have a hope of understanding about these elementary children can be understood as a function of three things: the raw materials of personhood that they bring with them from early childhood; the developmental trajectory toward adolescence; and the quality of the support and protection they have from us along the way.
Sebastian was a very particular child. Prone to believing he was right and making his opinions known to all, he was a student for whom daily struggles were common: arriving on time, staying on task, choosing challenging work, doing work that was not always his choice, sticking to a schedule, etc. For a teacher still […]