Open House, and What it Means in Montessori

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On Friday, Villa di Maria hosted the second open house of the school year. It’s a time for parents to get a glimpse into their children’s classrooms, but more important, it’s a time for children to take pride in and ownership of their space as they guide their parents through a few special lessons. In addition to parents being present, this particular open house welcomed grandparents and special friends to join. Read more about the significance of open house below.

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The open houses at Villa di Maria always strike me as extra special. Inside the jam-packed classrooms, the children are in charge, as they are throughout the school day: some as young as two-and-a-half!

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Watching these little ones lead their adults around as they get to work reminds us of the specialness of this environment and the relationships they have cultivated. Because of the nature of the Montessori classroom and the importance of children taking ownership of their space, we ask in advance for the adults to follow certain guidelines when visiting the classrooms.

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First, we remind adults that their children are not used to having so many adults in their space, and as a result, they may not focus the way they do during the typical school day. The Primary classroom in particular is typically a peaceful, quiet space, with the Guide and Assistant often sitting on the outskirts of the classroom so as not to hover or interfere with the children’s work. During the open house, however, there are big people everywhere! As a result, children can feel overwhelmed and disoriented.

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Parents are asked beforehand to refrain from suggesting materials or lessons. There are two reasons for this. First, the child should choose. In this way, the child may take pride in her environment and continue on the path of independence that is so important in Montessori.

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The second reason is that the child knows which works have been presented to her. If the parent suggests a material, there is a chance that the child has not yet had a lesson on that material, and may feel pressure to take it out before she is ready.

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The children work independently every day. Open house is no exception!

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For the Upper Elementary students, open house is also a fundraising opportunity! Above, children man the bake sale to raise money for their upcoming MMUN trip.

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In Lower Elementary, children guide their parents through lessons they have chosen to highlight, ranging from science experiments to watercolors, to story writing and math works.

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Lower Elementary Guide Anna Schwind demonstrated the checkerboard lesson while parents gathered round.

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Upper Elementary children gave their MMUN presentations throughout the night – perfect practice for the real thing!

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Safety first!

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We witnessed again and again the impact open house has on siblings. It is incredible to watch younger siblings observe with intense interest the work they will soon be doing – what an inspiration!

Thank you to all the Guides and Assistants for the extra time and work they put into making this open house another success. We don’t take for granted all the extra hours, and are so grateful for each and every one of you!