Last week we were invited to The Silent Journey at Nora’s Montessori school, by way of the adorable invitation pictured above.
She’s been at the school for about a month and a half, and while KP and I hear snippets of her day — when she feels like sharing — we don’t have the intel that we were accustomed to at her old school. That’s because we don’t go into the classroom to drop her off or pick her up. There’s no daily chit chat with the teachers, no observation of her and her classmates. They operate that way for a variety of reasons, but mainly the classroom is the children’s space and it’s easier for parents to say their goodbyes outside or better yet, in the car line. (Side note: I was a combination of shocked, pleasantly surprised and mildly saddened at how quickly Nora opted for us to drop her off and pick her up via car line, versus walk her up the path to her class’s “cottage.”)
So an opportunity to explore the classrooms and learn more about what goes on day in and day out for our little Montessorian was a welcome one. And they were serving wine! No-brainer.
The evening was split into two parts: the journey through the environments and the discovery of the materials. The journey was the silent part. The school’s guides (aka teachers) led the silent tour of primary through upper elementary classrooms, the silence intended to keep us free from distractions. I had been in Nora’s classroom twice before, but it was eye-opening to get up close and personal with the works it includes. Some things were expected, like the letters and the scissors and paper (because every Friday she comes home with teeny, tiny scraps she’s cut throughout the week), but there were other works that I had no idea they did — like polishing metal!
Coming from a traditional public school background, the lower elementary and upper elementary classrooms were even more intriguing to me — no desks, no textbooks, nothing traditional about it. But it was easy to see why kids take to the environment and excel.
Our welcome to the upper elementary classroom was a math puzzle. KP’s night was made while my anxiety set in. It left a lot of folks (me, included!) scratching our heads. Those kids, as we said in Boston, are wicked smaht!
After the journey, the parents and guides reconvened for a brief discussion and Q and A before moving into the “discovery” portion of the evening. Discovery was hands-on; parents could choose which classroom(s) to revisit and choose from select work(s) or “ask for a lesson,” meaning, asking a guide for help with the work.
KP and I made our way through all three levels — primary, lower elementary and upper elementary. Each environment was so different from what I’m used to in a classroom, but in a way that made me feel like I wish I had gone to a Montessori school. Sitting comfortably on a rug on a floor and feeling shapes of triangles to learn a math lesson? Yes, please! It seems like a simpler, more obvious way to learn. In upper elementary, we had a lesson on how to calculate the surface area of a triangle (did I just type that?) and I actually got it!
Getting a glimpse of what Nora experiences every morning of the week was awesome. We’re lucky to have found such a great little place for her to learn.