Why Being a Montessori Mom Changed My Life
I will never forget the moment I heard about the Montessori school near my home. I can still picture where I was and who told me. I’m not sure why it sticks out in my memory, but my education as a Montessori parent began at that very moment. I read all the books and tried to incorporate the methods into my parenting as much as I could. In the age of the “Tiger Mom” or “Elephant Mom,” I am proud to have a name that identifies my style. Even though my children are older now and attend a traditional school, I am most definitely still a “Montessori Mom.”
What does being a “Montessori Mom” mean?
I’m not sure I have a specific, definitive answer. It’s more of a feeling. I try to listen. I encourage them to ask questions and talk to the adults in their lives. I help them understand instead of just doling out punishment for a mistake. Perhaps most importantly, I convey that I am imperfect, and so are they. If I make a mistake- I own it, and want them to do the same. I hope that through this method I have conveyed that I accept them exactly as they are and that it is okay to make mistakes as long as necessary steps are taken to correct them. I hope that I can do that should it ever be called in to question.
Not only was Montessori a learning experience for my children, it was a learning experience for me as well. I can distinctly remember three moments when Montessori became very real to me:
- The 2nd Great Lesson: The Coming of Life
I now know a lot about the timeline of life and I can even picture what it looks like drawn by a classroom full of happy students. I learned about cephalopods and arthropods and I know way more about trilobites than I ever dreamed I could know, which comes in handy during trivia! I’m here to tell you, the conversations you have with your kids will interest you and sometimes make you Google stuff! Did you know that dragonflies once had wingspans that could exceed two feet? Neither did I, until my children told me following a particularly rousing Montessori lesson.
- For the love of Science!
I knew a lot less about the supercontinent, Pangaea, before I had Montessori kids. I used to carpool a group of little Montessorians and we were marveling at the size of the sun one day when a child piped up from the backseat and said “It’s actually not the size of the sun- it’s the perspective given by the horizon that makes it look large!” I thought, “I’m going to pass that off as my own when I need to sound smart!”
- Math. I’m talking ALL Montessori Math!
This is what really sold me on Montessori. The way math is taught had me in awe! I went to a teacher demonstration where I was taught about square rooting with Montessori materials. The beautiful simplicity literally brought me to tears. It was so easy and it made so much sense! More than anything, I wanted that revelation for my children and for all children. I wanted that for me as a child. I learned that math could be fun and EASY at the same time.
The fact was, my children were learning and teaching me along the way, too. What did my children learn? They picked up fossils, held them and looked at them. They picked up the alphabet. They could see a number laid out in front of them with beads and they could touch it. My children could work on the floor with a rug. If they had trouble sitting all day, it wasn’t pointed out and scrutinized. They were allowed to be kids. They played. They moved around the room. They built volcanoes out of baking soda and vinegar! They got dirty. They planted vegetables in the Earth and watched them grow. They even harvested those vegetables and ate them proudly. They were expected to clean up their spot after they had a meal. They washed their own dishes by hand and wiped up the table. They were taught to love and honor their classroom and each other. My children learned that there are many different cultures and religions in the world and they all have value. If there was a disagreement, they were taught to talk it out and work on it together. They were taught how to live.
It’s difficult to express everything I’ve learned as a parent and as a human through being a Montessori Mom. The closest I can come to sum it up is through the Peace Prayer by Mahatma Gandhi, which I heard for the first time at a Montessori event:
“I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows form the Highest Source.
I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.”
Not only is Montessori an exciting and tactile way to learn, it encourages children to love learning. Montessori is peace education, which is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment. I think that’s the most important education of all!