Observation notes from a parent


We had so many wonderful visits from parents over the last several months coming to observe. Thank you for taking the time to come and see your child’s classroom in action. Below is one parent’s notes we thought you might be interested in.
Thanks,
Andrea

When difficult to understand articulation of a child, lead guide asked clear and concise line of questioning to elicit more information

Assistant guide seemed to flow in/out of sharing information with the kids without being intrusive to what they were engaged in

Children seemed to have a real mastery of many things in their environment

Children doing independent work appeared focused & interested in the activity they were engaged in

Folding napkins together as a cooperative activity is a naturalistic way to emphasize partnership and joint attention

Observed often…peers asking their peers for help vs. asking an adult

The multi-sensory approach to learning geography was exciting to watch (maps, globe, puzzle etc). This really kept children’s interest level up.

The ease of transition from one self-directed activity to the next and the time on task spent with each preferred activity is apparent. One can presume these nurtured skills will contribute to good study habits and self-discipline in future education settings

At different times of the morning there were several children on the periphery of the class, not engaged in anything. The guides would check in with these children not necessarily to give directions rather to point out options available in room-children then self directed into an activity

It was nice to see the level of trust given to the students regarding certain materials (e.g. real glass for drinking vs. plastic/paper cups, real silverware) Eco-friendly too!

There were times when some of the children looked bored…wandering around room or just sitting on a chair. Upon closer observation though, the children were actually surveying their choices or contemplating options about what they could do to engage themselves in an activity of interest. This was a nice example of self-reflection & thoughtfulness.
RESPECT permeates in the air:
Adult to Child
Child to Adult
Child to Child
Adult to Adult

Attention to task and the ability to screen out unnecessary distractions were spotlighted when someone accidentally broke a glass. Most children stopped what they were doing for a brief second, looked around, took in what had happened and then re-engaged back to their work. It was nice to see that there were able to make a quick decision as if to say “This doesn’t have to do with me I can just go back to what I am doing”.

Several times an item fell on the floor right in front of the adult (e.g. child was showing guide something and it dropped out of their hand). The child always took responsibility for bending down and picking up the item-there was not an assumption on the child’s part that the adult would do it for them

There were many examples of a child completing a task and wanting to share their accomplishment with someone. It was great to see that their first impulse was to share with a peer vs. going straight to an adult.

It was fantastic to see how independent the kids are when they needed to go to the bathroom. Each child knows exactly what the protocol is for grabbing the bathroom necklace, going to the bathroom and then hanging the necklace back up in its spot

“Mis en place” (as the French sentiment goes…everything has its place) and each child knows this and exhibits it beautifully all through their work time. It seems so natural to go to a shelf, grab an activity, take it to a table, work on it and then return it for the next person to use. Independence, self-confidence and natural order are fostered by the environmental arrangement and respect for mutually shared materials.

If a child asked a guide for help, the guides encouraged the children to seek assistance from a peer. This supports the idea of seeking out a peer mentor and in turn nurtures the leadership skills of the other peers.

If an adult was talking with a child and they were not attending, the guide would create an appropriate zone of connection by gently touching the child’s arm/shoulder until the child checked in visually. This touch cue worked well in drawing child’s attention back. Also liked how guides encouraged peers to assist in teaching lessons through the use of modeling. Fosters skills of social referencing.

Snack time was another example of great independence. Very naturalistic for children to eat snack when they are hungry, supporting their own internal drive vs. external cues (e.g. a teacher announcing “It’s snack time”). This time also provided an opportunity to share with friends (“Do you want some carrots”). Thinking about the possible needs of your peers and taking the initiative to serve others is displayed well here.

There was a natural “buzz” of noise in the room…highlighting the organized sound of children working, moving freely and comfortably in an environment that they feel confident and safe.

You can easily see the layers of work that have evolved in some of the children’s progression through the Montessori curriculum (child initiates pulling out the movable letters, spells out some words while dialoging to themselves, then goes and gets some lined paper and a pencil and transcribes their sentence/story onto paper).

The guides provided a “just right” level of acknowledgement for a child’s feelings if they expressed a certain emotion (e.g. “That was disappointing I know”) vs. babying the child or shielding them from self-expression (“e.g. “It’s OK, don’t be sad”). A short but insightful discussion would ensue about what child could do help themselves feel better or come to a conclusion about how to solve their own problem.

The appropriate size and custom “child fit” of all the materials in the environment supported a high level of independence and self-mastery of many tasks.
Some Life lessons I observed in an hour and a half at Puddletown:

Independence

Respect for self and others

Patience for self and others

Nurturing for self and others

Keen sense of observation

Problem solving

Cooperation

Negotiation

Self-confidence

Empathy

Sense of Community

Thoughtfulness

Pride

Self-Expression

Enjoyment of Process

Creativity

Self-discipline/control

Contemplation

Academic acquisition becomes a natural by-product when integrated in all materials, environmental set up and communication style of the guides

Genuine pleasure in spending time with one another in an environment they consider their own.

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