Wednesday, 7 December 2016

How To Raise A Child Who Loves Learning

Time for a truth bomb. Are you ready?

Being a parent is really hard some days. Duh.
Being a Montessori parent can seem even more difficult.

There are all kinds of reasons this statement can be true, but this week I have found it difficult to be a Montessori parent because Montessori supports independence. This means I have to sit on my hands and just let the process unfold a lot of the time.

And that can be really difficult.

Because we know the right way, the easiest way, or the most efficient way we want something done, and toddlers could give a rip about those things.

Right now, in the thick of potty learning, Jerome absolutely needs to feel he is in control of it. Every morning I give him the choice to wear a diaper or underwear. He chooses underwear almost every time, which is a great first step, and then he wants to take it from there.

Much as I would love to avoid accidents on the couch and see him reach success (aka, being out of diapers as soon as possible) he is much less interested if I make it about me. If I interfere with his process.

You’re Bellows, Momma, Not an Extinguisher

The interest and determination he shows is like a flame, and I, his parent, am a bellows. It is my hope to encourage his love of learning, not extinguish it.

  • He’s putting both his feet through the same hole in his underwear? Yeah, he’s probably going to wreck them, but he is dressing himself, and that’s a huge deal. (Especially in Montessori.) He’ll get it. I don’t know any adults who haven't.

  • He’s mashing his banana into tiny bits you know he will not eat? No real harm done. Except the wasting of a perfectly good banana. 

  • He just peed on the floor? Get out that disinfectant, Olivia. And fully anticipate a few (or a lot) more accidents as he is learning that when he gets that sensation, wet happens. An important part of the process.

It has been valuable to remind myself he will not do it wrong forever, and that I need to trust the process.

What is the Balance?

When I step in, such as when he is stretching his underwear, it ends in one of two ways, neither of which I was aiming for at all.

First, he will get upset and throw a tantrum.
Second, he will give up and have me do it for him.

I am learning to stand back and observe before stepping in. If it is objectively harmless and a good opportunity for him to practice or gain a skill, I trust the process - possibly with gentle suggestions if it seems like he needs it.

And if it is harmful, or impacts our environment negatively, I step in.

Because I do not want to give the impression that I let my kid run amuck.

There is a balance (one I am still discovering the hard way) between giving children freedom to follow instincts and explore interests, and giving them healthy and appropriate boundaries. 

So no, he is not allowed to continue squirting the entire tube of toothpaste onto his brush. No he is not allowed to throw materials around. No he is not allowed to play in the toilet. But yes, he is allowed to wear his pants backwards, and yes, he can eat a banana he has completely mutilated.

Thank you so much for reading!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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