Last Wednesday was curriculum night. We spent close to two hours in Amor Chiquito’s classroom, chatting with her teachers, looking at the different activities the kids work on, etc. The teachers went over each area and over the Montessori philosophy. We even got a Montessori-style math lesson!
The classroom has various work stations: practical life, math, sensorial, writing, reading, art, etc. The kids either work at one of those tables or sit on the floor, on a small rug, with a tray that holds whatever they are working on. Why a rug? If I see you on a rug with such-and-such toy, I know that that is your work space and that that activity is yours for the time being.
The kids also get math, Spanish and yoga lessons.
So, the infamous math lesson… It was great! All the parents were in awe, wishing we had attended a Montessori school as a child. By the time kids get to first grade they are adding four-digit numbers and some of them are even starting to learn the multiplication tables. The difference is that kids learn with beads, bars, squares and cubes. They learn about carrying numbers over and all that. But they do it all sans pencil or paper. They are learning in a way that they find fun and engaging.
Things I love about the Montessori preschool classroom:
Kids learn about ‘peace and grace.’ In other words, they develop social skills. They learn to be mindful of each other. They learn to peacefully coexist. They learn to set healthy boundaries. They even learn about being a host! Geeky Entrepreneur and his guy friend whose kids attend a Montessori school joke that their kids know more about “being civilized and hosting” than they, the dads, did when they were 20!
Here is an example: when we toured the school and sat in the classrooms in the spring, the tour guides were 11-12 year olds. When we went into the elementary classroom, a girl asked if we wanted water and brought us some.
Oh, this reminds me… The preschool kids serve themselves their own snacks and get themselves drinks. They use a two-cup glass pitcher and tiny, five-ounce glasses! So cute! If you see the tiny pitcher, you’ll agree with me!
Back to what I love about the classroom:
There are many different toys, each one teaching something and simultaneously letting my kiddo be a kid. Amor Chiquito might learn something from a toy now and she might learn something else from it later on.
I also like the fact that there is structure, but she learns at her pace. There is time when everyone is together as a group. They do circle time, read stories, sing songs, etc. There are also times when each child gets to work individually, with another kid, or with a teacher. When Amor Chiquito is working on something, it is something she chose and she works on it for as little or as long as she needs to. That is not to say that she does whatever she wants to do all day. The teachers are trained, have a curriculum, and they are aware of who is learning what. If they notice that Ari is mostly into art (which she is), they use art to draw her into another area so she can learn something else. If your child is into math, but it is time to move on, the teacher might say “would you like to count these?” Next thing you know, the child is learning about something else.
I often get to chat with the teachers, usually at pick-up time. But the curriculum evening gave us an opportunity to learn more about what Amor Chiquito loves to do and what she is like in the classroom. Here are some funny facts!
One of the teachers describes Amor Chiquito as ‘the eyes of the classroom’! My child is a tattle tail, in other words!
If someone needs help, she goes and tells the teachers.
If someone is running, she tells the teachers that so-and-so ‘is not using his running feet.’
When it is rest time (you know it’s not nap time, not for my kid!), Amor Chiquito lies down, picks up her head, asks her friends if they are ok, lies down, picks up her head, asks if they are ok, you get the point!
At Q&A time, Geeky Entrepreneur asked if the teachers might have suggestions as to how to ask about her day because we just don’t get much out of her as to what she did in school today. The admissions officer (also a teacher), Laura, who I have loved since day one, was in the classroom. She said that three-year-olds tend to be in the present, so when we ask about the school day, she will probably talk about what she just did, not what she did four hours ago. She also said that a child Amor Chiquito’s age tends to do lots of observing. All three teachers, as if they were a quire, said “nooooo”! They each went on to say that she is very busy and that she is, most definitely, doing, not observing. It was definitely a funny moment. Everyone in the classroom was laughing. Next thing I know other parents were calling my silly kid Arianna Genius.
The funny thing is that, since I am not a teacher and since she is my first/only child, I had no idea that Amor Chiquito is not your typical three-year-old. She has known her letters since she was two and she loves to doodle. I know not every child does these things. But I also know that plenty of kids do. Long story short, she is who she is and I don’t question it. I love her for who she is. I will continue to do my best to figure out what she needs to continue developing.