Spiritual Preparation of the Adult: Who Owns the Learning?

Who owns the learning that takes place in the environment?

We want the children to be responsible, to want to be responsible, for something which we put our heart into for their sakes - the environment and the learning that takes place within it.

It can be so hard to avoid turning into a dictator, even a loving, well-meaning one. When we see our children delve into an interest, most of us want to immediately own that interest, direct that interest, provide requirements for that interest. "Oh, my son, I see your passion for Ancient Egypt! I have this book I want you to read through, it has all sorts of Egyptian activities we can do together! We'll do these particular ones here and we'll have so much fun!"

That can turn out great - but it also takes away ownership of the interest from the child. What if the child really just wanted to study a particular area of the culture and create a timeline; but just wasn't yet interested in the art projects and activities? What if he would have gotten to it later in his journey of exploration and been thoroughly fascinated then?

There are times we provide requirements, and give new presentations regardless of interest (this is how a child discovers new interests), but if the passion is already there, we can strew materials, drop hints, provide ideas, and even minimal requirements, but the child should truly own this passion.

It is a tough balance. And there will be more Montessori Nuggets on this subject.

In the example above, we can make a discovery of the said book, "Look what I have found! I thought this might be of interest to you. I'd love to do some of the activities in it together if you'd like. Just let me know!" And let it go.

If it comes down an education requirement, then it should be discussed ahead of time as part of a work-plan, or just done as a group separate from the child's actual exploration and research.

It is the child's passion - let him own it. 


  1. I have been so guilty of this!! If my children said that they were interested in something I would go and put everything related to it on their shelves and expect them to touch it,LEARN IT. Not always the case. I am learning that they want to make their own discoveries and when I give them everything they aren't left to be creative or research. In so many ways my daughter has said she just wanted to "own it" after I enrolled her in an online photography class. She didn't like it that she had to learn the camera step by step. My daughter wants to learn it by discovery. I learned a lot from this. I am glad she shared this me. Now she is back to using her camera after letting it sit around for a couple days mad because I took ownership of it. Looking forward to your future postings regarding this subject. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I find it hard too! My son gets so many passionate interests and I want to give him EVERYTHING about it. It takes a lot of my own energy to focus on stepping back, letting him inform me when he is looking for a particular resource - and sometimes (only sometimes!) stepping in to say "We are going to add this (teeny, tiny) thing to the work plan for this week" or to say "I have an activity to go along with this topic, that I want to do together; let's find a time to do it together."

    And we do keep moving forward with other presentations (so he got SO into Ancient Egypt), so we paused on the new history presentations for a bit, but after a while we added in the next of the four river civilizations, just so he continued to see "there is more out there."

    Oh that elusive balance!

    : )