When a parent or caregiver drops off the Montessori child in the morning (for Villa children, this time happens between 8:10am and 8:30am), a very special routine unfolds. The classroom lies patiently, quiet and ready for the day’s work. Materials are organized and remain in their designated spots; flowers are set and ready for arranging; soft lighting and a calm environment welcome each child as he or she arrives.
In P3, Directress Heather Steinman waits patiently by the door as the children arrive for the day. She welcomed us in to observe the morning routine and how important those first 30 minutes are to a Primary Montessori child.
This calm time is important for each child to experience. As she arrives, she puts her things away neatly to start the day. It is each child’s responsibility to hang up her own coat, hat, and gloves; it is part of her routine to change her shoes from outdoor shoes into her clean indoor ones. She zips up her coat on a hanger and then hangs it alongside the others.
As each child arrives within the designated time window, the Directress is available to greet him or her. This is such an important part of the day — a time for a child to feel special, and even to reaffirm the child’s place in the classroom and his relationship with the Directress as she shakes his hand, looks him in the eye, and welcomes him by name and with a verbal greeting.
When the children arrive all around the same time, they are also treated to each other! While in the coat room together, they chat and catch up on socializing time. Checking in with each other is another way these children solidify their relationships with each other and build self esteem before going to choose work in the classroom. Just as adults often take time to greet one another and socialize a bit as they arrive at work in the morning, the children also need this time. They tell stories or share news of their families. Sometimes they tell silly jokes and make each other laugh. It is a relaxing, enjoyable way to start the day!
Within the first 30 minutes of a Montessori Primary child’s day, she or he may choose to set up a snack for the rest of the class. Here, a child pours pretzels into a bowl while another washes grapes.
Then, they work together to take the washed grapes off the vine to make snack time easier for their friends.
It takes some children longer than others to hang up their coats and hats, to change their shoes, and to place their lunch boxes on the shelf. Sometimes this can take up most of the first 30 minutes!
As 8:30 rolls around, the classroom becomes abuzz with action. Children get settled and begin their work while the Directress gives lessons and the Aide helps others. There is a bit more noise now, and everyone is focused on the work they have chosen. The dynamic of the classroom slowly shifts; the lights are turned out in the coat room, there is less socializing and more concentration. By 8:35, children are hard at work.
Thank you, Heather, for giving us a peek into the very important, very early part of the day. It is a pleasure to see these little minds blooming and thriving!