In Montessori classrooms, you will hear a lot about life cycles. In fact, you will hear a lot about cycles in general; water cycles (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection), three-year cycles (the three-year Montessori curriculum), and even the three-hour work cycle in (3-6) environments. As Montessorians, we value and honor the phases everything and everyone passes through. Each phase is significant and important in itself. Infant, child, adolescent, and adult. Spring, summer, fall, and winter. Morning, afternoon, and night.
In our pre primary classrooms, teachers and students observed the metamorphoses of butterflies unfolding over the past few weeks: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. During the last week, I watched 3- to 6-year-olds walk up to a mesh container with several chrysalises like wise professors – hands behind their backs, leaning forward, observing, discussing, waiting. One by one, day after day, a chrysalis would open up and a butterfly would emerge. In my opinion, this metamorphosis is one of the wonders of the world. Each time a butterfly emerged, the children clapped in awe and amazement. This week, the teachers and students released the butterflies into the blooming spring gardens of the Pre primary Woods and watched as the butterflies flitted among the flowers and the children at play.
Watching the students’ process of observation reminded me of a Dr. Maria Montessori quote, “Under the urge of nature and according to the laws of development… the child is obliged to be serious about two fundamental things … the first is the love of activity… The second fundamental thing is independence. “
Children each go through their own slow and miraculous metamorphosis. In fact, when I look back at photos from when children started at The New School Montessori in the pre primary and compare them to their 6th grade yearbook photos, they might as well have wings and antenna in regards to how dramatic the transformation is. This, in my opinion, is also one of the wonders of the world.
In nine years, students learn to dress themselves, brush their teeth, tie their shoes, ride a bike, clean their rooms, calm themselves down, compromise, swim, read, write, add, subtract, multiply, divide, solve equations, jump rope, play sports, learn languages, navigate friendships, write stories, understand poetry, play an instrument, draw what they see, dance, conduct science experiments, navigate the internet, research their interests, present work in front of peers and adults, forgive, persuade, lose a game without crying, win a game without bragging, discuss politics, debate ethics, compare cultures, graph the path of a hurricane, and so much more. It is impossible not to look at our pre primary students, our little caterpillars, with the same awe that they were devoting to the released butterflies. Impossible – not to honor this very important and precious stage in their development. And as our children grow into their independent adult lives, it will be impossible to not come to that moment, bringing the same excitement, hope, reverie and joy having witnessed an amazing metamorphosis.
Enjoy the short video below, and your upcoming weekend cycle!