Montessori is a strange thing. A lot of people who know nothing about it falsely assume it is some kind of soft, hippy-dippy type of school that is all mung beans and tree hugging, that teaches children nothing about discipline, rules and the outside world. Some people who know a bit about it think it is too structured, not focused enough on play and that it teaches children that sharing and group work are not important. I get told this all the time and really, at the risk of sounding harsh, I couldn't be bothered with answering these statements. Information is too readily available right now, there is no need to assume, if you are interested enough in something to have an opinion on it, google it!
I was feeling really disheartened that my kids aren't going to get to go to a Montessori school, there are none close enough to where we live and even if there were, money would be too tight. But then I remembered; parents are the first and most important educators, whatever we want to instill in our kids we can. Isn't that a great concept? We can encourage them to explore, learn, be empowered, be self disciplined, respect and sometimes question authority, work hard and believe in themselves. Knowing you can be and do anything is a great lesson, but only if it goes hand in hand with lessons in pro-activity, planning, hard work and persistence. Sure I don't have all the material and I can't teach them jack about maths after short division but I can teach them lots of other things that go hand in hand with what Dr Montessori was all about.
These things start small, a two year old deciding what she wants for lunch and making her own sandwich, a three year old getting frustrated trying to put on a jacket, a four year old drinking out of a glass that will break if it's dropped. These are all the simple little starting points that our children can experience now. This idea that children are naturally curious and will push themselves to learn things that we can't teach them is so true, just because you don't tell them what to learn doesn't mean they will just sit there doing nothing and I find it really amusing that some people think that way, um... have you met any kids? Scout taught me what a Pachycephalosaurus is, I would have easily gone my whole life without knowing that, she has a passion for dinosaurs that is totally her own. The only thing that I love about dinosaurs is T-Rex memes, she decided that dinosaurs are totally cool and I helped her learn about them by encouraging her curiosity, finding books and apps about dinosaurs and going oohh, ahhh, really, that's so interesting! Every time she wants to talk about bloody-dinosaurs. She's not some sort of genius three year old, she's just a normal three year old.
We live in a really amazing time, today's children can literally find out anything they want to know, so as parents all we have to do is teach them that wanting to know stuff is a great trait, and that all things are equal, even if they want to research the Kardashians, it's not ideal but never underestimate the skills that are gained when researching, even something that isn't exactly intellectually fulfilling. A bit of encouragement and a lack of contradiction can go a long way, nothing is silly, nothing is pointless, it's all information and it's all relevant.
This is why I decided to start my #pcmontessoriaday challenge, just to get the ball rolling for parents who aren't really sure where to start. I am completely overwhelmed by how many people have started to follow my new Instagram account Montessori_at_home. and I just wanted to send you all out a big thank you.
And to all the little people who are having so much fun taking part in my daily Montessori activities - you are seriously making me smile so much. My favourite picture so far is of one very lovely little girl, all dressed up in her raincoat and gumboots, watering the plants in the pouring rain. Please join us on Instagram!