Whenever I spend a bit of time at Brooksfield and get the chance to observe my daughter in action, I always come away amazed at the things she can do on her own. Putting on her coat and gloves. Unrolling, and then nicely rolling back up, a rug, without being asked. Following simple directions without a ton of oversight.
It’s all pretty amazing.
And, of course, once we get home on those days, there’s a new world order. I’m less likely to rush in to help and more likely to sit back and marvel at what happens when I leave her to her own devices. After just a year at Brooksfield, I’m a Montessori convert. I love the emphasis on independence and freedom and the child-led nature feels so right to me.
A few weeks ago, in one of her Night Time Reading about Montessori emails, Sarah sent an article about Montessori at home. I opened it immediately; eager to do whatever I could at home to follow through on what my daughter learned at school.
And I was surprised to learn that, in many ways, we had already created a prepared environment in our home.
Now, don’t be fooled. We’re not really that on top of things. A year ago our son was born and on those days when the baby wanted to cluster feed and the preschooler wanted to cluster snack, we needed someone to be able to fend for themselves. So we moved the healthy, always-approved snacks to the bottom drawer of our pantry. And we moved the kid-friendly plastic plates and bowls to a low, deep drawer in our kitchen. That drawer often looks like a rainbow exploded, colorful plates and bowls tossed about chaotically. And bags of dried fruit often spill out of the snack shelf as soon as you open the pantry doors. But when I’ve got a baby in one arm and I’m loading the dishwasher with the other, my daughter can satisfy her very urgent sounding snack need without much more than a passing glance from me.
And she loves that just as much as I do, if not, perhaps, more.
Fully embracing our children’s independence can be tough for parents. Really tough. We want to do things and provide for our kids. We want them to be our babies forever. We want to see them grow and flourish and thrive… but we don’t want to let go. And, in a more practical way, we don’t want to clean up the mess of a failed attempt to pour cereal into a bowl.
But I’ve seen how important the independence is to my daughter. She thrives on it. She smiles bigger when she’s done something for herself and she is more likely to try something new when she rides that wave of confidence. And even though she can dress herself and zip her own coat and almost completely get ready for her day with no help from me, she still needs me. To love her and guide her and to kiss her and hug her and dry her tears. And those things are so much more valuable to us both.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr )