I taught grades 7,8 and 9 English and Journalism. Then I moved to Canada and took my Montessori teacher training and degree for pre school ages 3-6. I am a bit of a jack of all trades, I enjoy all age groups, but especially love pre school and junior high because it is such a time of transition.
In pre school, a lot of the kids are leaving mom and dad for the first time. They have to navigate a new landscape on their own and figure out how this new world works. Junior high kids are the same--they have to figure out who they are separate from their parents. They start to make tough decisions that challenge their thoughts and ideas.
It really is a fascinating process to witness. That is one of my favorite things about Maria Montessori's philosophy--to observe and not always interfere. My other favorite saying from my Montessori teacher training is "Trust the child."
How often do we not "trust the child?" We rush in. We pre-empt any situation that looks like it could cause pain.
Example: While standing outside the 3rd grade class years ago, a mother approached me close to tears. Her son had not been invited to a birthday party. I told her my son hadn't been invited either. She was all over the emotional board: furious, fretful, sad, incredulous... She was bound and determined to call that mother and give her a piece of her mind, right after she complained to the principal of the school.
What? Here is the skinny. You are not invited to everything in this life. There will be parties, you will hear about them, you'll see pictures on facebook, your feelings will be hurt--but that doesn't change the way of the world. If you teach your kid to wheedle their way in and invite themselves, what are you teaching them? What are you setting them up for later?
I am not invited to stuff all of the time. Of course, sometimes I feel sad about this and left out. However, in the real world, invitations don't always have to do with someone liking you or not liking you. Sometimes, you are standing in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, there are only 8 place settings of china. Sometimes, your friends want to enjoy a different group of people.
I try to tell my kids early on, life is not a popularity contest. What you really have to do, is enjoy your own company. There are so many people that can't even stand themselves that they must fill every moment with a social event or obligation. If you can be happy reading a book or renting a movie, then you can be happy.