by Elizabeth Vice
You know your kids are Montessori when your oldest will be graduating from the college of his dreams at 20 years old. His college offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in timber framing and a full progress of traditional historic preservation major class. And he’s at the top of his trades classes because of his work ethic. Head and Hands: check.
You know your kids are Montessori when your 18-year-old is heading to “uni” in England because he wants to immerse himself in a different culture and thinks England is a good launching point for visits to Europe “and then the rest of the world.” And, yes, he was obsessed with maps at five years of age.
You know your kids are Montessori when the oldest isn’t particularly adept at bubble tests or algebra but still get the “Math” award from their high school because he aced the state algebra test after being out of the algebra class for six months. (Mom and Dad were blown away because we both are horrid at math.)
You know your kids are Montessori when they both graduate high school (at 17 and 15 years old) and have their sophomore year completed though a community college at the same time. (We are very grateful to SC Whitmore School for being a mastery based, on-line high school and willing to let our children take the majority of their core classes through the local community college with AP credit.)
You know your kids are Montessori when your child decides that he can’t buy a pair of shoes because the suede will get messed up and he would be bothered by the lack of order. (This is not the other child. He loves his suede shoes, and they are blue.)
You know your kids are Montessori when a friend explains that you encourage your teenaged students to carry their knives to school.
You know your kids are Montessori when an older one gets ready to tell the younger ones to pipe down. He closes his mouth mid-sentence because he sees that they have a moment of joyous discovery.
You know your kids are Montessori when one spends a half-hour watching the birds in the yard and one week researching all of them.
You know your kids are Montessori when they plaster polite smiles on their faces as older adults praise them on their ability to sit still through “such boring lectures that you all couldn’t possibly understand.” (They vented later.)
You know your kids are Montessori when during a medical crisis at work, one turns and walks to the nearest stairwell and once in it races up the stairs to locate additional help, never panicking. “I didn’t want to panic the patrons,” they said.
You know your kids are Montessori when trying on glasses takes twice as long because he feels that it is only right to polish the lenses in between each pair he dons.
You know your kids are Montessori when given the usual Public School writing prompt and “just take 15 minutes to think it over” takes two days to research the history and figure out the geography of the creative writing assignment. He then starts writing.
You know your kids are Montessori when one begins to spontaneously organize the magazine shelves at the barber shop. “It just bothered me.”
You know your kids are Montessori when one comes barreling through the room saying, “I’ve got to hold the number in my head! I don’t want to re-do my problem – 84,84,84.” He was on the way to the bathroom and didn’t want to forget his partial product in cross multiplication.
You know your kids are Montessori when one comes in to say they might need a little bit of help, and you walk outside to see three kids on the roof and one in the tree. They are hatching a plan and want to vet the physics of it.
You know your kids are Montessori when they strike up a conversation with a lady at the meat counter and discuss their learning life, getting into a discussion of how Montessori is different and better for them. (Mom was lurking behind the bread display.)
You know your kids are Montessori when they disassemble an old joy stick, figure out how it works, and then put it back together.
You know your kids are Montessori when you leave them home alone for an hour, and when you come back they have made Creme Anglaise and cleaned the kitchen.
You know your kids are Montessori when one of them takes a project to a college professor to find out if it is good enough to sit in on his college cellular biology class and the professor thinks it is.
You know your kids are Montessori when they grab their nature journal to sketch the “snot” coming from corals.
You know your kids are Montessori when you go to the County Fair and they won’t race from one ride across the midway to another ride. They methodically move down the row riding rides (even again and again) until they have “completed” that ride.
You know your kids are Montessori when you kids can’t do just a “written science project”. It has to involve history, science, geography, linguistics, and art.
You know your kids are Montessori when your son insists his birthday cupcakes go to “Mike, the Glass Guy” and his staff. Then when he is offering them round, he insists that the customers be included, too. Grace and courtesy are still ingrained in an 11 year old. Yes!
You know your kids are Montessori when an afternoon at the park playing involves no play equipment or the ball field but a mound of sand, a mound of dirt, several turtle eggs, a garter snake, and a toad.
You know your kids are Montessori when they finish the roof sweeping job and announce their work is done, but that they are not done working. What was their new work? Laying on the roof to watch the tree branches and the clouds. They stayed there 15 minutes or more.
You know your kids are Montessori when they spend seven minutes making order from the chaos of the name tag table after church. (No we were not talking with anyone. We were waiting.)
You know your kids are Montessori when they spend three hours working on a fused glass project to say: “I don’t want to go to lunch. I have not completed my work.”
You know your kids are Montessori when they take an old (yet clean) oval bath mat and make a cell work out of it. They’ve been calling it the “Pink Amoeba” and pretending it is encircling them to digest their legs.
Elizabeth Vice is certified as a Directress in Casa and Elementary. She also holds a 3 to 6 certification in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Her sons attended Montessori schools from Casa onward through age 13 and 11 when they began to be home schooled with a Montessori cooperative and began online high school at the ages of 15 and 14. They are now 20 and 18. Elizabeth consults with parents and tutors students as well as writes specialized curricula for schools and churches of all stripes. She spends her spare time weaving.