Last week, I sat in a Montessori Cycle 2 classroom for a one hour observation. My eldest is due to start her transition towards the end of the first school term next year and will be transitioning with another friend of hers.
This observation was the very first time I have stepped into a Montessori Cycle 2 classroom and wasn’t sure what I was going to observe, but overall I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say that I understood everything that was going on and what all the materials were on the shelves, but what I saw was lots of mixed aged children (6-9 years) seemingly all on task, either working at tables together or in small groups on the floor. These children were all working on different things from maths and language work such as reading and writing, to wood work, sewing and art for example with the classroom Directors working with the children or guiding them as needs be.
There were two classroom directors at the time of my observation, with approx 34 children. The classroom had lots of grouped tables, mostly with 4-6 chairs at each one. There was a lovely communal sitting area with a small couch and table with a rug underneath it. In another area, one of the walls was completely covered by a world map and underneath was a small basket of books and some floor cushions, I am presuming was a reading nook.
There was lots of natural wood, open shelves (looked like Ikea shelves) with what looked like different subject materials. As I spent my observation sitting on one of the two allocated classroom spots, I wasn’t able to walk around the classroom looking at what exactly was on the shelves as much as I really wanted to. I could however see lots of language and math materials, an art shelf, what looked like a shelf for baking (lots of labelled glass jars with flour and sugar etc) next to the kitchen space which has a fridge, oven/stove top, sink etc. I also saw that there was a nature table and what looked like a Botany shelf and a shelf with some science books and a microscope next to it. There was also lots of indoor plants, some simple art work on the walls and a fish tank with lots of little fish (Neon Tetra) for the children to look after.
Overall the way the classroom was laid out provided lots of space for the children to move between the different areas of the classroom without looking cluttered or overwhelming. The use of neutral colours in the classroom looked peaceful and calming. The environment itself seemed to have a lovely relaxed atmosphere.
I will have a much better idea of how this type of classroom operates when my daughter transitions and when I am able to attend some ‘Working with your child’ sessions in the classroom. Really, a one hour observation only just gives one a little glimpse of what goes on.
My notes for the 6-9 year age group;
- Montessori encourages independence
- 3 year age grouping (6-9 years)
- 3 hour morning work period
- Absorbent mind starts to fade. Learning is more conscious no longer absorbed through the environment.
- Sensitive period of imagination
- Move from concrete learning to more abstract
- Moral and social orientation (morals and ethics)
- Research and exploration
- Driven to understand the Universe and their place in it
- Main Subjects covered- Language, Maths, Geography, Biology, History, Science, Music and Art.
- Music classes and sports class each week and a new Language is introduced.
- The children tend to ask more HOW and WHY questions
- The children’s work is recorded/tracked in a program on laptop so the Directors can keep track of the children’s learning.
- New children work more with the older children and Directors. The older children seem more self-motivated and self-driven/self-directed
- A very Social time
- Flags and floral emblems work (seen on the walls in the classroom)
- Computer work is introduced? I noticed one computer on a child-sized table with two chairs.
- There was a Communal sitting area with table, mat and small couch
- There was a large bookshelf used as a reference library with the spine of the books exposed. I noticed many of the books in the classroom were displayed this way except for a few baskets (in the reading area) and some of the beginner to advanced Readers books that were forward facing.
- There was a wood working table, with real wood scraps, a real child-sized hammer and real nails for use.
- My Montessori Children’s House (Cycle 1) classroom observation
- Montessori Training The Second Plane of Development and more info here
- Montessori and Imagination in the Second plane of Development
- The Hills Montessori School (not our school) Cycle 2 Program Education information