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.
Since leaving the classroom recently, after thirty-some years in the delightful company of children, I have spent a considerable portion of my time leading the development of the parent education programs for our school. It has given me a new and different joy, and a great appreciation for parents. It is an honor to work so closely with parents who are the primary educators of our children, who are the children’s models, their supporters, and their greatest source of love and admiration.
Soon enough our early elementary classrooms will be filling once again with children excited to begin the new school year. Among the happy faces will be those of the youngest children, those who are making the leap into the second plane of development and experiencing for the first time the elementary environment that we will have so carefully prepared for them. In all the excitement of welcoming the new children, let us not forget their parents – for their parents, too, may be new to the elementary and just as much in transition as their children.
Here’s a lovely little letter I just received that ended thusly:
….People like you that just send their kids out for the vultures of the world because you THINK you are doing them a favor, are horrible, lazy, undeserving so-called parents. What a shame that God would bless you with something for which you show such little disregard.
And you have a nice day, too!
What we seek to avoid are the cheap substitutes which are so highly prized in our society today, as they have been throughout the history of western civilization: superiority, pride, competition, control, praise, rewards and punishment. What Dr. Montessori discovered was that what had always seemed to be necessary to bring out the best in human nature often brings out the opposite. Yet even in our Montessori communities around the world, we struggle moment by moment, day by day to keep those practices out of our schools and our families.
As they find activities that meet their inner need for self-development and as their space and autonomy are respected, a sense of calm and purposefulness settles over the classroom. Perhaps it is magic, after all.
The Silent Journey & Discovery is a powerful event for many parents. Unfortunately, most parents did not attend a Montessori school as a child; although they can read about Montessori philosophy, attend parent nights and observe the classroom, it can be difficult, at times, for them to really understand the experience that their child has every day at school. The J&D provides and opportunity for parents to explore the entire continuum of the school and experience first hand, just like their children, the amazing things that an authentic Montessori program has to offer.
“In the beginning, before you were born, before your mother and father were born, before your grandparents were born, before there were even people on the earth, before there was an earth! There was nothing…nothing at all.”