Dear Salem Montessori Community,
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others have pushed each of us to think more deeply about race and justice in our country. Some of you have reached out to ask how you can support discussions with your children. The deep desire I hear in these questions is how can we build a better world for our children and all children.
Montessori emphasized her method of education as a way to build a more peaceful world and just world. Here are some ways to begin for our community.
Learning to listen. This is something all of our teachers are trained to do each day. The formal expression of this is the peace table where children sit, share their point of view, and listen to each other. How to make one’s needs known while LISTENING and taking into account the needs of others is something we give attention to each day. This seems to be me to be at the core of all conflict resolution. Placing intention on learning to listen from a young age is important. This blog has activities you may do at home.
Grace and Courtesy
Montessori is the only place I have seen a formal approach to manners for very young children. Manners are the building blocks for how we live together. Having a clear and systematic way to approach manners is empowering to children. This builds independence. Here is a good description of this part of our curriculum as well as activities to try.
Learning to listen and cultivating grace and courtesy allow children and adults to have meaningful dialogue. Here is a wonderful resource to help with that. Parenting allows us to have these kinds of meaningful conversations over a long period of time. Your impact on your children is deep. This guide can help get you started.
Power of Story
Our stories change and shape us. This article explains why stories are so important for our hearts and minds. Reading aloud as a family has many benefits. Here is a list of books to read with your children to think about race and justice. This list of books for adults is helpful. Montessori emphasized the role of the adult as a guide. We must be willing to continually examine our own hearts and minds to be the guides our children need.
As you know we are launching our first SMS community read. Our book is How to Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott- Haims who served as Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising for more than a decade at Stanford University. She has a wonderful Ted Talk here. Her newest book is Real American: A Memoir. Here is a synopsis from her website.
In this powerful and award-winning reflection on identity, belonging, and community, Julie details growing up Black and biracial in white spaces. She shares the toll that racism, discrimination, and microaggressions took on her self-worth, and how she found acceptance through the healing power of community. We will be holding discussions about these books as the school year begins.
As we prepare for the next school year I welcome your ideas for conversation and action. The new Julie Lythcott -Hamis book is a great compliment to our school-wide read. We want to raise these children to be adults who bring justice and peace to our world.
The greatest development is achieved during the first years of life, and therefore it is then that the greatest care should be taken. If this is done, then the child does not become a burden; he will reveal himself as the greatest marvel of nature.