The 3-6-year-old Primary child is developmentally focused inward. They have built concentration while learning to dust, to fold, to scrub, to polish. The elementary child, in contrast, shifts their focus outward, to their peers and the wider community. This is reflected in the environments we create. In the Lower Elementary environment, the children begin to apply their individual skills to support their community. We began on Monday with the introduction of the jobs chart and individual jobs. The last 20 minutes of each day are devoted to restoring our environment so that it's fresh and ready for the next day. This includes sweeping, dusting, refilling supplies, emptying trash, and many other duties, all undertaken by the children. We even implemented a new pencil system this year resulted in ending the week with the same number of pencils we began with... which is almost unheard of in any classroom, Montessori or otherwise!
Another way we build community is through conflict resolution. The children learn to solve conflicts peacefully and without adult intervention. They are so capable.
Wider group problem solving is done through our once-weekly community peace meeting. The children address issues brought forth by their classmates through the use of the class "problem journal" and discussion, led by the helper for the week. The teachers only participate minimally, it's one of my favorite parts of a Lower Elementary classroom. Our first meeting of the year went quite well and I mostly just observed. You'll note I'm not even physically in the circle during meetings.
When we have a problem, we solve it together. Here are some children helping to sort the letters of a moveable alphabet that was inadvertently spilled.
The children are working on this puzzle as a community. It's available for them to work on 2 at a time for short periods throughout the day.
Celebrations are another wonderful way to build community. We celebrate birthdays in Montessori with "Sun Celebrations". This week, we learned about the founder of our method, Dr. Maria Montessori, who was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaraville, Italy. She just so happens to share a birthday with my dog, Bambina who occasionally comes to visit, so we had a Sun Celebration for the both of them. I did NOT walk around the sun 152 times for Dr. Montessori... only twice: one for the first DECADE of Bambina's life, and another for the last year!
We shared mindfulness with Ms. Kathleen and began Art and Drama classes with Ms. Maya
And of course, we had lots of independent lessons and work throughout the week.