Baan Dek

Montessori & The Olympics

Thoughts & Reflections

Baan Dek · Episode 122 – Montessori & The Olympics

The Olympics are coming up, which is one of the few sporting events I watch. I look forward to them, have them set to record, it’s a whole thing.

They’re fantastic to watch with children, too.

As a general rule Montessori doesn’t really encourage children to use technology, so this might be surprising. I don’t think I’ve ever written a post or recorded a podcast about TV to watch with your child. Stay with me. Every good rule has to be broken sometimes. The Olympics are educational, they’re fun, they’re inspirational.

The opening ceremonies are a great time to see flags and sometimes traditional clothing from various countries. You could look at a map in an atlas or on a globe or even on a tablet or phone to see where in the world these people came from. A new reader could decode the name of the country as it comes up (shoutout to being able to pause live or recorded TV!). You could count or listen for the number of athletes from each country. That’s a lot, that’s not as many. How many came from this continent? Why might there be more athletes from certain parts of the world during the winter or summer games? Look up populations for countries that have a large representation of athletes, and those with fewer.

Inevitably watching ceremonies or events will spark questions, and even if you know the answer, consider looking up the answer with your child, again a great opportunity for really appropriate use of technology even with young children. This is a tool, and we’re using it to support curiosity and seeking more information.

It’s fun to look forward to a special event together. When I was young we had a TV that wasn’t hooked up to cable or anything, but every Friday night was movie night with all four of us. It was something we all looked forward to, enjoying this time together, relaxing and engaged. If it’s something that works for your family, watching Olympic events can be a similar experience. With opportunities for streaming, you can curate which events you’d like to share with your child, preview or check social media or news outlets to see if something particularly exciting or unfortunate happened. Discuss whose uniforms you like best and ask your child their opinion. Ask if there are events your child would like to try, what looks exhilarating or even a little scary, what looks like hard work, do any look like fun to you?

Which brings me to the inspirational part of watching the Olympics. Do you ever watch an Olympic event and think “I could do that”? These are athletes who are the absolute best in the world. They’ve dedicated their lives, years of training to this sport, sometimes for this moment. In fact, they’re so good, they make it look easy, like “even I could do that.” And this is what is so inspirational.

You might have physical characteristics which incline you to success in a certain area. For instance, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles physically present very differently in ways that are uniquely suited for their chosen sport. And yes, this is a benefit, or makes success at this level possible however natural gifts have natural limitations and are no guarantee of success.

The Olympic games remind us that good things come to those who hustle. Practice makes better. That even if it doesn’t end in a gold medal there is value in the commitment it takes to make even small improvements, that discipline is both muscle and a transferable skill, that even when you’re the greatest of all time we’re not done, that hard things are good things, that teamwork and sportsmanship and camaraderie are at least as important as winning. That I can work my absolute hardest and still have room to grow, that it’s okay to feel disappointed or heartbroken, that mistakes and failures and falling short are a part of everyone’s experience, and not a moral failing. That sometimes you need to dig deep and push through, and that sometimes the big win is in advocating for yourself and in setting a boundary.

Whether for entertainment or for inspiration or for the opportunity for word problems, consider putting on your favorite colors and cheering. After all, celebrating others is very Montessori.

Written by:

Charlotte Snyder

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