“How do you get them to do that?”
Every now and then our school receives an unannounced visit from our State Licensing Analyst. Our analyst completes an inspection to make sure that we are following all childcare licensing regulations – everything from the expiration dates on the food in the refrigerator to the sign-in sheets that the parents sign. I especially enjoyed the annual visits from a particular analyst who had previously been the director of a large childcare center. He would often comment on the peacefulness and independence of our children, and at one point said to me, “Sometime you are going to have to tell me how you get them to do this.” This is not an unusual comment. Often visitors watching the classes will ask me, “So have the teachers told ALL these children what they should be doing?”
I share with observers that this is what Dr. Montessori called the “secret of childhood”: when children are given a prepared environment that respects their developmental needs and interests, and adults who model grace and courtesy, the children naturally show us their true natures. We begin to see children who choose activities of interest and work with deep concentration. Rather than feeling fatigued by their work, they emerge refreshed and calm. Children blossom in an environment of freedom and responsibility with kind and caring friends. Each child brings their own unique personality and interests to the environment. Some may express their joy with a skip across the room, others with a quiet smile of contentment.
As adults who are privileged to be a part of these children’s lives, we are blessed with lives of beauty, challenge, and purpose. The children and teachers work together in an atmosphere of respect and love. What a gift to each and every one of us!