“Come sit story style!” is the call as children gather for a shared reading time. Big Books are eagerly read, discussed and analyzed by the students first thing every morning in our Montessori classroom. One observation made by a child after a recent reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar was particularly creative: “The butterfly at the end looks like he has food wings! I think the illustrator did that because of all the food the caterpillar ate before he became a butterfly.”
And so it goes… it is the start of a new school year and already these young learners are growing and developing much like the beloved caterpillar in that classic story. The beauty of a Montessori classroom is that each of these “caterpillars” will be allowed to go at their own pace this year. No rush to turn into “beautiful butterflies” just yet as there is so much to learn, experience, and enjoy as each individual explores the environment, choosing works that call directly to their innate needs. One child practices the art of rolling a work mat each day, as he is new to Montessori. You hear him say softly to himself as he rolls up the mat: “roll, roll, roll, tap-tap, slide” and you see the smile as he looks upon his finished work: a mat that is rolled a little bit better than the day before. Another child, a second year student in the classroom, shares with you, “This work was hard for me last year, but now it’s easy!” All around the classroom are moments like these: little victories, lessons learned, and joyful discoveries.
The work is their food, so to speak, and with each work that is mastered, our caterpillars slowly change, and eventually they become the butterflies they are meant to be.
“The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience ‘work’.” -Maria Montessori