Updated: Apr 24, 2019
Many parents may choose the Montessori system for their child because they feel that the individualized style of learning is a good fit for their child’s style of learning--although the parents may not have been Montessori students. As such, the parents may be unsure of how their children are learning, even though the parent likes what they see and they love the fact that their children are coming home every day joyful about learning. But just what is their child doing every day?!
A typical day for a primary child follows: the student comes in, puts the backpack and lunchbox in the locker, greets friends and teachers, finds his/her work plan, and proceeds to the first work. (For more information about the work plans, please see “Work Plans” blog post). At around 9:15, when every student has arrived and had a chance to get out their first work, the bell is rung for Morning Meeting. A greeting song is sung, in which every child is recognized and welcomed, the date is said in English, Spanish, and sign language, and news is discussed. What’s happening this week, what fun events are coming up, what changes, if any, are happening. After that, the morning message is read by the students with support for any challenging words. The morning meeting can include a new lesson, a lesson on grace and courtesy, or a question designed to get their minds contemplating possibilities. Afterwards, the students sing the multiplication songs and possibly other songs that may be relevant to the season. Morning meeting concludes with a question, in sign language, for each student. What is your favorite color? Animal? Food? How are you today? The student carefully watches the question, responds in sign language, leaves morning meeting and returns to their work.
The morning progresses as each child works through the works they choose for their day. The children are encouraged to choose at least one language work and one mathematical work on their work plan each day. At some point, during the morning, some of the students will experience what Maria Montessori called “false fatigue”. This is when the students will begin to wander a bit as they recover from the effort they had just expended in their previous work and then, when the false fatigue passes, they are ready to start another challenging work. The students continue working until the bell is rung for lunch time.
At lunch, the students are encouraged to eat their protein and fruit / vegetables first, prior to eating whatever treat their parent has packed for them. They are also encouraged to talk quietly with the other students at their table, where word games are often played or fun things that they will do at recess will be discussed.
As they finish lunch and are waiting for everyone else to finish as well, the students will go to the library, get their reading buddies, and read quietly until it is time for recess. Between 12:45 - 1:00, recess begins. The students have about an hour of uninterrupted and undirected free play. Between 1:45 - 2:00, the students will line up for Reading and Writing Workshop. As they come in, they wash their hands, have a seat on the rug, and listen to the story of the day. A question usually arises from the story which the teacher encourages the child to “write” about. First, though, a picture is drawn based on the question asked. Following the picture, the student writes (with the teacher’s assistance) one sentence that describes their picture or story. By 2:40, it is time to do their assigned cleaning jobs, pack up, and get ready to go home.