Montessori is an educational philosophy, which recognizes the uniqueness of each child and offers age-appropriate activities for children, based upon individual developmental skill levels. We thought our parents would like an overview of what typical day is like at Southwind. The day begins with "free choice", a Montessori term for allowing the child to choose their own activity or "work" off the shelf. This is designed to encourage the child to make decisions, encouraging independence. A child may choose to paint a picture, build with blocks or to work with the 100 board, whatever interests the child. Now and then a teacher may need to "direct" a child to an activity.☺
The role of the teacher is to create a "prepared environment ". This means selecting equipment and activities that are inviting and well displayed. The materials on the shelf should be accessible to the child. The child may choose to work an activity on the floor or at a table. The teacher monitors the individual progress of the child and plans appropriate work designed for each individual child.
We usually spend the first 30 to 45 minutes having free choice in each area. The children are free to go from one area to another to work. Some mornings we have free choice in our own areas only. After free choice, we clean up and go to the bathroom, wash hands, have drinks, return to the home room, and sit down for snack. We let the children take turns passing snack, a treat they enjoy!
After snack we have story-time, then we have "morning work". This is a more structured time of activity. The focus may be on practical life, (exercises in daily living; spooning, pouring, matching, sequencing). The "Practical Life"" activities are designed to help strengthen eye-hand coordination, concentration, independence, order and sequencing. Or the focus may be on the "Sensorial" materials. The sensorial activities are designed to help train the visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, thermal or baric senses. The materials are didactic (hands-on). These sensorial activities help the child to learn through their senses, such as learning to discriminate between size, shape, color, height, etc. The other option for morning work may be "Language". The language materials focus on phonics, phonetic sound of each letter, letter recognition and picture association. The overall language development of the child is enhanced through verbalization and word games. Written notation of letters, words and sentences are also part of the language activities. We have great success with our reading program. Reading is taught using the "Zeb Books" reading program. The program was written, illustrated, and designed by the director of the school Carol Zerboni, and is also sold online, www.Zebbooks.com. Lastly, the Math area is the other area of focus for morning work. The math activities train the child to learn the concept number; association of quantity to numeral, written notation of numeral, linear notation of number, patterns of number, and the function of number such as addition, subtraction or skip counting.
After morning work it is time for recess! If the weather is inclement we stay inside and go to the "FUN" room, for inside large motor activities (to get the wiggles out)!
At 11:30, the morning children leave, and the rest of the gang goes for drinks, then to the bathroom, wash hands, and prepare for lunch. Lunch-time is a highly social time of the day. Children may choose to sit in the area of their choice to eat. The child is responsible to unpack their lunch, eat, throw away their trash, pack up leftover food, sponge their place, push their chair under the table, and return their lunch box to the proper place. This takes awhile to learn, but in a few days, weeks or years, it is usually accomplished with great independence☺!
After lunch the child is free to choose work off the shelf for free-play. At 12:30 we go outside for recess. When we come inside it is time for a little "quiet rest time". This is a time where we put our heads on a table and/or listen to music, or hear a story. Naturally there is a bit of chattering, but it is almost always very hushed ☺! This lasts for about five minutes, if we are lucky. Now it is time for afternoon activity. Each day we break into small groups for a lesson in Music, Art, Science, Spanish or P.E. We also do units on dinosaurs, safety, space, geography, and animal study The activities are more relaxed, less structured than the morning lessons and they are also educational and fun!
Now it is time for us to get ready to go home. We get our papers and belongings together and listen to a story. We end our day when our parents pick up the children. We send the little ones home smarter and happy! You now have an idea of what your precious child does at school, (often when asked the child may respond "just played", or better yet "nothing"). Not totally true!
Please know that we are interested in your child's school experience. We encourage you to feel free to ask questions if you would like more information. Our goal for your child is to educate by having a great time, and in doing so, instilling a "love of school"!
"Zeb Books" is the reading program recommended by Carol Zerboni