Just about every meeting I have these days is interrupted at some point by a child, a pet, a spilled cup of coffee, or some other blooper. They are constant reminders of our shared humanity, showing us that nobody gets it right all the time. I shudder to think of the number of times I've had to start a meeting over because my mic was muted. These daily virtual meetings are snapshots measuring the improvement in our collective ability to give each other the grace to be a human first. We all deserve understanding and compassion. This might be the most important lesson we are teaching our children right now.
Last week we sent home an activity for our Children's House families that required activated charcoal. Only the most dedicated aquarist would have this ingredient on hand. This is an excellent example of the challenges associated with distance learning and the need for compassion and understanding. Not many of our parents have taken classes in education, let alone Montessori pedagogy. The expertise required for guiding children through everyday lessons, reproducing the prepared environment, and observing development sets a very high bar impossible to replicate at home. We understand. You have our permission to fail. Miss a class meeting? It's OK. Didn't get up on time? It's OK. Art project didn't turn out as planned? It's OK.
We talk a lot about the "soft skills" and how Montessori schools, in particular, promote the development of these skills in children. Balancing social isolation, kids, work, and worry is a real test of these "soft skills." Our experience during this crisis is proving that these skills might not be as soft as we thought. You can learn how to balance your checking account at most schools. Balancing that account while your children are replaying scenes from the Alamo in the living room is not a skill covered on any syllabus.
As we line up for week 5 of Bay Farm at Home, we are listening carefully to our state government and public health experts. This week will be an important week for projections in Massachusetts, and we will continue to monitor closely and update families. You can also be assured that we are hard at work on our re-entry plan for when we are finally able to come back together. In the meantime, know that your school community remains committed to you. We are here. We miss you, and we can't wait to see you soon!
- Conrad Wildsmith
Head of School
Bay Farm Montessori Academy