Sunday, April 25, 2010

No rush.

I really liked this:

am thinking about
looking inward
and not outward.

knowing that you, alone,
are enough.
do all that you can
with all that you have.
in your space
in your time.

do not wish to be
in someone else's shoes.
they will not fit.
be brave
go barefoot.

(from here )


yulche said...

Dear Susanne!
I found Your blog some time ago and now I read it quite often since many ideas You share appeal to me. I am happy that there is such a "guide to Montessori" somewhere and I can learn before I have a chance to take the training. I am seriously planning to, but unfortunately I have to wait for a better moment in my life. However I do work with children and even though it is an ordinary day care center I try to apply Montessori philosophy there whenever possible.
I read books and articles on the topic, I passed one-month observation in Warsaw Montessori School so I could have a better understanding of what a teacher's approach to the child should be. But there is one tiny question that I could not find an answer to. If it is only possible for You to answer this question, I would be very grateful. Here it is:
In short, how does the first day in a Montessori school look like for a new child/new children?
If there are the classroom rules that children should work individually and that they can work only with materials that were shown to them by the teacher (+ no disturbing others, walking gracefully etc.), and if the whole group (hypothetically) consists of new-comers (so there are no older children that attended before and they cannot help younger children or set a model for them), how should a Montessori teacher present all these rules to the group?
I imagine that presentation of the rules is probably done during the first circle-time, when you explain to them, what they can do and how. But when you will be presenting a material to a certain child one-to-one, so s/he can work with it, there still will be the rest of the group that don't know how to approach the environment. How do Montessorians solve this problem? Maybe You know, where I could read about it?
I thank You very-very much for Your attention to this mail.
With best wishes, Yula

Susanne said...

Hi Yula,

That's an excellent and very practical question. I've tried different things for the first days of school throughout the years and have found several techniques that work best for my group:

I have only the new children come to school for half day (from 8-11) for the first two days of school. This gives me the opportunity to teach them most of the basic grace and courtesy lessons (like the ones you mentioned) plus introduce them to some of the materials. On those days I only have materials out that they can work with (transitional materials that they may be familiar with from home) and I show them how to work on rugs and tables. This gives the new children an idea of how to work, and what they can work with.
I give lessons in small groups those first two days mostly, and sometimes to the whole group. I also use those first two days to get a sense of what the new children already know in terms of math and language.

On the third day, the returning children come to school and everyone stays for the whole day. On this day I also give a lot of refresher grace and courtesy lessons to both old and new children. On this day I put out the materials that will be available to the returning children (not all the materials, but some). The new children already know that they may not work with something they weren't shown the previous day.

We do a lot of preparation with the children before the year stars- during the vacation. Home visits for the new children, and having all the children visit the school prior to the beginning of the school year. This helps them all be oriented to the staff and the environment so that on the first days they feel trusting and confident.

This is our general approach to the first days. Hope it is of use!


yulche said...

Susanne, thank You very much for Your detailed answer. I am fascinated at how each soul is being taken care of and cherished in Your school. Especially I liked visiting the small children at home, it is so touching!
I agree that the three days incorporation of the new-comers into the group seems the gentlest possible way for everyone, although I haven't had a chance to try it myself.
But there is something that is bothering me at the moment. (If You don't mind my sharing the problem - I do have an idea of how busy Montessori teachers are) The owner of my day care agreed to turn one room into a Montessori classroom and to get rid - finally! - of all the unnecessary toys. Yet, the age of the group varies from 1,5 years to 3,5 which is on the border of infancy and early childhood. The youngest are now at the period when they toss everything they see and they grab the same objects that the older children take. They all will have to share the same environment and I don't see any other way out than to cut out most of the materials designed for the age 3 and up, at least at the beginning, and I will have to add them them really slowly to the benefit of the toddlers and not of the others. Or there is one more option that I consider - bringing in more advanced materials and hiding it immediately after a certain child is done with it, which is really clumsy. But I need to let the older develop too.
I am really at a loss and feel that I lack knowledge and experience. I realize that no advice can be given here and I must try and find the right solution myself. But if, by a lucky chance, You have anything to say, every comment will be precious.