Saturday, January 17, 2009

The End of the Beginning

After any decision is made, there is a pause for breath. In part, it is a breath of relief--perhaps the removal of anxiety making space in the chest for air. Perhaps it's a sigh of resignation, and the extra breathing room comes from letting go of a fight. Or it could be a deep breath before the dive into a new adventure.

As I contemplated my decision about Nuvy's next year of preschool, I had a parallel imagination of the future of this blog. It was sure to take one of two courses. Either we would stay with our lovely neighborhood co-op school, and my writing would shift to a discussion of how my Montessori sensibility would comingle with an excellent non-Montessori early childhood experience, or we would spend the next few years discussing the finer points of primary Montessori education from my triple-mirror perspective as parent, infant-toddler teacher, and primary administrator.

So, I went to visit the Neighborhood Catholic Montessori (hereafter referred to as NCM). I did not get what I wanted. What I wanted was for NCM to help me make the easiest possible choice, the choice to stay right where, happily, I was. I wanted NCM to be nice, but not too nice. Not nice enough to leave the co-op for. Not nice enough to be missed. No such luck.

Everything was picture perfect. Practical life was full of coordinated yellow trays topped with various vessels of green-dyed water for transferring activities, full of peacefully busy children. Children pouring, sponging, eating snack three at a time at the snack table, washing hands in a ceramic basin, hanging paintings on the wall, introducing themselves to me with direct gazes and outstretched hands, I was home.

Geography was populated with children punching and filling in maps of South America. Language housed a small child (maybe an older three or a young four?) surrounded by a bevy of five year old girls giving him sound lessons with a box of tiny objects. In math, someone was tracing the hundred board, and another child was doing coin work (a material my school did not have). As many Montessori teachers would expect for 11am, the sensorial area was a ghost town, but it was devoid of dust, and clearly all the materials had regular use.

I toured the elementary 1-3 class, which was equally delectable, taught by a sister of Saint Joseph who wore pants and a black turtleneck sweater, an arty sort of cross necklace, and a demeanor that indicated a lifelong devotion to doing just what she was doing--just then and there. If there were such a thing, she seemed like my kind of nun. In this class, no fewer than four children came to me, apparently unbidden, to introduce themselves, ask my name, and shake my hand with the same confidence with which they met my gaze. I raised my impressed eyebrows to their teacher , and she beamed and shrugged saying, "oh, they're the welcoming committee." Oh, let me tell you, I was sunk.

So, we are going to catholic Montessori school next year. Yes, there will be Hail Marys and Our Fathers to be sure, and there will be no celebrations of Diwali or Eid or Kwanzaa or Purim. I will miss those. But we will have the pink tower and the broad stair and the banker's game and the map cabinet. We will have sandpaper letters and the hundred board. And yes, Virginia, we will have line time and the birthday ritual and constructive triangles and knobbed cylinders, too.

As excited as I am, it is a wistful excitement. I love our preschool. Nuvy has been so tenderly loved and nurtured there this year. And though she may have only the faintest windswept memories of this place, I will remember. It's hard to leave the co-op, with all its parent control and home-made snacks. I felt a hitch in my breath at NCM when I saw the anonymous, ubiquitous animal crackers and juice provided for snack--easy self-service items for the snack table. I will miss my monthly co-op day, and everyone else's, too. It's a great community, and a great place for children, but having seen what I've always imagined I wanted for my child, I just can't let her miss it.


NOLA mom said...

Another post so soon! What a treat. Well, it sounds like you have found your school. How wonderful!

And in spite of my rather poor adherence to Catholic dogma (even after 13 years of Catholic school), Hail Marys and Our Fathers are still my go-to mantras for self-comforting during dental work, blood draws and child birth. Words so ancient, they feel like incantations. Not such a terrible thing to know, right?

All this and a hip nun too? You have some seriously good mojo Montessori karma!

thesecretofchildhood said...

I'm really pleased for you. These decisions are never easy to make, probably because we know that we only get one shot at them! But I think you have made the right choice. Montessori is irreplaceable. Nuvy will be happy there - I feel it in my bones...

Making of a Montessori Mum said...

hi there - just discovered your blog and can I say I REALLY LOVE IT!!! Will def be back for more. So wonderful reading your journey and your thoughts on Montessori etc. So glad you found a fabulous place for your little one.

My Child's Diary said...

I am so glad for you that you've made a decision. And even more glad for Nuvy for going to keep flourish in the Montessori environment. Good for you too!
I wanted to ask your permission for translating (selectively) your notes of stages of development in Hebrew. I'd like to use them for describing my son's development in my blog, if it is alright with you.
All the best,

Testdriver said...


Of course! I'm delighted that you'd want to use them. :)

My Child's Diary said...

Thank you! I appreciate it!

Amy said...

Ahhhhh, this feels very familiar... except with my experience, I was the one clinging to the perfect school, perfect materials, perfect teachers, and the most perfect Director, of course. :) Sniff, those were good times, good times. It still stings a little. :) The good news is that we still get to see Ms Pam, Ms Suhela, and Ms Sudha, and they treat Gussy the very same way they treated M&H. It's refreshing. The feel is different, but know that it's the right place for my little Montessori monster. When M&H started @ Butler, all I could do was wish that Ms Amanda would come bounding out of the main office area, laughing her big hearty laugh and giving everyone big hugs, and kissin' the little kids on the head when they were going home... AHhhh no such luck in an AMI. Butler wasn't and isn't all I could ever want it to be, BUT ( there's always a big Butt) I know M&H are getting an amazing education with the world at their feet. The teachers are not as hip and groovy as I'd like, but the dorkiness of them makes them equally interesting. Diversity is key, no? ANyhoooo, Miss Nuvy will have amazing experiences at her new school, have very clean hands,beautiful lunches, a candle lit on her birthday and long chains to tackle. At the end of the day she will be lucky enough to have parents who CAN teach her about Divvali and the like at home. Which is so rad. You made the decision, now rest easy. Wait, there's Van! He can go to your crunchy hippie nursery school co-op thingy, right?? He'll be there before you now it. I am dying a little inside knowing that my Gussy will be riding the bus to his primary classroom next year. UGGG my heartstrings!

I have to call you to get a few opinions on a situation we have here regarding reading skills with our & year old dude... in the Montessori classroom....

My Child's Diary said...

Hi there again!
Just wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for an award. You can read about it here -
Thank you!

El Monito Flexero said...

It's wonderful that you found such a fabulous school. We find that saying a Hail Mary always calms our 2 year old in the midst of a tantrum.