I have always been passionate about all things ‘learning’. As a child I spent more time playing teacher than most and many of my fondest memories are those laced with a moment I realised that I helped someone to learn something new. So it was only natural that as a mama, I want to be involved in their learning. It was pretty clear to me, even as I merely dipped my toes into the many facets of the education system, that mainstream education simply wasn’t something I wanted for my children. This isn’t in some elitist, pompous way, but simply that my experiences and values make me feel differently. I was consequently drawn to finding out more about different methods of education.
The best thing about getting involved in this learning curve pretty early, was that I got to make hiccups along the way and find what fits fairly early. Sure, I’d love if I had have studied Montessori prior to having children, had hands on experiences in Montessori classrooms and prepared for things prior to Cameron’s birth. But I incorporate Montessori in our lifestyle for much more than the idealised version of Montessori in my mind.
We are not even close to being ‘Montessori purists’, nor would I want to be even if I could. I love our eclectic blend of lifestyle & learning.
From me (and most others who are interested in Montessori methods), Montessori isn’t about academic outcomes or racing towards independence. It’s certainly not about forcing knowledge.
Montessori, for me, has a lot to do with the unmeasurable, the intangible and invaluable. The life-long love of learning and discovery, the self awareness, the self-confidence, the ability to contribute, be heard, question and challenge things and make mistakes. It’s about working with (not against) the individual child and keeping their childhood.
I love the way that the Montessori method challenges and changes the way that many people view children (as well as many other approaches that I adore – i.e. Reggio Emilia, project-based learning). Cameron and Lucy are little individual people and I get to nourish that. I follow their lead and get to learn almost as much as they do along the way.
Another reason I Montessori is because so many of the menial gripes I hear about motherhood are avoided or minimised due to how our home is set up and the activities we do. For example, I have very little problem with lost or broken toy/material/art pieces because of the emphasis on respect and ownership. Another example is that I don’t have children nagging at me to play with dough or do a drawing – they have all they need at their little fingertips.
Mostly I Montessori because, quite simply, the results are quick and positive. I have witnessed many a proud grin as my son or daughter accomplish something for the first time all by themselves. I have seen countless periods of long concentration by tiny humans engrossed in something seemingly simple. I have witnessed the magic of my little ones repeating an activity again and again.
That is not to say that Montessori solves all, or that you can’t have these outcomes without it. But it’s worth it for us to make those changes (in our thinking and our home) which have great benefits. This is why, despite the costs, we hope to get our children into Montessori schooling.