|Grace and courtesy lessons such as “how to interrupt”|
are presented early in the Montessori classroom
Often, the children are so used to yelling for help that this conduct needs special attention. I introduce this by moving around the circle speaking to each child while another child comes over and places his/her hand on my shoulder. I place my hand on the child’s hand, to show the child that I am aware of his/her presence. Once I finish speaking with the first child, I turn around and speak to the child who is waiting patiently.
Do Rules and Routines Have a Place in the Montessori Preschool Classroom?
Another important rule I present on the first day is delineating the work space. I explain to the children that they are able to choose to do their work at either a mat or table. I show them where the mats are kept and how to carry one from the basket. Carefully and slowly, I show them how to unroll a mat. I then choose an entry item from the shelf, carry it with two hands to the mat, and work with it. We speak about how important my work is and how unfortunate it would be if someone walked across my mat and ruined my work. I then demonstrate how to carefully walk around the mat without stepping on it. Each child then has the opportunity to walk around my mat without stepping on it. I explain that once I am finished working with the material, I must return it to the shelf where I found it so someone else can work with it. Then, I show the children how to carefully roll up the mat.
Once we have reviewed these rules…it is work time! The children are allowed to explore the classroom on their own and select the few works I have placed on the shelves. I observe the children and ensure that they are unrolling and rolling out their mats carefully and interrupting properly.
Before we leave for the end of the day, I introduce the file folders to the children. I explain that we will check our files every day before they go home, so if they do something special in class, they can place their work in their file. Since we encourage independence in the Montessori classroom, I invite each child to choose a sticker and place it on the file by his/her name. This way, children who are not yet able to recognize their name can still find their folder independently because that will recognize the sticker they picked.
Over the next few days, we continue in this same way. We build on the rules we learned on the first day and adding to them, using discussion and role play. We cover everything from the daily greeting — which always includes a handshake, eye contact, and a smile! — to carrying objects with two hands, and putting materials away. Soon, with guidance and repetition, the children have settled into the routine of the Montessori classroom and we are on our way to sharing a wonderful year together!