You can take the mom out of Montessori, but you can’t take the Montessori out of the mom… I hope.

We’ve changed schools. Our new school is not a Montessori, and it was very painful for me to make the choice to move. Montessori, and our school in particular, changed my parenting, my home, and my entire way of relating to children. It was a hard environment to leave.

Now I’ve thrust my children into a world of homework (and homework agendas to be signed by the parents), gym uniforms, and late slips. Suddenly evenings have become battlegrounds and mornings are stressful for everyone as we try to get to school on time, which at this school means ten minutes early, lest we get late slips.

Notice how I said “we” get late slips? It felt that way to me – like I’d experience some kind of consequence for the fact that my kids dawdled in the morning. It was the same with homework: I became emotionally invested in making sure that K (our 9-year-old) actually did her homework properly. I was a stress case, and my frustration and anxiety were leaking into all my interactions with the children.

And then over the weekend it occurred to me that my job as a parent is the same as it’s always been: to prepare the environment so that the children have what they need to do their work. It’s their job to do their homework; my job is to provide the appropriate space, supplies, and time. Likewise, I can’t ride their bikes faster for them. I can only make sure that everyone has a bike to ride, and that I start the morning with enough time to get out of the house and bike to school.

Making that small mental shift had instant results.

At homework time, I went down to the homework table with our children and made sure they understood their assignments (they did.) Then the 9-year-old started to complain and whine about how she didn’t know what to write, that the assignment was stupid to begin with, and that she didn’t want to do it. Tears (hers, not mine) ensued.

“Okay,” I said. “It’s your homework, and you know you need to do it. So I’m going to excuse myself to do my work while you do yours.” Ten minutes later she surfaced from the basement and announced that she had finished her homework.

Now, I don’t know what the quality of her work was. I don’t know whether she did a half-assed job. And frankly, I don’t need to know. It’s between her and her teacher, and I trust the teacher to evaluate the work fairly (meaning that she’ll tell my kid if the work is sub-par.) It’s not my problem.

The morning bike ride hasn’t changed much, except that I’m now much calmer when the 5-year-old stops her bike, drops it, and starts wailing about how “I CAAAN’T DOOOO IT!” I stand there and say calmly, “We have X minutes to get to school, and after that you need to go to the office for a late slip. Only you can decide to get back on the bike and be on time.”

And I’m truly able to not care if she gets a late slip. I’ve done my job – everybody has appropriate clothing, everybody gets access to breakfast, and I start moving them out of the house in plenty of time to bike to school, barring any major meltdowns. If the child decides she’d rather give in to her frustration than suck it up and be on time, the consequences are hers. Not mine.

I have a friend, a Montessori teacher, who says, “the hardest part of being a Montessori teacher is sitting on your hands and biting your tongue.”

And so the challenge lies before me: to sit on my hands and bite my tongue; to be a Montessori parent in a non-Montessori world.

This could get interesting.

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tzivia MacLeod
    Sep 14, 2017 @ 07:18:35

    This is beautiful, truly. Thanks for sharing it.

    Reply

  2. Janine
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 05:56:03

    Really helpful….thankyou x great reminder to me on how to remind them of their choices and leave the responsibility with them….
    I might have to write a post it note for the fridge to myself.”sit on your hands, bite your tongue ‘…

    ShonaTova

    Reply

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