For me, Montessori felt like hitting it off with my best friend. Similar values and objectives, similar concepts of education in all simplicity and effectiveness.
I heard about this pedagogy before I even had Paul and the moment I got pregnant, I started informing myself about its efficacy and implications. I was quickly drawn into involving my son into simple daily activities and closely observing his reactions to watering plants, examining flowers, creating all sorts of sensory experiences: the sensation of cold vs. hot water, the roughness vs. softness of a material,etc.
When Paul turned 3, he attended a traditional French nursery class (maternelle). Like most children experiencing separation, he was often crying in the morning. But a month later, we started questioning his adaptation when we noticed that the situation wasn’t improving. We met his teacher and her observations concluded that Paul “was in his own world” and he had a hard time following the rhythm of the class. At that moment, my husband and I realized that our expectations for Paul’s education didn’t coincide with “fitting into the mold”, merely we wanted him to evolve in an environment that stimulated his autonomy while embracing his authenticity. (Disclaimer: by no means, we are not against the traditional school system, but we personally believe that an alternative type of education is better suited for our son).
Paul is now attending a Montessori school and we couldn’t be happier to introduce him into an environment where his freedom and auto-discipline are encouraged, where his rhythm is respected and where his experiences create a bridge to his learning about life.
“A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, ‘The Discovery of the Child’, Clio Press Ltd, 92)
Now, what do you do when you wish to offer a Montessori education to your child, but you don’t have a school in proximity or you can’t afford one? One simple solution would be to incorporate and adapt a montersorrian attitude at home.
“The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path. A vital force is active within him, and this guides his efforts towards their goal. It is a force called the ‘horme’, by Sir Percy Nunn.” (The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 8, p. 83).
Trust your child
One of the best gifts to offer to a child is to trust him. This is the type of confidence where you give your child the freedom to learn and take their own risks. For example: rather then childproofing the entire house (except the dangerous, fragile areas), you can introduce your child to each area and help them explore – it’s also a great opportunity to teach them the “house rules”. Another example of promoting self-confidence is when the child goes through the “movement stage” and they want to escalade everywhere – rather than telling them “you’re going to fall”, just encourage their pursuit while ensuring their safety. Don’t be afraid to partake in your child’s ambitious projects!
Respect your child
Imagine this situation: your guest accidentally breaks one of your favourite plates. They tell you how sorry they are and offer to help clean out. How do you react?
Now imagine your child does the same thing. What is your reaction? I’ll let you answer for yourself here.
What I’m trying to point out is that instead of making the child feel inferior, you can instead show him what he can do to avoid similar situations in the future and eventually teach them how to clean out. Your child might have a lot to learn, but he’s not inferior.
Provide a stable, inviting environment
Accompanying your child in the process of learning is not an easy task. Unfortunately stressors related to work, errands, health issues, financial gains, etc will always be part of our life. Sometimes we are too tired or too absent to encourage children to work alongside us. But taking a few extra minutes to show them how to set the table, empty the dishwasher, do the laundry or peel potatoes, could result in mutual satisfaction: you’re guiding and are helping them learn about how to care for their environment and they feel useful and capable.
You can also refer to this article for inspiration: click here.
Have fun learning, growing and discovering!
“Let’s not raise our children for today’s world. This world will have changed when they grow up. Thus, we must primarily help the child cultivate his capacity of creation and adaptation.” – Maria Montessori