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.