Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joshua and Montessori

We moved from Little Rock, Arkansas...to a small town in the northeast part of the state.

First on the agenda, after finding a home and a church and the doctor's office...was a Mother's Day Out or Preschool for Joshua. With everyone talking "early intervention" every time we turned around, we felt like it must be really important for his development.

So, we put him in Mother's Day Out at our church, and that was great...except for one little problem: Joshua was a biter.

I'm talking B-I-T-E-R.

Like, not even when he was mad. He would just be sitting there beside someone playing, and all of a sudden, the other kid would be screaming bloody murder.

And we would talk to Joshua...and to the teachers...and we would try to figure out possible "triggers" or whatever. They would take turns closely watching Joshua as he played, and he was so fast! They said it was like a snake strike or something...things would be fine one minute, and a child would be screaming the next. Nothing we tried worked.

As Joshua's parents...it was just a really hard time. I felt like we had a scarlet letter on our clothes...I felt alone, really. And lost as to how to handle things and what to do.

And so it became apparent that we might need to make other arrangements for Joshua, in order to keep the peace with everyone at church.

Everyone was really nice about it, don't get me wrong. I mean, it would kinda look bad to kick a Downsy boy out of a CHURCH program. Just sayin'.

But the people there? They really did want the best for Joshua. And they suggested Montessori. They said it was less structured...a more relaxed environment..that "touching" the educational toys was encouraged and that each child could work at their own pace...independently but also in groups. We thought we would give it a try.

Montessori is really a great environment for many children. In fact, as soon as Holly was potty-trained, we enrolled her there as well and she loved it. We discovered two things pretty quickly: first, Holly worked very well independently, even from an early age...and, secondly, Joshua needed structure...desperately.

He needed to know that there was a time for reading and a time for writing...and a time for napping or quiet times. He especially wanted to know there was a time for lunch...and a time for RECESS! And all of these things needed to happen consistently every day. And he did need to learn to work independently, but he also needed to be able to follow instructions and work in a group with others.

But you know what? We wouldn't know these things if we hadn't tried. That's one of the main lessons I think I learned from parenting through the years: what works for one child, doesn't necessarily work for another child. Even in the same family. This goes for discipline, encouragement, motivation, setting goals/limits...education...spiritual instruction. We just have to seek God in all of these areas, and figure out, with His help, what is best for each individual child.

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children..." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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