“Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole, which has roots in the distant past and climbs towards the infinite future.” Maria Montessori
Image and quote put together by Dirigo Montessori School
I had someone report a comment made about me by a former parent at school; something like “Mary X, but yet my children just love her.” 🙂 Yes, I have thousands of faults (another chapter!), and I have learned a lot about how to be with children, by watching wonderful people be with children. *
What I have learned: be honest, be real, think about how they see things and how they see you, answer the question you think they don’t know how to ask, have clear boundaries, give attention, or do not (don’t try to be “always on”), get down low, sit down, look in their faces and listen. Ask for help. Apologize. Thank them for their help. Take them seriously. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be prepared to be wrong, and to correct yourself. Assume that a child who is “misbehaving” doesn’t have a needed skill, then teach that skill. Correct a child’s negative self talk : “I forgot to….”; “It looks like you remembered about it.” Be respectful of emotions, if not opinions. Decide what is negotiable, and what is not, and don’t coach what is not as a question. Allow natural consequences, when appropriate. Be empathetic, without rescuing. Set up routines, and let them be the boss. Be prepared to keep learning. Don’t take things personally.
This is comforting to me, that I don’t need to be the most beautiful, charming, witty, funny, entertaining or fun person, although it would be nice to be all of those things. I can learn to be myself and be with children.
* Barbara Carter, Jerome Berryman, Martha MacDermott, Cheryl Smith, Jon Durham, Terri Reddick, Virginia MacLeod, Vivian Lawson, Jennie Millsapps, Mary Williams, Cinda McGuinn, Carolina Elliott, Mary Boyer, Carole Towers, Erin Kirby, Joy Flint.