Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Parents' Night is Alright

I cancelled my office hours last night so that I could attend Parents' Night at Will's Montessori. Sure, my students have a big project coming up, but Parents' Night is the kind of event that you ignore labor pains and a ruptured appendix to attend. It's one of the very few times--Open House, two Parents' Nights, two parent/teacher conferences, the Halloween party, and your kid's birthday party--that you, as a parent, are allowed past the two-way mirror and into your kid's actual classroom. Mind you, I'm a firm believer that letting parents tromp all through the Montessori classroom with their big feet and loud voices, trying to "engage" kids or just whatever, would totally ruin the busy little elf dynamic these kids have, happily going from work to work, but I'm still as eager as the next mom to get on in there and get my hands on all the stuff!

So on Parents' Night, your kid has a 45-minute work period (as opposed to the ordinary 2-ish hours) in which to show you their favorite works, and then we circle up (or, as the teacher says, "form the ellipse") and do some singing.

This is chalk work. It's a free-draw with little artist's chalks on paper, and Will says, "Momma, this is my most favorite work!"We spent a long time on this one--I'm all, "Ooh, an art project!" You choose an animal silhouette to stencil with your choice of colored pencil onto a little piece of paper, and you can color your animal. Then you look for the card that has your animal on it, and you copy the name of that animal, written in lower-case letters, onto your paper. When you have several animals done, you can put a piece of wallpaper sample on top, staple them all into a book, and stamp the date on the back.I kept spreading all my stuff all over the table, and Will kept cleaning up after me, gently insisting, "It's important to keep a clear work area, Momma." Huh.

All the materials needed for your work are stored together on a tray, which you put back on the shelf where it goes.
In this numbers work, which is done on the floor and requires the laying out of a work mat, you put the big wooden numbers in order, then put the felt numbers on top of the wooden numbers, then arrange the appropriate number of wooden blocks in front of each number. As soon as Will and Syd had finished laying down the last wooden block, I started to say, "Wow, that's--", but Will was already starting to put everything away again.
This is a seasonal work, in which you basically arrange everything in numerical order again and lay out the appropriate number labels.This is the counting penguins work. There are a lot of them, and the number changes slightly every day--Willow claims this is due to magic.This is the handwriting work, done on a little desk that you can get from under a shelf and put on the carpet instead of a work mat. This work, the stencils work, and the chalk work are three that Willow brings home to us almost every day.

Then the teacher rang the bell for clean-up time and played classical music at us until we'd finished and circled up on the ellipse. We sang the community song, which requires hand-holding, and then we played the "Little Bird" game. Each age group had a turn, so first the kindergartners stood up in a circle, held hands, and raised their hands high to be the windows. Then, while the teacher and I lustily sang (I have this sort of savant-thing in that I know every song, ever) "Little bird, little bird, come through my window," etc., the middle groupers, who were the birds, ran in and out of the circle. Ultimate joy ensued.

The school that I went to as a kid, it sucked.

P.S. I have a tutorial for my denim buntings up on Crafting a Green World today.


Anonymous said...

I'm schools have generally sucked too.

Abby said...

i told you quit making me jealous.

avery would love montessori.

i like willow's shirt, and her hair looks cute up like that.

julie said...

I know, I'm totally jealous of my own kid's school. Their work is always so creative and engaging, and the teacher always organizes these really beautiful moments among the children--last year at the summer birthdays party in the last week of school, I teared up when I saw all the children sing their birthday song to Willow:

"Four years old, she's four years old. See the happy birthday child, she's four years old. She's growing like a tall tree, big and bold. See the happy birthday child, she's four years old."

Kills me.