A Teacher's Perspective: Work Periods on the First Day of Montessori Elementary

September 23, 2015

In our previous blog, we discussed the first part of the first full day of school during which the students were introduced to the routines and expectations of the classroom. In this article, we discuss the remainder of the day when students are ready to do some work.

Ideas for Work Periods for the First Day in the Montessori Elementary Classroom

I find that inviting the students to write in their journals about something they did over the summer is a good way to start them working on the first day. Usually, the new students need direction on page orientation and sentence building. I often ask an older student to help a younger friend if they need help. Once they are all finished, we go outside and have a snack while those who would like to share their stories do. While we are outside, my assistant kindly takes a photo of each student for the scrapbooks that we work on throughout the year.

When we return to the classroom, I ask the returning students to start their work, beginning where they left off the previous year.

At the end of each year, the students make notes about where they are at in their various subjects, so that they can easily carry on from where they left off when we start back the next year.

At the same time, I work with the new students and begin to assess where I can start them off in their various areas of study. I generally assess their reading level, spelling level, and comprehension of number hierarchy and math facts.

During the afternoon, I typically like to do a science experiment, history lesson, or art project. For example, Making Music with Bottles of Water from the NAMC Science Experiments manual; or the Examining Fossils activity from the NAMC History manual. If time permits, I also like to have the students role-play various scenarios that may occur in the classroom to model orderliness, courtesy, and consideration. For example: how to respect someone’s workspace.

Each year, I follow this plan in some manner. Of course, as Montessorians, we “follow the child,” so the plan varies slightly each time and it may take more or less time from year to year. By the end of the first day, students know each other a little better and they understand our classroom expectations. They now feel comfortable in the environment and are eager to start regular work periods.
Julie — NAMC Graduate, Montessori Teacher
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