Friday, May 11, 2012
All day, All year, Indoor Outdoor Montessori
*This is a "water slide" that one of the five year olds built while he was outside today.
As the year progresses and begins it's (vertiginous) wrap up, I am feeling very interested in the idea of moving our school towards an all year, all day, indoor/outdoor free flow program. I'm attracted to that idea like a moth to a light bulb, not yet sure if it's a wise choice for us...
Our current school day ends at 1:30, so we have a three hour work period in the morning, and an hour and a half work period after lunch. The day often slips through my fingers and I cannot believe it when I look up and see that it's time to clean up.
There are MAJOR reasons why I think year round, day long, free flow is the way for us to go. The truth is that in most families in our school both parents are working (at least until 4pm). Children are regularly picked up after school and taken to other places before going home. I can imagine that for a child of 3-6, having all this environment switching and rules and routine switching must be tiring. It would be more consistent and clear for them if they just have a longer day at school.
The summer is just a magnification of this issue. I'm all for families and children taking vacations together, but in most cases, the vacation in company of parents is just a few weeks, and the rest of the time the children are at an alternate care environment once again. Upon returning to school there is a re-acclimating process.
From a teacher's point of view, if the day is longer, and the year is longer, then there is PLENTY of time to give all those lessons that I am so eager to give and sometimes am disappointed when there is no time for.
With a year long, day long structure, an successful indoor/outdoor flow in the classroom seems much more realistically achievable. There is enough time to get to everything, both indoors and outdoors.
There are some mental hurdles to overcome when contemplating these changes:
1) Staffing and finances: We have a humble staff of 3 adults at our school. An all day, year long school would require more humans and more money.
2) My fear of napping areas. An all day program would require the creation of a napping set up which we don't have. I have visited several schools with napping policies that just didn't seem that awesome for the four year olds who had to lie in their cots for two hours.
3) Will the children ever choose to come indoors? At our school, one child at a time may be outside as long as he/she likes (it's like choosing a material). And we have a time before lunch when everyone may (or not) be outside (they mostly all choose to). I admit I have a fear that some children, when given the choice to be outdoors the whole day, WOULD (I know I would have as a child).
4) Supervision of the outdoor environment. In a free flow environment, I suspect one adult would have to be outdoors the whole time (if there were say, more than 2-3 children outside). That takes me back to number one.
5) The organization of this would require some letting go of some control of environment which is hard for some people. (Ok, it's me. I have a hard time with it.)
6) My own love of summer vacation. Which takes me back to number one.
I am curious if there are any blog readers who can allay my fears of taking this leap by sharing some of their experience in any of the following: ALL DAY/ YEAR LONG/ INDOOR OUTDOOR FREE FLOW
or at least kindly point me in the direction of some excellent resources... :)
SUCH AS: http://www.montessori.org/imc/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=272:reflections-on-all-day-montessori&catid=84:casa&Itemid=73
(This article in itself holds the vision of what I want to move towards)