Seven years ago we decided on a Montessori preschool for Pepper. It was sort of a happenstance situation. My belly was full of V and my impending maternity leave was inevitably going to become permanent. This luxury made it possible to choose an option for Pepper that was not required. No longer daycare to cover my work hours. No more childcare that asked my child to mold to the structure instead of adapting and flexing with her needs.
Pepper had just been expelled from daycare and my pregnancy hormones were in full unpredictable swing. My step-mom had been a longtime elementary Montessori teacher but I was, embarrassingly, unfamiliar with the doctrine. I knew that her classroom did not look the ones I had been in as a child. What little I did know made it seem like Montessori might be a good fit for P and one visit to our now beloved Children’s House only magnified these feelings.
One week after V was been born and Pepper was still brand new at her school, we got the dreaded phone call. The one that would inevitably lead to another expulsion. She was in a rage. A full on fit with no end in sight. I was a post-partum, nursing, hormonal mess and the thought of reverting back to where we had been weeks earlier was overwhelming.
Thor swooped in, as requested by the teachers, and brought P home. And, then conferenced that afternoon about what our future was.
Not only was P not expelled, she was welcomed back. The conference had been about how they could help her the next time. What tools would work to diffuse a situation like that again. How they could meet her needs where she was at.
My heart swelled, fueled by unregulated post-partum emotions, and I knew that we had likely found our home. A solid, grounded place for Pepper to thrive and grow.
Fast forward three more years and the finish line of P’s Children’s House schooling. It was time to decide what our next steps would be. The good-bye to our little school, a second home, was only a partial end as we left with Pepper in June and returned with V in September.
Private school had never ever been a consideration for us. We were a single income family living with a 20 mile one way commute to our nearest Montessori elementary school. We were beginning to understand Pepper’s needs better and were fully engrossed in beefing up our skills, her tools and working through the kinks. We were committed to the sweet public school down the street, but after one meeting with the administration the inflexibility of what they were capable of accommodating and embracing was scary. My fears grew and two weeks before school started, Thor and I had a long, hard discussion about we needed to do for our child.
The serendipitous nature of an opening coming available at a local Montessori elementary and the budget shifts we were able to make made it possible. It was incredibly settling.
Within our definition of “settled”.
The road was not without bumps or bruises. There were calls home and conferences. And, adjusted schedules to accommodate Pepper’s needs.
We entered another three year cycle of Montessori and were embraced by a sweet community and fabulous set of teachers. One of the greatest benefits of Montessori education is the consistency and growth that comes from a three year cycle with the same teacher(s) for a child. The soil is tended and fertilized with this relationship and the child can grow and blossom to their full potential.
But, with this closeness and special connection comes an alternatively painful good-bye. A transition from one to another.
All of this is not just a change for the child but one for the parents and family and beyond. We are all an integral part of Pepper’s school and the relationships that are grown.
This fall, as she moves from the Lower Elementary into the Upper Elementary, we say good-bye to the teachers we have loved and adored. And, who have given this gift back to Pepper and our family ten-fold. A gift without bounds.
And, in year seven, I have become one of Montessori’s greatest fans and loudest cheerleaders. I am grateful for Pepper’s needs and the places we have landed because of them. And, the people who have embraced us.
My heart aches as I look into the Lower Elementary classroom and miss my brown haired beauty’s profile in the circle of kids. I miss the close connection. But, with only a few steps, I can peek into the other classroom and see how well she fits. How seamless she looks amongst her peers. The potential for another deep relationship and connection between her teachers. How right this all feels.
I am filled with abundant gratefulness for Montessori and the gifts it has given. And, continues to give.