Organized chaos

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!

 

The simple things

The beauty of flowers!

The beauty of flowers!

One of the this I love about working with children this age is that they MAKE me slow down and notice things I would probably miss.

A 2 (or 3 or 4)  year old does not care how fast they get to the corner, but they do care about all the rocks, flowers and animals they pass.  In the classroom and out in the play yard I am constantly reminded to slow down, listen to what they say and examine things with them

 

Children do not have the same life experiences we do, so things we may find mundane, they revel in!

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Examining rocks…this is a favorite for many children!

I know that its not always an option to slow down to a childs pace.  Sometimes we just don’t have 10 minutes to let them put on their shoes or look at an insect.  But when we do, it is a wonderful gift to take it all in!

 

I can read!

Most children begin reading at some point during their primary years in the Montessori classroom. This usually starts after the child knows all of the sounds of the alphabet- (thank you sandpaper letters). We have found that it is easiest to … [Continue reading]

Our Days

Our days seem to go by so fast!  During the mornings we have a multitude of activity going on in every direction. 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds carrying on their chosen work, socializing, learning new lessons, the list goes on and on. I often have my … [Continue reading]

Explosion into Learning

We know that children learn at all different rates.  They are interested in different subjects as the year progresses, so they often work intently in one subject then another. The Montessori materials are all interactive- so the children learn … [Continue reading]

Learning Naturally

For children in a Montessori classroom academic learning comes easily and naturally.  They are able to follow their own rhythm and move through the set curriculum at their own pace.  This means that they all learn the alphabet, reading, numbers and … [Continue reading]

Community

I love coming back to school after an extended break.  The children are all DELIGHTED to see each other again.  I often get emails from parents that their child had been asking about school...."How many more days?" By January the children have … [Continue reading]

Time to PLAY!

We had our Winter Family Social at The Little Gym in Lake Oswego this year.  This is an event  that the whole family participates in; parents, grandparents and siblings.  I wanted the children to be able to be in a safe, fun environment with some … [Continue reading]

School time

Four years ago when I was getting ready to open Community Montessori I structured the program around two things: the Montessori philosophy, and offering a flexible schedule.  I had been in the Montessori world for 10 years at this point, every school … [Continue reading]

Preparations

Preparations. We know that all young children have a lot of knowledge they need to acquire.  In a Montessori school learning is self-driven and is done effortlessly.  When the child is young they busy themselves with washing tables, polishing brass, … [Continue reading]