We often hear questions about how the Montessori philosophy is worked out and practiced in classrooms. Foundational Montessori tenants such as independence, focus, peace, and individual discovery—what do those actually look like in a classroom full of 3, 4 and 5 year olds?
Our students trickle into the classroom between 8:15 and 8:30, each one at his or her own pace. While younger children take their time to tackle their belongings—taking off outdoor shoes, putting on indoor shoes, taking off and hanging up their coasts putting their backpacks and lunchboxes into assigned places—our older students quickly start the day and set up activities.
As soon as the class is settled, we gather at the Montessori line where we greet one another, briefly discuss the day ahead and get ready to line up to go to the gym or outdoor play. Active time is important for the primary classroom—it’s where they refine their gross motor and social skills by playing ball games, riding tricycles and engaging in role play.
After active time, we return to our classroom where each student chooses a Montessori work, gets ready to create a piece of art at our art table, or if hungry, washes his or her hands to prepare a snack. Our students eat vegetables and fruits which they wash and cut by themselves when they get hungry during the morning work cycle and eat as a community.
During our individual work cycles students have the opportunity to take care of their environment in our practical life area, to refine their senses in the sensorial area or to manipulate any of the Montessori works in academic areas—mathematics, language arts, and cultural subjects.
The individual work time concludes with ringing a chime which signals that it’s time to clean up and gather on the Montessori line. During group time on the line we sing, play, and get ready for lunch. Our part time students prepare to go home during this time.
After lunch, the students clean up their dishes and work area. The younger students get ready for naptime and our older students gather on the Montessori line for individual reading time. As soon as the younger students head for the nap room, the students of the Oak room join us. Together, we read a story, I (the teacher) give a presentation, and we talk about our plans for the afternoon. Individual work time follows in which the students continue with the work they started during the morning, or start a new activity. At the end of individual work time we clean up our classroom and gather on the line again to conclude our day. We take care of our belongings and we get ready to go home.