While I love the Montessori philosophy and am happy to incorporate it into our home and make it our choice of schooling, I never want to hold so tightly onto the philosophy at the expense of losing our home environment.
What I mean by that is the home should first and foremost be a place of rest, comfort, and retreat from the world. It should be a safe place where children can speak openly and honestly with their parents and know they are loved without their latest accomplishment or failure looming over them.
I want my boys to love learning, to explore the world and discover its mysteries. I want them to come to the schoolroom excited about their next lesson, expectant at the knowledge unfolding. I want them to feel empowered by their education.
But I never want them to feel because we choose to school at home that our home is always a school; that I am always the teacher, and they always the student.
I’m careful to notice when I’m becoming too overbearing, nitpicking, or take on the “You have to finish this work before you can have fun” attitude. And I keep an eye out for when my boys feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, or constrained by their work.
My relationship as a mother comes before my role as a teacher. I am their confidante, encourager, comforter, truth-speaker, and leader before I am their Montessori guide. Before I look for their sensitive period, I want to look at them–how are they doing, what do they need, where are they struggling.
I want to meet them where they are at and let them know that our home is a place of love, acceptance, joy, and discovery.
How can I do this practically?
- Make a point to stop and talk to them face-to-face, one-on-one each day. Ask them how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, is there anything they’re concerned about, excited about or for, or even how can I help them.
- Slow down life. Take an inventory of my pace for the day—Am I rushing? Am I making my children rush? Are we out too much for activities or errands? Am I taking their pace or forcing them to take mine?
- Respect the child. Acknowledge their emotions, help and encourage them to express themselves in useful and healthy ways, allow them to contribute to the family work.
- Join in the play. Be intentional to join in the play and discovery with my boys. To play with them—initiate play or follow their lead. Give them opportunities to discover new environments, objects, and ideas.
- Evaluate. Take time regularly to evaluate how I’m doing in these areas and how our children are faring in our home as well as in their schooling. Identify areas in need of growth, my own strengths and weaknesses as well as the children’s, and what we can do to make our relationship and home healthy.