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Life-long, Interesting Learners

by Jamie Schaub
Thursday, November 30, 2023

When I started my Elementary Montessori training I remember my trainer boldly telling us (maybe even yelling), "You have to be interesting to the children!" She went on to explain that we needed to have our own interests, lives, wonders, activities, and learning pursuits so that we have stories to share with the learners. Naturally, children wonder about the adults in their lives whether it is their teachers, caretakers, parents, aunts, uncles, etc. We are helping children to become life-long learners, and we need to model this ourselves!

Often I ask at my opening meeting about hobbies. I am interested in what the families in my room like to do. Perhaps some of these activities can be shared by the families in the classroom later on as well. Sometimes families have shared that they don’t have personal hobbies anymore. While I’m sure something like reading books, running, or listening to music might have slipped their minds, I want to encourage all of you to consider something you used to do, or aspire to do, and commit to giving it more of your time. Of course, depending on your children’s ages this may be more or less accessible to you.

For example, this week with the fresh snow I mentioned to my learners, who were so eager to play on recess, that I was also looking forward to the snow because I like to skijor with my dog Rue. Of course, their faces lit up imagining the dog they love pulling me on skis. This opened their imagination, made them wonder, and helped them get to know me a bit more.

Being interesting was just another way to say that we needed to have our own interests. This is as much for our own mental health as it is for our relationships with the children. In training, they call this "the preparation of the adult." Dr. Montessori wrote about how adults must be calm, peaceful, engaging, and interesting. She talked about how we need to be prepared – physically, intellectually, and spiritually. We need to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits. Not only do our interests inspire what we teach children, but they also help them get to know us as humans and help the children think about what they are interested in.

I suppose I am writing to encourage you to be life-long learners alongside your children and to take care of yourselves physically, intellectually, and spiritually.