I always make sure that each child has a name tag above their cubby or locker to give them a sense of belonging and to give them their own place to hang their coat and lunch bag when they arrive for their first day of school. It brings a smile to my face when I see how delighted the children are to have their own personal space. It is such a simple, yet impactful way to help each child feel like they truly belong to their new Montessori classroom community. It is also nice to include the child’s photo with their name tag to personalize their space even further. And for the younger children who aren’t yet able to recognize their written name, they take great delight in seeing their photo and knowing which cubby belongs to them.
Another important aspect is ensuring that there are a variety of “Entry Items” on the shelves.
Montessori Entry Items - Tips on New School Year PreparationSome Montessori classrooms begin the year with a gradual entry routine, however, in the school where I am currently teaching, the children attend full time right from Day 1 (9:00 to 1:00) which can be very challenging for the younger children. I have found the key to success is ensuring the shelves are enriched with an assortment of entry items to spark and maintain the interest of each child in the group.
Entry items are manipulatives (non-Montessori) that are already familiar to most preschoolers, such as puzzles, blocks, elastic band board, etc. and I do like to keep them as natural looking as possible. Entry items do not require a specific presentation, aside from the basics of how to carry the activity to a table or mat and tidy it up upon completion. Even though these are not traditional Montessori materials, they should still be displayed in a Montessori manner----each item should be placed in a basket or on a tray and placed neatly on the “open” shelves.
I will provide further details about entry items for the start of school in my next blog, and how they are introduced on the first day.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, August 31, 2010.