Just released, Bay Farm Beat October 2019: Our first issue of the school year!
Every parent wants their child to grow up self-confident and happy. Search the Internet, and you will find thousands of articles on how to raise children with a positive self-image. Most of these articles confirm that children develop confidence as they begin to appreciate their accomplishments. At Bay Farm, this is the PURPOSE part of our mission.
Essential to the Montessori philosophy is building efficacy and autonomy in children. Dr. Montessori believed that adults should help children only as much as they need to become independent. To Dr. Montessori, independence is essential to true freedom. Therefore Montessori trained teachers to see themselves as guides who support the development of autonomy in each child.
Here’s an example: We have many children in the Toddler House who are less than 24 months old. Some of these children come to us, not yet walking. In September, the Toddler House teachers greet students each morning at their cars. They joyfully help to unbuckle car seats, get backpacks, and carry children to class. As the weeks pass, these teachers begin to empower our youngest students to accomplish these tasks themselves. Getting a backpack on a toddler’s shoulders is undoubtedly not the most expedient way to manage speedy arrivals. It does, however, signal to the toddler that they are capable of carrying their possessions to school. These are examples of PURPOSE at the earliest level. Walking to class with our materials, hanging our coats and backpacks on our hooks, and changing into slippers by ourselves, develops a deep connection to our autonomy. No matter how long these things take.
In a few months, PURPOSE looks like choosing your work, setting it up, completing it, and then cleaning up. It will show up in your house when your child tells you they need to wear boots to school on an agriculture enrichment day because that is what farmers wear to work. PURPOSE is your child starting to do homework with less prompting, or wanting to redo a project because they are not satisfied with how it looks. As our students grow older, PURPOSE shows up in their understanding that they can make a positive impact on others and their desire to act. Our students are well known for trying new things, maintaining healthy friendships, asking great questions, supporting each other, taking risks, reliability, and being supremely joyful.
By now, most of you have met Anna and Harmony, our two Alpacas, and the goats Scruffy, Dwight, and Alfie are stars of the campus. Taking care of these lovely animals requires a lot of work. It’s too much for one person to handle alone. In true Bay Farm fashion, we developed a rotating schedule to ensure that they are fed and safely tucked in each evening. When Julia Geder, one of last year’s eighth-grade graduates, learned of this schedule, she asked her mom to help her learn how to perform the job. After some training with Annabel, she comes back to Bay Farm one night each week to take a tuck-in shift for the animals. Julia is an excellent example of a student who has developed the confidence to take on a task, the autonomy to perform the job by herself. She’s here every Wednesday night caring for the animals with joy, compassion, and purpose.
- Conrad Wildsmith