It’s my personal experience that I would like to share it with everyone. When I was pregnant with my son, Ethan, I had many dreams for him. Every day he grew in my belly was another moment spentdaydreaming of who he will become. I was excited to show him the ropes and get him through the bumpy roads of life, but little did I know, he was going to take wheel and I was merely a guide, the GPS.
Most of the dreams I had for him were pretty typical, lift head by 3 months, crawl by 5 months, walk by 11 months, and talk by 12 months. He didn’t even pop out yet and I had his first year entirely planned out, all thanks to my piles of baby books and years of child hood education and experience under my belt. It wasn’t long before I started fantasizing about what school he will go to, what sports he will join, what college he will attend, the list goes on and on.
The big day came and my son was born. There he was, full of life, curiosity, and joy.And here I was a nervous wreck! One of the things I did to help calm myself was imagine all the goals I had planned for him, and think about how I work towards that.
Few months had passed, and now my son is 5 months old. He was strong enough to lift his head, but didn’t show signs of crawling anytime soon. I freaked out. “How come he isn’t crawling? I gotto do something about it”
Through my research no longer as a student, or therapist, but now as a mom, I stumbled upon the Montessori Method. The more I learned about Montessori, the more intrigued I grew. I am not exactly sure what caught me, whether it wasthe deep respect teachers had for the children, or that the children were able to manipulate the materials and learn through their own experiences, or that the teachers followed each child as unique individuals! I saw my little Ethan in a different light. Instead of looking at him as a future Ivy League scholar, I saw him as a child full of wonder and mystery. I shifted my feelings away from who he was supposed to be based on my preconceived notions and accepted he will be who he is meant to be.
After having started my position as a teacher in the infant Community then Director in a Montessori School, I saw ALL children differently. Suddenly the parents who came to me with suggestions of “my child must read by 3 years old” seemed silly. But really, that was me not long ago. Asking Ethan, or any children, to conform to my ideals is like “Judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”-Albert Einstein.
When making the big decision of deciding Montessori or conventional schooling—it was natural for me to choose Montessori because “Montessori is an education for independence, preparing not just for school, but for life” –Maria Montessori. That was what I wanted for Ethan, to learn without fear of reprimand and freedom to explore individual interests while building up confidence. He is now a toddler; with much to say, do, and share. I let him take the wheel, and guided him to the destination of his journey.
About Milinh Villanueva
I have been working with children since 2003, with ages ranging from 6 weeks through Kindergarten, and developmental abilities ranging from typically developing to special needs. I have a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University reflecting special and childhood education. My Montessori certification is nearly completed with all coursework and I am eager to start practicum. Not only as a Director, but also as a mother of a child who attends Montessori school, I believe in the Montessori philosophy wholeheartedly. For me, the Montessori Method is more than just an approach to learning academics; it is the way to developing the child as a whole taking into account their physical, emotional, and social growth.