In most schools today, children cram to pass but fail to know.
In most schools today, children cram to pass but fail to know.
Miss E and I have joined in with a little group of home ed families who love the concept of Montessori and of incorporating that into our every day lives. A group was started out of a general interest on a home ed forum. There are 3 families involved and including Miss E 5 children in total now (all girls ha!). The mother of one of the ladies set up 2 Montessori schools and when they eventually closed down she got a lot of the equipment which she passed on to her daughter. Every Monday this lady kindly rearranges her whole house into a Montessori classroom setting.
From 10am til 1pm more like 2pm, we have focused Montessori time. The day starts with some French songs and a French story, then the children go on to choose from the Montessori equipment and activities that are available for them. There is a snack and water available for each child during the morning. Around 12 the children go outside for a play while the lunch area is set up. We all eat lunch together and tidy up together and then the children have free play. The day closes with German songs and stories.
This Monday was the first time Miss E and I had managed to join the group. I wondered how she would do as the other children range in age from about 6 to 22 months and she’s just shy of 17 months. I need not have worried. She was good at coming with me to get her mat to set down for an activity. She loved the transferring activity of using a spoon to transfer rice from one bowl to another-this kept her entertained for an absolute age. She had fun unstacking the iconic Montessori pink tower and building it up again. She enjoyed painting on the easel. And she was every so calm and wonderfully behaved. When lunch was over she went off with the other girls and happily played together with them.
We had such a lovely time together with the other families, and it was good for Miss E to spend the time with older children as well. She can learn so much by observing and interacting with them and vice versa for the older ones. I have to say they were so caring and wonderfully gentle with her; it was beautiful to watch. I also enjoyed the interaction with the other mums and finding people who were also on the same wavelength as me. It’s an area I have really been struggling with recently. We are very much looking forward to our weekly Montessori meet ups.
It has also inspired me to get some more multilingual books etc to read to Miss E. My Modern Language BA seems a lifetime away now, and as much as my brain is super rusty in that area, I would hate to think my children would grow up without any initial foreign language exposure being given to them from me, and this is the best age for little ears to pick up those sounds, so I best get started. Do any of you incorporate a foreign language into your day with your children? If so, how do you do this in your home?
When a child’s life is full of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, people and places, he will learn. When he feels safe and loved, he’ll learn. When parents begin to recover from their own ideas of what learning should look like (what they remember from school) they will begin a new life of natural learning,too.
Are there events in your life that you feel were a waste of time? Paths you went down and you wonder what the purpose was or how it would ever be useful? I’ve felt like that. When I did my BA degree, I did it for fun…………..I loved languages, I loved manipulating sentences, I loved the grammar involved etc. I didn’t know what I might end up doing with it besides being a teacher of some sort. When I finished my degree, I left with no real sense of where I was going or what I was doing, besides planning my wedding for the following year! I had applied to various teaching places to no avail due to the fact my degree was in Modern Languages even though there was a major push to get Modern Languages into the primary school and to have specialised MFL teachers. At the same time, I was applying for jobs to be a Teaching Assistant in schools as I figured a) it would get me more experience for reapplying to teaching the following year and b) I’d have money coming in!
There is a deadline for applications to teaching, and I gave up applying in the end. I found a few courses that actually were specific to MFl so you could do say a Primary PGCE( Post Graduate Certificate of Education) with French/German/Spanish specialism. Due to pressure from family who were having panics about where my life was heading and what I was going to do with this degree, I appeased them by applying 3 days past the deadline for a particular Primary PGCE with German specialism. I LOVE German! Shortly after sending off my application to keep the peace and hoping that’d be the end of it, I was called for a job interview at a school and later that day got the job. AMAZING, I was so thrilled. It seemed like a lovely school with lovely people. The following day, I check emails to find an email from the director of the PGCE courses at the university I had applied to with an invitation to come in and speak to him as there were still spaces available on the PGCE with French specialism course which is my other language.
