Lower Elementary parents who attended the first Montessori Tides School Parent Education Night in early September were treated to one of the Great Lessons in Montessori education.
Ms. Nancy, lead teacher for Lower Elementary, presented to parents the lesson on the Creation of the Universe. This is the lesson that greets all of the Elementary students on the first full day of school each year and provides the framework for their early work in the classroom.
After the lesson, several parents said they had heard about the lesson, especially the part with the volcano, from their children. The lesson is an impressionistic story, and Ms. Nancy explained afterward how the lesson connects to the classroom.
One assignment that is done early in the year involves having the students think about their place in the universe. A picture of the child is at the top of the page, and then he or she writes in the following: name; street; city; state; country; continent; planet; and galaxy, which is followed by the words solar system and universe.
From these interactive lessons, the students gain strong impressions, and the repetition “plants more seeds” each time they have the lessons.
Ms. Nancy also provided parents with a tour of the classroom, which is set up to have distinct areas, including geography; science; language; math; art; history; and nature study. She also introduced some of the classroom pets, such as Aura, the leopard gecko, and the fire-bellied toads.
The group went over the work plans that the students use to guide their daily work. They have the freedom to choose which subjects to work on and when to work on them, within reason, she said. The students follow their work plans when not engaged in teacher-led lessons.
Afternoons in the elementary classrooms are often filled with enrichment activities, such as art, rhythm and movement, and F.A.C.E., which stands for Fitness and Character Education. Peace education rounds out their afternoons.
This year, the Lower Elementary students also are being introduced to Italian.
The evening ended with a discussion about how to transfer the students’ interest in doing chores in their classroom to doing chores at home.
“They really want to help,” Ms. Nancy said. “These guys enjoy feeling a sense of ownership and empowerment.”
They might also need help in switching around their at-home chores once they become bored with them, she said. In the classroom, the students’ chores change weekly.
A few ideas for helping around the house include meal planning; packing lunch for school; and helping to plan family events, such as vacations.
In the Montessori classroom, the students’ homework really is work at home.