I remember when my son, now 30, was 2 1/2, attending Beverly Montessori. I would often volunteer for Language Table, and every time I did, all I ever saw my son doing was washing a plastic frog with a toothbrush. But he was a funny kid, not much interested in toys or machines, and given to sitting around and staring into space sitting on the front porch. If I hadn’t read Montessori’s work and been convinced that children tend to choose those activities they need to work on the most, I might have been worried. Instead, I was just curious about why the repetition with that work. He attended BMS for almost four years, and then went on to the Montessori School of Southwest Cook County until third grade, and after that, Council Oak Montessori School, where he did love to work on math materials but balked at writing.

When he went to Morgan Park Academy, a small, private college prep school for high school, all he wanted to do was be a basketball star. Again, I figured he’d find his way. Sure enough, one day he came home from school very excited and told me: “Mom, you know why I love physics?” (which I didn’t even know he loved!) “Because it explains everything I’ve always wondered about! Now I understand angular momentum!!” And it dawned on me that all that time he spent staring into space, he was observing and thinking about the motion of objects around him – but he had had no words for what he saw as a kid.

He first majored in Physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, but then switched to Aerospace Engineering, in which he is happily employed. Truly an example of the “Mystery of the Child” – how we simply cannot know what’s going on inside the minds of children and must have confidence that if we give them a properly prepared, rich environment, they will follow what they need and discover a productive path in life.