Oh dear……………what to do? Well, first thing I did was arrange a meeting with my new employers(!!). Thankfully, they were aware that I wanted to do a PGCE and had been applying, but oh the awkwardness of going in to say I had this interview after being offered and accepting the job. I told them that I wouldn’t go without their blessing. I wasn’t going to do anything behind their backs, and if they wouldn’t be happy about having to find someone else to fill a position they had just given me, then I would gladly pass the opportunity by. But, they fully supported me and told me to go to the interview, and, if I got through, to take the place and they would be behind me 100%.
In short, I got a position on this course and thus began a very long, dark, deep, stormy period in my life. Two weeks into the course and I knew I didn’t want to continue. I knew teaching in this capacity wasn’t for me for life, but pressure forced me to carry it on to the end, and I hated every.single.day. I had migraines all the time, and ended up on medications which I took daily to try and relax the muscles into the brain and reduce the severity of these migraines. And, for the record, DO NOT TRY TO PLAN A WEDDING AND GO THROUGH SOMETHING LIKE THE PGCE……………………..you will not come out the other side as a sane person-I don’t think I will ever fully recover 🙂 !
After completing this course and getting married, I was then under pressure from family (not my husband) to actually use it. For a while when we were in limbo about where we would end up living I did supply teaching which gave me an insight into the varied running of many mainstream schools. When we moved I started applying for jobs and ended up with what I thought was a dream job in a private primary school teaching solely MFL to all the year groups. What could be better?! My health and soundness of mind is what could be better. I started in the May and by the Dec was so depressed and ill from issues in the workplace, that I handed in my resignation letter and have never looked back. In fact, I thank God every day for getting me out even though I’ve had to deal with questions as to whether I plan to re-enter the world of professional teaching etc. I don’t!!
But while doing the PGCE and knowing it wasn’t something I wanted to do longterm and since leaving teaching I’ve often thought that it was such a waste of my time, and I couldn’t see any real purpose to it…………………………but God uses everything in our lives to bring about good for His glory. Cue my daughter’s arrival! I’ve always had a keen interest in Home Schooling/Home Education/Un-schooling, but when my daughter arrived I felt called to go down that path as well. She may only be 9 months old, but I’ve already been getting my feet wet by finding out what groups are available in our area and seeing what the support is like, what the law is etc etc. Yesterday, we joined in one of those groups as I figured it was never too early to get to know people. Have you ever met up with a bunch of strangers and had that instant feeling of belonging and being at home?! That’s what I felt yesterday! Wow, it was great to finally feel like I belonged somewhere again! In chatting, it came up about me doing my PGCE and working in both mainstream and private schools and not liking either and not wanting my daughter to go to either, and this dear old lady who comes along said, “well, it was all preparation wasn’t it? Doing that gave you an insight into the teaching world here and you can make a very good and informed choice for your children because of it.” It was like God himself was speaking to me! FINALLY, I understood the point of that year of torture and the time in teaching that followed. I got to see firsthand what the education sector is like and I know it’s not for us as a family, and it also sets me up well to educate my own children………..not that you need a teaching degree to do that, because you absolutely do not; it’s just that I personally probably wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with the coming onslaught of doubts and questions from family without that little certificate sat there reminding me that if they thought I was capable of teaching classes of 30+ children at varying ages and stages, then I am also capable of teaching 1 or a few children at varying ages and stages! But, I came away with a light heart and could put to rest my demons of, “I wasted 2 years of my life on teaching for nothing.” or “I should’ve been braver and just quit after those first two weeks.” I may never enter the professional teaching world again, but I have gained valuable insight into the runnings of schools and into the National Curriculum which is in place and the areas of it I want to avoid!
So, if you look back on your life and think time has been wasted on things that turned out to be pointless and you don’t see their purpose, God does. He takes everything good and bad and weaves it all together for good for His glory. There IS a reason you were on that path, and all will be revealed one day. I am so thankful, He knows what He’s doing!! Jeremiah 29:11
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