“Hey Mommy, I can count by ones to 100! Want to hear?” Our 5 year-old starts counting on our way home from school one afternoon….”1, 3, 5, 7, 9….” and so on.
He pauses somewhere around 35, and asks me to guess the next number. We get to 43 alternating turns to say the next number, and that’s when the Montessori Guide in me got the best of me. So, I say, “Hey, I notice something...”
He responds confidently, before I can share what I noticed, “Yeah, there’s a pattern-- it’s every other number.” To which I add, “And, It’s every other ODD number”. Then: Silence.
“What’s an Odd Number?” It’s too late--I’ve already spoiled self-discovery for him on that one.
So, I go on to explain, trying to abstractly use the Montessori lesson I’m familiar with to describe….and within seconds, he’s lost interest in counting for the moment.
In those quiet moments that followed, I reflected on what I like to call “Spoilers”. Those tiny moments with our Montessori kiddos where we, as parents, spoil the self-discovery of patterns and concepts that so naturally happen within a Montessori Education.
Sometimes, I think it happens, as in the case above, completely accidentally. We are enjoying engaging conversations with our kids, excited about what they are sharing, and then: Spoiler Alert!
Sometimes, I think we as parents aren’t always sure what our children really know or what they are working on throughout their days in the Montessori environment, or we get nervous when we think about the differences of the Montessori Method and Philosophy in comparison to our childhood school experiences, or that of other friends and family, and we forget to “trust the process” of a Montessori education.
As both a parent and a Montessori Guide, I have adopted the following and hope that, by sharing, as a fellow parent walking this path, you may also avoid a few ‘spoilers’ along the way when talking with your children:
W: Wonder….Use “I wonder” statements to avoid questions if you are unsure what your child already knows or has not yet discovered. Then the “pressure is off” if faced with an unknown direct question. Or wonder quietly to yourself and proceed to A or I (below).
A: Ask….your child what lessons and work he/she has been practicing at school. Most studios send a snapshot of lessons or work in their emailed newsletters each week--read and chat about that together. Younger studios use Transparent Classroom. If you aren’t already receiving pictures and notes, ask your child’s teacher how to receive those helpful notifications.
I: Investigate….Make it a point to drop by your child’s studio once a week if possible, or at least once or twice a month. Let your child be the guide and give you a lesson with a material they have been working on, and/or chat with their teachers while you’re there to get a few ideas. Send a quick email to get information periodically if you are unable to stop in.
T: Trust the Process! Remember what it feels like to really figure something out by yourself, or ‘master’ a skill through trial & error or repetition? Montessori learners get those opportunities all the time! Try not to get hung up on what you think they should know how to do, and instead trust the Montessori process and your child.
It’s not a perfect art! Sometimes we will “nail it” and other times we will be left sitting in a reflective silence after going one step too far or asking one too many questions. As a mom and a Montessori Guide, I am enjoying this journey with my own children, learning together each and every day. Here’s to remembering to, “W-A-I-T”, and sometimes avoiding a few of those little spoilers that are going to happen along the way! Trust the process and enjoy the journey.
A note for the extra curious readers: I wrote this post from a parent’s perspective, and attempted to avoid too much depth about the Montessori philosophy rationale behind this idea of “spoiler alerts” and self discovery. If this is something you are interested in learning more about, feel free to email me, or if you prefer, I know that many of our teachers would enjoy discussing this with you as well. We are here to support you!