The key features of the Montessori experience include hands-on work and materials, a prepared environment, a community of children with mixed ages, and prepared adults, who harmoniously learn to live and grow together. The beauty of Montessori is that it is a journey. This journey varies for each child, and as teachers, we individualize our lessons and cater to their individual needs.
Virtual learning has certainly impacted the basic factors of the Montessori experience in the classroom. Fortunately, Montessori doesn’t start and end at school; it all begins at home. Let’s remind ourselves of all the skills, talents, lessons, accomplishments, and memories, that this particular Montessori experience has brought to your child and to your family. Remember that children are learning new routines, new methods of engaging with activities and novel ways of interacting with their friends. As we observe and adjust our schedules, activities and lessons, our school’s mission is always in our mind - “to create and sustain an optimum Montessori educational environment to enable all children to realize their richest potential for learning [...]”.
While the Montessori community in its entirety can’t be replicated at home, there are some elements that can be incorporated that will help support your child during virtual (and other) learning. These elements include the prepared environment, discipline and routine, and freedom of movement.
The Prepared Environment:
- A designated area for your child to occupy with a place to work, either at a table or on a rug
- Materials and activities that are visible and inviting for them to use and put away
- A place to store completed and unfinished work
- Easy access to water and a snack
Discipline and Routine:
- A consistent, grounded routine with a normal & regular rhythm to the day
- Clear expectations
- Limits as necessary to balance the needs of other family members
- Boundaries that are age-appropriate
Freedom of Movement:
- Breaks from sitting and screens to get those muscles moving
- Encouragement of independent, self-care
- Support of exploration of elements beyond their table and their rug
How do these pieces work together? Montessori is about partnership. Collaborating with your child’s teacher is key to ensuring consistency and continuity between school and home. You can help continue the Montessori experience and ease the transitions back and forth between virtual and in-person learning by incorporating the elements listed previously and by allowing your child the freedom to choose to work or not to work, to rest, to socialize, to move, to enjoy a snack, to play outside, to dance, to listen to music, to look at a book or to take a break.
This cycle of activity is what happens when your child is at school; let it continue when they are home with you. Our goals are to engage them in an activity that allows their mind and body to work together, to teach a skill or concept, and to develop their inner focus and concentration. No matter where they may be, we want them to decide their own level of satisfaction and to reach their fullest potential for learning.
As we look ahead to the future, let’s continue to support each other as a community. Let’s continue to observe and to take care of the whole child: physically, spiritually, intellectually, and especially emotionally. Let’s continue to mentor and guide our children - whether at home or at school - as they are the future and key to a more peaceful world.
Mulberry Lead Teacher