When you first visit a Montessori school, there are a few things that you notice right away: The rigid organization of the classroom, the children working independently, and the very specific language teachers use to speak to children.
For me, these were the first three things that differentiated the Montessori classroom from any other learning environment I had ever observed. First impressions are different for everyone of course, and I’d love to hear yours in Guidepost Parent Chat.
The language component stuck with me for a long time after that first visit. Why did they speak in such a strange way? Why so formal? Was there a reason behind it, or was it just the particular classroom I had observed?
At the earliest opportunity I put the question to a Montessori guide. “Do you call the kids ‘children’ for a reason, or is that just your habit?”
Without hesitation the guide responded, “Oh yes, it’s very purposeful. We call children children, because that’s what they are.”
My reaction was, well yes, that’s a rather dry truth, but what’s the problem with calling children kids, or young un’s, or honey?
After more time spent in the classroom, learning about Montessori philosophy and the nature of childhood, I soon realized the importance of the word child.
It’s a word with implied respect. It doesn’t denote a less-than quality in the way littles or kiddos does. It provides the child with an understanding about where they fit in the life-cycle. It subtly teaches that words have power and importance, and using formal language doesn’t imply a lack of warmth (“Hello children!” can be just as warm as “Hey guys!”).
Of course, use of formal language has a time and place, and the Montessori classroom just happens to be one of them. The beloved nicknames or terms of endearment we remember from our childhood are powerful memories, and shouldn’t be forsaken for the more formal child or children.
But it is interesting to think about the power our words have, and how an innocent seeming label can have a deeper impact than we might imagine.
Lastly, here’s an anecdote overheard at a family wedding that showcases how important names are for children.
At wedding rehearsal, the event planner was speaking to two young ring bearers. As is wont to happen, the children mistook the word “bearers” for “bears.”
One boy caught the event planner’s attention. “Excuse me, as you can see, we’re not bears. Please call us Ring Kids.”
Do you have any examples from your family like this? Does your child prefer one name over another? Share your thoughts in Chat!
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