How Do We Deal With Difficult Times?

Tony Evans, fellow Montessorian, Founder and Director of Dundas Valley Montessori School writes…

“Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This quote from Lord of the Rings, though not a traditional way to start a review of an educational speaker (I do have a slightly nerdy side) speaks perfectly to the question of how we deal with difficult times.

“Dr. Michael Ungar, an internationally recognized expert on how to raise resilient children, recently spoke to a group of Montessori parents and educators on this topic. He said the key to building resilience is to give children different levels of responsibility and trust as they mature.”

“In the last year, members of the DVMS community have gone through job loss, recession, divorce, serious health challenges, and the fact that they weren’t invited to certain birthday parties”.

“If that seems cold, it is not meant to be. In our lives, we are inevitably going to face great disappointments and tragedies, as well as deserved victories and moments of profound joy. How we respond to these events determines the quality of our lives. How our children see us react, and how they respond to the challenges and successes they experience, also affects the quality of their lives, both now and as they mature. Our instinct as parents is to protect our children from any level of heartache and suffering. However, we can wound our children if we suffocate them with love instead of letting them breathe on their own”.

“What do we as parents and educators do? We give our children respect and responsibility. As parents we get our children to help cook dinner, set the table, clear their plates, wash windows, mop, and clean their rooms. As they get older we give them weekly chores, let them go to the corner store for bread, and let them play on the street until the lights come on. The expectations placed upon each child should be different - according to that child’s nature”.

“The Montessori method is child based instead of teacher based — an approach that develops self confidence and coping skills. Students make snack with real knives, cook, wash dishes, tuck in chairs, sew buttons, and polish shoes. The practical life activities were created because Montessori observed that ‘adult work’ gave the children dignity and a sense of purpose. The sensorial activities are failure based. They have a built in control of error. The children are supposed to get it wrong the first time, and to subsequently work and reason through these ‘puzzles’ towards a solution”.

“As they get older we have to trust our children to take the same risks we took when we were kids. Montessori children are not overly praised or motivated by marks. There is not unlimited freedom as demanding, high quality work is expected. Each child, whether gifted or challenged, is allowed to use their unique interests and abilities to find a path to excellence and enlightenment”.

“At the end of the day, you need to know and trust your child and understand that mistakes will be made. True resilience comes from allowing our children to learn from both our and their mistakes, and not only revel in successes. This gives them the inner fortitude to respond to the hard times that are an inevitable part of all of our lives”.

I think that Tony’s words make a lot of sense. It is so important for us as parents and teachers to reflect upon our actions and constantly see that what we are doing is directly influencing our children. This is why what we are all doing at Westside is our passion and why we have an unwillingness to compromise when it come to the child’s needs. We are all working together to build strong, motivated individuals, responsible, confident and capable of doing anything they put their minds to.

March 25, 2009. Uncategorized. No Comments.