“Montessori is something you can feel,” said Brad Hatton, Administrator of Montessori Tides School. Our Montessori school is compelled, “to give a feeling of hope for a better world, because of what we are giving to the children, who are becoming our future leaders of tomorrow” (Kathy Graham).
The most recent experience, “The Silent Journey”, gave parents the enriching opportunity to immerse into this amazing world Montessori cultivates and to discover the continuum of Montessori education. The task was for parents to gain powerful insight, albeit just a glimpse, of the journey the child is experiencing everyday in the Jacksonville Montessori Tides classroom. It was a hands-on experience to understand how concepts and life lessons our children learn in Upper Elementary begin on the foundation laid in the Toddler years. It’s not very often parents feel free to experience the world through their child’s eyes and that is exactly what the Silent Journey meant to those who attended. In silence, their child’s classroom became their world to experience for the first time. Now, that is a lesson for life: be silent and embrace what is before you.
For me, the Silent Journey was a way to rediscover my child-like world. At first, I was flooded with feelings of security and joy. It was the ah-ha moments all over again: to explore and create, to make mistakes, to learn and to grow in such beautiful surroundings. I noticed nature on every shelf- living plants, rocks, shells; I saw real materials- glass and art serene in glory. I experienced comfort and peace of mind. I heard the harmonies of didactic materials.
As a parent exploring with fellow parents, my first impression was the beautiful display of silent expectations of the prepared environment: self-discipline, responsibility, order and simplicity, free choice, purpose, and direction. If asked what I took away from this experience, it would be a clearer sense of my growing child’s spirit of fulfillment, when life is in harmony and all its aspects are aligned in supporting one another- just like the Montessori classroom I experienced.
Perhaps the inherent values of the Montessori Journey can only be experienced fully by a Montessori child. Not having the children there with us, indeed, was the only thing missing from the classroom. I would consider the true awakening of the night as expressed in the heart-felt comment, “I wish I was given this experience as a young child!” It must have been the innate wonder and curiosity that left the delayed reward of pure joy. A joy that can be felt everyday by our children.
There are no time limits on work and the rewards are internal. In the words of Kathy Graham, the focus “is on the process of building kind, respectful, and loving human beings who grow to be contributing members of our society helping in the establishment of world peace.” An atmosphere cultivated in love leaves no room for fear. No fear of failure, no fear of rejection, no fear of mistakes. Love, contrary to fear, teaches that the child is more than enough. The foundation of this? Love being rooted in grace.
To give a child this “feeling” is a great priority. The love of learning is the foundation on which they build their future life of joy and peace, a lens, so to speak, through which they experience the world. Does this mean there is an absence of a weed to pull in a Montessori child’s life? Of course not! For the Montessori child, they been given the skill to pull it up as they grow, thus giving themselves and others a hope for a better world.