By Leigh Ebrom, Parent and Graduate
I love picking my son up from Stepping Stones’ After Care. Some of the reasons are obvious:
- I love him to pieces; and
- Picking him up means our busy day is winding down.
I also get to peek into his Montessori experience.
Every pick up is different. Often, I walk in to the After Care classroom, and find my three-year old listening to a story, or washing his dishes. Sometimes, he’s dancing to music or kicking a soccer ball outside. Other times, he’s “reading” a favorite book (that’s been memorized) to his friends. I have been invited to join the circle and listen to a story, or join the line up for outdoor play (always at the back of the line, like any other student).
Recently, I found him sitting quietly at a table, intently working. His After Care teachers had just put out some new materials (or “works”). Drew had a tray with a felt pad, an oversized push-pin, and a piece of paper. He was carefully punching out a picture of an apple, which he had chosen from a variety of images. I had to interrupt his work before he noticed me.
I expected him to voice irritation for the interruption, or become upset because he had to leave. Instead, he asked me a question. “Mom, can I teach you punch work?”
My three-year old offered me a chair at the table. He demonstrated the task, and then passed the tray of work to me. He also wanted to take a picture of me working. Then, we put our finished pieces of paper in his backpack to show Dad.
Practical life and sensory learning are an incredibly important part of the Montessori curriculum. Small children wash dishes, sweep floors, prepare food, and fold laundry. They have access to scissors, needles, and push-pins.
Push-pin work helps develop the fine motor skills needed for writing, drawing, and other important academic activities. Additionally, this kind of work teaches capability and independence. In a Montessori classroom, the child is trusted enough to make choices, take risks, and assume responsibility. The child learns that he doesn’t need to rely on others, and that he can effectuate change.
When Drew offered to give me a lesson, he was living the Montessori method. He saw himself not only as capable of a task, but was confident enough to share his knowledge. He had never seen me use a push-pin to make pictures, and thought he could enrich my life through teaching.
It is unlikely that he will need push-pin skills in his adult life. But, the patience, confidence, and focus that he developed through the work are invaluable.
If you are interested in what Montessori offers, contact Stepping Stones for more information. We would love to schedule a tour or observation for you.