He’s probably still recovering from the over-scheduled Thanksgiving week. Or maybe his molars are coming in. Or it could be that he’s just human and has a rough week once in a while. Whatever the case, this is most definitely one of those weeks. There’s been a ton of NOs, lots of throwing things, and innumerable meltdowns. But then you walk into Hand in Hand. . .
As you enter the Montessori parent-child class you attend each week, you mentally prepare yourself for a rough class. But that same challenging week is suddenly left at the door. Your child chooses work and focuses. He moves with purpose, patiently waiting his turn for an activity to become available. He cares for materials, listening and appropriately responding to instructions.
Children often struggle at home with changes or disruptions in the family schedule. But when they come to school, it’s almost as if a switch has been flipped. They know exactly what to do and quickly set about their daily routine. The expectations are the same, the environment is the same, the people are the same. That routine created predictability, giving your child a sense of familiarity and comfort. And if that’s not enough, the Montessori parent-child class gifts just keep on coming . . .
Adult role model
As his parents, you are your child’s first teachers, but his Montessori teacher is a huge blessing. Each week, he has another adult—a patient, respectful adult—who is demonstrating and working with him. All the while, he’s absorbing that he is worthy of eye contact and patient reminders. He is deserving of questions being addressed to him, of kind assistance, and of clear communication. And all from an adult who is not related to him (that’s a very big deal). And your child thrives on this positive adult interaction; he asks the teacher for presentations and is the first to volunteer to help her with snack preparation.
It’s not easy to find places that are specifically prepared just for small children. Besides your home, our Hand in Hand classroom is just that for your child. And he clearly knows it. From the start, he easily engages with the environment: independently cleaning up after himself, choosing and returning work, setting his place for snack, etc. Families love that this prepared environment reinforces what they try so hard to create at home: sense of independence, healthy boundaries, care of self/others/environment, and respect.
There are no phones to answer, dishes to unload, or dogs to let outside. You are gifted an hour and a half of uninterrupted observation of your child. You start to recognize what works he is drawn to. You get to watch him work with and communicate with another adult. You get to witness his progress in ways you don’t always see at home. When stripped away from all possible distractions, it’s amazing how absorbed you can become while watching your child.
Most parents don’t really consider this aspect of the class when they sign up. You want something enriching for your child, but you can’t imagine how much of a support it can be for you as parents too. You can ask questions and get feedback from an experienced Montessori teacher, one who knows your child. Plus, you get to talk with other like-minded parents. Families often say that they leave each week feeling rejuvenated, encouraged, and inspired—talk about a great use of a couple of hours!
Stepping stone to “real” school
In a short time, your child will be ready for a more formal school experience. Imagine how thankful you will be that you were by his side in his first classroom—our Montessori parent-child environment. Our Hand in Hand class does require parent participation, but the older your child gets and the longer you attend class, the more you are able to step back and mirror the independence he’ll have at school. No matter whether you choose to continue in Montessori education or another program—there will be tons of new things for him to acclimate to, for sure, but the similarities will help make for an easier transition.
So if you are lucky enough to live in a city with a Montessori parent-child class, I highly recommend attending a program like Hand in Hand. You will be so thankful to have this time with your child before he heads off to school by himself one day . . .
(adapted from http://www.thismerrymontessori.com/?p=1065)