The Gift of Time

Stillness Sleeper - plaster installation - 80 x 70 x 20 inch by Mirko Sevic

The boy wanted to give a gift to a little 4 year old who was celebrating his birthday at school. We usually gift poems to each other in the elementary and he had been a recipient of such presents.

It was only logical then, for the boy to copy write a poem as a present.

But he disliked writing – it was difficult and held no pleasure for him.

Today though, something stirred inside of him. Maybe his desire to be the bearer of gifts was far greater than his disinclination to write … maybe it was something else …

The boy painstakingly wrote out a poem, but it didn’t stop there. He copy wrote and illustrated poems for the next three hours!

He came in the next day and went straight to work. By the end of our morning work cycle he had reams of paper with poems running through them, like ants on a sidewalk.

The boy did this again on the third day.

 He rummaged through even more poetry books. He marked in the parts of speech in the poems he copy wrote.

He commented on the ‘beautiful language’ made by Valerie Worth in her poem, ‘Tiger’  and finally, he wrote his own poem! …”Cars are like dragons flying through a desert

The boy declared, “You know, I just LOVE poetry’

This coming from someone who evidently disliked our story reading sessions, resisted putting pencil to paper for the simplest of tasks, did not borrow books from our library unless it was suggested and never voluntarily chose work from our language shelves.

How did the shift occur? How did the boy, who a year ago found it formidable to articulate his thoughts in complete sentences, find contact with the words:


The tiger
has swallowed
a black sun.

In his cold
cage he
carries it still.

Black flames
flicker through
his fur.

Black rays roar
from the centers
of his eyes.

~ by Valerie Worth


And then it struck me – it was the gift of TIME!

Time to interact with others and to talk about things that interested him thereby practicing his oral language skills, time to pursue interests that called to him, time to receive precise help and practice skills and most of all, time to build confidence – now something that was difficult and new was no longer daunting but challenging!

This, my friends, is the poetry of Montessori environments. The child has TIME – a right in a Montessori environment, but a luxury in more mainstream learning environments.

The child is not being hurried along according to an agenda laid down by people who have never heard his name, or falling into a struggle with a harried teacher who needs to get things done. Nor is he learning each day that he is not good enough and cannot do something.

Instead, he follows himself, stays true to who he is and loves what he does!

The boy will be leaving us to join a more mainstream school for the next academic year.

My wish for you my dear boy is that you always hold true that deserts there may be, but dragons can fly through them!

4 thoughts on “The Gift of Time

  1. What a lovely post!! Our environments are truly a place where each child has the opportunity to follow their own path and cater to the needs of their inner life.
    I couldn’t agree more about how TIME is one of the greatest gifts children enjoy in our environments. This boy seems to have had the wonderful opportunity to experience both and seems to be on an amazing path, its a pity that he will not have the opportunity to continue on it. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Awwwwwwww. I once had a child who couldn’t really read until he was 7 and a half. Boy was it hard to trust the environment to call to him. He did learn when something so captured his imagination that he was compelled to read – a high school level book. A third year sat nearby to help with crazy words, but Brooks had it and read all he needed to know in that first setting. He then came back for more as he needed it. I was dumb struck.

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