I borrowed this picture from Emil’s school Facebook page — not sure who took it, but isn’t it beautiful?! While Emil does many other lessons in the classroom (like sandpaper letters, which help him to develop his fine motor skills for writing, and bank game, which gives him number sense, along with the map of North America, the cylinder blocks and constructive triangles), this past school year Emil was most involved in caring for his environment at school. The practical life lessons he seems to enjoy most are dish washing, cloth washing, and plant care. These lessons are integral to a child’s natural development and allows for the integration of their personalities. As his directress writes, “As he becomes one of the older role models of the community, these lessons will become tasks and responsibilities to care for his environment, where he applies his skills to lend a helping hand to others.”

He is, to be frank, often the only one who cleans up after himself at home.

The beauty of this sense of responsibility is not lost on us. We have the unique experience of having two older children who joined Montessori rather late; Milo was 7 and Oliver 5. They missed the earliest lessons, and I’ll be completely honest, it shows. The sense of responsibility for cleaning up one’s environment is solidified with Emil, but something both Milo and Oliver still struggle with. I say this not to put them down in any way (they are fantastic, helpful, and wonderful children!), just to note that there is truly something special that happens when a child is taught this way from the very beginning. If I had it to do over, I would have started all of them in Montessori from the start!

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