On Saturday several Villa di Maria parents, faculty and staff members gathered for an immersive, hands-on workshop all about the work our children do each day. The participants explored the Children’s House and Elementary environments, worked with the materials firsthand, and received lessons from our guides. Within the classrooms, the participants experienced the freedoms to move and to choose their own work—in other words, they experienced our school in the ways our children do.
Robyn Milos, our Assistant Head of School, worked with the guides to select and arrange the available lessons. Each lesson included a card to describe it and give step-by-step instructions. Participants were free to explore and work alone or in small groups, sometimes self-directed and other times directed by the guides. The group began in the Children’s House, with the work designed for our 3- through 6-year-olds, assisted by Guides Reghan McAuley, Heather Steinman and Jessie Braud.
In Lower Elementary participants were joined by Guides Megan Eilers, Rebecca Callander and Katie Nelson to do the work of our first-, second- and third-year students.
Megan, Rebecca and Katie moved with the group into Upper Elementary, to do the work of our fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year students.
When the classroom work was done, everyone gathered to discuss their experiences. “What happens at this event,” explains Robyn, “is that the work parents are doing in these environments reveals something about their own lives, about their own experiences as children in school. And it reveals something about their children’s lives, their experiences here. They are understanding their children in a different way. It is an awesome opportunity.”
My daughter wants to know. That excitement is what I lacked [in school] and, in this environment, I would have had that. She wants to work, wants to learn because she doesn’t have that feeling that she ‘can’t’ do it.
Indeed, the beauty of this event is that we adults not only gain a new or deeper appreciation of Montessori or of VdM, we are given a peek into the school-day of our children. We gain a deeper appreciation of our children and the work they do here every day. And we are struck by the wonderful fact that our children are not daunted by this work. They are engaged and excited to learn. As one parent explained, “My daughter wants to know. That excitement is what I lacked [in school] and, in this environment, I would have had that. She wants to work, wants to learn because she doesn’t have that feeling that she ‘can’t’ do it.”