|"See my letters and my toes," says the photographer.|
At other times, I realize that environment and materials aside, if I am observing my children and providing opportunities for them learn through following their interests, I am doing okay. For, while our homeschool might be a far cry from those more concretely inspired by Maria Montessori, it is still one that allows my children to happily develop with an “I can” attitude.
These following notes I tapped the other day speak to this:
I don’t want to get up to get my camera right now, since my movement might disturb my children’s play. Thus, I am making a mental recording of this moment of joy.
Luke and Nina found homemade mocha-scented mud-dough in the fridge earlier when they were looking for their “special butter” for breakfast. They wanted to play with this dough and quickly transitioned into making letters with it. They are now rolling, cutting and shaping the homemade playdough in order to “prepare for a presentation”. As they do so, their happy song fills the air almost as much as the mocha scent does: “The ‘x’ says…”
Meanwhile, Jack’s giggles on a ride-on toy as he navigates his way around Tinkertoys and blocks on the floor. Luke and Nina take no notice of him, because they are too immersed in preparing for their presentation.
Preparations completed, Luke “Leap” and Nina “Lily” come over to Jack “Tad”. “Lily” proclaims, “You know all the letters, Tad,” and then “Leap” whispers in her ear to prompt further lines. “Tad”, clueless, does not answer them. Instead, he simply climbs up beside me on the arm of my cushy chair, digs his fingers into his mouth and bounces while gurgling with content.
I smile at my youngest and his siblings. Then, I look around and realize that the morning has become anything but traditional Montessori: The floor is a mess. The dishes are not yet done. The laundry is piled high. Formal lessons are waiting. Routines have been broken – or at least paused. But, that’s okay. We are experiencing a blessed moment.
Relaxed play and learning unfolds before me.
Luke and Nina work cooperatively together dramatizing a letter factory. Jack gets down to growl with dinosaur figurines. Luke fetches a camera to take pictures of his playdough letters so he can remember them, because “I just don’t want to forget them.”
Nina takes a potty break.
Jack offers me some play food. Then, he wanders into the kitchen, grabs a spatula and begins stirring bits of playdough in a pan and transferring it to a small plate.
Luke puts the camera back.
Nina sings out from the other room in choruses of, “Alleluia! Praise the Lord!”
I smile and enjoy the very precious present moment. One that is so ordinary, yet so extraordinary. The children and I are learning and on so many levels – embracing life with all our senses.
Literacy. Gross motor practice. Fine motor work. Faith. Cooperative play. So many target areas of early learning have been woven into the morning’s play-filled pause. The skills the children have acquired from prior Montessori-inspired work trays and baskets, along with inspiration invoked by their imaginations (and, yes, I admit, a recent viewing of a Leapfrog video) are all working in concert.
Life is good.
Not every moment and experience needs to be prepared. Sometimes, the pauses are the most precious times of all.