montessori in the time of covid

These are the days where we really notice the stretching of daylight, an incremental increase in minutes between sunrise and sunset.  Isn’t it lovely to both go about our day and return to our homes without necessarily needing to have the headlights on?

In independent schools, this also presages the cycle of enrollment, as prospective families look ahead to September, and make plans and hopes for their children’s education.  One of the themes that I have been hearing lately from applicant parents is one of “creative resiliency”.  If the last two years have been a collection of teachable moments, one of those lessons is certainly the importance of flexibility and the ability to overcome obstacles.  I believe these qualities, while always important in a child’s education, are more on the radar for parents these days.  “I feel I want my child to be in an environment that is especially suited to a more open-ended approach to a task.”, a parent recently told me after a tour.  “Our daughter would benefit from a classroom where they can take risks, possibly fail, but then persevere through their own efforts”, wrote another.  “I want to be courageous, and give my child something better than I received”, said today’s visiting dad.

Montessori schools are uniquely positioned to respond in these times, to this challenge, for these aspirations.  In our prepared environments manipulative materials and presentations are meant to be more open-ended than closed, the activities utilizing tools to be used to abstract concepts from concrete experiences.  Children live the idea of adapting their independent work time to accommodate their needs and the needs of their peers. Students discover for themselves their errors and how to correct them, leading to a self-esteem and feeling of accomplishment that cannot be found with a participation trophy.

This is not new. It’s what Montessori has been providing for well over a hundred years.  The pedagogy just seems to calling to families in a way that somehow feels more urgent and important.