The child’s work

When I completed my Montessori training, I realised I had not simply acquired new knowledge and skills but a new perspective. How rare and wonderful it felt to have a new way of seeing something. It’s like discovering how to use my left hand or to feel each toe!

A friend asked why I called it ‘Children Working’ and my response to her was that it was Montessori’s way of reminding adults to be respectful of a child’s role in his own development. Have you ever watched on a documentary maybe, of newborn fawns that stand up within days and look and act like little deers, or heard a dog that barked without being taught? Only humans have young ones who spend years toiling at creating language, practising to stand upright, co-ordinating our bodies to walk, to use their little hands…before they begin to resemble human beings. And they can do this only by working at it. Your child wants to touch, smell, taste everything, climb and lift the heaviest boxes because he must! He is driven by life to do so. He must work at becoming human as we know it. He wants to be just like you!

But to do so, he needs you to include him in what you do, he wants to sit at your dinner parties and watch all this human talk and interaction going on and he wants to have a go or how will he ever do it? He also needs your time.- Time to wait for him to pull his jeans up, to find the arm holes of his shirt, to maybe do it 5 times before it stays on, because to him, he is not dressing up to go out, he is putting on his shirt for the sake of putting on his shirt.

You have your work. Your child’s work is to become a person! Perhaps you type things up all day or lift heavy crates. How frustrating is it to have people come by your desk when you’re really getting your teeth into it and ask you questions every 10 minutes or the crane is rusty and just doesn’t work? Your child too needs time to do his thing without interruption, without someone telling him what the right way to do it is, without someone politely asking what they are doing just because they want to know. You are the privileged observer of his work. Come and let’s see it together.:)

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