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I had trouble sleeping the night before my daughter started first grade.

Categories: Back to School / Elementary Program / Fan Mail / For Parents / Spotlight on Our Teachers / The Great Lessons / Why Montessori

From Catherine Penney, Elementary Assistant Emeritus.  Mrs. Penney was an assistant in our Early Elementary class for the 2018-19 school year, taking a year off from her writing and editing career to help us. At the time, both of her daughters were in one of our Primary classes, one in her Kindergarten year.  Here are her thoughts as her family prepared for the start of the 2019-2020 school year. 

I had trouble sleeping the night before my daughter started first grade this year. It wasn’t because I was worried; I was actually just too excited to sleep.

I have the rare benefit of having spent the last school year working in the WMS elementary classroom while my daughters were both in primary. I was lying awake that night in August because I was thinking about all the things she was going to experience, things I had seen firsthand. The Great Lessons. That lesson about the seasons that made me feel, as an adult, like I finally understood what happens as the earth moves around the sun. All the books and materials and opportunities I knew would be in front of her. I was imagining the projects she could work on, te he things she might build, and how all of it would come from her own initiative and interests. I know firsthand what a rare, rich, environment she spends her days in now, and I’m thrilled.

The funny thing is, we actually hadn’t intended to stay for elementary. We knew how important the Kindergarten year was, but that was going to be as far as we went at WMS. There were a number of reasons for this, as there usually are for every family. One of our reservations was philosophical–I thought it was important to be invested in the public schools where we live. I didn’t like the idea of using our resources to give our kids a better education than everyone else was going to get. Working with the children at WMS myself–seeing the teachers and the materials and the environment in action–has completely changed my idea of what it would mean to have our children stay there.

Sending our daughters to Wheaton Montessori doesn’t feel like investing in making sure they get better opportunities than other children. It feels like investing in a gift to the world. Because that’s what each of these children will be when they learn and grow in such a carefully considered, beautiful environment–a gift. And knowing my daughter was starting a new step on that journey kept me awake in a good way.