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A Day in La Casita

At 7:55 I take up my spot on the chair in the corner. Notebook and pens in hand, I am ready for another day of observations. At 8:00 the children begin to enter. Usually it is Maria Cristiana, the youngest member of the class at 2.5 years old, who is the first to enter with her hanger and “bata,” or apron. She, like all the children, set their hangers down on one of the low, white, child-sized tables, unzip their jackets, remove them, put on their work aprons, button their apron, hang their jacket, zip their jacket and return it to the rack outside of the classroom. This tremendous first piece of practical life work is foundational in the children’s ability to gain what we Montessorian’s call, “functional independence.” That is, being able to do the basic things that life requires so that you can take care of yourself.

Once the children have completed this initial task, they begin to choose work. Samantha has been happily taking out the Pink Tower the past few days, Gabriel and Sebastian have been playing games matching colors or numbers to items in the environment, Sofi has been tracing her sandpaper letters and knows so many already! I watched Madeline proudly create a floral arrangement and then take her time to find just the perfect spot for her vase of flowers to beautify the entire environment. I observed Danilo dutiously scrub the floor with a floor washing work, and Andres zip and unzip a zipper frame 8 times in a row!

The children’s joy in their tasks is evident in their smiling faces and self-cheers of “I did it.” Their concentration is easily seen as they carefully focus their eyes on their small hands, which work tirelessly at a task until they reach success. Their care and compassion for their community can be heard in their words to one another, “Can I help you?”

Around 11:00 or 11:15, when the three hour work period is over, the children care for the school’s chickens. They change into their boots, gather the compost buckets they have brought from home, and walk in a line to the chicken coop in the yard on the other side of the school. The chickens all gather in anticipation of the coming food. One by one the children enter the coop and pour their compost into the feed trough. Then three children gather the daily eggs. It has been thrilling to observe the children’s love for their school in these past three days and the gratitude they have learned to express for all living things. Today as he walked out with a basket of eggs, Adrian said, “Thank you chickens. Thanks for the eggs.”

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