The fever of registering my child in preschool, hectic days, overbooked schedule, one gets the picture. We go to one Montessori school we tried 2 years ago for half a day – back then, they couldn’t deal with my baby’s crying for her mommy, so they called me to take her home, after two hours. I got her into another care provider and she was just fine – the instructors let me be with her daily and slowly getting her used with the new environment and there were lots of hugs and tenderness from the instructors, as to prove that a no name, not very fancy looking facility, can be better than the expensive ones, because the instructors’ quality is all that matters. The problem with Montessori back then was that she couldn’t find her sip cup, for all of them were on the floor, mixed up or under the toys. So, here we had a one year and five months old child without her mommy, thirsty and not able to find her cup; on the other hand, we had some instructors not willing to ease a child into a day care environment. That’s how things happened two years ago.
Today I thought to give it another try, because my baby is older and she can talk. The director recognizes us right away and starts by telling me how they tried for three days with my baby and how she cried and cried and nobody was able to approach her, that she was not adaptable; briefly, she was a brat. I felt like smacking this lady right then and there, but I thought, oh well, she has to save face. We walk around, my baby plays very nicely with the other kids while the director and I have the strangest and the most disturbing conversation I’ve ever had with a childcare provider and a parent. I say I am very found of Montessori philosophy and that I raised my child mostly by following Attachment parenting ideas; briefly, with me adapting to the child’s personality and needs, not the other way around.
The lady is appalled at hearing this and tells me that one has to think well before applying such principles, because one cannot just not go to work if one feels like; that a child has to adapt to society, not the other way around; that if my baby would be hungry at 9 o’clock and the snack time is at 9:30, she has to wait; if she doesn’t want to nap for two and a half hours, she cannot read a book or have a down time, she really has to sleep; if the potty time is at that time and she needs to go potty at this time, tough luck, she has to wait. And all of that is called „discipline”.
I answer that everything she says doesn’t sound at all like Montessori style of education. At that, she says that the government wants the kids to get ready for first grade where the teacher is not gonna spoil the kids, but it would all be about meeting expectations. I tell her again that Montessori is about respecting the child and not forcing her into doing things she is not ready for, that child is the center of the education, not the government’s needs, that to force a child to go hungry because she is not getting hungry by the government’s schedule is a sure path to developing eating disorder later on, that if a child holds it until “potty time” can end up with bladder problems.
Then I ask her how would she feel if her hubby would force her to sleep in the afternoon if she is not tired? How would she feel if I tell her she cannot go pee pee right now and she is not allowed to snack, if she is hungry? What if she really really has the inspiration to draw a cloud, but I force her to draw a perfect “C” and if she doesn’t do it, then she gets time out?
Having the child in the center of education DOES NOT mean the child would grow up this anarchist, rebellious, not mannered, selfish, antisocial type! I stay witness that following your good instincts and placing the child first is the best educational model one can practice! Because a child does what a parent does, not what a parent says. So, yes, I am a very happy mama with a very sweet, generous, brave, creative, intelligent, helpful, loving, happy child! Briefly said – a very normal child. Not a government type child, thank you very much.