It was an exciting first week at MSR. We will continue the staggered start with some of our younger students, but most of the older students are back and getting into the swing of things. Here is a sampling of what students experienced over the first few days of class.
Toddler I started their community building before school officially began with a popsicle picnic on the playground. Once school opened, much like their counterparts in Children’s House and Elementary, the oldest Toddlers learned about leadership, a trait that is vital to and taught throughout the Montessori curriculum. The Toddlers were reacquainted with their rooms and their classmates. Toddler I also sent home a picture of each student on the first day of class as a special memento of the occasion.
As the new school year began in Children’s House, the Extended Day students were excited to return to their classrooms as the leaders and role models. It is an important time for them to reconnect with each other and the teacher before the younger children return. There was much discussion about what it means to be a role model and why it is important. In the same way, the second years come in with new expectations. They are no longer the youngest and are becoming fiercely independent. Each group received time with the teachers in smaller groups. This sets each group up for success. When the first years begin they are given one-on-one attention to help them feel secure and comfortable in their environment. For the new child this is a different learning experience. It is not just exploration. Each work has a purpose and each work must be shown as a lesson before the child may chose that work. Staggered start gives each group an opportunity to get off to a strong new school year.
In Children’s House Encore, the four year olds have started their year meeting new friends from other classrooms. As they all come together to play, eat lunch, and work with new friends, they are getting to know their new teachers. Each afternoon, the group sings the song “You’re My Friend” — first in Japanese, and then in English. They will continue to use this song every day throughout the year. Children’s House Encore is looking forward to a great year of art appreciation as they begin to study various artists. They will be working on grace and courtesy as part of the MSR tradition.
In many Lower Elementary classrooms, the third-year students talked about leadership and the social responsibilities for modeling proper behavior to younger students. In LE IV, they explored the meaning of teamwork through cooperative games and challenges. In one such exercise, six students stood, crowded together on a small mat – some were blindfolded and some were not allowed to talk. The goal was to work together to turn the mat over without anyone stepping off. It was a great experiment in collaboration. Students quickly got back to work with materials they had learned last year as well as a few new lessons.
On Friday in LE IV, the third years helped present the First Great Lesson: The Creation of the Universe to the rest of the class. They demonstrated scientific concepts of the planet earth’s creation through experiments and impressionistic charts. This is a lesson that sets the stage for all the study that will be done at the elementary level and leaves the students pondering countless questions of the why’s and how’s of our world that will be answered as they explore further lessons.
In the Upper Elementary classes, sixth-years came back first and prepared for their new role as leaders. They talked about what was expected of them for the coming year — a year that culminates in a trip to New York City. The rest of the students joined them the next day. In UE II, they worked on defining the words that would guide them in their classroom this year – words like generosity, organization, curiosity and leadership. The students made colorful signs to hang around the classroom as reminders of their commitment to these “words-to-live-by.” UE classes also continued with the Great Lesson, as is the tradition at the beginning of the new school year.
The Middle School students arrived at the Middle School door with big smiles and LOTS of supplies. With a good deal of enthusiasm and noise, they organized their cubbies. Students were then able to select their first trimester occupations. They created humorous skits addressing some Middle School expectations. They worked on math assessments, discussed the “7 Habits,” and began discussions about ways to avoid plagiarism. Students learned about one another and their teachers, and enjoyed their first lunch and recess as a community. There was talk of leadership and community and a lot of work preparing for their first community-building trips, not to mention getting to know or getting reacquainted with the chickens!
We look forward to many more weeks of amazing stories of learning from our great community of students and faculty!