So I did an observation in my son’s 3-6 Montessori environment yesterday.
What a fabulous way to start the day! I could tell I was smiling the whole time and as I walked out to my car with such a spring in my step I was thinking – I wish I could do this every day.
He was doing the Land and Water Forms activity and I learned a few things myself! Who knew that a Cape is the opposite of a Bay? Or that an Archipelago is the opposite to a System of Lakes? I was never taught that but it makes perfect sense when you see the land and the water and you start matching the images and descriptions to the physical forms. And it certainly made perfect sense to my son.
Later in the day I spent some time in my older son’s environment as we held a Celebration of Life ceremony for his 8th birthday. I always love these events. Watching him walk around the ‘sun’ (a lit candle) holding the ‘earth’ (a globe) as he talks about each year that he has been on this planet is always heart warming. It’s amazing the things he remembers. This year he brought in a timeline he had made earlier so he had lots to tell his class, although it’s not always what you might expect.
“So what was your favourite thing about Thailand?” he was asked as he mentioned one highlight of his eight years so far.
“The all-you-can-eat-buffet,” he answered, sincerely.
Glad that cultural trip (we even visited a Montessori school while we were there) was memorable!
The ceremony ended with something different this year. His guide opened the floor to anyone who wanted to say something (nice) about my son and a dozen hands shot up.
“I love that you are helpful and caring.”
“I love that you are a good friend.”
“You are great at reading.”
“My time at school wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“You are great at science.”
It went on and on until the guide had to call time, but she encouraged the children to talk to my son later, one on one, if they had more to say. The look on my son’s face was priceless. And I have to say, I was fighting back tears and I dared not even look at my husband.
In the car on the way home my son said he had felt like crying, too, at one stage when one friend in particular got to her sixth nice thing to say about my son and she was primed to keep going.
You know, when people ask us as Montessori parents – so what’s it all about? How is it different to ‘normal’ school? It can sometimes be hard to articulate. Some things you just need to experience for yourself.
Yes, our children love school. Yes, they thrive because they are in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Yes, they are treated with care and respect every minute of every day. And yes, academically they are far above their peers and all with no tests, external motivators, grades or homework.
But that’s not it. That’s not even close to being it.
My heart was bursting yesterday and it’s safe to say that was also the case for all of my family (our youngest son joined the birthday celebrations as well). The gratitude I feel for everyone involved in Montessori for making this opportunity possible for my boys is just too hard to describe.
Today is ‘teacher acknowledgement day’ at our school. Actually we are doing it for a whole month, but each family chooses a day to bring in something to acknowledge our guides and today is that day for us. Both of my boys made cards and wrote heartfelt messages to their guides over breakfast this morning. My youngest son in particular is very attached to his guide – she has been his teacher for nearly three years and he’s not quite six yet. That is half his life! I don’t think he remembers a time when he wasn’t going along to school each day to get taught by his eternally calm and respectful guide. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be shouted at, punished, excluded, told that he’s done something ‘wrong’ or that he only got a two out of 10 on the test.
I’m grateful for that, too.
“Thank you for being the best teacher in the world. I love you.”
My eldest son has no qualms with being open with his feelings in the card he made as he knows they will be accepted with love.
Just a few months ago one of his teachers told me that they had been talking about what makes you happy and she had told the small group she was working with that she felt happy when she was getting a hug. My 7 year old immediately stood up, walked over to her with his arms outstretched wide, cocked his head to one side and – without actually saying a word – clearly invited her for a hug.
He told me as he was walking out the door this morning that he was expecting tears from his guide today when he handed over his card and the flowers from our garden.
I think the odds are in his favour.
Until next week,
(PS – Do leave a comment below! Have you had some heart warming moments at school? I’d love to hear from you!)