Arriving at Quest each morning, children are greeted with a handshake and a “Good Morning” and walk to their classroom to greet their Lead Teacher and friends. They change into their indoor shoes, hang up jackets, and put away lunch boxes before beginning their day. Particularly in the beginning of the year, this can take longer for some children than others as they learn to navigate a hanger into a jacket and zip it up so it stays on the hanger. The older children can often be found helping the younger ones with this process. Once this routine has been completed, children set about to choose a classroom "work" that has previously been presented to them by a teacher. While “work” sounds like a serious endeavor, Dr. Montessori observed that children learn through purposeful activities of their own choosing. In doing their work, the children exhibit joy and experience this purposeful activity as play.
Work of the Day
Throughout the year children are introduced to a broad range of concepts and activities in individual and small group lessons. With the freedom to work indoors or out, the children are forming a sense of order as they complete the chosen work and return it back to the shelf. The mixed age classroom community allows the younger child to learn by observing the behavior and activities of the older children while the older child gains self-confidence, leadership skills, and responsibility by setting an example for their younger friends.
Most of the younger children are interested in exploring work in the Practical Life area. These works include caring for the environment (sweeping, washing, polishing, food preparation, snack, art) and assist the child’s adaptation to the environment while developing independence, confidence, and concentration. Older children are most interested in practicing skills they have mastered by helping the new younger students, and are excited to receive new lessons they have been yearning for. The Montessori materials help children learn through hands-on use and exploration. Over time they develop a concrete understanding of abstract concepts, such as mathematics, providing a solid foundation for learning into the future.
The end of our morning work cycle includes setting up lunch, gathering, singing songs, playing listening games, and hearing stories. After we gather, the children are dismissed one by one to wash hands and set up their lunch at their designated place.
Glass plates, pitchers of water, glasses, silverware, tablecloths, and napkins are set at each table. Names cards are placed at each setting, giving the children the opportunity to have different lunch partners each day and allowing the classroom to build a strong community. During lunch the children are learning table etiquette: staying seated while eating, using "please" and "thank you" when asking someone to pass the pitcher of water, the use of a napkin, chatting with friends at a soft level, and taking turns speaking during conversation are all practiced daily.
After lunch, and once their entire table is finished, the children pack away any extra food, dispose of compost scraps and load their dishes into the dishwasher. Each child is responsible for making sure their lunch area is neat and tidy by wiping down the table with a sponge and sweeping up any crumbs on the floor.
The Great Outdoors
After lunch the younger children gather their napping things and go to rest, while the older children prepare for time on the playground. After their rest time the younger children will play outdoors or engage in other developmentally appropriate activities until it is time to go home.
Outside the children love using their imagination and making up games. Playing house, kitties, tag, building sand mountains, tunnels, and cakes happen daily. It’s always especially exciting when the children find a frog, caterpillar, spider or insect on the playground.
Afternoon Work Cycle
After their outdoor play, older students gather together for a short read aloud and then begin their afternoon work cycle. The children choose work that is often more in-depth in the afternoon and receive additional lessons. At the end of the day the older children assist in tidying the classroom by un loading the dishwasher, taking out the compost, and making sure the shelves are neat and tidy and ready for the next day. Once the classroom chores are complete and younger friends are back up from the playground, students gather their things, change into their outdoor shoes and coat, line up and make their way to the curb to be called for dismissal. And so ends an inspiring and joyful day in Primary.