Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work she goes…
Some of you may not know what a Montessori school is. It’s a child-centered and individual based working environment. There are some small group lessons but, for the most part, the child chooses a lesson which can be anything from painting to spooning rice to learning to count using matryoshka dolls. ”Help me to do it by myself” is certainly something that is instilled and your child is shown respect and taught respect. They cannot go trampling over someone else’s work or snatch someone’s doll, they talk in hushed ‘inside’ tones and have a family style lunch every day which is an opportunity to have a grace and courtesy lesson too. It’s every bit a grown up classroom for little people.
Ever since Adam and I went to the EC Montessori and observed the Daffodil room hard at work last winter we have been in awe of what these kids can do. The classroom is for 18months to 3 years so you can imagine our surprise when we saw a newly-turned-two year old spill some water and quickly get a cloth to mop it up (without prompting or help). Not two minutes later and the little boy who was working next to us with a wooden train set was telling another boy that he could play in a minute but the train had to go through the tunnel and past the rock quarry first!! We won’t lie, we thought that perhaps we had been put in a room with exceptional children (you know, to woo you to joining) because we were CERTAIN that Amelia wouldn’t be able to stay afloat in here. The language, self-help skills and amazingly good (and very quiet) behavior was quite something. Nevertheless, we enrolled Amelia after being assured that all the children quickly learn the ropes.
It was with trepidation that we showed up on her first day, I was in there with her so that she could assimilate to her new class with the least amount of anxiety. As with our observation visit, all the children were beavering away with their work. Amelia strode up to the doll that was in a water bath and did what she does best, splashed and spilt water everywhere. Eeeek…you can imagine the amount of “I’m sorry’s” that came out of my mouth in the first fifteen minutes. But, it was clear that she was having a ball. The next day, her teacher greeted us at the main door and Amelia ran straight to her and hugged her, she loved her even then, after an hour of fun the day before.
Three weeks later, Amelia spilled her drink in our living room, she ran to the bathroom and got some toilet paper to mop it up! I was so proud. It made me realize that there was a lot more that we could do at home to let her help herself because to really glean as much as possible from Montessori you should make it part of your home life too. She likes to help herself and try her hand at new things and she’s always just so excited when she accomplishes something new. Before she was three she was laying the table for us and now she helps to properly mop the floor. She has really done so well.
When I dropped her off in class the other day, she asked me to help button her coat onto the hanger that she had got out of the closet. It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to take that for granted, I wanted to capture her working in her favorite place. Because it’s here that she has learned and enjoyed so much all through the teachings of Carolyn and Leah. She started singing in here, began counting, learnt all her colors, finally really started to enjoy art and hugged her favorite girlfriend for the very first time (instead of pushing her). These milestones are just that for Amelia, milestones. Carolyn and Leah have made so much effort to continue whatever we’re working on at home in their class and I do the same at home so that Amelia can progress quickly.