by Jeremey Clarke
We know that Montessori methods offer young children the very best start in life. But could learning more about the Montessori approach be of benefit to parents too?
Here are five ways Montessori made me a better father.
I try to give my children the gift of time and I don’t really mean me spending more time with them. I mean giving them time to do what they need to do. It can be difficult, and sometimes a deadline is a deadline. I can’t change the start of the school day, but through an understanding of the child’s need to work at their own pace on tasks coupled with the need to repeat, I have found allowing time brings a greater sense of relaxation to us all.
This may the trickiest thing to give your children with confidence that you have found the balance between keeping them safe, helping them grow and letting them be themselves. I think what Montessori has given me here is the strong idea of the benefits of freedom only apply when there are clear boundaries. It also helps me to give greater freedom when I have an understanding of growth it can bring. I have also found that I am more able to question myself in terms of why I may be saying “no”, and am more readily happy to say “yes” and allow greater responsibility to be taken by my children.
This probably underpins all of the other ways Montessori has influenced my parenting. Having a deeper understanding of why children behave in a certain way or what their developmental needs maybe has made a huge difference to seeing them in a new light. I guess as a parent I did know about milestones, and it is easy to see change and development as your child grows; but I have found that having some readily understandable theory to draw on as I was watching the growth helped me make more sense of what I was seeing and allowed me to provide more appropriate opportunities for my children. It also gave me more confidence in the risk-taking, more resilience when times were hard (and by hard I mean tantrum-y) and more belief in my child’s abilities.
This seems a bit silly to say. I am fairly sure that without Montessori I would (as many do) have an amazing amount of joy with my children. I think I chose this as something Montessori has influenced not because it creates more joy but because of the way the approach allows me more opportunity. By having more time my children are happier, more settled and relaxed. They are able to take more risks and control their lives to a greater degree. This helps them to explore more and to be confident in knowing what they love. And if you know what you love it is easier to share this with the people around you! I am able to share in their joy because they are able to spend more time experiencing things that bring it to them.
Being in the moment
This is something that can sometimes come easily, and sometimes needs to have a conscious push to get there, but the rewards are fabulous. I think it stems from understanding more about what is going on in the child’s mind and appreciating the importance of every interaction, activity and moment you can spend with your child. Allowing yourself to become fully immersed in an activity, or to truly completely focus on the child and nothing else (not even in the back of your mind) is connected very closely to the Montessori idea of deep respect for the inner life of the child. I feel I am better at respecting their lives and understanding that, much more than adults, they are existing for the moment. If the least I can do is share that moment with them, then I should do it fully.
Jeremy Clarke is a father and the Leader of E-Learning at Montessori Centre International. This article was first published on https://www.montessori.org.uk/.