Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meeting a New Montessori Teacher: Helping Students Feel Comfortable

NAMC montessori teacher helping students feel comfortable girl labeling farm
This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

Start of School Insights: Meeting a New Teacher

Every child reacts differently to meeting a teacher for the first time and it is important that we respect each child as well as their unique needs. Some children are extremely excited to begin Montessori preschool and have no problem adjusting to their new teacher, while others are very apprehensive and react by crying, clinging, withdrawing and even exhibiting extreme shyness.

When my Montessori preschool students arrive on the first day of school, I always greet them at the door with a warm smile and a positive comment about the day ahead to try and make them feel comfortable. I always extend my hand and invite them to shake my hand, but I never force the issue if I can see the child feeling uneasy. Some children require much more time than others to adjust to their new Montessori classroom environment and need their space before feeling comfortable.

Meeting a New Montessori Teacher: Helping Students Feel Comfortable

This year, I had a brand new student begin Montessori preschool. Kyra is not yet three years old, and it was obvious that she was feeling extremely apprehensive and upset about being at Montessori preschool. Kyra came in the door sobbing and clinging to her Mom. I welcomed her to the school and told her how excited I am about working with her and showing her all of the interesting things we have in the Montessori preschool classroom. I showed her where her cubby is and her Mom assisted her with taking off her shoes and coat. Kyra’s mother indicated that she needed to leave and gave me the signal, after which she gave her daughter a big hug and kiss and told her she would be back soon.

I took Kyra in my arms and she was crying uncontrollably. I made a point to acknowledge how she was feeling and said, “I know you’re feeling sad that Mommy had to go, but we are going to have a fun day and Mommy will be back very soon.” We walked around the classroom for five minutes or so and I pointed out the different items on the shelves, as well as Monty, our classroom fish. It was almost time for circle to start and she was beginning to settle a little, so we sat down together with her classmates and as soon as I pulled out my puppets and began to sing, she relaxed completely … success!

I made a point to spend time with Kyra throughout the day on several activities to maintain that bond and I also paired her up with two of the older, returning students, which worked out beautifully. When Kyra’s mother returned and the end of the day, Kyra was happily ready to talk about the activities and new friends introduced on her first day at Montessori preschool.
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 Thursday, September 16, 2010.


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