"Help us, O God to enter into the secret of childhood, so that we may know, love and serve the child in accordance with the laws of Thy holy justice and follow Thy holy will." (Maria Montessori)
I want my children to culture good habits within themselves, but I find myself constantly repeating to myself…"How can I EXPECT my children to succeed when they are set up to fail!" I keep looking at our home enviroment and the way it is set up…..This house is a one room schoolhouse/Montessori Atrium(sorta-LOL), a hotel, a library, a Laundromat, a doctors office, a convent, and a playground alllll rolled up and mixed up into one. It is filled with things and people and attitudes and I keep asking myself "Am I creating a living and loving atmosphere, one that fosters learning and good relations between persons?" I KNOW that I am the one that sets the tone around my home. I always wanted an assistant, another ADULT, who of course was likeminded and could help me focus my thoughts and energies into productive uses. I want to create the best environment I could… physically, emotionally and spiritually and at the same time I want to keep it simple and fill our home, time and hearts with living ideas, living attitudes…a complete living environment that sets up each person to become his or her personal best.
I finally found some direction from reading From Creative Chaos to Livable Learning by Suzanne Wilhelmi at JMJ Publishing.
It was this statement on her site that finaly hit home for me:
" LIVABLE LEARNING is my term for a homeschool environment where both the child and the teacher (parent) create an environment that is conducive to learning. This is achieved externally through a simplified order of the household and the learning materials, while internally both the teacher and the student arrive at a greater self-discipline in how they think and in how they choose to act."
The thing that hit home the most was using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to organize my own heart and attitude as well as the house and general attitudes of my dear family. Since I already have the home environment that Maria Montessori was trying to re-create in her Atrium, I knew that with my given vocation of Motherhood I would have, by God’s grace, the tools I would need to care for and nurture every dear soul that He in His infinite goodness and mercy has seen fit to send me. I had to see things from HIS perspective from his infinite love for each individual in my home and ASK for His guidance in managing the gifts that He has given and find the perspective for the seeds that HE has already planted. I WANTED an hour of Adoration specifically for this intention but I was hampered from doing so. I kept on sending up my petition through prayer… I was floundering and I needed to know what kind of glasses I needed to don to have this kind of sight that I was craving. I needed to see…through VIRTUE!
I have large motor kids, and detail oriented children, I have thinkers and talkers, I have educationally gifted children and educationally challenged children and I thought….each person and event just seems to CLASH with some resounding and LOUD (it is ALWAYS loud) BANG! …so WHERE IS the serenity of heart mind and ears that I crave….with this environment…with allll of this…I have CHAOS!…Which is an acronym from FLYLADY that means "Can’t have anyone over syndrome"…unless I am willing to be very tired….no….I realized that I know I will never have perfection…but I had to see a process happening that would help me acquire the GOOD –a peg (Thank you Lissa and Leonie for this article!) to hang my heart on to so that I could move forward into the foray and help them succeed!
I wanted my children to respect our home(enviroment) and each other and have a certain sense of integrity that would permeate all areas of their lives.
"Maria Montessori developed her teaching methodologies nearly one hundred years ago. Her educational foundations have been tested over time and have survived because her ultimate goal was to preserve the dignity of the child."How can a child not thrive and learn in a prepared environment that emphasizes respect and integrity? – – A respect and integrity not only of the materials presented and used, but more importantly of the child himself, and of those with whom he interacts." (S.V. Wilhelmi)
Then my dear friend the Holy Spirit with His awesome gift of Wisdom…be it ever slow and gentle…entered in like a cool refreshing breeze on a warm spring day. If I want NEW LIFE in my home and my children’s hearts, I need NEW LIFE in my soul. I needed a simple perspective I have to "live simply so that others may simply live" (St Elizabeth Ann Seton). Simplicity….a DEEPER simplicity required me to look at and examine VIRTUE…What is virtue REALLY anyway??…and use VIRTUE to combat VICE. Through the use of VIRTUE the children are learning through a very natural way to combat the VICE that often complicates the way to complete self giving and self fulfillment.
Beyond that I found that my Montessorial fondness was more than a co-incidence. God was leading me into a deeper formation of virtue as a course of study…aha! That educating two generations at once thing!
One of the starting points for me was using the gifts of my children to combat their weaknesses. I used my 10yo ds’s great big generous heart and detail-oriented manner to overcome his anger toward his large motor little brother. I used this same son’s detail oriented perspective to create games for the large motor kid to involve himself in so that he could settle down and concentrate. A bond of persons that ended up being a blessing and not something of a heroic endurance test. I used my visually challenged dd to use her gift of perspective drawing to visualize math concepts concretely so that the numbers didn’t make her dizzy. I used my 7yods’s desire to lead to combat his own laziness in cleaning by giving him confidence in asking for HIS advice in leading little clean -up projects and slowly building him up for bigger projects. I couldn’t believe the results….
This idea could ONLY come from GOD! I prayed many times…
"God you could create order out of chaos….surely you could help me with this little mess!"
…and He took me seriously. His fruits are so good….I have learned to see through new eyes…eyes of faith and then as I look back…instead of seeing the myriad of fingerprints over everything, I see the places where GOD left His fingerprints on our lives. God KNEW from all eternity what he was doing by giving me this interesting bunch of monkeys…er…children. I knew the answer for some semblance of a living life could only come from HIM. My children have this crayon maker that enables them to melt down old crayons and make new. I have found this silly item to be a reminder to me in the quiet of my heart…this family is God’s own uniquely and sweetly molded plan for being one that is a saint-maker. Only with God is the best formation of hearts and lives. REAL LIVING begins and ends with the Alpha and the Omega….GOD…so we move on to the practical…VIRTUE FORMATION….stay tuned ;o)