Friday, August 31, 2012

New Montessori Students and the New School Year

boy and girl work with NAMC montessori materials new montessori students new school year
Assigning “buddies” in the multi-age Montessori classroom allows older
Montessori students to model behavior and demonstrate procedures
to younger students
As the school year fast approaches, NAMC tutors frequently receive emails from our students asking practical, “how-to” questions on how best to implement the Montessori method. I recently received this question about how to plan for the first few weeks of school:

Question: I am about one week away from starting the school year. I have finally set-up my classroom and have a much better idea of all the Montessori materials in the classroom. The NAMC Classroom Guide provided me with a reference for the first day of school, but I am having a hard time understanding how to get into the swing of things. The hard part is I have several new students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades who do not understand the materials. I have another class that is returning, but I do not know what they have already learned. How do I start teaching all the various activities? Should I start with the basic ones and then continue from there? I am not sure how to follow the child when I do not know the child for the first few weeks of school. Any advice would be great.

Here are some ideas on how to ensure a successful start to your new school year with new Montessori students:

  • Assign an experienced “buddy” to all the new children. Let the children who are Montessori masters do the teaching. They will relish the responsibility and the new children will appreciate having a friend. Buddies can share basic classroom procedures, such as where are things located, how to set up materials, how to have snack, and where to sit. The Montessori multi-age classroom provides a wonderful environment for peer-to-peer teaching.
  • Review and model basic routines in circle time: rolling and unrolling a rug; walking around someone's work; removing and replacing work on a shelf. Ask another child to role-play these routines with you. You will find that the children enjoy these short role plays, and the plays will also save you a lot of time and effort.
  • Read each child's permanent folder for information on the child's abilities. New students should have had their records sent from previous schools. I do not rely too heavily on this information, but I do use it as a guide. (Every school should have written records for each child and they are usually located in the office as a master file).
  • Start simply. Present basic math and language lessons until you are sure of the child's ability. If you see that the child does not know the material, you can try earlier lessons until you fully assess his/her level. And if a lesson seems too easy, move forward. You do not have to present every lesson in a manual if the child does not need them.
NAMC montessori teacher helps girl with bead frame new montessori students new school year
Starting with basic math and language lessons helps teachers understand the abilities of students new to the Montessori classroom
  • Conduct individual math and reading assessments using the materials. You can also use a reading inventory such as the Qualitative Reading Inventory (5th Edition) by Lauren Leslie and JoAnne Schudt Caldwell. I've used QRI for years, and I highly recommend it for helping determine the reading levels for your students. Directions on how to use QRI may be found within the book.
  • Find a mentor in your school. Even if the teacher is not in your grade level, talking to a colleague about how she/he works with new, incoming students will give you ideas you can use in your own situation.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, August 31, 2012.


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