Sunday, January 31, 2010

Confident Kids

With many years of greeting children as they walk into school and observing their interaction with adults, I have come to realize the significant difference in Montessori kids; their confidence is visibly evident.

When I meet a child, I look for eye contact, or a firm handshake, or how easily she/he engages in conversation. I do notice that Montessori children are more comfortable with adult interaction; they work and play in an environment that welcomes adult-child interaction. It is an environment that says we—children, young adults, and adults—are life-long active learners and enjoy learning together and learning from each other. We all have something to share, no matter what age you are. This inevitably breeds confidence in our children.

Whether it is a little one who toddles into my office attracted by the beaver doorstop, preschoolers who want to have me look at their work in the classroom, or an Upper Elementary student who is sharing today’s classroom snack, I love the fact that they feel comfortable enough to engage with the Head of School, who is just another person at school.

Research suggests that building a child’s confidence starts early on, and parents who understand the idea of transitioning independence to their child will better serve their child. Dr. Montessori is very clear about how children work through early sensitive periods. A preschooler’s sensitivity to detail, order, use of hands, walking, and language happens at different stages and is made whole when parents give their children time to explore, experiment, and self-discover their abilities during each sensitive period. Confidence grows with each success, and when there is failure, confidence will grow out of the recovery, not the fall.

In this summer’s faculty and staff book read, The Price of Privilege, author Madeline Levine states that the [child’s] self is born in the crucible of interaction between parent and child. Every time we encourage exploration, applaud independence, and require self-control we help our children grow into their best selves. Interestingly, she goes on to say that kids with a strong sense of self can come out of dismal economic circumstances and kids with an impaired sense of self can come out of the most fortunate economic circumstance.

All parents want their children to make choices, become self-reliant, be independent thinkers, and engage with each other and adults confidently.

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