The 2023/24 school year is off and running! After the first few days of learning the ropes in LE, (apparently, we have a LOT of rules), the children utilized the "buddy system" to get acquainted and reacquainted with the classroom routines, norms, and lessons. In truth, the reason that it might feel like we "have a lot of rules" is that we have a complex system that, when up and running, functions smoothly and effectively with very little disruption or adult interference. The other side of that coin is that, like any system, there is a lot of learning that has to happen "up-front".
To make this "up-front" process more child-centered and independent, older and returning students are paired with new, younger students, allowing children to experience peer teaching, peer learning, and the necessary balance of freedom with responsibility. Sometimes this means that an older student revisits lessons they've already mastered, and sometimes it means helping to set up the younger student with a lesson while they work on something else nearby. There is a lot of expansion and stretching of brains happening through this process, for everyone involved. Just because you know how to do something, doesn't mean you can't learn from teaching it to someone else. Oftentimes, the person getting the most from the lesson is actually the one teaching it. Watching children shift their awareness to include the needs and concerns of someone else, watching them step outside their comfort zones, fight through discomfort, and experience success at new levels is an inspiring process.
Next week, we will continue with they buddy system, but the children will have new buddies. As time goes on, we will rely less and less on this as the new students become more and more independent
Our first full week included a celebration of Dr. Maria Montessori on her birthday, August 31st. We learned about her by reading a biography written for and illustrated by children, and creating a timeline of her life from it. There were many questions asked and interests sparked. For each picture, I asked the children what they noticed. One incredibly moment was when I shared the following illustration that accompanies the time in Dr. Montessori's life when she was creating the elementary curriculum.
Several children were naming objects they noticed within the picture, and then I watched as a "lightbulb" went off in a second-grade student's mind; her eyes lit up and her hand shot up. I wish I had a direct quote of what she said, because I probably won't do it justice, but it was the most sublimely perfect statement. She said: "It's showing how we are all connected to teach other... the children, the moon, the grass, the animals, the earth, the sky, the water, ALL of it! We are all connected!" Why yes, my darling, that is indeed, what we call COSMIC EDUCATION.
Later that afternoon, during job time, two third graders made a spontaneous connection between the cubes in the bead cabinet and the Primary sensorial material called the Pink Tower. They made this magical discovery while they were dusting the bead cabinet!
Our first full week also included our first Community Peace Meeting, which is fully student led.
It was also the first visit of the school year for Ms. Heidi's dog, Bambina, who happens to share a birthday with Dr. Montessori.
We also had a quick visit from Ms. Jessica, who runs the after school chess club. She was only with us for 10-15 minutes, but the children were SO engaged and enthralled with her presentation. Then they promptly went outside to practice with our playground chess-set! Don't forget to sign up for this wonderful after-school club.
As is "par for the course", we've also already had our first illness absences and reports of sickness. We so appreciate your diligence in helping to keep us all well by watching yourself and your child carefully for symptoms, keeping your child home when they have symptoms, testing for covid when appropriate, and communicating with us. We are a small community, and therefore we rely heavily on each other to keep us all as healthy as possible. Thank you!