Last month I took part in the Association Montessori International USA’s annual conference in New Orleans, attending workshops on digital marketing, the coach approach to leadership, and more. I had never been to New Orleans before, and as I was on my own, I met new people at every turn and set out to explore the city. Even with my most extroverted parts of myself in gear, it can be daunting to constantly be in new environments, to find my way and seek out connections in this vibrant professional development opportunity. I consider myself a comfortable city-dweller, and yet it took me about two days to feel confident to travel by bus and streetcar.
It reminded me of the first time I ventured into a culture vastly different than my own, when I traveled with fifth grade students on a student exchange trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico. The rush of vibrant colors, sounds, smells, tastes, plants, birds was such a head-swirling sensory experience. It took me about three days to begin to process and articulate all that I was seeing and learning.
Thinking about these experiences made me appreciate the courage and confidence our children develop every day. A new toddler joined the Toddler ADM class last week. He visited the class during his phase-in time with each of his parents. On his first solo day, he cried, as is natural for young children in a new environment. He was warmly comforted by Ms. Michelle, who acknowledged his feelings, and helped him to adjust to all the newness with such beautiful care.
It’s helpful to remember how much newness our children are presented with every single day. The impact of a warm, caring environment of older and younger children and loving teachers provides the emotional safety required to be able to take risks, step out of one's comfort zone, and learn, from both mistakes and success. I see powerful examples of this in each classroom at Greene Towne, each day.
When was the last time you stepped into a totally new environment? What were the strategies you used to find yourself there? As parents, we are often on the verge of newness, as we move through stages of our children’s development. Last month, parents of rising Kindergartners came together at our event to gain resources for the process of transitioning to First Grade. (Find the packet of resources here.) Being part of the Greene Towne community provides access to support and specialized expertise for these growing edges—through the parent speaker series, through the parent community’s camaraderie across early childhood, through our remarkable faculty, each trained in understanding child development and how best to support our children into fully growing into themselves. Our teachers are providing a safe, home-like environment and novel learning activities that are inspired by the exact stage of development of our children: each one of them, in each classroom.
As we step into new experiences, we can learn a lot from our children—about calling on courage, confidence and persistence, to apply what we’ve learned in new ways.