My Lower Elementary Observation!

Well today I spent my morning observing at our local Montessori school. For those who dont know, most Montessori schools will allow you to sit in their classrooms during work time and observe the children at work. I have done this once before and its super helpful! It is one thing to read all about the Montessori method and how it is supposed to look; its a completely different thing to see it all working in action! It is really tremendously invaluable to being able to do it at home! I love being able to sit at watch it all happening and today was no disappointment! The teachers in the classroom I was in were super helpful and more then happy to answer my questions. I cant tell you how wonderfully supportive the school was of my reason for observing! 🙂
When I arrived, the children were just starting their work time. This was one of the differences between the -9 room and the 3-6 room. There was no beginning circle time or anything like that. The kids just came in and began work. Each child had a work plan. This was another thing that I was really interested in knowing more about. The level one kids (first grade) had their work written out for them each day. The level two and three kids have their work written out for the whole week. They can choose when they want to do this work so long as its all done at the end of the week. This is helps to teach them time management and organization. I really liked this and we will be doing something like this with Bunny very soon! The older kids here are required to do a certain amount of work whether they want to or not. This was really good for me to see. I have been telling Bunny that she must do certain work and usually she has a choice of how to do it. I really wasn’t sure how Montessori that was, but it is how they do it at this older level! As the kids worked I noticed that they needed very little directing. I did ask one of the teachers what they do if they have a needy child. Bunny is rather needy and I think that part of that is because it is just us and she doesn’t have that social factor, but I want her to work on being more independent. The teacher told me that they will adjust how they interact with each child. Sometime they will give more one on one, but they gradually help them move toward that independence. We will be doing that too! 🙂 Another thing that I was able to observe was some grammar presentations! I must that I LOVE MONTESSORI GRAMMAR! It is simple and effective and totally easy to work with! I really just cant wait to start that! It was great to see kids at all different reading levels working on the grammar. They all got it and really were able to build sentences with ease. I will be honest, if you had asked me what a prepositional phrase did I would not have been able to tell you, but after a 7 minute presentation they knew (and so did I)! I really think that this is the best way to teach grammar. At this school, they do have weekly spelling tests. I think that this is interesting and it made me think a bit about how we are going to tackle that. I think that they have spelling that is based in their word study. This is something to think about a bit more as I plan for our beginning elementary!
There was a TON of math working going on as well today and it was awesome to see it all in action!There were alot of level two kids working on multiplication fact with the colored beads, and everyone was working on money. It was very cool to see how they address money since it something that isnt always in the albums. There were a ton of great works one making change and making a certain domination of money several different ways. I loved what I saw and I know that I will be making some of these soon! As a conclusion to this study, the teacher was telling the kids that later this week they will be making part of the classroom into a restaurant! Some of the kids will be waiters and some will be ordering. The waiter will be taking the orders, add the prices, and presenting the check. The kids who ordered will not have the right amount of change, so the waiters will have to make the correct change. The kids can then switch places! How fun is that? I may totally do something like that after we study money! 🙂
The work period went from 8:30 to 11:30. It was interesting to hear the room get a bit louder about halfway though and the kids got a little restless. The teacher would then ring a wind chime and ask that everyone keep their voices to a “one inch level” (just loud enough so that someone sitting next to you can hear) since the noise was making hard for some kids to work. The kids would then quite down and get to work again. The kids moved around alot. There was one kids that needed to pace as he thought, another kid did better alone in a corner, some kids needed to work together to get things done! There was so many different way of learning and they all worked! It is such a great reminder that learning is unique and looks different to each person! I need to remember that with my own kids!
The work period ended with the morning meeting that is led by the kids!There was a child in charge who called the meeting to order. They started with the Pledge of Allegiance and then they had the mathematician talk about how many days they had been in school. They then discussed the factors that number. The child in charge of the calender talked about the day was, what tomorrow is and what yesterday was. She then asked what the date would be in 5 days. They also did a joke of the day! I liked how it wasn’t just a statement of facts. It was something that everyone was involved in and thought about. Next they discussed announcments and acknowledgements about the class. It was a great, very child led meeting! They were all so mature and I love how they were all involved!
That ended my day and I am so thankful that I was able to have this experience! I think that the thing that stuck out most to me was that the work time felt alot like what we do at home! Sure there are a few things that need improving, but I think we are in a good place to start into our next level!!!!!