Thoughts & Reflections
There’s this thing that happens in Montessori classrooms. We don’t send home a daily report, we could never summarize “all” a child is learning during the day, for although we are giving one, or two, or three presentations to a child, and he is working with a material for a minute, or an hour, or observing, we’ve been humbled too many times to think a child is “just” watching, “just” buttoning, “just” anything.
They’re learning and growing and making connections every minute, of every day.
Maria Montessori said, “The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.”
Being in a community, working alongside other children older and younger than yourself to whom you are accountable, toward whom you feel respect and love, who you admire and have a tender spot in your heart for, this is empowering.
Children are growing. Every day. We know this is theory, yes, you feed them and they grow, but sometimes the moment just leaps out at you. It takes your breath away. It stops you in your tracks. It knocks you back.
We were lucky enough to capture one such moment.
This is not special because it is uncommon. This is special because it is so clear, and because we were able to document it. These moments happen all day, every day, but are so natural and fleeting that sometimes we don’t realize what’s happening until it’s over. Sometimes we’re trying to catch another adult’s attention so they can witness this demonstration of growth too. Sometimes we only see it out of the corner of our eye, and we can’t quite put our finger on what happened, but we know it was big, and it was good.
The children come back at the beginning of the year a bit like walking on a frozen pond.
They’re giddy. There’s a bit of trepidation. They’re excited, but also nervous. There’s stomping to test if it’s safe. There’s falling and catching yourself and realizing, I’m pretty good at this, and more falling.
And there’s a hand to help you back up again.
We all become dependent on the oldest children. By the end of the year, they’re running the show. They’re reminding the youngest children of good rug spots, interrupting themselves from long division to help someone tie a shoe, writing a research paper and being infinitely patient with their adoring observer.
“It’s a reflex to help.”
And then, they’re gone, off on their next adventure. It’s bittersweet. They should go, it’s time, and this is the natural cycle of things.
But we miss them. There’s a hole in our classroom where they used to be. She was the best helper, he was the expert sweeper, I always knew who to ask to tie a shoe, or tidy a shelf, or remind someone where the tissues could be found.
What is it? Nature abhors a vacuum? Not as dramatic as that, but yes. Just like that, it’s time. Last Year’s Middle Children are This Year’s Oldest. Here we go.
They try on this role like a cape or a mask. It’s a costume. It might be uncomfortable. It might be a bit bit. It’s certainly not what we’re used to wearing.
And, suddenly, the pretending becomes real life. It’s reflex to help. You see a need, and who else would meet it but you? You’re volunteering to assist someone younger. You’re being looked to when there is a big spill. How do I put on this apron? You’re the first person I ask.
This is how we know the new year is settling in. At first, it was a bit, well, out-of-sorts. How do we do this? What’s my line? I forgot, what game are we playing?
And then, we’re off. The tuning has happened, the maestro raises his arms, it’s time.
Written by:Charlotte Wood