In Montessori environments, we teach and practice three-respects: respect others, respect the environment, and respect yourself. Setting limits with freedom is closely connected to this practice. If you think about what needs to happen for us to get back to “normal,” it is all in these three- respects. We learned how important it is to treat each other with compassion and with kindness. We learned why we should take safety precautions seriously. We learned how critical it is for us to take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
In addition to this valuable discipline, the children’s flexibility, open-mindedness, and resilience inspired and energized us, the adult, to guide them through this unusual yet another wonderfully meaningful year. As we look back at the beginning of the school year and how we have anticipated what the year might be, it was not what we actually experienced. Maria Montessori said, “The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.” The children illuminated the path through this school year by being their authentic selves when even the world seemed to be an uncertain place.
The link of the three-year-cycle was not lost this year and will continue for the years to come. The older students have fulfilled their roles as leaders and paved the way for rising third-year students who are well-prepared and excited to take the new responsibility. Those who were the newcomers are ready to follow in the footsteps of the older students with the experiences they gained this year.
Gratitude fills all of us, the primary guides and assistants, with the privilege to have your children in our school, work with them and learn from them each day. To the families transitioning to other environments next year, we wish you the best with your new adventures. We look forward to welcoming back the returning families in the fall. Let us hope that we will have more opportunities to connect in person next year!
“We shall walk together on this path of life for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Maria Montessori
The summer is quickly approaching and the children will all be back with their families in one way or another. It’s a time to relax a little more and let the sunshine warm the soul. Some of you may be joining us for the summer program, while others of you we won’t see until August. Either way, we hope you are able to spend as much time as possible with your children.
This is a time for your children to take a long break from ‘school work’ and just relax and be; however, we don’t want to get too comfortable. Montessori has been touted as that place where children can run free, and that is true, but there is a limit to that freedom. Like all societies, we learn the rules of how to treat one another and the expectations of the classroom. There are rules; they are basic and we, as guides help to enforce these rules.
“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.” – M. Montessori
So, we too, as parents, guide our children to the path of independence and freedom within the rules of the family and society. We also teach our children compassion for the natural world, including humans. “When you feel compassion, you are moved to take action to relieve someone else’s suffering.” (Onward, Elena Aguilar). Compassion is cultivated through kindness to our friends regardless of differences, taking care of the natural world even if it scares us (think spiders or wasps), and treating the things in our environment with gentle hands and much respect. In our classrooms we sing a simple song with 4 basic rules:
We choose work. We do the work. We put the work away, ready for the next person.
We keep our hands to ourselves.
We use walking feet inside the classroom.
We use quiet voices inside the classroom.
As we head into the summer months let’s keep these expectations in mind to cultivate freedom with limits and give the child as much independence and freedom as possible. Adhere to the rules where there is no question of what is okay and not okay so your child can move freely, safely, and securely within their environment, be it home or summer school.
Happy Summer Everyone!!!
Jamie Van Horn