Last week we were invited to observe our daughter in her classroom. I was so excited to watch her work since I'm never sure what she is doing there. When we ask her, it's usually "nothing" or it's about the games in the playground. This I know to be normal from most 3- 4 year olds from the time I was teaching and hear parents say this is what their children would say at home. Well, now it's my turn.
I went into the room and sat on the chair that was provided for me. Notebook in hand, I watched my daughter in the middle of a lesson. It was pouring into three different cups. This exercise has a small pitcher and 3 glasses of varying heights and sizes, and the child is to pour into each one stopping between each. There is a place mat, sponge, and bucket for spills and clean up.
As she was receiving the lesson she kept turning to see if I was watching. She would smile at me and go back to the lesson. I knew she was distracted and maybe not benefiting from the full presentation with my presence there. Regardless, she watched, followed the teacher outside to pour out the water, and watched the clean up process. Then it was her turn. She followed the exercise, but when it came time for clean up her excitement in seeing me there was uncontrollable. I could see it in her face and how she kept looking at me from the corner of her eye, and smiling.
What I realized as I sat there smiling inside at my daughter, similar to a room that I used to be in, was that I really missed teaching. I missed being in a classroom that had the energy and joy that a Montessori room such as this contained. Soon my eyes began to drift from her and instead of being her mother, I became an observer. My hand picked up the pen and I began writing furiously. It was instinct. My training was coming back to me, like it or not.
I noticed the various children working independently. The singing while working. The older child who had come to help the smaller child clean up and put away a work. A 4 year old working with sounds and tracing them while sounding them out, then writing them over and over on a chalkboard. Another child in the corner reading a book. An older boy working with the small moveable alphabet writing out a story and singing out loud. Another child in the middle of the room punching out continents to glue and create a map, she is completely focused and not disturbed by the child singing less than 2 feet from her. The teacher meanwhile giving a lesson to another child and after looking through the corner of her eyes noting all that is going on. The assistant helping a child but watching my daughter as she struggles to roll up the place mat. Once the assistant is done with the other child, she comes over and speaks in Spanish to my daughter asking her to try rolling up the mat once again, but this time making it smaller to fit into the napkin ring.
Finally after my daughter finished and put away the work on the shelf, took the bucket of water outside, refilled the small pitcher with a larger pitcher by walking up 2 steps to open the faucet and fill it up, she had snack. The snack table is arranged with cut fruit and other items I was unable to see. She took the amount designated that morning, and what appeared to have been prepared by the children. She then carried her bowl and sat outside to eat it. This is another time for socialization. She chit chatted with another child pointing to me which made me guess that she was telling them "my mom is here". I did not want to leave. My time was up. I had to leave without saying goodbye, as it is meant to be. I slipped out of the room excited for her, and excited to one day return to be in the presence of the most amazing human beings. There are no judgement, no prejudices, no lies, no backstabbing, no fronts, no acts, no expectations in an environment where the minds and hearts are pure. Being with children you get to truly be yourself and be honest and open with them. They love you for you, and in turn you love each and every one of them.
The classroom is a sacred place, it is a place where children can be children, and a place that is completely their own. It is a home, a house, a heaven just for them.