Today is the day DD went to visit at our local Montessori school. I admit, I have been anxious about this visit. My daughter is very shy, very self-conscious, and very stubborn. This combination means that in any new situation it is pretty much guaranteed that 1) DD will hang on to my tightly, to the point where she will literally climb up me. She will hide behind me. 2) If anyone speaks to her, she will bow her head down and turn into me. 3) She will refuse to engage in any way. I have lived with her all of her life, and know this about her. So I informed anyone who would listen over there ahead of time that it was very likely I would not be able to leave during her visit. I wanted them to know so there would be no surprises on that front. DD did not disappoint. She clung to me, she hid behind me, and she didn't respond when the teacher greeted her. Nobody responded to this in any way. The teacher did inform me that it would be idea if I was able to sit aside and observe while DD joined the group, and I told her I would try. That never happened. The teacher realized right away that I was going to be part of this visit, and that where I went, DD went. No problem. The kids, for the most part, ignored us. We were not formally introduced to the group. The teacher, after a few minutes, brought DD an "art bin" as she knew that DD enjoys drawing. I took the initiative to run with this, and got her some paper and drew with her. A short while later the teacher rang a bell, indicating it was circle time. I informed DD that it would be nice if she joined the circle while I watched. No go. I sat in a chair close to the circle and DD sat on the floor, at first on my feet, then next to them. I observed that as circle time went on (teacher read a story and discussed rain forest animals with the children) DD became more relaxed, and leaned away from me a bit while watching the group. I also observed that one of the students did not come to circle time, but instead wandered around the room and did something on a piece of paper. When I later asked about this, the teacher said that this particular student sometimes comes to circle and sometimes not, but it is the Montessori policy to have the students go with their own flow, and so they allow him to do what feels right at the time. I later pointed this out to DD. After circle time the students went back to their work (each doing as he/she pleased as long as it was on his/her plan for the day) and we chose then to draw on the carpet where circle time had been. DD continued to stay close, but did engage in her drawing. After a while, three girls walked slowly in our direction, obviously looking to say hello. When they saw it was fine with us, then came up, and began to talk (with me.) They showed interest in DD's drawing, and praised her work. =) We chatted with them for a while (I chatted, DD listened and drew) and I asked them some questions about their classes. It was wonderful to have the kids show interest, and in such a gentle and calm way! They then returned to their tasks. The teacher approached me and informed me that she typically "interviews" perspective students, but that she really didn't want to pressure DD, and wanted her to have "fun" on her visit, so she thought she would chat with me instead. (Huge brownie points for teacher!!) She asked me a couple of questions about where DD is academically, and asked what she enjoys doing. DD interjected, in my hear, that she loves gym, something I didn't know! We chatted for a couple of minutes, and the teacher informed me and DD that as a kid in school, she herself was timid, and was very uncomfortable being called on, and that is part of the reason she sought out Montessori education as a teacher. (More brownie points!) She then folded herself back into the classroom, and DD and I continued drawing and observing. Shortly after this, DD got up, walked a little distance from me, and actively watched the other kids in the room. We said our goodbyes, and walked to the car. I asked her what she thought. On the ride home, she said, "I could like Montessori." Then a minute later, "I like it." After getting home, she said she would have liked to have recess there. Wow!
PHEW. I could feel her anxiety dropping the whole time we were there. The teacher invited us to come again to visit at the end of the summer. She said, as I knew, that the classroom would be in a different part of the building, so things would look a bit different. She said also that DD would have a cubby by then, as well as her books and such, so she could see that stuff before school started. Awesome.
I am hoping to maybe connect with the mom of one of the girls in the class who is also going into 1st grade next year, and who seemed so sweet. I think between having met the teacher, having seen what the day is like, and connecting with one of the kids, we could have a pretty smooth transition in the fall. Wouldn't that be something.
How to wrap
1 year ago