Spark Insight Journal – Page 9 – Relationships and Empathy

“Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.”
Maria Montessori.

Social-emotional growth in relation to relationships in a studio environment is a process that we witness and guide, but not control, just as much as their academic development. As children grow and mature they learn what relationships are all about and in their time they learn how to make, include and exclude others in their circle.
Through extensive observation, Montessori discerned that children within the first plane, birth to age six are working on the development of their entire being. As guides, we use this opportunity to help them learn how to move through this phase effectively and guide them through life skills on how to develop inclusive and meaningful relationships through the use of books, mindfulness exercises, discussions, Socratic questions, and oftentimes by simply witnessing a challenging situation work itself out with the courage to be vulnerable and sharing of feelings by using of words and calming strategies they were introduced to during those very moments. Sometimes, we hear them saying “are you being a peace-maker, a problem solver, or, remember we are filling buckets and not dipping from them (the analogy being that we all carry an invisible bucket that we can fill with kindness or dip from with unkindness- from the book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? which we read multiple times to bring in thought, insight, and language).
The blessing of a multi-aged studio is also that the children are able to forge relations that last longer. Older children are thrilled that they are able to mentor the younger children of their studio and the little ones look up in awe at their confident and knowledgeable older fellow travelers.
These skills are an in-built life lesson in their day and life and we watch them unfold just as is.