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What is the "official" approach to crying in a Montessori children's community? Fortunately, I've seen very little crying at our school, but when I do I tend to be a little uncomfortable with the response. My impression is that the goal is to get the crying to stop, rather than comforting the crying child. For instance, an adult might ask the child what's wrong or what they need, but if the child doesn't or can't answer, they tell the child that he or she can continue crying and then rejoin the group when they're done. It's not a really negative response, and I never hear them say "stop crying," but it feels colder than what I do with my own kids. (I'm talking about frustated or otherwise emotional crying here, not crying that's brought on by an injury.)
 

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I actually think it has more to do with the directress than Montessori training per say. My oldest daughter's directress was really kind of a cold flat fish, no kids, who would merely try distract kids from feeling sad, by getting them to choose work; thank god the assistant was warm and empathic and comforting. The directress would seriosly have the worlds flattest affect and totally flat voice, practically never smiled or laughed or anything.<br><br>
My youngest daughter's directress is totally opposite, warm, empathic. In the classroom when kids are upset, she actually tries to figure out with them why they are upset, and has other kids join in to help figure out how everybody could feel better. AND the asssistant is warm too.<br><br>
If I knew then what I know now, I would never have chosen the first directress for my oldest dd; although she herself was not damaged by her directresses schizoid tendencies, I strongly feel her experience would have been far richer in a warm, empathic directress-led classroom.
 

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I agree that it is strongly influenced by the personality of the caregivers and in a montessori environment the caregivers should always be kind and gentle with the children. That warmth should really be a base personality trait, Montessori wrote about the importance of the adult's positive approach to children, to help them know they can trust their world and so on. I don't know about "official" approach but Montessori said "follow the child" so the approach I guess is... do what the child needs (not what is most convenient for the adult).<br><br>
Having said that, as a newly trained montessori toddler teacher (and a mother of two) I see that when they cry, the children are learning to deal with their inner struggle...and it's more complicated than just giving them a squeeze and patting them on the back. Let's say a child is crying because she wants her mother. I do not have a goal of quieting that child, though I sincerely hope that the child can feel better soon and I will do what I can to help. (btw many children feel awful but don't cry -- just might sit there being in a very sensitive space for a period of time -- so crying is just one possible expression of that sadness.) My comfort may sometimes be accepted (yes I ALWAYS offer a hug, a lap, a hand to hold, sing a song or just make eye contact, whatever i can try to help) but often the child doesn't want me - because I'm not their mother and on many levels they are aware that it's a question of them having to get through this huge mass of feelings they are having about being separated from her. So, many of them really want to be left alone and find some way to soothe themselves. They may wander around crying and yet drawn to the environment, try to engage themselves in an activity, look at the animal in the class or carry around the pictures of their family. It's amazing to see how self-reliant they really want to be. When they are able to self-soothe, it's a huge achievement for them, and feels very complete to them, so they are freed to move on. But for many it doesn't come so soon or easily. As with all growth, it's a struggle that takes some time and work.<br>
hope that helps.
 

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Sphinx,<br><br>
Thanks for your reply. My son, who is 3 1/2, spent the first 2 weeks crying when left and standing by the door of the classroom. It is our first year of Montessori and he never went through this last year in a typical preschool. I have been struggling with the less "loving" environmnent and wondered why the Montessori philosophy would want the kids to work it out on their own. Friday was his first non-crying day and I'm already dreading tomorrow morning. At least I understand now what "might" be their reasoning.<br><br>
I am happy all in all with the school and hope that he will continue to adjust. I haven't figured if I'm a Montessori convert yet as we are all missing his "fwaft projects" that he brought home last year. He seemed calmer and more content last year as well. Maybe it will just take more time. He's a bright kid and I wanted something totally different for a few years before he starts K in the traditional system. I wanted an environment where he could feel free to explore and not be rushed from activity to activity.<br><br>
Mum in Houston
 

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Well, I really hope it's not a less loving environment but maybe you could see the love in a new light? Maybe the love is translated through a more all encompassing respect for the child and an environment that is set up to facilitate the child's deep joy through self-satisfaction and achievement, rather than the possibly more shallow idea of promoting temporary "fun" that so many children's caregivers offer. In other words -- to look at the long term goals (child's need to move forward toward independence) rather than a short term solution (child's immediate wants -- or whatever the adult might perceive that the child wants/needs) for any situation. I'm just trying to suggest that maybe the lack of the more effusive attitudes you might find elsewhere can feel uncomfortable for a while, but once there is trust in the simplicity of the environment, a deep calm sets in.<br><br>
But let me say again that it is really important for the adults in the classroom to be kind and gentle, whatever they do. And that in our classroom we ALWAYS offer comfort -- for some children a little hug or holding their hand or lightly rubbing their back is enough of a bridge to get them back to their own self-control and self-soothing, and for others, they just do not want me or my comfort no matter how miserable they feel!! This seems true especially for the ones who are taking a little longer to adjust- they really need time to trust it all. As for the "you can cry and then rejoin the group" idea that bananahands mentioned - observing another's emotions is also a great opportunity for the children to give and receive comfort from each other.<br><br>
I've got a 2 yo who cries all day, every day (it's been a week and a half so far) and it goes in waves -- one minute I'll see the spark of interest in something else, and then she goes back to her tears. I see her persistent sadness as a wonderful sign of a strong bond with her mother. She doesn't want to be touched but will hold eye contact with us when she's struggling a lot. I see her slowly getting used to us. She is very aware of everything and will still take care of tasks even when in tears (toileting, cleans up messes, puts her nap mat out, clears the dishes and so forth) and has even done some activities on the shelves. On Friday she told her mother that she was excited to go to school! So even though she cried all day Friday, I'm hoping this week will be the break for her.<br><br>
Also, I don't know about your school, but we do have something I guess you could call "crafts" - gluing and stamping and painting and such - we just don't send them home.<br><br>
good luck!
 
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