Last week, Aaron's class had a breakfast where parents were invited into the classroom to work with the children and then have a bit to eat before the normal school day started. Here are a couple of photos:
Playing around with molecules:
Clay tablet writing as part of their study of Mesopotamia:
Initially, I was very excited to see that he's exposed to such a variety of work in his classroom but I ended up in a bit of a panic before the end of the breakfast. Yes, ungrateful me. And, shameful me. I looked in his 'completed work' folder and I saw mainly short stories and drawings and only a little bit of work on numeracy skills. The traditional school system mindset in me just leaped out and started questioning Aaron about what work he did with numbers. This has been a fear I've had for nearly a term because Aaron is all about reading and writing at the moment.
I spoke to the teachers about this last term but they assured me that we needed to follow his lead and allow him this burst of writing. They also gave me the impression that they would make sure he got around to other areas of the classroom. Admittedly, working with the molecules or the clay tablets wouldn't end up in his folder but I think I know my son well enough to see from his 'completed folder' that he spends almost no time on numbers, or other types of work.
One of the challenges when sending your child to a Montessori school is the letting go of the expectation that a child is going to be working on all aspects of early childhood education at the same time. I think it involves a huge level of faith and trust in the teachers - more than in a traditional school because its easier for the parent in that traditional environment to get a snapshot of how a child is performing in class. In Aaron's class there isn't a traditional syllabus (or homework or any form of assessment) and therefore, it is impossible to know what a child is learning in the classroom because they all learn at their own pace. They also don't all study the same things. The 'completed folder' is only taken home at the end of a term and for a control freak like me, it means that I had no influence over what just happened in the term.
Since the breakfast, I've met with Aaron's teachers and I feel much better. They do agree that it is time to introduce more activities in numeracy and they will also try to introduce writing book reports to broaden his writing skills. I have faith and trust in them but doubt frequently creeps in. It wasn't my plan to be one of those parents that constantly bugged teachers, and I haven't so far, however, I think I'm going to try to check in with them a little more frequently (monthly?). They need their space but I need my peace of mind!
P.S. No, I haven't forgotten that Aaron is six and a half. I also haven't forgotten that the Montessori principle of following the child doesn't only apply to allowing a child to follow their interests but also means that the work they are introduced to is not restricted by their age.