Magazine article Montessori Life

Ordinary Acts into Extraordinary Lessons

Magazine article Montessori Life

Ordinary Acts into Extraordinary Lessons

Article excerpt

I have been reflecting recently on what the experience of being immersed in Montessori through my involvement with AMS has meant to me over the past several years. In the most general terms, I think my connection with AMS and with my children's schools has helped me to learn not only about Montessori education and my children-how fascinating it is to actively observe them, and to be led by them-but also about myself as a parent, a professional, a volunteer, and a person. As well, I've learned to be mindful of the fact that often the most ordinary acts can be turned into extraordinary lessons. Montessori education, so deeply rooted in peace education and in building life skills, has provided me the language and framework for teaching my children these lessons.

For example, several years ago, two children in my daughter Mariko's school became very ill. Remembering the ancient Japanese legend that folding 1,000 origami cranes will grant a wish, such as recovery from illness, I posed the idea of everyone in Mariko's school working together to make 1,000 paper cranes and giving them to the children's families as symbols of good health. All the students, even the kindergartners, became enthusiastically involved in this project. The unique ways the cranes were folded by some of the tiniest hands was particularly special. Afterward, the experience allowed me an opportunity to talk with my daughter about compassion and empathy.

Over the past year, Mariko has been letting her hair grow, and, of her own volition, is going to have about 12 inches cut off to donate to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to children who have lost their hair due to illness. I can't help wondering if the simple act of paper folding provided a lasting lesson for her.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf States, the children in Mariko's Girl Scouts troop put together more than 325 care packages of school supplies, which were sent to Betsy Coe at the Houston Montessori Center to be distributed to those in need. This gave me a chance to talk to my daughter about the importance of charity, teamwork, and cooperation.

The other day, my daughter came home very upset about a decision made at school that she felt was unfair and even discriminatory toward some students. …

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