Reflections of a Montessori Directress By Amy Johnson, Kowhai Head Teacher – Preschool

I was recently asked to find a quote from Maria Montessori that I found inspiring and to reflect on it for publication. The biggest challenge for me was narrowing it down to ONE quote!  So I thought I might share a few of them here with you all.

“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies but the first one, the period from birth to age six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.”

The truth of this statement is demonstrated to me every day. Not only in my work with the children, but with my conversations with adults in my life.  Any character attribute I assign myself, I can find its source in experiences of my childhood. This statement also highlights perfectly Dr Montessori’s amazing observational skills and a vision beyond her time. This statement was made close to 100 years ago, before all the scientific developments of brain research that have supported this in so many ways.

“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievements; the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”

You have all seen it. I see it every day. This is what keeps me sitting on my hands when I see a child struggling with an activity or the acquisition of a skill. “The image of human dignity”… The pride in, and development of, not only the skill the child is struggling to acquire, but of the sense of SELF. There is an incredible development of self that comes from having struggled and conquored something difficult. Next time you see your child working to complete a task… allow that struggle. Yes, you (as the adult) could do that task much quicker, much more simply… but YOU don’t need the practice. And what you can unintentionally take away is an amazing self-building experience for your child, and often an incredible sense of accomplishment. Teach your child to ask for help when he/she wants it (before frustration sets in) and then follow an easy rule: Do NOT help your child unless you are asked to, by your child. I think you will be amazed at how long and hard they will struggle to accomplish something and at the growth of spirit that occurs when the task is completed. Also, try asking your child if they would like your help before your hands reach in to complete the task.

“If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, then there is little hope in it bettering man’s future.”

This is the quote I want to leave you with. For your own reflection, for your thought, and for inspiration.