Why school? Why Monessori?

Why school?

Although it often surprises people to learn, Thaddeus isn't three yet. He's close, just a few weeks really, but even three is so young.

I never thought I would put my children in preschool. In fact I think I was sort of against it. I've never been a big fan of our current education system and before I had kids when I thought about school I always sort of assumed I'd homeschool or maybe even unschooled them.

But, that was then and this is now.

Tomorrow Thaddeus will start preschool. He will only be going for a half day, but it will be every day of the week.

And you know what? I'm thrilled! Ecstatic! I can't wait. I wake up dreaming about what I'll do with my two and a half precious hours a day and fall asleep thinking about the same. My biggest fear (I'm actually terrified of this) is that they will kick him out for some reason and I'll be robbed of my time without him.

I never thought I'd put my child in school so early, especially if I didn't have to because of work, but I also never thought I'd have a child like Thaddeus. Or at least I hoped and prayed I wouldn't. But, often God gives us what we need and not what we want, right? I need Thaddeus. He has taught me patience when I thought I had no more. He has pushed and challenged my convictions about parenting and about myself. He has forced me to give when I didn't think I had anything else to give and then give some more. I love him, but I don't always enjoy him. He's been a real challenge for me from the beginning - a challenge I am grateful for, but a challenge none the less.

And after almost three years, I'm burned out. The level of excitement I feel about putting him in school is a testament to how burned out I've really become.

I don't want to live that way. I don't want to parent from that place. I need to create more space for myself, to come back into my center. Not just space to make sure the house gets clean, the laundry is done, and the basics are covered. Not just space to go to doctors appointments and therapy appointments (which we have plenty of at this season). I need space for things that fill me back up and I'm hopeful that school will be a great way for me to work that space back into our schedule.

The best reason that it's a great way for me to get that space though, is that we know it's gonna be good for Thad. Better than a babysitter now and then, and better than grandma and grandpa, too.

Thad is a really smart kid and he needs more stimulation, more structure, more responsibility, than I've been able to give him right now (especially in the state I've been in the past few months). He also really needs the interactions and friendships that school will provide. He has very few (read: almost no) friends his same age and as much as I love having him around adults I know he needs peer interactions too. He gets so excited whenever he gets to play with other kids and I want him to have that more often.

So, for all of these reasons and for the kindness of family members willing to pay for school for Thad (thank you!) we are making the leap and starting school now.

Why this school? Why Montessori?

I have always been intrigued by Montessori education. My cousins went to a Montessori school and have only wonderful things to say about it. I love the emphasis on intrinsic motivation and the freedom within boundaries that they give the children. I love that the classes are mixed age groups with 3-5 year olds all together - the younger learning from the older. I love that he gets to stay with the same teacher for three years and that they get to really know him and us. And I love the idea of the adult as a facilitator and guide instead of a top down teacher.

And I really think that the structure as well as the freedom of self determination given in a true Montessori classroom will be a great fit for Thaddeus and the kid that he is at this season.

So, when I saw the sign for a Montessori school only a few blocks from our apartment I knew we had to check it out.

What we found was even better than I could have hoped. Whole Earth Montessori School is a prekindergarten through six grade Montessori school with a wonderfully clear emphasis on caring for the earth. They have a beautiful garden that the children maintain and care for. Solar panels that the older children also help monitor. A beautiful campus with tall trees and a stream that runs through the front. The classrooms are well organized and clean and wonderfully well lit with natural light streaming through large windows.

The founder of the school gave us the tour and I have to say I really love her too. She just seems so sweet and caring and even a bit earthy. And it seems like she really loves what she does and truly cares about children's education.

It was pretty clear right away that this was where we wanted to put Thad for school.

Now I'm just praying that nothing goes wrong to prevent it from working out (can you sense my anxiety - I really am stressed that something's going to happen and it won't work out after all). And praying that Thad ends up loving it even more than I think I will.

What about you - what are your kids doing for school this year?

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman