If you missed them, Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the series are linked here.
Often, I've received questions regarding what the hardest part of my job is, wanting more information on the academic side of Montessori, trying to wrap one's mind around the potentials that a child is capable of accomplishing, and how discipline is done in a Montessori environment. Honestly, these questions are all a bit overwhelming to me because I never know exactly where to start. The work is hard, but what's the hardest part? Many people do want to bring the Montessori Method into their homes, but where to start? I'd like to propose the three most important things of the method that you can do at home with your child.
Just for a moment, put aside the difficulties of parenting, the academics, and the details regarding discipline and ask this question: what is the most important part of the prepared environment, whether at school or at home? Dr. Montessori said that the adult is the most important part because regardless of your philosophy of education or of parenting, what's most important is that the child knows that he is loved. Love your child well. Of course, we love our children so much, but do we love them well? If you take anything away from this series, it's this: love your child(ren). Observe them. Get to know their love languages and their temperaments. Get to know (if you haven't already) your love languages and your temperaments to learn the similarities and differences between you and your children and amongst your children so that you have a clearer picture of why two people responded to the same situation differently and how to best guide those unique responses. And love them as best as you can, with God's help and through the intercession of their patron Saints and guardian angels. You're going to make mistakes and that's okay. In fact, it's healthy. Mistakes are how we learn and do better next time. A Saint is a sinner that keeps trying.
Part of loving your child well is learning to use language that children respond well to. In the post about the Four Planes of Development, I wrote that the 0-6-year-old child cannot differentiate between Divine Love and parental love. Hence, we don't really "discipline" a very young child but rather guide their behavior through positive language, allowing them to explore their surroundings and learn through natural consequences. You wouldn't give a 2-year-old your phone or ipad because that phone or ipad is going to go straight into the 2-year-old's mouth -- you'll be frustrated because that's not good for the phone or ipad and you might start lecturing your 2-year-old about why you don't put a phone or ipad in your mouth. The problem is that that is reasoning with your child who isn't capable of reasoning. The next time you give the phone or ipad to your child, no lecture is in their memory (because their absorbent minds are so present in reality) and that phone or ipad is going to go straight back into their mouth. When your child sees the phone or ipad and wants it, an appropriate response would be, "No, I'm sorry. This is for mom and dad." On the other end of the spectrum is listening to the cries of your child and understanding why they are crying. Much of the time, it will likely be because their need for order has been somehow violated. Observe the situation. When the daughter of the Montessori Directress that I work with was an infant, there was a time when the family began backing out of the driveway and the daughter began to cry. My Directress told her husband to stop the car and she looked into the backseat to observe. She realized that her daughter was not buckled, so she buckled the carseat, her daughter stopped crying, and they continued on their way. The child craves order and beauty and when this is violated, they'll express their feelings. At the end of this post, I'll offer further suggestions of positive language.
|(Rosie here) At our house: Apple cutter, vegetable peeler, garlic peeler, mini whisk, crinkle cutter - all adult tools that work great for kids and are easily accessible when they want to make their own snacks.|
Ultimately, the Montessori Method is about following the child, loving the child, and cultivating a relationship with the child. The work is a prayer. First, the adult must have a relationship with God through prayer because one cannot give what one does not have. Relationship is the deepest cry of the human heart. The work is about relationship. Prayer is a relationship between God and the soul; if prayer is a battle (Catechism of the Catholic Church, beginning at paragraph 2725) then that is why this work is so hard. (Ephesians 6:11)
And thus concludes this little series on the Montessori Method. As a little "thank you" to everyone who read along, I'm offering an "Everyone Wins" giveaway! I've typed up two pages that I have, one on Positive Language for Discipline and the other on the Prepared Home Environment. All you have to do is email me with a comment or question pertaining to this series and I'll reply with the two attachments for you to enjoy. For less confusion on my end, please include "Montessori Series" in the subject of your email. My address is littleflower219 at gmail.com.
If you would like to stay in touch, I'm on Facebook (Sarah Therese) and often share quotes from the children with whom I work. My Instagram (@sarahloutherese) consists largely of little day-to-day reflections, with an emphasis on joy. Also, feel free to email me with any questions regarding the Montessori Method and the development of the child. If I can't answer your questions, I work with many Montessorians who have much more experience than I and am happy to pass along your questions and their answers!
God love and bless you and your families!