Organized chaos

working independatly

It can be hard to imagine how a classroom works when there are 15-20 children ages 3-6 that are all doing their own “work” for 3 hours.  In a Montessori classroom there are limited group lessons (these are usually limited to 3-4 children at a time when they do occur).  Children get individual lessons from the teacher (Guide) and then are able to choose that work anytime they want.

 

Children happy at work

 

The rules of the room are simple: Children may choose any work they have had a lesson with, it MUST be on the shelf, work with it as long as they choose, then put it back when they are done.Even though most lessons are given individually, the children often team up to work on puzzle maps, or dishwashing, or to have snack.

 

working together on a puzzle map of North America

working together on a puzzle map of North America

 

A group of older children reading lists of words with different spellings

A group of older children reading lists of words with different spellings

 

working independatly

working independently

This method works because it allows children to be self- directed (within reason).  The teacher can offer suggestions and give new lessons when the child has mastered something so there is always a new challenge to explore.  There are also all the lessons they have already mastered to go back to any time they choose.  

 

Within the classroom there are multiple “peer teaching” moments.  Because the children stay in the same class for 3 years and sequentially move throughout the curriculum many of the older children have already mastered something that a younger child can not yet do.  This affords a wonderful teaching moment for an older child and a great interaction for the younger child to experience what they will one day be able to do.

 

A Child who has already mastered the map of North America is helping replace all the pieces.

A Child who has already mastered the map of North America is helping replace all the pieces.

 

You may think that the classroom where children are able to choose their own activities all morning would result in chaos.  However, it is quite the opposite.  The children go from work to work, setting up their table or rug, exploring with the material and then cleaning up.    This is repeated over and over again.

 

Looking at a new book toggery- the child in the middle is reading to the other two.

Looking at a new book together- the child in the middle is reading to the other two.

Because the children are happily engaged and busy, the room is calm and humming with activity.  It is a wonderful way to spend a morning!

 

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