“That’s ok mama I can do it by myself. I learned how. ” Those are the words of my 3 year old daughter as she took hold of the cereal box and poured some into a bowl. Such confidence!
“Oops, I spilled. Don’t worry mama, I can clean it up. I know how.” Those were her words as she ran into the kitchen and grabbed a small broom and dustpan. Such independence!
” Mama Mama, guess what?I learned a new sura and I got a new book!” Such happiness!
“I can’t wait to see the new presentation tomorrow!” Such excitement!
“Mama I have to practice reading my book.” Such motivation and accountability!
Those are the kind of scenarios I’ve been experiences with my daughters eversince they started attending montessori school.
The growth they made is immense!
I see it in the way they confidently problem-solve and conduct themselves with each other as well as other children.
I see it in their entrepreneurship and creativity.
I hear it when they read their books and speak about their work.
When I visit their classroom, I notice that the room is so quiet!
Surely that many small children should be making more noise! But as I observed and learned, It became clear to me why the children are quiet…because they are all intently studying and working on lessons that interest them and that challenge them. It’s like watching a beehive: quiet but with lots of activity, and to the trained eye, very intentional patterns of movement, all guided by the teachers. They are given plenty of time to run freely and be loud on the playgrounds, but the classrooms are kind of a sacred space. It’s remarkable to see how the three and four year children work and collaborate in a quiet and organized manner. The “blank” walls allow the lessons to stand out; the learning materials provide the color and are the most engaging items in the room, so the kids naturally gravitate to them. The lessons are deliberately presented in a very specific order to ensure the child REALLY has mastered a concept before moving on to another concept that builds on the first. There’s no sense of rushing the children along, but at the same time, the way the lessons are openly arranged on shelves for the children to choose what they’d like to work with allows them to naturally move at their own pace. The aspect of Montessori education that I find most irreplaceable is the appreciation for order, for concentration, and for the natural beauty and intricacy of things around us. I think children really do WANT to focus, and to study and examine things, and Montessori feeds right into that tendency and away from distractions. Those hours per day of structured classroom activity have been so crucial to helping me shape our girls into curious, cooperative, polite and imaginative kids.
I have no doubt that they are not only getting the best education academically, but that they are doing so in an environment that inspires them to be comfortable with who they are, to respect and appreciate our differences, to reach for their full potential by working independently and in cooperation with others, and to think outside and beyond “the box”.