A child’s voice was heard through the throng of us peeking over each other’s shoulders, “oohing” and “ahhing” at the sight of the baby. “Someone should send them a copy of The Joyful Child!”
“No, but I have seen the cover, and I have heard that it is important for parents of new babies.”
“Well, Freddy, if you read it and still think it is a good idea, I’ll help you with this project.”
We all left Freddy alone for the next few hours, as he pored through the many pictures, captions, and main text, jotting down notes as he turned the pages. When he was finished, he said, “Okay, will you help me write the letter?” Freddy is fluent in spoken English, but his education is in Dutch, and he was unsure of his ability to write such an important letter in this language. So the two of us seated ourselves on the floor of the storage closet, the only place in the building free from the hum of students preparing for exams—me with my laptop and Freddy with his notes. Freddy read his notes, and I typed, then we discussed, rearranged, added, deleted, and came up with a satisfying letter that I emailed to the institute secretary to print out, so Freddy could copy it out in his best cursive handwriting. Here is his letter:
Your Royal Highnesses of Cambridge and Baby prince,*
My name is Freddy Alcock, and I am ten years old. I go to a Montessori school just like you did, your royal Highness William. I am from Holland, but I am right now in Denver, Colorado, because my mother is learning to be a Montessori trainer for people working with babies. A friend of mine, Susan Stephenson, wrote this book. She will sign it for you. Parents don’t like a lot of advice, but there are some things in the book that you might find helpful. Don’t use a pacifier that stays in the mouth all day. Touching and feeling are very important. Let your child feel free to do stuff. If the sleeves are too long, roll them up; otherwise, he can’t feel anything. Give him a basket of toys so he can choose for himself, give him clothing that he can move freely in. When he is sleeping, he is doing important stuff. If he is talking, don’t interrupt or correct him.
Sincerely, Freddy Alcock
*This was written on the 24th of July 2013,so the baby’s name wasn’t announced.
As a Montessori teacher of children from 2-18, I know that it is very important to help a student complete a project during the period of interest and enthusiasm, so we searched the Institute until we had found an envelope large enough to hold the book and the letter safely wrapped in bubble wrap. A friend drove us to the post office. Freddy explained everything to the astonished postmaster, who filled out the forms: “To the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Buckingham Palace, London.”
The whole article, with a picture of Freddy proudly holding up the thank you note he received, can be read here: CLICK: Montessori for a Prince
This was ten years ago. That child with the good idea is now in university, and the prince has attended a Montessori school in the UK, and Freddy’s mother Heidi Philippart is now an AMI 0-3 teacher trainer. The Joyful Child has been translated into several langagues and more are in progress. For this information: CLICK: Translations