Mary Anne Waterhouse

My son is about to enter his second year at Pacific Rim Montessori

My son is about to enter his second year at Pacific Rim Montessori and he and I are both very excited about what school will bring this year after all that his first year taught both of us.

As Nicholas’ teachers know, last summer, when he started his “gradual entry” program I was beside myself – not sure if I was doing the right thing, torn between feelings of confidence in what I had read about Montessori education and fear that I was pushing my 2 1/2 year old son far too fast, far too early.  I know now, looking back that Nicholas was completely ready for the experience and it was only me who was not.

Yes – the first week or so was tough for him.  Nicholas didn’t want me to leave him in this strange hallway with these new people, and it tore my heart out to do it – just reinforcing my feelings that I was being a bad, pushy mother to do this to a two year old….   But all that changed remarkably quickly and when we returned in September for the actual school year, Nicholas was more than excited to be back at school.

I could tell very quickly that the environment was good for him – but the biggest proof came in November, when my husband and I took Nicholas with us on a business trip to Montreal.  He was barely three at the time and, is, to put it mildly an energetic, active boy.

Circumstances evolved and over the time we were in Montreal, we ended up having Nicholas join us for a business dinner and also a lunch meeting with a high powered guest speaker, seated at our table.

What I didn’t expect or know was that somehow, my son had learnt – without my involvement – that there is a time and a place for different behaviours.  Throughout the dinner, and the lunch – he was quiet, focused and attentive – speaking more softly than I had ever heard him do before and concentrating on what was set before him (colouring or pictures or such).  Yes, when we left the table, he was quick to start racing through the hotel lobby – but when his “work” required him to be quiet or focused, that is exactly what he did.  I know I can’t credit myself for bringing that out in him, and I don’t credit him with being extraordinary – I can only believe that his daily experience of the Montessori classroom had given him that self discipline.

But that wasn’t the end of it – the most remarkable part happened on the way home.  We took a very late flight, thinking Nick could sleep on the plane.  With some winter departure delays, we ended up landing in YVR at about 11:30pm.  And yes, Nicholas slept a bit during the flight but that only energized him for the excitement that met all of us on landing.  Apparently a few people had reported feeling ill during the flight so now – on the ground at YVR at 11:30pm tired and hungry after a very long flight, and with a 3 hour time difference in our bodies, we were all quarantined…

As you would expect, most of the passengers got a bit restless, but our three year old just wanted to understand what the situation was, and once he did, settled down to a puzzle or two or three.  We were stuck on that plane, on the tarmac for almost three hours and I can sincerely say that the person who handled the situation best was Nicholas.  He would ask periodically if it was time to get off the plane yet, and when I would explain no, he would consider his options and suggest yet another activity that I could set up for him.  This was not the little boy that I had travelled with during the summer – only a few months earlier.  He was content, actually happy, to be able to work busily on something – even under the worst of all possible circumstances.

As the year progressed, Nicholas continued to thrive at Pacific Rim.  Of course, a big part of what he is happening for Nicholas at schol is academic learning – but that is only part of it.  He is learning true life skills and I am so happy that I didn’t give into my “pushy mother” doubts – if I had I would have robbed him of so much learning.