Why I want to send my toddler to Montessori
Levi turns 18 months old this weekend. It’s crazy to think that my baby will be a year and a half in just a few days. Now a full-fledged walking and talking toddler, Levi’s non-stop energy, curiosity and eagerness is what led JB and I to tour a local Montessori school yesterday As much as I love spending all day, every day with him, we think it’s time for Levi to take the next step in his development: nursery school.
Wait, I have a confession…
The truth is that I don’t love spending all day, every day with Levi. I love the idea of spending that time with him and I love that I’m able to be his primary caretaker during the day, but I don’t love every minute that we’re together. It’s exhausting. And challenging. Really, really challenging.
Sure, we attend weekly music and Gymboree classes when they’re available, and I try to schedule a playdate or two during the week, but I worry that I’m not providing Levi with enough stimulation. I’m not interested in just keeping him entertained; if that were my priority, I’d plop him in front of the TV to watch back-to-back episodes of “Sesame Street.”
And no, Levi is not lacking in toys. We have blocks and Legos and musical instruments and books and a tunnel and puppets and more. I play with him and I let him play independently. But I think Levi could benefit from more socialization with other children his age and from spending quality time with other adults. (Separation anxiety has been a challenge for us these past couple of months.) More importantly, though, I want Levi to continue gaining confidence and self-esteem as he explores his independence. I never want him to stop learning and growing, and I can only imagine that our basement/playroom is limiting in engaging experiences and mindful activities.
But there’s another reason why JB and I are interested in sending Levi to a part-time nursery school program. Being hands-on with Levi all day means that I only get a break when Levi naps — and I never know if he’s going to sleep for an hour and a half or three hours. If I were a SAHM, I could use Levi’s naptime to do some chores around the house, maybe prep dinner for that evening. However, as a WAHM, I’m at the computer doing my work for the day after I eat my own lunch. (Besides this blog, I’m a regular contributor for Lifetime Moms and guest post on various other blogs.)
So household chores get put off…and off…and off. I don’ t know how other women do it, but I haven’t found enough hours in the day to fulfill all my duties as a mom, a wife and a worker. Sending Levi to school for three hours a day, five days a week would open a window of opportunity for me to be more productive at home.
Why I like Montessori
Before I became a mom, I didn’t give much thought to what type of nursery or preschool my children would attend, and I knew very little about Montessori. But the more I learn about Montessori, the more strongly I feel about following their philosophy:
“It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.”
What I also like about Montessori is that it’s not simply a daycare. It’s not a large room filled with oversize plastic toys, monitored by adults who are essentially babysitters. Even at the toddler stage, Montessori is a school, with independence being the primary objective. This New York Times article acknowledges that Montessori preschool instruction “has been shown to lead to strong academic achievement” by incorporating “self-control into daily activities.” Besides developing his gross and fine motor skills, Levi would be learning practical life and self-help skills that would serve him outside of the classroom.
So why I am feeling so confused?
At the end of the day, I wonder if sending Levi to nursery school at 18 months old means I’ve failed as a mom (a WAHM, at that) or that I’m a good mom for wanting to expand his horizons. Am I selfish for wanting more time for myself or smart for recognizing I need more time in order to actually accomplish the tasks on my to-do list? Maybe JB and I will regret our decision and pull him out of Montessori. Maybe we’ll realize it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. But we won’t know until we try, right?
Being a parent is hard.