In the past, my goal was to both begin and end with a circle time. This year I intend to make the opening circle time longer but do away with the closing one altogether. It was rarely productive. Either everyone was too engrossed in their work or limits had been surpassed by that point.
Another change is the introduction of work plans. I have always loosely schedules presentations for the week, readjusting the schedule to accommodate everyone's interests. This year I want to provide more direction and yet still maintain a good deal of freedom to explore the classroom in a traditional Montessori fashion. I do enjoy giving the kids full reign. However, Elora is approaching the elementary years and I must say that discipline isn't her strong point. She certainly takes after me.
When traditional Montessori elementary enters the picture, work plans are introduced. These are essentially assignments that the child can complete in any order they choose within a given time frame. Work plans can be daily, weekly or even monthly. Generally, the younger the child the shorter the time frame. As children adapt, it is common to allow them to write his/her own plan; with guidance, of course.
I am going to start both Elora and William on light, daily work plans this year. William's in particular will only contain a few items each day. I will create these each week so I can base them on how well particular work in the prior week went. I am in the process of creating a binder for each of them to house the plan and any worksheets for the week. And yes, I will post on that in the near future.
Here is what I hope our average work period will look like:
Circle/Group Time (30-45 minutes total)
- Calendar and Weather Chart
- Review Classical Conversations Memory Work (sing songs, etc)
- Grace and Courtesy Lesson
- Read our Book of the Day
- 20 Minutes of Math
- 15 Minutes of Language/Reading
- 15 Minutes of Writing
Other Lessons (15 Minutes)
- 1 Geography or Science
- 1 Sensorial or Practical Life
Initially, I will start Elora and William on work plans immediately after circle time. I'm hopeful that as they learn to manage time I can allow them to mix free time and assignments a bit.