Reflections on the year

It’s been a most interesting year. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt is that there can be no real learning unless the children feel safe. Safe from a dominating, overly controlling teachers who speak through gritted teeth or demand immediate obedience without reason just because we know what’s best for them. I’m speaking of myself, of course. I journeyed through this year, realising that there is so much more work to be done. As a guide, I need to keep things light, to turn “no”s into “yes”-es without making the child feel like he is being forced to do something. Yes, we sometimes know what’s best. But we need to keep humble and realise an important rule of Montessori – if something is not going “right”, WAIT first before intervening and OBSERVE. Do not be too quick to intervene. Most times, the children will sort themselves out. Even if they don’t, they need the time and YOUR trust to do so. Like the child learning to walk. It’s really all the same. We just think it isn’t.

Another lesson I learned is that children need tools, tools, tools – for everything. Presenting materials to them and “leaving them to choose their work” doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the child does not have the ability to choose. And if so, they need tools and support! This is especially so for those children who join a Montessori environment at an older age and come from a very adult-directed background.

That said, children do learn on their own and it’s been wonderful to see the 6-year-old help herself to food 3 times over and finish the food quickly (she often brings an adult-packed lunch and takes over an hour to eat). We hardly did anything. And then the children slowly became more peaceful, again, with few presentations in that area (although they still need them), and included the younger children or special needs child into their playtime.

I do wish I had more materials at my disposal. It is so hard to keep up with a class of such varied ages (even though it is a tiny class – every child is so vastly different from the rest). I must stock up on more great lessons next year and delve more into Geography and History.

It’s a learning journey and I am thankful for all who are part of that journey, every parent and every child.

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