Respecting Kids and Their Work

"Daddy - this is a painting of a bear and a rainbow. It's my important project."


My daughter is now in to her second year at a Montessori school, which she absolutely loves.  And while I’m long overdue on writing up an article on the numerous ways in which I find Montessori teaching methods to be compatible with my own beliefs and that of other Scientologists I know, I wanted to say a thing or two about one of my favorite aspects of how my daughter’s activities at school are treated.

My 3-year-old finding a FrogAt my daughter’s school, they do what any normal person would qualify as “playing”.  But at the school they refer to it as “work” and it’s granted importance as such.  It’s not to be interrupted by other students without permission, and nearly always, the student is allowed to do whatever he’s doing to completion.   They’re not just “playing” to use up time until they’re meant to go.

I’ve not read up enough on Maria Montessori’s reasoning for this to know why it was made a part of her method, but from a Scientology viewpoint, there are a ton of mechanics behind why this approach works so well, and is so beneficial for kids.

Reason 1: Exchange

A huge factor in keeping kids sane is maintaining a balance of Exchange.   If a child is only being contributed-to and is not contributing anything back, or is not permitted to contribute anything back, one is basically making a criminal out of him.  Please, please watch this video which explains this subject in more detail.  It’s as important as anything in parenting.

Belittling a child’s activities as “play” and not casting any of it as helpful “work” reduces what he can do which is actually helpful.  Case in point:  one of my daughter’s friends was doing the “wash the baby” work pictured above, when he miscalculated the strength required to lift a tub full of water, and created a tidal wave through the classroom.  Instead of spanking him, the teacher took it as an opportunity to teach the whole class how to use a mop.  BLAM – now the whole class gets to do something helpful by cleaning it up.

A number of Scientology parents have contributed articles to this site on the same subject – like Diane Norgard’s brilliant article on the subtle invalidation of children, or Christine Anderson’s article on her 3 and 5 year old farm helpers.  It doesn’t matter, really, if you factually needed the help or not.  As long as the child feels like they are learning how to do things that help, and are doing things that help, they are going to be – to that degree – more sane.

Reason 2: The Cycle of Action

Hard at work in the sandbox, making roads & tractor tracks

L. Ron Hubbard wrote a fantastic book called The Problems of Work in which he illustrated quite completely how much value there is in allowing people to complete cycles of action.  If you haven’t already, please watch this video which illustrates the point rather well.   I’m sure you all have had a boss which kept interrupting you with some “urgent thing” which you had to drop everything to do, not letting you simply start change and stop the thing you’re on .  It makes people crazy, in addition to then resulting in incomplete jobs sitting around.

The same exact thing happens to kids when you assume that whatever they’re doing is just “play” and can be interrupted at any time.  

I find it easy to see examples of this when I watch my kids in the sandbox.  They each get extremely emotionally invested in whatever project they’re doing (making tractor tracks, making a hole, burying a toy, etc), and the full and satisfactory completion of that is simply VITAL to them, in their universe.  Easiest way to get an upset out of either of my kids is to just randomly say “time to go!!” and force them to stop when they’re obviously in the middle of something.   I’ve actually had an easier time getting them out of the sandbox by asking them to complete the work they’re working on, and then go – as opposed to a “5-minute warning” type system.

Showing her brother how to wash a baby with soap - at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia

Obviously, kids need to be able to play.  They need to be able to just go run around a jungle gym or run up & down the hall with laundry baskets on their heads or whatever.  But when they’re busy on something, I’ve definitely found it much more rewarding in terms of a more happy & able child, to really grant the same importance to any of their work that I’d hope a boss or superior would grant to mine.

5 thoughts on “Respecting Kids and Their Work

  1. I LOVE Montessori! My children have attended a Montessori school since pre-school and they’re excellent beings. Not just because of Montessori mind you, but they’ve learned the value of follow-thru on their own verses having me stand over them telling them what to do. Now that they’re older, they’re aware of their responsibilities and willingly do their best.

    Maria Montessori understood the value of granting children beingness and I love the fact that she understood a child is able to learn – just give the child lessons on a gradient level and boom! They’re able!

  2. This is actually good advice for people of all ages. Sometimes, teenagers or adults are very busy doing something that other people don’t consider worth while. Later, the person might use this experience to invent something, or writes a program that sells, or to start a band, or even to get a job where these skills are needed.

  3. Great reading. Thank you for sharing it. I have come across Ithaca Montessori School childcare center in Nashville, they provide Montessori Education Services.

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