I recently spent a couple of afternoons just watching the children work in the classroom. I kept notes of the different activities chosen by each child, the games they played on the playground, who they played with, who they ate snack with, and so on. I took lots of photos, too, candid snaps of children building, painting, writing, looking at books, working a puzzle – no cheesy grinning at the camera shots! I’ve used these notes to write ‘an afternoon in the life of’ each child. I plan to give each parent a write up of an afternoon in the life of his or her child, together with a collage of photos, so that the parents can experience a typical afternoon at the Montessori School of Pullman, through the activities of their own children.
I saw some really impressive work – painting maps, drawing flags from countries around the world, journal writing, math counting work – but what impressed and touched me most was seeing the quiet leadership of some of our older children.
One girl, who has been at our school since before she was three, is now in kindergarten. She’s a younger sister in her family, but at our school she is like the older sister to the younger children. She offered a box of Kleenex twice to a younger child.
“Take a Kleenex and wipe your nose. Now put the Kleenex in the trash and wash your hands.”
She also helped a younger child engage in a new building activity.
This kindergarten child helps the class run smoothly by taking care of the younger children in a quiet, thoughtful way. She has grown enormously in confidence, competence, empathy and leadership since she was one of the younger children.
Another child, also in kindergarten, and also a younger child at home, helped several times during the afternoon. He helped some of the younger children find the sandpaper letters they were looking for. He helped one of his peers put away an enormous piece of writing with the cursive moveable alphabet. He helped without any fuss or showing off or need for reward. He helped simply because he could.
A parent pointed out to me some time ago that in a Montessori environment, younger siblings in a family, and children without siblings at home, get the opportunity to be the big brothers and sisters to children younger than themselves in the classroom. That’s another benefit of the three year age span of the children.
An Afternoon in the Life of a Montessori Child October 26, 2012