To teach inclusion,
To teach kindness,
To teach caring,
To teach how to work,
During our beautiful afternoon work period, when we only have the second and third year children present, I notice that if I go about my usual routine of observing first, it takes a while for them all to get back to the rhythm of work (or indoor play, whatever you will to call it). I have been working instead. They come in and they find me working. I choose materials that I find fun, challenges with blindfolds, bells work, practical life. Some of the children notice right away. At the beginning they found it super funny, very large me at the tiny table knitting- "What are you doing?" they would ask me. "I'm working". If I needed to stop to give a reminder, or to help with something, I would, and then resume my work as I would have them do. The more I have been doing it, the more normal it has become. The ones that notice are sometimes influenced by my choice and want to try it too (especially if it's something that they have not seen another person try before). It seems logical to me. If I want them to work but they always see me in my chair observing or helping or giving lessons, I am not modeling any work as they know it. When it is possible, and there is nothing more pressing to do, I will then. I think I should have snack with them too, and drink tea in the afternoon at the snack table as well. That sounds fun to me.
This year more than any, there is a real lack of pressure on the children to work in any particular area of the classroom. Other years, I confess, I have pushed math in particular, for fear that children moving on would not be "ready" for elementary (especially elementary Montessori, as if it was less forgiving than when they go to mainstream schools). Since I have seen the fallacy in that and removed all the pressure on the children, given them real free choice, I see a much more balanced environment arise. The children choose from all areas. Not everyone from all areas, but everything is getting used. When something is becoming too much of a comfort material, we take it away for a few days and see if it brings children to discover other things that had forgotten existed. We have less on the shelves than on other years, but what is there is really getting juiced.
I feel we are headed in a good direction.