It is fitting that my Montessori educated husband works for an institution whose motto is Ancora Imparo (Italian for “I am still learning”). Joshua has learned so much in 21 months and there is still so far to go! This got me thinking about what we learn as adults and what we learn as a child. There are so many things that a child learns in the first few years of life, it’s staggering to think of how much they can learn and master. So what is Joshua learning and what can I expect him to learn in the next few years?
My chosen profession is all about order and logic. Therefore as Joshua’s first teacher I am always on the lookout for resources that help me to identify and quantify his milestones and assist with my observations on his progress. Coincidentally, there was a flurry of activity/reposts a few days ago from other Montessori blogs that I follow who were sharing a chart that summarises the things that a Montessori trained teacher would use to quantify these achievements. For a non-trained Montessori follower it looked a little overwhelming and, well, too wordy. After an enquiry to a friend, I was directed to the resources of Voila Montessori who provided me with a chart covering ages 3-6, and also a chart for infant/toddlers aged from birth to age 3 that trained Montessori teachers would use. For me it is far more helpful as it visually shows a child’s progress on a timeline of the skills that they are expected to gain through the first 36 months of life.
This is a chart that is actually used by Montessori trained teachers from 0-3 to observe and capture the progress of a child so as to note and work on any skills that might be lacking at any point in time and prepared by an AMI certified Montessori teacher. A close look at the chart shows a lot of skills developed in just 3 years. No wonder this is such a wondrous time for a child and why it is referred to by Montessorians as “The Absorbent Mind”!
So how does Joshua’s skillset fit in with this chart?
At 21 months he is walking up and down stairs confidently with and without assistance. He is walking and running well. He can sort and identify shapes, colours and animals, and identify familiar family members and friends. He is progressing well with his toilet learning: identifying that he needs to go, letting us know and taking himself to the toilet. He can carry things up and down the stairs. He is hefting heavier items and moving things around the room and across distances. He can feed himself competently with spoon and fork, but needs a bit more work on knife usage. He attempts to pull his pants up and down, to pull his socks on and off, can put his arms into his sleeves of his tops and pull them out again, can pull his tops on and off over his head but still needs assistance here and there to get changed. He can throw a ball or an object. He can match like items and identifies several different types of fruits and vegetables. He climbs up and down equipment and ladders easily. He loves painting, drawing and stamping. He can sweep up a little and is attempting to use a dustpan and brush. He attempts to brush his teeth and can comb his own hair. He waters his veggie patch every day. He is curious about how things open and shut and is easily frustrated if he cannot work it out and is not helped to find a solution. He loves books. LOVES THEM. He will devour book after book and will often be happy just leafing through a book on his own nearby while I am busy with household chores. He puts his dirty laundry into a hamper and can stack blocks of varying sizes up high. His favourite colour is blue and he has a few favourite toys that he keeps with him for sleep time. Developmentally he seems to fit in very well with the Montessori chart. Reflectively I can see that I perhaps offered some things that according to this chart might have been a little early but Joshua achieved those milestones earlier because he was ready to and I followed his interests. Follow the child!
This chart is perfect. It captures Joshua’s milestones and those yet to come. Ancora Imparo of the infant/toddler.
(Would that it were so easy to capture the learning of a new mum!)
So how does Ancora Imparo fit into our lives?
For us we feel that Montessori education is the key to Joshua’s Ancora Imparo. We want him to have a lifelong love of learning. The above chart quantifies the beginning of Joshua’s Ancora Imparo journey which we have commenced with preparing our environment as best as possible to support his development.
For my husband, his line of work reflects his need to continue with the Ancora Imparo experience. His desire for intrinsic motivation comes from his love of learning which was instilled from his early childhood Montessori education. He is a researcher, this is perhaps the best choice of profession for him as he is always curious about how things work. He is ALWAYS learning (and teaching too). He is able to seek out appropriate resources through contacts and attending conferences.
I am an Ancora Imparo parent. I am University and postgraduate qualified in my paid profession and my experiences with Joshua are still taking me to parenting school every day. We don’t just talk about it, we DO it. We are open to new experiences and ideas. The point where we stop learning how to parent well and be open to those new ideas, experiences and the advice of others is the day that we fail as parents as well as atrophying as individuals. It would be arrogant to think that we know everything. As an appropriately trained and qualified person in my chosen profession it also goes without saying that I am always learning. Learning about the changes in my chosen field, how they affect me and how I do my paid job.
I am not a Montessori trained teacher, nor even a trained teacher. What I do have is a passion for Montessori learning and the desire and drive to provide my son with the best early experiences possible to maximise his opportunities to learn. This is not about making him the smartest kid or to somehow imply/make him seem to be more advanced than other children. It is about giving him the opportunities to be the best person that he can be, and I truly believe that he will be a better-adjusted, well-rounded person for having the chance to experience a Montessori education. Ancora Imparo is the greatest gift that we can give Joshua.
Learning never ends. I am Joshua’s first teacher and am cherishing the opportunity I have been given to teach someone else everything that I know. There will be other teachers in Joshua’s life, both people he is related to as well as those he is not. Each one of those people will add to Joshua’s Ancora Imparo experience in life and I hope it is a journey for him that is all the things that learning should be: challenging, to exercise his mind, and frustrating when he cannot find the answer. Confidence-building as he learns to ask for help and ask the right questions and understand what is being asked. Satisfaction when he understands and solves what he previously did not understand. Joyful as the process of learning and understanding is achieved and being able to help others if called upon.
What is the most important thing parenthood has taught you? Do you have a lightbulb Ancora Imparo moment you would like to share? I would love to hear them.
Thanks to Jeanne-Marie Paynel of Voila Montessori for permission to reproduce her beautiful chart for this post. She has also provided one for ages 2.5 to age six.