A new born kitten starts walking and climbing around confidently within weeks. And in a couple of months, eats solids easily and already looks and moves like a cat.
A human child, takes about a year and then another couple more before, well, before they look and move and talk like us. What a very long time…just to do those few things…But Montessori suggested that those few things are much more complex. The way we move and respond, and our facial expressions are intricate, detailed and different according to different cultures. We are not born with knowledge of our mother tongue. Instead, we have the potential to acquire any language we are exposed to. Montessori suggested that one of the main reasons for this lengthy childhood, is so that the young human may become ‘adapted’ to the community and society of his time and place. Certainly, a kitten today behaving like a kitten 100 years ago is exactly as it should be. But a child needs to move mankind on! Because we develop and progress everyday. New languages are discovered and lost. Trends become cultures that did not exist before. Although the child cannot learn the history of the human race and update himself on all and every things that happened before and up till now, he can absorb and take in everything that is of the world today. It is his special gift! Hence he figures out the remote control, the password on your phone, scores higher than you on Angry Birds (or is that old already?), hums pop songs that you and I may not have realised was ALL around us. On a foreign holiday, he may even eat foods you and I cannot bear to try because we are just too old to adapt to the same extent.
The young child has a mission unknown to himself. He must acquire the culture of his community and the world he is born into. This mission is accompanied by a tool: his incredibly absorbent mind which takes in everything, good, bad, beautiful and awful. Hence we must allow him the opportunity to fulfill this mission by including him in society life and traditions of your community, family meals, making meals, going to the market, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, collecting the papers, meeting the neighbours, going to a dinner party, making Birthday cards for grandparents, contributing to decisions that affect everyone at home. All the things which keep life going and make life interesting, such as Christmas celebrations!
Decorating the Christmas tree may have been your pet project before but now, you have to consider how you can share… Choosing the Christmas menu may be your forte and your taste is impeccable and unquestionable but now, you need to allow and make room for another’s taste and ask them what they think! You might have the perfect system for writing and sending out festive cards in time but now, you must allow more time and accept a little person’s help which may not be too helpful immediately. And of course, we must share the stories that come with it, because that’s the best part! If you have older children though, have you considered telling them, the other Christmas stories and the unromantic story of Santa’s red suit?