Time for Celebration
Every spring, families in Primary Montessori programs are making a really big decision: what to do about Kindergarten? Whether this decision is tumultuous with easily identified pros and cons, or whether this decision has been made since the earliest days — to remain in Montessori as long as possible, to start at the neighborhood elementary your family has been attending since it was first built, to join the private school you’ll attend through high school — it’s a decision nonetheless. It’s bittersweet to see these children go, as all will at one point or another. We’ve been honored to keep them company on their journey so far, but we know we’re only one step on the path, and we do our best to prepare them for whatever comes next, whatever that looks like.
In the early part of each new year, we prepare some sort of kindergarten parent education event. We’re not trying to convince anyone Montessori kindergarten is the best, since we know the variables to each situation are as unique as the families themselves, and a family’s comfort is the greatest indicator of a child’s success. We’re seeking to provide information, so families can make a decision they feel confident about, that serves their child the best.
This year, we decided to do something different.
This past weekend, we hosted families of children who are eligible for kindergarten in the upcoming school year to come visit their classroom, and the children showed their parents all the wonderful things they’d been working on. It was even more magical than we could have anticipated.
This, like all other parent education events, was not intended to convince anyone to stay for kindergarten.
Some families had told us previously they’d be attending school with their older sibling, or how excited their child was to take the bus. For these families, this event was the best way we knew to say “thank you for sharing your child with us.”
Some families told us their child would be here next year, and though they are eligible for kindergarten they won’t be enrolling in kindergarten just yet, or yes, absolutely their child is staying for kindergarten and do you think a year and a half from now you’ll have an elementary? How about a high school? For these families, it’s a joyful opportunity to share all their child has learned, and can you even imagine what could be in the next year and a half?!
Some families are naturally still in the decision-making process, and this time was an opportunity to ask questions, to see your child’s strengths in-action, to see where, ah yes, this isn’t a home or school challenge, my child is more inclined toward math than writing at this time, and this is how school is working to support writing development, and let’s work together, in whatever time we have together, to set this child up for the best success we can.
We saw the most amazing things. Children so excited to show their parents their work they were giddy and flustered and so proud. Children focused, at-ease, self-satisfied in their recent accomplishments. Parents shocked and over-the-moon, “I didn’t know you were working on letters?!” when their child read aloud to them. “Ah, so THIS is the stamp game! I’ve heard so much about the maps! Is there anything you’d like me to take your photo next to?”
We like to be able to visualize our favorite people “at home.” When we hear our child’s been working on writing numerals, what exactly does that entail? When a child comes home talking about multiplication, why can’t they tell you what 2×3 equals?
We bring renewed vigor and excitement to our work, when we get to show it off a little bit. We’re at a stage of learning when we’re aware of all the things we’re not yet capable of, and sometimes it seems that no matter how many times I try to write that “2” my pencil just won’t agree with my mind, or one day I can sound out words and the next, it’s just a jumble.
This child doesn’t remember how hard they struggled to walk, or to bring spoon to mouth, or to communicate, but their parent does. Their parent brings that same joy and encouragement and awe at their child’s progress, and suddenly we feel capable, empowered, cheered on. We’re ready, once more into the fray, and look, suddenly my practice doesn’t seem so futile, it’s starting to look like a 2, and my 3s aren’t too shabby, either.
It’s not often families come into the classroom. Birthdays are a very special occasion, and now, on a special morning, just for a short time, to see all the wonderful things you’re doing. Let’s rejoice together, in this celebration of all that you’re becoming.