I snapped this shot of Oliver in his classroom last week, working away in  his own little corner. I was there to document the Chinese New Year party, which was a really cool celebration. But what I was reminded of, and am reminded of time and time again, is how my middle child is thriving in the Montessori environment.

He comes home from school full. The best way to describe it is that he is full of some kind of richness, like his spirit is being nourished. I see some part of this with my other two children, but am most moved by it with Oliver. I think the reason for this is that he is a different learner, and the kind of child who could easily fall through the cracks in a traditional setting.

This observation comes from the deep understanding of who he is as a person, not from observation of him in a traditional setting (which he has never been part of), so it may be wrong. He could have been fine in a regular classroom. But he could also not have been. Who really knows.

What I do know is that he really struggled with reading for awhile, that I was worried about it, that he compared himself to his peers and more directly, to his older brother, for whom reading came early and fast, setting in just before his sixth birthday. For Oliver, an entire school year passed without evidence that he was making a lot of headway; and yet, his directress, who knows him so very, very well (and sees progress since she has him for 3 years in a row), assured us that it would come, that there was another window at 7 years that was a reading-sensitive time (and a reason many Waldorf schools don’t even start reading until that age). Sure enough, Oliver is reading fluidly, out loud, and really enjoying it.

It’s so wonderful to see your child thriving, whatever the subject or situation. To see him enjoy and seek out learning, to see him inspired and happy, and to feel the contagion of curiosity and knowledge.

3 thoughts on “Thriving”
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  1. I love this and it is so timely. Frances and I had a conversation this morning at breakfast where she told me that her older sister, Ella, is “perfect”. We dove pretty deep into the meaning of that word, and she even pulled down the dictionary.

    It’s especially complicated for us because of the six year age difference – to Frances, Ella has ALWAYS been able to everything, but she just has no knowledge of Ella in the years before six (or nine really, if we consider when her earliest memories might be.)

    I think it’s tough to follow a first child – particularly when it seems like things come so easily to them. Ella was a very early reader – I don’t really remember her not reading, but she was certainly capable of plowing through books before kindergarten. This fluency is just coming to Frances at seven, but she excels at attention and comprehension.

  2. What I love from this post is your patience in allowing Oliver to come into his learning at his pace and not panic, as is so easy to do as parents, and wait and believe in his abilities. Lovely to hear the outcome of his love of reading!

  3. I always enjoy reading and exploring your posts when it comes to your boys and Montessori. If you could recommend some Montessori materials, toys, etc. to have in a household with children 5 and under, what recommendations would you give? Thank you.

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