the low-down from M’s Montessori teacher
We had “parent-teacher conferences” today, and M was so excited to take me into her classroom to show me the things she does there. My biggest surprise was when she said, “Oh, I need a rug!” She ran, got her rug out, selected an activity, and played with it on the rug. Then she put it back when she was done. Um, who is this child? What happened to my tornado kid? She showed me how she learns counting and numbers with her beads, and did paper rubbings of leaves. And she cleaned them all up afterward! Boy, have they whipped her into shape! She did these activities by herself while my mom and I talked with her teacher.
M’s Montessori teacher is amazing. She has taught and promoted Montessori methods of teaching for longer than I’ve been alive. As big a fan of unschooling as I am, this teacher really gets most of what makes unschooling appeal to me: self-directed learning, personal development being more important than academic achievements, and just a general focus on the child as a whole person, rather than test results or grades.
Anyway, on to the good stuff! I saw lots of photos of the things that they’ve been doing in class. They have been cooking, even with their Spanish teacher (who I just love), as a way to learn about and experience Spanish-speaking cultures. A critter man has been coming with his chinchillas, snakes, birds, and other animals! Our favorite nun comes and sings to and reads with the kids, too. They start with a story while all the kids are arriving, and then the teacher introduces a new “work station” for a few minutes, showing them a few of the ways they can use the materials. For the next two hours they can choose whatever work stations they want, and the teacher will work with individuals or small groups, exploring with them and guiding them to use the objects in new ways. The last half hour is recess, where M apparently runs around the whole time. And by runs, she literally runs, faster than a lot of the 5-year-olds can!
As far as things that M is interested in, the teacher says she uses ALL of the available work stations, and there is nothing she does not explore or like to do. She is especially drawn to the world culture stations, though, like the map puzzles or the dolls dressed from many different cultures. Of course, she likes to pour, scoop, and work on lots of the other “practical life” stations, like buttons and zippers. She has not been initiating fights, pushing, or hitting, but she does stick up for herself. The few times she was in a scuffle it sounds like she didn’t start it, but she sure finished it! She does have a problem snatching things from others… no surprise there, she is not great at waiting her turn when she wants something!
Mostly, the teachers there notice how extremely focused she can be when she’s interested in something, and how much her vocabulary is increasing. They like her ability to stick up for herself. She catches on to new things right away, and she has learned to pick up after herself and keep her shoes and socks on. They are working on helping her to dress herself and recognize the need to use the potty in time (she usually has an accident once every other day or so). They said that since switching to half days, she is happier and more energetic in the class, and she applauded me for taking her out as soon as I realized it wasn’t working for her. M loves her classmates, and talks about all of them on a daily basis. She also talk about her teacher and lights up when her teacher comes in to the room! It makes my heart sing to see my child building friendships and making connections outside of home!
So proud of my kiddo, she is such a unique, feisty, extraordinary little girl! She has all the natural qualities of someone who goes after what they want with fierce determination, and we are all certain she will strive for and realize her dreams someday!