Time. It’s one thing many of us say we don’t have enough of. It’s finite, yet also unlimited. Thinking about the time that has come before today is, in many respects, incomprehensible – just as it is to think of time far into the future. Children know now... it takes years for them to understand yesterday or tomorrow. They truly live in the present moment, which is something many adults strive to do.
It can be said that time is an artificial construct. It is divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries and so on. In other ways, it provides the structure we need to manage our lives. School years mean something different than fiscal years or calendar years. Within each of these “years” are other divisions of time. In schools, each year brings new classrooms and students as well as different aspects of the basic subjects taught there.
In Montessori schools, we are fortunate to have three-year cycles instead of one. Our students, teachers and families have the opportunity to really get to know one another and to explore subject matter in greater depth than they might in other “one year in a classroom” schools. Our goal is to support children as they move along a continuum of development in academic, social and emotional areas. If, at the end of their first year in a three-year cycle, we learn that a particular child needs more time to develop socially or in an academic area, lessons are put in place that will help him or her do that. There is not a sense of panic or failure.
As Dr. Maria Montessori knew, children develop within time frames, not along our timelines. She knew that we needed to prepare a wonderful environment, ready to interest and engage children who are eager to learn. The teacher’s role within the environment is to guide children, opening the doors to the exploration of new concepts. Some children walk through those doors sooner or later than others. The beauty is in allowing the time for them to develop at their pace and be at the ready with the lessons and experiences that move them through the continua of development. We are there beside them as they take the time they need to learn and grow. Time is on their side.