Today we started week two of “getting back into school routine”. We are still not jumping into full elementary Montessori work and I think I know why….I am freaking out a little bit! There is so much to do, so much to know, so much that I dont know if I can do right! What if I dont tell the great lessons well enough and Bunny isnt inspired? What if I miss a step in the sequence and we dont learn something important? What if What if What if…. *Sigh* So what to do? There are two choices, one let the panic take over until I break down, or break the work down so I dont loose my mind! So I chose the latter. I started thinking about what the main goal of a Montessori education at this age.
To understand the main goal, you need to see the big picture. The main goal is to inspire the child through imagination. They are naturally full of questions that they want to have answers for and it is our job to help them tap into that! To do this we use the great lessons and the follow up lessons. The point of doing the great lessons is many things, but mainly it is to help the child get an idea of the big picture of the universe. To see how every living and non living thing in the world works together to form and change the universe as we know it. We want the child to see how everything in their life is a part of the this amazing universe too! Everything we do, everything they do, everything that happens is a part of the formation of the universe! That is a great thought and it is humbling too. We are so small and yet we are an integral part of this universe. Another thing that the great lessons do is that they inspire in the children a sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude for the God that created it all! I want my kids to really appreciate and see the amazing love of God in everything that they do and see in this world. I also want them to see how the contribution of the human who came before us shaped how we live and behave today. I want them to be grateful for all the people who worked, lived, and died in this world. They are a part of all we do in this world too. These are the main points for all the work in the elementary classroom. While we tell the stories of the universe, the child starts to see the connect between what they are doing in math, language, science, geometry, etc. and the whole universe. They begin to see how math is a part of the language of life and they use it. The begin to see the value of reading and writing in getting and and recording the information they want to know. They understand the handwriting is important so others can read and understand their work too. All of it works together and is important, school work is not just stuff to learn, it is part of life and what they are looking to learn! Really cool right? This is the big picture of how it all works, however trying to make this happen is overwhelming since it require the teacher to make sure that there is information and materials ready for when the children need them and it also requires the teacher to keep things moving. Unlike in the casa, the teacher is now very involved and constantly giving presentations and moving information along as she follows the child. Nomenclature is important and should be available for work when the child is ready. Group work is a key corner stone of this age and the works are big , exciting, and very detailed. Whew!
So how do I break this down so I can simplify and not loose the essence of Montessori? Well for one thing, the great lessons are a major key element. I want to do those, and I want to make them an integral part of our education, so we are going to do those. But the pressure to get them just right is huge because everything hinges on them inspiring the child! However, we do repeat these each year for the next three year (at least), so if I dont get it just right this year, I am sure that I will next year! Bunny loves stories and is very interested in learning more about a story that captures her interest. She is going to love the story and I am sure that it will inspire her in some way. So I will let it go. I cannot do more then my best, and her response it up to her.
Another MAJOR stress is all the nomenclature and materials that require putting things together. This is something I am willing to change. For one thing, Bunny doesnt like nomenclature work. She does it if she has to, but really she would much rather look at a book and learn that way. So I will let go of all the work I “need” to make and plan to use the library for most of it. She will enjoy it more, and it is easier and free! 🙂 So we will let this go. It is not going to change the interdependent aspect of her work. I will help her with presentations, but we will pick them as the season or the interests hit.
Another thing that I am worried about is making sure that I somehow manage to go through all the presentations that there are! It is amazing how much there is to learn and frankly it intimidates me a bit. I want to do it all, but I am afraid that I will push in order to do it all! That ended really badly with Bunny last year and I know that I can only teach what she is ready for. So I am planning to do what my theory album advised. Have a list of the work a child is required by the state to know by the end of third grade. This is something that we can talk to the child about and then they can work with us to make sure that they are learning those things. So long as they are learning those things, the rest is extra! This means that so long as Bunny is keeping up with her peers in school, then she is free to learn what she wants when she wants. This is liberating to me because it means that if we dont cover it all and she still know what she is required to, we are all ok! She can go as deep as she wants on something and I can relax! Of course I will still keep my eye on presentations so that I can offer her some new ideas as we go too! As Maria Montessori said, we teachers need to sow as many seeds of information as we can since you never know when they will sprout (I of course paraphrased that)!
So that is how we are going to do elementary here. It isnt going to be the way it is in a school because it cant be, but it will be good for us! Easier and good! I dont want to get myself so worked up that it all stops being fun for both of us! I cant be making materials everyday of the year and she cant be forced to do it all either! We are going to do what we can and whatever we do is going to be the best ever! I know that this is a LONG post, but it helps me to clarify my thoughts!
On a side note, our school work today was absolutely amazing! Bunny and I did the noun presentation and she LOVED it! She has totally understood it and started writing out nouns with the noun symbol before I even finished explaining how it worked! I guess we are going to move on this fast! She then worked with the grammar farm which is also good reading practice for her! She also pulled out fractions and found what combinations would make 1/2. She wrote all of her work down in her own way. I was really proud of her and thought I would show her how we write this work out in math equations so we dont have to explain it all out. She and I wrote her information in fraction form and she thought it was cool! Pup, she worked as if I didnt exist! She only really talked to me when she discovered something that was interesting to her. She discovered how to make some colors, and she also showed me the different sizes in the cylinders. She was very excited about how they were tall, shorter, and shortest! All of this was done in her own time and way while I was working with Bunny! She is really working like a Montessori child! I’m really glad that you stopped by and stuck with through this long post! I am really excited after figuring out how to do it all this year and also after such a great school day! I hope you are all having a wonderful start to your school year too! Happy Schooling Everyone!!!! I am linking up with Montessori Monday!