The highlight of my trip was reconnecting with my kindergarten teacher whom I hadn’t seen for thirteen years. It was a moment of excitement and tears, but mostly joy. Since then, we have kept in touch and we plan on having a class reunion with my kindergarten class before we all graduate from high school.
I was very impressed by the many different methods the school had for teaching the younger kindergarten children. I was especially impressed by all the mathematical things they had that taught kids to count by threes, fours, fives, etc. The curriculum seemed to be very aware of the certain limitations children at their specific ages have. I’ve seen first hand proof that their efforts are successful. I was extremely impressed by the children’s organization. Having volunteered at Reach Academy, I understand that picking up after a child and even more so getting the children to pick up after themselves can be a lot of work. The children at Valley Montesorri picked up after themselves which is something I haven’t seen any child that age do.
I had a great experience observing the kids at Valley Montessori! The classroom that I observed first was a three-six year old class and they were absolutely adorable. They were obviously quite social with each other but still at the same time very independent. It was very interesting to observe their social skills because at the time when we were in the classroom, a conflict erupted between two children and the one who was hurt used a “peace flower” to talk to the child that had hurt him. The “peace flower” was a way to facilitate a conversation about what happened. While all this was happening, a little boy came up to our group and offered us crackers! It was adorable. He then went off to play with his friends and as he was playing, we heard him say a word incorrectly which showed an overgeneralization in language. We then heard the teacher call in all of the children into a circle, but she did not use the word children. She called them friends, and it was very interesting to see how this impacted their social identity. I had a wonderful time at Valley Montessori and it definitely brought back many memories from when I attended Bay Side Montessori as a toddler.
I learned from Valley Montessori school that everything that the teachers did with their students was very hands on. They made sure the children used their hands and even had instruments the children could use to stimulate the hand muscles. This showed that the school was focusing on the motor skills of the children, which is something we’ve learned about in AP Psychology. The teachers at Valley Montessori school were very caring towards the children and I never once saw a teacher yell at a kid when they were doing something opposite than what they were supposed to be doing. While visiting Valley Montessori I noticed that the younger children had a pre-conventional morality. For example, when it was a circle time in the classroom for the three years old, a couple kids got up and started doing what they wanted to instead of sitting down as everybody else was. Those children were focusing on their own self-interest.
The thing that stood out most to me when visiting the Montessori school was learning about the Practical Life part of the 3-6 year old’s classroom. I went to Montessori school from preschool-5th grade so I was familiar with the activities but growing up I had never known why. I never knew it was because Maria Montessori was trying to develop children’s fine motor skills first with moving from elbow, than whole hand then the fine skills used for writing. I thought that was very interesting.
In terms of things I learned there that connected to things we learned in class, the structure of the 3-6 class reflected Erikson’s stage of initiative vs shame and guilt. The children choose their own works (taking initiative) and develop their own sense of purpose at school. When we walked in on the children (3-6) being dismissed by the sound of the first letter of their name, we saw a way the Montessori school tries to help the children within the preoperational stage. By using the sound of the letter in direct association with the child’s name, the children begin to understand that theses sounds have actual symbolic meaning.
I had an excellent time observing the children at Valley Montessori. It was nice to be able to apply what we were learning in class to real life. When we were observing the children in a preschool-age classroom, I notice a couple of little boys playing around. One ducked behind a cabinet so that the other could not see him and it seemed as though the boy thought that his friend wasn’t there anymore. Even though these children were probably around the age of 3 or 4, this exchange would suggest that at least one of them did not yet have a sense of object permanence, which Piaget would have said that the children would already have. In another instance when we were in a kindergarten(ish) age classroom, the children were talking to their teacher and one child said, “he leaved” as opposed to “he went” or “he left.” This application of regular grammar rules to an irregular situation would be an example of overgeneralization. It was super cute.
I had a great time while visiting Valley Montessori. It was interesting and I learned a lot. I was in a classroom of kids between the ages of 3 and 6. I was fascinated by the way they acted in the classroom. They were very independent when it came to doing work. This would be an example of intrinsic motivation. They acted mature for their age. The kids were very nice and would come up to me and say hi. I noticed that the girls were more focused when it came to doing work. The boys would usually just walk around and do different activities for short periods of time. On the other side where I was sitting, there was this little girl who was trying to play an instrument; I think it was a xylophone. She was struggling for a while and then the teacher came and modeled her how to use it and once she finished modeling it, the little girl knew how to play it easily. This would be a good example of observational learning.
In the Montessori school, I found many different way of educating the students there. The students are not required to sit in fixed seats during the whole class and appears to be very casual with the teachers. They learn to look after themselves at a very young age and are required to follow a bunch of rules to strengthen their sense of responsibility for the society. During class, the teachers are not strict about the means of having classes. They can be divided into groups and work anywhere in the classroom. One different thing that stands out to me was that the students didn’t raise their hands before saying words but instead blurt out their words casually like discussion. There were also many items in the classroom to foster the students’ social skills such as recognizing the countries in the world, nurturing plants. And the atmosphere in the school was also harmonious that everyone worked thoughtfully. Generally the school was very different from my old schools.