We teachers spend a lot of time with your children and sometimes take for granted that you know what is happening during the child’s day. We really want you to know how your child is spending his/her time, which is why we try to communicate with you via notes, newsletters, observations, and conferences. For those of you who are still wondering what your primary is doing at the Center, I write a few words of explanation.
For the primary child, aged 2½ to 5½ years young, the day begins with the arrival at school. The teacher is on hand to greet your child as he leaves you and enters his classroom or play yard. This greeting is important because it reacquaints the child with his school environment and his teacher as he moves from his home environment. It is at this time that some children may experience apprehension as they transition from the familiar, comfortable home surrounding to the school setting. We try to help those children who feel uneasy by diverting their attention from the parting and focusing on the positive aspects of our surroundings. You can help by making your parting swift and by being on time or a bit early to pick up your child! Never keep him/her waiting and wondering if you’re returning. This is very upsetting to children, especially since your child leaves you in the good faith that you will be there when he needs you to be, at the end of his school day, to transition him back into your fold.
Once your child has entered our world of school, s/he will greet his friends and his familiar Montessori prepared environment. He will select his work to begin his day. This may be something he has been thinking about doing for a while or a last-minute choice. Nonetheless, the teacher makes careful note to see which items initially interest and beckon him. She also watches to see how long he is engaged with the activity and the quality of his interaction with the materials. As his interest wanes, she will invite him to make another selection or perhaps will offer a special lesson so that he may learn how to work with another piece of equipment in the classroom. The materials are sequential and the teacher knows which activity to offer to each child based on what he’s been doing successfully. In this way the child’s choices direct the teacher’s next lessons. The teacher’s careful observational skills are vital as she will not rely upon tests or oral quizzing to determine proficiency or mastery, but she will depend on what she has actually seen your child do to guide her in your child’s next lessons.
Most of the morning is spent this way; the child selects his own work and the teacher watches and offers lessons individually. At the close of the work cycle the children put away their activities for the morning and gather as a group on the circle for a few moments of a story or a cultural lesson. Lunch follows the washing of hands and the child delights in preparing his own spot to eat. Orderliness is important as the placemat, napkin, and laying out of the lunch is done carefully and purposefully. Primary children are sensitive to manners, so the teacher takes advantage of this by assuring a calm, courteous atmosphere.
After lunch, the children go outside to play. They love the fresh air and are eager to run and spend some energy. Then they return to the classroom and the Montessori method. Twice weekly the children participate in music, which involves singing and movement.
The day ends as it began with a special word from the teacher, and the happy child cheerfully greets you with joy in his being, knowing he has met his inner need to learn in an independent and individual manner. He has been in a setting carefully selected for him, one in which the materials and the teacher have joined to offer experiences of worth for him at this time of his life.
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher