Musings on Montessori and life from a teacher/guide/directress
Sunday, February 14, 2010
At our book club we discussed chapters 7, 8 and 9, which covered using encouragement, and class and family meetings. We found that when children most need encouragement , we tend to punish or "discipline" instead of motivating the child to do better through our words and actions. It is difficult to be encouraging to a misbehaving child but it is exactly what he needs. Negative punishment encourages rebellion while adults who use encouragement, mutual respect, problem solving and focusing on solutions help children feel a sense of belonging, and invite the development of responsible behavior. We spent quite a bit of time discussing encouragement versus praise. While encouragement invites self-confidence in children, praise invites dependency on others. One example is, "Anne is such a good girl," versus, "Anne, thank you for helping." The first invites dependency for more praise, in other words, the child does not feel good about herself unless others approve. The second develops self-confidence and self-reliance, leading to feeling worthwhile without the approval of others. This all hearkens back to the idea that we can't give someone self-esteem, it must be developed through "the sense of capability and the self-confidence gained from dealing with disappointments, solving problems, and having lots of opportunities to to learn from mistakes" (page 157). We touched on the importance of family meetings to discuss just about everything, from vacations to weekly menus. It is easy to forget to respect the opinions of our children when making decisions. If we want to ensure that everyone participates in a plan, all must have a voice.
I am a Montessori teacher who just completed my 10th year. I feel lucky to have found a calling that incorporates so many of my interests: music, theater, art, literature, and sports. I adore singing, tennis, and gardening. I have three fabulous children ranging in age from 14-21 (all Montessori-educated). Montessori opened up the world for me. I found out I love practical life and making beautiful things, which I have dubbed "Jane Austen Time."