The Montessori Work Cycle is the three hour work period all Primary and Elementary Classes observe in Montessori Schools. Our toddler class alters the length of the work cycle to accommodate the needs of our younger students. The morning work cycle in our toddler classroom is generally two to two and a half hours. It grows longer as the school year progresses, meeting the growing attention spans of our children.
Each day has structure but can also be fluid to meet the ever changing needs of the children. Our day starts with a brief time of free choice of work or outside play. This allows the children to socialize with each other by getting their ‘hellos’ and other greetings out of the way before the actual school day begins. Bringing your child to school before morning group time and the actual work cycle begins allows them to meet these social needs without disruption.
Circle time/Job time begins between 9-9:15am every day. Throughout our many years as toddler teachers we have seen time and time again the importance of the children being present for this time of coming together. They enjoy helping with classroom jobs, doing simple yoga and periodically working together to achieve a group lesson. Our circle time ends with the dismissal of children to begin the work cycle.
The children begin the work cycle by choosing simple works in the classroom, often choosing their ‘favorite’ works and doing them repeatedly. Half-way through the work cycle the children experience what is known as ‘false fatigue.’ A Montessori school we once visited referred to this as the time when most working adults take their coffee break. As teachers, we allow the children to use this time when they are not focused to go potty and walk about the room socializing. When they do settle back in and begin working again that is known as ‘the great work period.’ During this time the children achieve their most challenging works. There is not much socializing going on in the classroom during this time as they are all concentrating on their task at hand. When the work cycle ends the children begin to socialize again, and that is often when we take them outside.
Allowing the children to engage in their entire work cycle with minimal interruption is pertinent. If a child arrives late or an adult needs to speak with one of the teachers it is important to enter the room quietly, maintaining a low-key approach. If you observe that the classroom is working and the teachers are engaged with the children, but you need to communicate something to the teachers it is best to email or leave a note. When the work cycle is disturbed the entire classroom as a whole is deprived of the Montessori work cycle. We strive every day for all of our children to have fulfilling and productive days.
“We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play; then we will see him work all day with his hands and wait impatiently to undress himself and lay himself down on his own bed.”
Maria makes it sound so easy. Just give them an environment of their own and all will be magically well with our children at home. It’s not a magic wand, but by instilling some of the Montessori values into your home may make life a little less hectic and a little more focused for all.
Create a home environment where the child has everything in his/her reach. Small things like lowering the rod in the closet or only putting clothes in lower drawers so they can dress themselves can help your children be more independent. Try keeping their dishes in low cabinets so they can set their own place at the table and a basket full of parent-approved healthy snacks in their reach.
Teach real life skills as soon as it is developmentally appropriate. Young children can help with laundry by matching socks and folding towels. Preschoolers can help with washing and peeling vegetables. As your child ages he or she can learn more sophisticated tasks such as how preparing simple meals or using tools to help with tasks around the home.
Promote concentration. Turn off the television and limit other screen time. Set your children up with materials that interest them. For example, if your child loves the stars, then provide books and puzzles to help them learn about astronomy. Keep a basket of high quality books or visit our school library to give them something to do while the tv is off. Make sure their work environment fits their needs. Some children may work best at the kitchen table and others may want to spend time in a quiet corner. Monitor their responses to their environment and adjust accordingly.
Nurture inner motivation and shy away from tangible rewards. Your praise should be specific, sincere and value effort over outcome. “I like how focused you are” or “You worked so hard” is much more effective than “good job.”
Give your child an opportunity to learn with and from peers. Schedule playdates or sign them up for a class. Interaction with peers and learning from someone other than mom, dad or the regular teacher will boost their confidence in themselves.
Welcome to autumn!
During the month of October, we jumped into learning about the difference in nocturnal and diurnal animals, as well as journeyed into the continent of South America. Our annual Tate Farms pumpkin patch field trip was a blast. We certainly were blessed with beautiful weather. A big thank you to everyone for all the For Small Hands gifts. We are just beginning to open them with the children and explore all these new materials.
November is here, and we will begin the study of the history of Thanksgiving and what Thanksgiving means to us. Also, I am sure you have all noticed that the leaves have begun to change color. Why do they do this? This is a question we will be talking and learning about this month, too. We will also begin our visit to the continent of Australia.
Check out some photos from the month of October. We are a happy, little classroom family with lots more awesome things to learn on the horizon.
The 2nd – 4th grade students had a wonderful time creating spooky spider paintings this week. We would like to thank Ms. Sharon (Ian’s mom) for sharing her talent and this special project with us, and Ms. Olga (Vincent’s mom) for helping.
Also, we are currently working on our class art project for the auction that will take place on November 15th. The children have been “mod podging” leaves that will be put together to create a leaf collage. As part of our art project we have been exploring different types of leaves, their parts, and why they change color in the fall. If you have any special books or information you would like to share on this topic, please contact Mrs. Hill.
The music program is in full swing now, and all the classes are making super progress! I’m delighted with every one of our 8 groups!
Toddlers are beginning to sing along with me, which is pretty early in the school year for that to happen; usually I sing solo for about a semester. They’re doing hand motions, acting out poems, learning some American Sign Language, taking turns, waiting, putting instruments away gently, and mostly staying in tune with me and follow directions well.
Preprimaries have probably learned 5 dozen songs, movement activities, poems, and finger plays, and they’ve played sticks, bells, and chickitas. Wonderful fun and tons of progress! We’re singing mostly up in our singing voices, too, which is the challenge of this age group. Tonal memory is developed between the ages of 4 and 7, so we work on singing in our singing voices, matching pitches, doing vocal glissandos, etc., every week without fail.
Kindergarteners are learning left hand from right hand, playing both one and two handed mallets on their glockenspiels, have learned several notes on the staff, and are singing as they play. Very complex! They’re doing a perfect job of keeping a steady beat, and soon we’ll start playing tunes–a much more difficult skill. The glockenspiel is the perfect instrument to introduce music reading, and it’s also an introduction to the keyboard, with the low bars to the left, and one bar for each new note and sound. We’re learning to read steps and skips on the staff, and then translate that to the way they should move on the glock.
First graders are learning how to be a recorder choir, which includes not only how to play the recorder, but starting and stopping together, listening between pieces, playing only when it is time to play, etc. Beyond that, they are learning to read the notes they’re playing from the staff, as well as by looking at me and copying my fingering. We work every week on notation and rhythm; we’ve learned whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and quarter rests, so far. The students know 3 ways to count every kind of note and rest. Also we have learned about steps, skips, and repeated notes, not only on the recorder but also on the staff. Music involves so many, many skills and areas of the brain! We sing the songs before we study them, too, so we’re keeping our tonal memory reinforced.
Second through 4th graders are having so much fun with their dulcimers! We spent the first week decorating them w/ all sorts of stickers and also their creative drawing, thinking about mountain music of the eastern U.S. I’ve made folders for the music we’re learning, and as of the last week of October, we have learned to read, sing, and play 10 songs! We work on note reading and rhythm every week, as well as starting and ending together and also singing in our singing voices. There is terrific energy in this group, and I’m extremely pleased with their progress!
Thank you all for entrusting your children to our wonderful school!