Using Children’s Spirituality to Create a Joyful Community for them
In Montessori Education, the term ‘spirituality’ confuses a lot of people. Many people consider spirituality to be the same as religion. Some other people give it other meanings which invoke feelings that lead to disagreements.
In Montessori terms spirituality refers to the natural inspiration children manifest through their constant wonder as they experience life.
Thinking about spirituality today reminds me about the time when my children were little. They would inundate me with their spontaneous and unending questions, comments, actions and reactions as they engaged with their environment at every point in time. Depending on where I was with the children at the time, you would hear a cacophony of questions such as:
Mummy, what is the name of that tree? What is inside the tree? Can I touch the tree?
Oh! Mum, did you see that building? Who built it? Is it Dad? Can we go inside?
Wow! Mummy, this is incredible! I didn’t know that lizards can climb trees!
These are just a few of the constant barrage of questions I got flung at me by my little children as they interacted and engaged with the world seeking meaning and purpose for life.
Children are so open and present in their learning experiences. They are so spiritual. Spirituality is a basic human energy that gives meaning to our everyday lives.
The Montessori Method is a secular education system, just like the regular education system. This means that no particular religion is taught as part of the curriculum, but that all religions, and all peoples are respected. Respect is a key component in a Montessori classroom:
- Respect for the child.
- Respect for the environment.
- Respect for others.
- Respect for oneself.
Creating a joyful community by harnessing the children’s natural energy towards their continued development is a very important part of the Montessori Method.
As children energetically interact with their environment and learn so many new ideas every day, they can become quite vulnerable, anxious and experience emotional swings from joy to anxiety to fear. This is a normal situation that is inherent to change.
This change can be the force that moves the children’s natural spiritual energy into lifelong learning.
As Montessori Educators, we can support the children a great deal by thoughtfully using their spirituality to create a joyful environment for them. We can do this with good planning, preparation, positive attitude and trust.
These will help us to create a safe classroom where children would feel free and safe to explore, question, take risks and feel excited about change, not fear.
To accomplish this, we must:
As a Montessori Educator, on a daily basis, you must take the time to carefully observe your classroom as a whole and to also pay close attention to the children inside it.
Be a Model and Share Yourself
Think about who you are and the things you enjoy, your feelings and emotions. Be a real life model to the children by naming, sharing and living these feelings and emotions.
Keep joy alive
Build genuine relationships with your children by getting to know each child as a unique individual. Take the children outside, incorporate diverse music into your class, avoid unhelpful criticisms, show enthusiasm and smile often.
Do not forget to take time for yourself to reflect.