Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Back from vacation, with loads of thoughts...

Last week was a week off.  We were unsure of what to do, but we ended up planning, at the very last minute, a trip to the Caribeans.  And when I say last minute, I mean making reservations 2 days prior to departure.  We had to run in order to get everything ready, but we made it, and let me tell you, it was all worthwhile!

We decided to leave the kids with their Grand parents, we really needed a 1 on 1 break, DH and I before ou 3rd one arrives.  Although we missed them A LOT, we really needed this break together to spend time on our own, and be able to breathe a little.  Next time, I can assure you  that they will come with us, but we were glad to have this moment of peace.  Now that I am back with them, I feel like I have a renewed patience with them, and it allowed me to put things into perspetive, something we sometimes forget in the nitty gritty of the usual life.  I SO needed that.

It is funny how we find inpirations and role models in places we would never thought, or when we are not looking for it.  I defintely found that while being over there.

I was waiting DH, who was playing volleyball, for lunch.  And while waiting, a young mother came to sit with her 2 daughters near me.  The oldest must have been 3 yo, and the youngest, I would say around 18 months.  This family looked so peaceful.  Both the kids were sitting at the table waiting for the buffet to open.  They were nor excited, or running around, there were, the both of them just sitting there, enjoyng the time with their mom.  I honnestly had a hard time picturing my lot being so calm, and yet so peaceful waiting for lunch at a table.  They would have been running around, which would have make me a little nervous and on the edge (which obviously wouldn't have helped the situation).  But the mom was super calm, and they were just there being...Those little girls were just so adorable.  And they seemed so happy, it really struck me.

This image just stuck in my brain for the next few days.  I kept asking myself why do I have kids that are oh so much more excited then those 2, question to which there is no answer.  And then, then question turned around in my head, making a answer suddenly possible.  "What do this family do that help those kids be so peaceful, and clam, and yet so happy?"

And after seeing them on and off, I was able to answer that question.

- They are calm.  I have never seen those parents be stressed out, or over react for some things those kids did.  They were showing them how to BE calm.

- they were letting them FREE.  I have seen that 3yo just walk around on her own, under the supervision of her mom or dad of course, but still go walk and explore whatever she was feeling like looking at without having a parent hoover over her.  Sometimes, it even made me feel uncomfortable to see how far from her parent she was without them being worried.  They really looked like they had confidence in her that she  will not go too far, and act properly.

And then it hit me.  This is the freedom that Montessori talks about.  The one that allows the kid to be normalized.

These kids were calm, because they knew that they could go and explore whenever they felt free to do so, and their parents wouldn't restrict them for touching, hearing, smelling...They can concentrate into one task, wheter it is playing in the sand, or walking out to explore without being interrupted by their parents.

I doubt these parents were "Montessorians" and yet, they were applying, in their everyday life, one of the most important rule of the Montessori frame of mind.  And this made me realize that you do not have to be hardcore Montessorian to raise your kids the Montessori way.  You just have to go by the"concepts", and adapt them to your life.

And that, is one thing that has put things into perspective for me this week.   I feel like I need to kid my kids space, and let them BE.  I feel like I don,t need to apply with Montessori thing by the letter, but just adapt it to our life.

Something else just put things into perspective.


I have been in this place where people are happy receiving a tip of 1$.  They don't have money, and they work really hard to get some, and yet, they are happy.  And we, we left with one suitecase each.  Containing clothes and bare essentials, books, and a few games.  And really, that was more then enough.  It felt good not to have too much choices, not to have to much stuff.  And upon returning, I felt this ure again of owning less, and giving the kids less.  Being able to be happy with what you have and not for what you get/buy/...

And this made me think about something that I have a hard time comprimizing with lately:  the amount of stuff that Montessori requires vs our want to diminish on the quantity of things to own.  I feel like that liberty that Montessori education requires doesn't work with this mindset that I have of trying to limit the quantity of stuff to own.  To allow my kids the liberty of doing the activity they want to do, this implies that there is a need for a lot of things on shelves to grab one of my kid's interest...but I want less.  How to deal with that?  How to compromize?

And this is one question I have yet to find an answer.  I am happy to have had the time to construct the question in my head, and clarify it.  But I have yet to find the answer that will work for us.

How much is too much?

This time away really gave me time to think, time that I was having a hard time to have lately, having to much on my plate.  And it really feels good to be able to put some orders in all thoses thoughts that have been running through my mind lately.  And I think those encouters I did really putted some words onto questions that I had inside me, but couldn't formulate.

Nap time is over, time to go enjoy their compagny again.  I missed them so much, but yet, this moment was so necessary for me to be a god mother again...


  1. [...] post that answer a question that I threw out there in the blogging world no longer then last week: How much is too much?, is there too much in the Montessori method, or does the fact that “freedom of choice for the [...]

  2. I think this is all the matter of interpretation. I don't agree that you need much to apply Montessori. I don't think that you need a lot of material on shelves to allow your children to follow their instinct. After all, it is all about the spirit, much less than presenting materials. The free play is not less important than exploring the materials. Homeschooling is very different from schooling. Outside play and walks are no less important than everything else, even more. If you read Maria Montessori's books or the stories of her coworkers or students, or just look through the old photos, you can see that their classrooms were filled with much less materials than it is nowadays. After all, her first schools were located in slums. Speaking from the personal experience, for me one of the most important things is not to overload our son with activities and variations, but to allow him to concentrate on those few we have on the shelf, whenever he feels like he is up to (not on specific time, for instance), and whenever he is interested in anything else - just let him be, finding himself in not over rich environment, but the one that is safe for him to explore.

  3. You know, I am more and more in agreement with this. As time passes, I am realizing that indeed, homeschool and school, even when talking about Montessori, it is not the same. If a kid genuinly really want to learn something, he will learn it material or not. So I am not sure of the need to have a whole classe set up. Sometimes I fell like many little spaces in the house where they are free to explore, and have material set for them is more then enough to spark their imagination and willfulness to learn. I am currently rethinking how I am going to set up this area of theirs downstairs. Do I really want a classroom, or a place to play, explore, and just be happy.

    And while being home, although Maria Montessori stressed on how to present different work, I think the presentation can differ a little since they can be made in the heat of the moment. (as long as you keep the principles in mind. don't correct the child, let him concentrate, and put him in a situation of acheivement, not failure). Indeed, a walk outside can easily become a whole nature lesson, and cooking a math lesson, and playing with bits of leftover wool a color lesson...
    I think this is where I fell Waldorf is interesting too. And where the both can meet.

  4. [...] a Montessori preschool and is so happy in this environement, but there also, I felt the burden of materialism weighing on me when thinking about using this as homeschooling [...]