Monday, September 12, 2011

A Toddler Community

I am preparing for a Back to School meeting with my parents next Tuesday; since we have already had the quick overview of the day/what to bring to school meeting a few weeks back I'm not really sure what to say.  For my returning parents, they know how the day flows more or less and for my new parents we just talked about it so what do I do at this meeting.  I want to go a little more in depth into what exactly is a Montessori toddler community and how to bring it all together at home.  My concern is that there is so much I'd want to say that I might come across as preachy or long winded (definitely worried about the long winded, as much as I despise public speaking, if it is a topic I am passionate about, I tend to go on and on...) and I'm not wanting to keep parents there for three hours so I am trying to figure out the best way to go about it.

I think I want to start with the basics, how the environment presents itself to the child and how that differs from what the adult sees.  Almost every adult that comes into the room to visit dubs it, "cute".  The small furniture, the child size cleaning tools, the small utensils, etc.  Yes, it is cute and seeing the children within the environment working and using the materials is "cute" as well.  But there is so much more to it than that, and that is one of the big things I want to convey.  How very important everything the children do in the class and how if offers so many things to them, even the simple task of walking in, carrying their own lunchbox and putting it away on their own.

The other big point I want to talk about is the importance of time; time to observe, time to step back, time to let go and time to slow down.  Slowing down I think is one of the most difficult aspects of any level.  Even with children 6 and 9 I find myself at times forgetting how differently the world moves to them than it does to me and trying to find a balance between the adult time frame and the child' time frame.  Especially when the child is only just begin to discover the world and their place within it.

So I think this is where I will start and as I write I hope to get my thoughts posted here and perhaps to receive some feedback from others, Montessorians/parents/and friendly visitors curious about Montessori alike.  What would you want to know more about if you were a parent just beginning your journey in Montessori?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Make New Friends...

Today was my first day with children, the Primary classes have had their new children visiting since Tuesday.  Last year when I had ten new ones I had half come one day and half come the other first with parents and the second time solo.  What an overwhelming experience that was, especially those last two days when the children were on their own.  This year I have three new ones beginning with me at the start of the year, one child started in July and another will be joining us Mid-October when Mom eases back into work from Maternity leave.  Because of that, I didn't feel it was necessary to have them come all four days plus the fact that the room wasn't quite ready until yesterday and there are still a few materials I am putting finishing touches on.

One of the children had actually enrolled last Fall but he was very young, not even 14 months yet and when he came to visit he was still crawling primarily and in the dumping/putting everything in his mouth stage.  So it was decided that perhaps he would wait a while and come back later in the year.  His family decided to wait until this school year and I was so pleased to hear his mom tell me she was very glad they had waited...I was as well, he was so together this morning, he knew to put objects back in the baskets on on the trays when he was finished using them, he could drink from his cup all on his own, he was very purposeful in his work and the important part, he was comfortable moving away from his mom and interacting with me.  I was so glad for him as this is what the experience is supposed to be for the child at any level, positive and full of successes!

The other child is almost two and a half; she has been at home with a Nanny her entire life but has two older brothers that are school aged.  Apparently she has been very sad that they have been leaving in the mornings for school and she has not so her mom said that she was up, dressed and waiting with lunchbox in hand at the door at 8 o'clock this morning.  She was too was very comfortable in the community, very verbal, already using the toilet successfully and loved exploring the room.  Both children loved having the sinks at their level and spent a great deal of time washing hands and getting drinks.  Most of the children are like this for the first week or two until the novelty wears off, we send home a lot of wet outfits : )

So tomorrow they will come visit for another short time without parents, I think both will be fine.  Tuesday when we add the other eight children; two of whom have been home all summer, one that was in and out sporadically and one who was out for the last two weeks of summer after surgery, we will see how they react then.  I am already prepared for a lot of separation sadness and lots of nervousness from parents and children alike.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is not as hot as it is this week so that if necessary we can spend those first few days enjoying our outdoor environment.