Lower El. News

Lower Elementary News – 1/20/17  ________________________________________________________________________


Have you ever asked your child, “What did you do at school today?” and couldn’t get more out of them other than “I don’t know,” or even, “nothing”? If you have a child between the ages of six and nine the answer is probably “Yes.” Why is this? It may seem hard to believe that after a full day of work, learning, and play that it can be so difficult to provide an answer to this seemingly simple question. However, this is typical of children in the Second Plane of Development (approx.6-9) because they have yet to develop a strong grasp on the passage of time. This is why it is not uncommon to hear questions repeatedly in the classroom such as, “What time is lunch?” or, “What day is it?” or even, before a longer break, “Am I going to be in the next class when I get back?”


Our children live their lives in the present moment.  This is something that Maria Montessori observed and took advantage of when designing her classroom environment and materials.  The goal of all Montessori guides is to find the right work and the right material that can send a child into a state of pure concentration where past and future are meaningless. It is when a child is in this present moment that work ceases to become “work” and learning becomes active instead of passive. With this in mind it becomes a little easier to see why a question such as, “what did you learn today?” is returned with such vaugery.  The learning is doing, and we do what fulfills some specific need at a given moment. Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to have encapsulated this phenomena by saying “I cannot remember the books I have read any more the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” It is in this spirit that we have better understanding of why Montessori regarded education as the “formation of man.” When chosen freely the work becomes as routine as eating and also as important. And though we may not remember every meal our minds and imaginations have been fed we can rest assured that we have been nourished and fulfilled.


So, while it may be easier to understand why answering the aforementioned questions may prove difficult for your child, it no more satiates our wonder about how their day was spent. If this is the case more specific questions may provide more specific answers. Questions such as “Did you have a lesson today?” “On what?” “What kind of math material did you use?” “Did you have a group lesson?” “What did you talk about in music?” Concrete questions such as these may offer answers and insight. So the next time you catch yourself thinking, “What are they learning in school?” take a moment to observe how your child is interacting with the world around them, notice their growing confidence and independence, and see where their interest lead them. Where they lead we will follow.