When families come to visit the school or are currently enrolled and see tiny glimpses of their child’s community, I often get questions such as “What’s that?”, “How does it work?”, “What is this for?”. I can’t help but chuckle because these questions remind me so much of the children when they enter their communities for the first time.
At Cantera Montessori, we offered a special Parent Education event called the Silent Journey and Discovery Workshop. This was an opportunity for the parents to be the child. To allow them to explore, feel, and absorb all around them. Led by 3 Montessori Guides that included the two Lead Primary Guides and myself, we travel through the prepared classrooms and experience the full essence of each area of the environment. A specially developed itinerary of observation supported with observation questions and note paper for parents to write down thoughts, feelings and ideas, engagement and conversation provides a complete and meaningful experience.
First, we start with silence. This is an observation of the materials, environment, and design of layout. Just like the children, parents were in awe of many things from the materials order and sequence methodically set up to furniture such as lowered shelves, tables, and chairs to allow accessibility. After absorbing all their surroundings, they are invited to explore with their hands.
I noticed the parents, just like their children, gravitated to different areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language and Cultural Studies. There was a combination of lessons presented by guides and instructional cards to allow independence with using the materials. At the end, parents are instructed to reflect on what they have seen in each environment. It was interesting what they pulled from each environment. Montessori knew that learning happens through all the senses, so starting with the eye’s connection to the brain and then moving to be able to explore the material through touch, hearing, smell and sometimes tasting, immerses an individual to the layers of absorbent learning that set Montessori apart from other educational philosophies. Together, we took our time, we learned, and most importantly…we enjoyed.
Here are what some parents shared while reflecting from the experience:
“Felt like a calming environment, had a homie feel to it”
“It’s inviting and makes you want to play with the materials”
“The classroom was intuitive but progressively harder”
“Interesting to know that kids can learn about continents and countries at a young age. There is no limit to thinking”