Lord B starts school

Lord B turned 3 a month ago. In New Zealand most kids start preschool around 3 – partly or largely, I’m not sure which, because they get 20 hours free funding from when they’re 3.

Instead of sending him to a free kindy down the road, we decided that the Montessori way of education was the one we considered best for him. It’s not cheap, and we’ll have to go without plenty of other things we’d like, but in our opinion it’s worth it. And plus we get to drive past baby sheep to get there.

The Montessori Way (mostly stolen from the handbook from the school)

In the Montessori model of education (developed by Maria Montessori), children are grouped in 3 year age spans – they get to interact with older and younger kids and learn from each other, and the older ones get to learn leadership. The 3 year age spans fit in with developmental periods so the programme can focus on that period.

In her professional observations, Dr Montessori noticed that humans have particular tendencies – to explore, move, share with a group, be independent and make decisions, create order, develop self-control, abstract ideas from experience, use the creative imagination, work hard, repeat, concentrate, and perfect one’s efforts and creations. The practical application of the Montessori method is based on these.

There’s individualised observation and preparation by the teachers, who introduce new lessons across all areas of study according to age, ability, and interest. All intelligences and styles of learning are nurtured.

A typical Montessori classroom – picture stolen from the web

The classroom is set out and adapted to facilitate children’s learning – everything is child height and easy to get to and use.  Activities are arranged in subject areas and the children can move around and use what they want for how long they want.

Another important aspect is that they learn to take care of themselves, their environment, and each other – speaking politely, being considerate and helpful etc.

The outcomes achieved by a Montessori education are an intrinsic motivation, ability to handle external authority, creativity and originality of thought, social responsibility, autonomy, confidence and competence, academic preparation (ability to learn), and spiritual awareness (empathy, sensitivity to the natural world and the human condition). I’d explain them more but you’ll probably get bored. Basically, all things we aim to instill in our sweet chidders, only don’t have all the resources, time, and patience to help them with as much as we could…

The First visit

They start with one visit with a parent. I went and Sir A stayed home with Daddy. At first Lord B was slightly unsure of this newish place (he’d only seen it once before) but Mrs Townsend was great and he seemed to like her. Soon he was happy just doing his own thing, only very occasionally looking to see if I was still there (on the resting seat, I was informed by one of the children, who asked if I was tired. The kids are lovely, I must say). He was happy to go to hear the story at story time, not so keen on the music bit (hardly unexpected), and loved the running around outside after the morning’s work. We took a painting home. He seemed happy.

The second visit

Two days later we dropped him off and went away. He hadn’t quite realised what we meant by he’d be staying there without us, and wasn’t too impressed. Apparently he had a few tears but didn’t cry, and was very brave. I like that specific language – no “he was good”, which could mean anything. Was very happy to see us and Gordon (his favourite train, who’d accidentally gone home with someone else the first day) at the end.

The third visit

Mrs Townsend thought a third visit would be beneficial before he launched into full mornings. Amazing Husband took him this morning. We’d had a good chat about it, reminded him of all the good things, practised Daddy leaving him with “Mrs Townsend” (me – probably not the best role player for the purpose), but apparently he still looked quite outraged and most sad when Daddy handed him over and skedaddled. Not that he went far, just in case, but to Lord B he was lawst and gawn forever, and this was Not Good.

When Amazing Husband went to pick him up he seemed surprised to see him. Apparently the tears had dried pretty fast and he’d got on with it quite happily shortly afterwards. So All Was Well after all. Poor Amazing Husband, however, is still dealing with the look of betrayal and felt terrible. Lord B told him that he was upset with Daddy for leaving and was very sad but then he was happy. Have I mentioned lately how frickin cute my kids are??

When I got home with Mumi (who seemed to have been missing Bobi), Lord B was very happy to see us and also seemed extraordinarily proud of himself. He seems to recognise that, while the separation sucks, he’s got a great opportunity to be more of his own person and do all sorts of things we can’t provide for him here. Guess we’ll just have to see how he goes over the next couple of weeks. I think he’ll be fine and just needs to get used to the new regime (totalitarianism! proletariat! – that was just for Renelle). And let’s hope poor Daddy doesn’t suffer too much in the process!


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