as long as we’re paying attention…. Usually when I’m with Kendal, we are running and jumping and having a great time! But tonight was different in the most marvelous way! Tonight was Parent Visitation day at Kendal’s Montessori school. I had no idea what Parent Visitation day was, but of course since I was invited, I was going to go!! I learned that the point of parent visitation day was for the child to “show” their parent one or more tasks that they accomplish during the school day. Each child got to choose what activity they wanted to “demonstrate” for their parents.
After Kendal decided that she would show us “cloth washing”, Kim and I sat down in the really cool little chairs. I thought to myself, “what is cloth washing”? Turns out it’s actually exactly what it sounds like… there is a pile of cloths, a double sink, a bar of soap, buckets, and…. wait for it …. a washboard!!!!!! When was the last time you saw or used a washboard??? It was so cool. As we sat and watched, Kendal said “I have to get some water”. So she trudged off with a bucket, went to a big sink and filled it with water. She then trudged back to the “cloth washing” area where we were waiting anxiously.
She carefully poured the water into the sink, grabbed the soap and cloths and began to scrub them against the washboard. Holy Cow!!!! This is serious manual labor!! Who knew???
Then Kendal would rinse each cloth and take it to a different area of the room where she hung it up. Kim and I both were sitting in these little chairs beaming with joy as if we had just won the lottery!!! Now the fact that Kendal always volunteers to help around the house makes so much sense to me!!! They do chores in school!!! A month ago during her first overnight with us in the camper, she stood on her little stool and did the dishes after dinner. And she’s not even three yet!! I love this kid more every day!!!
Other kids in the classroom were showing their parents matching games, a map exercise of some sort, and a dad in a three piece suit was down on the floor with his child immersed in the lesson he was receiving from his child. This was the coolest thing ever!! As the kids talked, the parents listened intently or did the activity too by following their child’s lead. The teacher strolled around the room, but only helped if the child needed it, and most didn’t. When it was time for Kendal to empty her sink she did need a little help carrying her heavy bucket. At one point, when Kim tried to stand behind Kendal at the sink, Kendal told her she needed to wait behind the blue line on the floor. Lordy, there’s a line to use the sink!!! So Kim stood behind the little blue line on the floor as Kendal instructed. I was beyond impressed!
On this night in particular, I really missed my sister Renee. She taught in a Montessori school for years prior to opening her own day care. I bet she would have loved watching Kendal at work. Kendal seemed to be one of the youngest children in the class, yet she moved around with such confidence, pointing out the various boxes, and bags and clipboards in the room and explained what they were used for. As I looked at all of the kids in that room, I could picture future doctors, lawyers, CEOs and maybe even a President or two!!
Then a bell rang and the teacher advised that the instruction session was over. The kids were instructed that it was time to clean up and put things away. Kendal was given a mop to clean up the water on the floor that had spilled from her bucket. Really?????? This was almost too much for me.
The kids seemed to put their items away in the proper places with as much enthusiasm as they had retrieved the items at the beginning of the session. Most adults don’t even do that (without grumbling at least a little). As a teacher myself for many years now, tonight I realized that some of the best lessons in life can come from our kids (or grandkids). Tonight Kendal taught me that there’s no such thing as being too young to lead, and that if instructions are delivered with knowledge and confidence, people will follow. I know that tonight, with us in her school environment where she is thriving and happy, Kim and I would have followed Kendal to the ends of the earth! Lead on Kendal, Lead on!! Can’t wait to see what you’ll teach us at the next Parent Visitation day!
This was for me by far the most awesome experience to date! Watching her go back and forth with the buckets to retrieve water, not spilling a drop and knowing EXACTLY what to do! It further proves that we do NOT give children enough credit and we limit their potential by thinking they are too young physically or cognitively to perform complex tasks. All they do….24 hrs a day is absorb information. Of COURSE they can perform complex and even abstract tasks.
While a simple enough task for most adults, for an almost three year old to do this and not create an ocean of water on the floor, or leave a river behind her, I am impressed. When asked what she was doing, she explained each step and went on to carrg out her work. I LOVE this chica and am proud to be her student! Renee is smiling right now!
You are so right Kim!! I was even thinking .. “that sure is a big bucket of water she’s carrying!” But I resisted the impulse to jump up and help. I’m beyond excited for Kendal’s future!!! She was sooooooo proud to demonstrate her tasks! The smile of accomplishment on her face was priceless!! That said, she also ensured we followed the class rules too!! Watching you stand on that little blue line for the sink, and then outside the bathroom was awesome!! I love how they are teaching the kids to honor each others personal space AND in terms of the bathroom area, respecting privacy (since the line started in the classroom area and NOT outside the actual bathroom door). That was just as amazing to me as the other lessons she showed us. My only question is, when is the NEXT Parent Visitation day??!!
Thanks, Loretta, for this blog post AND for the pix! As for my comment, I have 3 words: What Kim said!
Thanks Paul, you crack me up!! It was truly a great evening!!!