The school has started a partnership with Grimal Grove in Big Pine and the toddlers have an important job! Before this week, the leftover scraps from our food preparation lessons were thrown into a small trash can next to the table and later emptied into the dumpster. Now we are COMPOSTING. Although the concept of composting and the details of the process may be slightly advanced for our toddler friends, they do know how to prepare food, how to eat food, and how to clean up. So we are putting those skills to work and the toddlers will be composting daily in the Mangrove room. At the end of the work cycle, once the food preparation table has been cleaned up, Ms. Dori and a friend carry our composting contributions to the larger school composting bucket where the contents are emptied and covered with leaves. The toddlers also have the responsibility of cleaning out and drying our composting bin in preparation for the next day. We have explained to the toddlers that we are collecting our food scraps in order to make more dirt to plant more fruits and vegetables. Grimal Grove will then be taking the school’s compost and creating a type of compost exchange. We give our compost and they return with composted soil for the Primary and Elementary students to use to garden! Don’t you love it? Montessorians of all ages working together WITH the community!
I also wanted to share some insight after being able to attend “Follow the Child” with my kindergarten aged son. Follow the Child is an event designed for the older population at The Children’s School as an opportunity to present lessons to parents from start to finish and give parents the opportunity to see the work, the depth, and the beauty of our children in an environment that is developed for the sole purpose of supporting them as they move towards their endless potential. Please, once your children move into the Primary Program, take advantage of this event- it means so much to the children and in return you also gain so much.
Yet, me, a trained Montessori guide, attendee of this event for many years, and staff member, of the school started off with a #parentfail within the first 2 minutes of the event. My son started making “big numbers,” so I whipped out my camera to document it. I was so impressed, I never get to be with him as he does this intense work, I needed to have video of this. My son’s guide, quietly came up next to me and kindly and sweetly whispered in my ear, “I have asked parents not to take photographs. You are here to watch him. Watch,” and she smiled at me. That is when I realized that I was missing the experience. Sometimes we just need to put down the devices (even if it is to document) and live in the moment. When I put down the camera, I was able to see all the purposeful movements he made as he completed the work. As he tapped the wooden numbers together on the ground in order to straighten the pile and place the stack into the wooden box. As he wiped the small drip of glue off the table with a sponge before continuing to glue tiny pices of paper together. As he readjusted a puzzle piece, realized that although it appeared to fit, it wasn’t the correct piece. As he slowly rolled his working mat, making it as tight as possible. I was able to see ALL the work that goes into each lesson when I simply watched.
I also was able to see my own impulse to put my hands on his work. When I’m in a classroom with my toddler students, I can sit back and watch and not touch their work all day as they struggle to get to the good stuff, but sitting in front of my own child, my hands wanted to move, my mouth wanted to open, when he struggled I had to hold my breathe. I wanted to reach out and help him. But I remembered my child’s guide saying, “Watch.” So I watched. He struggled and I watched. He never asked me to help, he struggled and I watched. I watched and he did it. He did it his way. But in the end, he did it. He completed he work from start to finish, even when it was hard, he continued and he did it. It was hard for me too, but I was able to watch as the struggle turned into a success, a lesson that he learned from making mistakes. An experience that taught him how to problem solve and push through the difficult times. A success that gave him a sense of pride that I could never give him because he earned it on his own.
We give children the opportunity to struggle in school because we know that learning takes place in the struggle. But when it comes to your children – watching them struggle in order to learn the good stuff can be hard for us. I want to share that it is also the best feeling, a mirrored feeling, to watch the pride exude from your child’s face when he/she knows the work they just did was done completely by him/herself.
We have attached some photographs of some Mangroves who worked through the struggle and showed us what PROUD looks like on the face of a toddler.
With Gratitude, Liz and Dori