When we moved homes, my daughter switched from her pre-school to a Montessori setup where she was in M2 - the equivalent of lower kindergarten.
Initially, she did not adjust well to it. Not the routine, not the teaching materials, not the teachers or the other kids. Every morning, she protested the whole purpose of going to school, and after a while, we felt it necessary to step in and discuss her reluctance with her teachers at the first PTM.
The net result of that meeting was that the teachers decided to let her be for a few months. If she decided to sit in a corner, so be it. If she decided not to participate in activities, so be it.
And so it was. Her reluctance reduced, and soon the protests stopped. When we asked her if she worked with the materials, her answer invariably was no. So what did she do? She said that she’d stand by the M3 kids and watch what they did.
By the end of the year, she was fully adjusted into the school and had caught up on everything they taught. It was only a year later that she finally let us on to what she was spending her time on those two months.
In her mind, she constructed a parallel classroom populated by dogs in M3 with her presiding over the class. Everything she learnt watching the older kids, she had her little menagerie repeat in one corner of the class.
Apparently, the dogs would be real quiet, and she’d whisper instructions to them so as to not disturb her class. I know her whispering. You can hear it a couple of rooms away. Without trying hard.
Whatever be it, it worked, and the class became her class, and whatever was being taught, she absorbed really well. As people have said for ages, to really learn something, you must teach it, and she was doing that every day for those two months.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall there. I wish I knew what her teachers felt about these shenanigans. I can only imagine the gossip in the lunchroom. They were really considerate about it - none of it came to us except that her teachers telling us in forthcoming PTMs, in order, that she’s getting more comfortable, that she’s participating with the class, that she’s now fully gelled in. I’m really thankful to her teachers.
But the biggest takeaway to me is learning how complex my little child is. Anytime I underestimate her, I remind myself of how creatively she solved something I would have floundered in.
May they learn and play forever.
Image courtesy Cassius Marcellus Coolidge