Wheaton Montessori News
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, please take a moment to also celebrate the growing independence of your child.
There comes a day in the life of every parent of a child in a Montessori school where her child declares his or her independence. Days or weeks after a child begins school, we hear a common theme from parents: “He won’t let me help him,” or “He wants to do everything himself.” It is hard for a mother (and father too) to see this little one, who has up to now been so dependent on the parents for his every need, to suddenly declare he doesn’t need or want their help.
The smiling, tiny three-year-old leaves you in the car and, all smiles, without a goodbye or a backward glance, trots into the school building. On Saturday, he asks why he can’t go to school. Why this new attitude? Because he is becoming a person.
In the Montessori classroom, we have very high expectations for your child. We expect your child to do everything possible for himself. We are there to show him the way, to show him the next step if he needs our help, but never to do the work for him. And never, never, do we attempt to “think for” him.
The Montessori Child is asked to think for himself, to make his own decisions, and to make his own judgments. The role of the Montessori Directress (or teacher) is to introduce the child to the materials. The child must learn from the materials by handling them, using them, and creating with them as often as he needs. The child is never told “what” to do or what materials to work with in the classroom; he must decide for himself. The Montessori child chooses the work he wishes to do, making the decision himself. Thus, the bid for independence in the three-year-old becomes a reality.
In our classroom the child is expected to hang up his own coat. If he spills water, he is expected to clean it up. If he uses materials, he is expected to return them to the place where he found them.
The child hangs up his coat because a small hanger is provided, there is a low table on which to place his coat to manipulate the hanger, and a place he can reach to hang it. A mop, intended for adult use, has a shortened handle and is kept where the child can expect to find it. The order in our classrooms makes it possible for the child to return the materials to their proper place.
Children accept and live up to these expectations from the very first day in the classroom, because their growing bids for independence thrive on such freedom to grow. Independence and the growing ability to “do for himself” makes the three-year-old self-assured, confident, and able to say, “I’ll try,” instead of “I can’t.”
Wait and watch. Stand back, hands clasped behind your back, tongue between your teeth if necessary. Wait and watch. Your child will try. If he fails, give him understanding and sympathy. If he succeeds, give him encouragement. Each time he stands alone, each time he succeeds, he grows a little…
…and needs his parents less.
He needs his parents to DO less for him, but needs his parents to understand and encourage him.
As your child begins the school year, try to enjoy his new independence. Don’t be hurt if he doesn’t obey your every command; allow him to begin to think for himself, decide for himself, and learn for himself.
This growing independence is proof-positive of the parent and child’s joint success. Your child is on the way towards become an adult.