The Slippery Slope of “More”
Thoughts & Reflections
It’s so natural to want to have Montessori materials at home. After all, parents often don’t come in the classroom, so it’s hard to imagine what a child is doing without actually seeing it. More is better, right? If a three hour work cycle is good, why don’t we have one at home, too? Families naturally want to give their child every advantage and set them up for the greatest success; if you’ve chosen Montessori for your child, and you believe and see the benefits, why wouldn’t you want to bring it home?
Families really do have the best of intentions. No one starts out thinking, this will create problems down the road, let’s do it! We’re always acting out of love, trying to do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. It’s really only in hindsight that we realize where we went wrong, where the slippery slope started, where the best intentions went awry.
More isn’t always better.
If one ice cream is good, two is better, right? Yeah, until I make myself sick.
If one fun night out with friends is good, two is better, right? Maybe, except I really want to be home on my couch going to bed early.
My husband would definitely say, one and only is enough!
All joking aside, sometimes one is enough. Sometimes one is just right. When we have more than one, we forget how to enjoy the one.
Think about a favorite toy. That train went everywhere with your child — to bed, to the doctor, and remember that time you had to scour the playground after dark when it went missing? It was perfect. It was the best. It was the one-and-only.
It was so treasured, it was the favorite, it’s natural more came to join. It’s possible they added incremental joy, but rarely, if ever, the same creativity, love, enjoyment of the first, particularly when the first was the only. Adding sometimes doesn’t compound the delight, sometimes the delight is watered down, overwhelmed by the time spent looking for the right one, setting up all the tracks, cleaning up the gigantic play that happened, and we maybe even remember fondly the time when there was just one favorite train.
Some of us are lucky enough to feel passionately about what we do. Even on days when the alarm rings too early and there aren’t enough lattes in the world, we wouldn’t quit. This job is life-giving, it’s everything we wanted, if we have to put on pants and leave the house this is the best reason there is.
So, would more be better?
What if you put in a full day and your life-giving job, gave 100%, pushed yourself, made mistakes and tried again, collaborated and focused, and the day was done. Then you came home, and you were presented with more of the same?
We could probably rally. After all, there are times in our lives when we have to stay late or take work home. There are times when we don’t remember what a weekend feels like. There are times when all the hustle isn’t getting it done, and it feels like there’s no end in sight. But these times end, there’s an ebb and flow, and the balance of discipline and laughter, mistakes and successes, rest and vigor align in the end. If they didn’t we’d have a problem.
If they didn’t, that life-giving work would become soul-sucking.
Enthusiasm might be replaced with resentment.
100% could dwindle to minimal effort.
Creativity wanes, focus blurs, mistakes are met with apathy.
It makes sense. We need a balance. We need just enough.
Just enough food to keep us satisfied. Just enough rest to keep us energized. Just enough work to keep us striving. Yin and yang. Breathing in and breathing out. Sleep and wake.
The work children do at school is enough. This is one of those times when more isn’t better. Learning is joyful, and inspired, and driven. The work the children do at school is enough, partially because the work doesn’t actually stop, it just changes.
We don’t need to work on literacy because we’re working on conversations.
We don’t need to work on fractions because we’re working on baking.
We don’t need to work on a puzzle map because we’re video chatting with grandparents in South Africa.
We don’t need to work on logical processing because we’re building Legos.
We don’t need to work on growing our brains because our brains are always growing.
Part of the reason we think we need to bring work home for children is because we forget all the work they, and we, are always doing. Everything is learning, everything is work, and everything is play. The learning we do at school, the work we do at our careers, the time we spend together, it is all enough. Not too much, not too little, just right.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder