Grateful

Kellen's very last day in Milos Land.  This is Kellen's Kellen’s very last day in Milos Land.  This is Kellen’s “you-will-not-see-me-cry” face.  Robyn Milos will always and forever occupy special real estate in Kellen’s heart. And, Beacan's last day with his And, Beacan’s last day with his “very best teacher of lessons”!  He’d take a Robyn hug any day of the week!

This Montessori share o’ mine is more a broad reflection as both of my kids start winding down, wrapping up their first years AWAY from Villa di Maria Montessori School.  I’ve been thinking about their journeys- from where it all started with their 3-year-old selves in Primary II to the present, as they’ve fully transitioned into their new schools.
Both Mottl kids “lived” in Primary II, then both “moved into” Mrs. Nidhi’s Lower Elementary classroom, and Kellen finished her last two years “residing” in the Upper Elementary with Mrs. Rebecca.  Their VdM tenure culminated in the spring of 2015.

I, like many of you, wondered at the very first step of our Montessori journey at Villa di Maria what would happen when my children transitioned away from this environment into something different- and, no matter what, that “something” was/is guaranteed to be QUITE different.

Will they balk at the more structured schedules?
Will they acclimate to having multiple teachers?
Will they make friends easily after having been with the same “family” for so many years?
Will the new curriculum make sense to them?
Will they be appropriately challenged?
Will the be formally assessed incessantly?
Will they swim around aimlessly, not quite sure what to make of the new scene?
The “What-ifs” and “I-wonders” abound.

I’m here to tell you, our children are well equipped.
Promise.
Promise.
Promise.
It may not be smooth sailing.  It will assuredly involve character-building moments.  It’s a significant change, most certainly.  All the newness must be navigated, of course.  Some students leave, and the switch is basically seamless.  Others leave, and there’s a period of adjustment.  Still others leave and have a harder, more prolonged time making the jump.
BUT, THEY MAKE THE JUMP!  They land.  Safely.  Securely.  Intact.

Each of my own children hit the ground MUCH differently- one incredibly confident and chomping at the bit- the one who had more time to digest and acclimate to her new surroundings and to her new peer group; the other shell shocked and swirling- the one who didn’t have a vision of the day-to-day prior to arriving, who didn’t expect the language of the classroom to be so different, the one who wanted to choose his work and WORK instead of break for library or lunch.  BUT, they’ve both experienced countless heart-squeezing successes these past nine months. They continue to grow.  Continue to thrive.

We’ve always appreciated those intangibles and tangibles that mesh together so positively at Villa di Maria:

the genius of the Montessori philosophy and Montessori materials
the observational skills of ALL the Directresses
the warmth that pervades Villa di Maria
the concentration
the grit
the practiced concentration during those coveted work cycles
the responsibility and respect for self
the problem solving
the teamwork
THE LOVE OF LEARNING.
These true-to-Montessori elements served my children well, nurtured who they are as people and assisted them greatly this school year as they each found their way.  They’ve also been noted and reflected back to them through the course of this school year.  Below I’ve included a handful of teacher observations from B’s spring parent-teacher conference and from K’s spring report card:

From my discussion with Beacan’s Teacher:
1.  What a mathematician.  Has an incredible understanding of place value, fractions and decimals.  A problem solver at heart.
2.  Self starter.  Motivated.  Engaged.
3.  Focused.  Does not like distractions or interruptions- even gets “ticked” when I ask him to move from problem solving to the games station to practice skills.
4.  Kind to others.  Beloved by his peers.  Children love working with Beacan.  Inclusive of his peers.
5.  A leader in small groups and discussion circles.
6.  Responsible.  Functions best when expectations are clear and his ducks are in a row.
7.  An all around good guy!  A sensitive soul.

Kellen’s Teachers’ Written Comments:
1.  Language Arts:  Kellen continues to work hard on every assignment.  She is not afraid to take the time needed to figure out a problem for herself before seeking help, yet she is more than  happy to help others during class discussions whenever possible.
2.  Math:  Kellen is very mature, works well with others, and is a persistent problem solver.
3.  Science:  Kellen is a bright, enthusiastic learner who truly seems to be enjoying science this year.  She is always engaged in lab experiences and works well with other students.  She participates thoughtfully in class discussions and is mastering the content.  It is wonderful to see how she is able to link concepts from different units together to help enrich the discussion in class.
4.  Social Studies:  Kellen takes a leadership role in group activities.  She’s a hard-working student and always contributes during class discussions.  Her positive influence and worth ethic set a great example in class.

Successful year?

Yup.

Successful year.

And, I wholeheartedly believe there’s no better foundation to be had.

Thank you times infinity, Villa di Maria Montessori School.

Xo,
M.M.

P.S.  I must add that it’s not an uncommon occurrence for children who leave VdM in their younger years to experience another environment and then return to finish out the Lower El and/or Upper El. Not (in my opinion) that he/she/they COULDN’T function in a different school- it was simply determined by the family that VdM still served the child’s needs better during that time.