Observing our children at work must be one of the greatest honors bestowed on the teachers and parents of Montessori Tides. Spending time in Mrs. Isabelle’s Primary classroom provided an excellent opportunity to see the classroom come to life with our children embracing Montessori education.
To understand all of the intricacies of the classroom in one visit seemed impossible, however, the self-gratification that this learning process affords each child could not have been more evident. I immediately noticed a community setting in which children gathered to work.
“Children like to work close to one another,” said Mrs. Isabelle, lead directress. “The Montessori atmosphere allows children of different ages to cooperate with one another, which leads to feelings of respect for each other and to a more productive work environment.”
Watching the children knitted together on the floor captivated my interest. Contrary to traditional classrooms, children were working in different ways. Some were working cooperatively – two by two – with the materials. Some chose to work independently. Still others seemed to not engage in anything in particular.
Mrs. Isabelle said, “Half the information the child absorbs in the classroom comes indirectly through observing his environment, watching other children working with the materials, and hearing others talk.”
The main idea is that children are practicing how to internalize the freedom through meaningful work. Apart from that, they also are practicing and building leadership skills.
“In the multi-age classroom, the child gets plenty of practice being the leader,” Mrs. Isabelle said.
The task set before our children each day is great. Watching young children come alongside each other in the nurturing environment of Montessori foreshadows what type of leaders these children may become. The freedom of Montessori and the children’s watchful eyes challenge these young leaders to be cultivators – not dominators.
In adulthood, we look for people who will extend themselves and walk with us to bring encouragement, support, motivation, and stimulation, along with tolerance, for our differences. For instance, a writer is only a writer. An artist is only an artist. Together, they are an illustrated book. Apart, they are not as strong.
Our society hungers for these young leaders who are learning to work together, to give what they have, and walk side by side, encouraging others – and each other – to reach their full potentials. This is what I saw being cultivated among these young leaders in the Jacksonville Beach Montessori Tides classroom. Empowered people follow their own paths because they know what is best for them is working toward what’s best for others.