This is fourth in a series of posts on Bastardized Home Montessori Preschool.
I’ve found that making decisions about how to educate my children is the most stressful thing I’ve faced as a parent. Perhaps, I was more stressed about trimming John’s two-week-old newborn fingernails – I actually cried about that – but I think there were some hormonal fluctuation going on there so that doesn’t count. Public school, home school, private school? And before that preparing them for whatever school they end up attending by picking from the 49,082 different preschool options. They assimilate information so quickly and easily when they are so young, and I feel like I need to provide them with the best opportunities to cram their heads full of knowledge while making them think Learning Is Fun!
Until about, oh, last week, I carried this tension with me when it came to Bastardized Home Montessori Preschool. There can be a big emphasis on perfection when it comes to Montessori, and at first it really felt like no matter how hard I worked, it was never quite enough and, even worse, it would always be subpar. I’ve finally started shaking off some of that feeling. For a while I thought we had to make a big production out of “doing school” when really all I needed to do was stop what I was doing and sit down for 15-20 minutes when John came to me asking if he could “play school.”
Also, there are so many everyday things in the home that fit the Montessori model even if it’s not special Montessori equipment. One of the activities is learning how to button buttons, zip zippers and tie shoes with dressing boards. Well, one day John wanted to button the buttons on his “Tuck-Tuck” blanket, so I demonstrated how to do it and let him go to town. And another morning I slept in a little late and, to give myself a few minutes of quiet, I sent John out on the deck to hang up diapers on our drying rack. It was new and fun for him, and it’s also a Montessori activity. And just little things like hanging maps and calendars where kids can more easily see them and talking to them almost in passing about where their grandparents live or what day it is all counts. It’s incredible to me how much they remember from these fleeting conversations.
One of the new books I discovered through this whole BHMP journey was this sweet story called The Listening Walk about a girl and her dad who take a walk and listen to all the sounds they hear along the way. We started doing listening walks and it was such a nice thing for me personally, just to stop the noise going on in my own head and listen to what was going on around me. Doing BHMP has required me to be extremely present with my children in a way that is so easy not to do when I have other daily tasks competing for my attention. Their first few years are far too short for me to spend them primarily thinking of my children as roadblocks to my productivity. And if that’s the only thing we take away from this whole experiement, then it will be worth it.