What, No Briefcase?

What, No Briefcase? Montessori and Paperwork
Edward Fidellow
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Montessori parents are often bewildered by the lack of paperwork coming home with their child. There’s hardly any! So what does my child do all day? What can he be possibly learning?

For most of us our school experience was a blizzard of paper work – spaces to fill in, lines to write, dots to connect. Pages upon pages of busy work that hopefully conveyed to parents that we were learning. Much of it was redundant, boring and the waste of a good tree! But that was the measure for parents that learning was happening.

You’ve now entered a new universe when you chose a Montessori program. You didn’t choose Montessori because it resembled your learning experience but because it represented the learning experience you wished you’d been privileged to have. When you visit the environment your eyes feast on amazing materials – colors, shapes, complexities. Is this material really for my three year old or four year old – isosceles triangles, quatrefoils, reniform leaf shapes? Does he really touch it and feel it and use it? But when there is no paper trail coming home, you wonder!

Socrates said, “There is nothing in the mind that is not first in the hands.” And it is the touching of these concrete materials that begins the building of the mental processes in your child. Traditional education begins with intellectual development hoping to make the abstract concrete. Montessori education begins with the development and refining of the senses, allowing your child to build this concrete knowledge one step at a time until he is ready and poised to make the great intellectual leap into the abstract. In Montessori education, it is the child’s own developmental timetable that causes this explosion of solid (and unprecedented) learning to occur. It is not an artificial timetable based on age or calendar but a continual cultivation and development of the child’s growing intellectual power that is being fed day by day in a manner that allows your child to appropriate and practice the tools and skills that will form his intellectual abilities for a lifetime.

All this time the child is building within himself this intellectual capability. Montessori education is very much like the construction of a jetty. Rock after rock is submerged in the water, seemingly lost beneath the surface but then the day comes when the latest rocks begin to become visible and break the water’s plane. Your child is building a very concrete foundation for all further intellectual development one achievement at a time.

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