Jobs in the Montessori Classroom

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Practical Life Skills may begin in the Children’s House with folding, sweeping up, washing dishes (and hands), and much more, but it does not end once the children move up to Lower Elementary. Instead, the older children take on more and more responsibility as they grow. Classroom jobs are an extension of their sense of community and ownership of their personal spaces; they help a child to appreciate the hard work that goes into keeping a space neat, clean, and ready for the next morning’s eager young minds!

Megan Eilers, Lower Elementary Directress, invites us into her classroom at the end of the school day to see what “jobs” time looks like. She has organized a chart for the children, and is experimenting with the best amount of time for them to really master their jobs: “We’re thinking of moving to two-week periods for the children to have the same job. Otherwise, it seems at the end of the one-week time period, they have just learned to do the job well and have to go do a different one.”

And there are so many jobs to master! This classroom divides up the work into the following jobs: dusting and straightening all the shelves, sharpening pencils, washing dishes, caring for pets and plants, doing laundry, straightening cubbies, collecting trash and recycling, putting up chairs, vacuuming, lunch set-up, cleaning tables, chairs, and cubbies, and there’s even a job inspector to keep everyone on task and up-to-date.

The job inspector, hard at work The job inspector, hard at work

Doing classroom jobs on a daily basis not only teaches responsibility for one’s environment and community, it also teaches respect and appreciation for each other and the surroundings they need to be neat and clean. This is one skill that can carry over into the home life in a very helpful way… at least, we can hope!