I wrote this article years ago in response to the question, "What does my child do in school all day?". Emma, a fictional second-year student, gives a description of a typical morning in a Montessori school.
I start off my school day in the car with Mommy. She tells me she loves me and helps me out of my car. I walk into school and put down my things. I unzip my coat and hang it up. I like to check my backpack to see if I have any mail for my teacher. Next, I'm ready to greet my teacher. I walk into the classroom where my teacher gives me a big smile. I give her a handshake and then I think about my work. I decide to work in the Math area (my favorite area). I know that I need a mat for my work. On my way to the mats, I stop to say hello to my friends Andrew and Sarah. I tell them about my weekend and then I decide it's time to get work out. I unroll my mat carefully on the floor, making sure it's not on anyone else's mat. Choosing work is easy in the Math area because I have had so many lessons. The work that interests me the most is the Bank Game. I see that someone else is using it right now to create the Decimal Layout, so I will have to wait until it is available.
After scanning the shelves, I decide on the Hundred Board. I realize that this work is quite a commitment, because it will take most of the morning. Fortunately, I can put my nametag on the work if it is not completed today. I carefully roll my mat and put it away, because I like to use the Hundred Board at a table. I choose the table with the little lamp because I think it is beautiful. I lay out the work on the table and open the box labeled "1-20". I take out the small, white tiles and place them on the table. I find the time with a number "1". I place this tile in the upper left hand corner. If I ever need help placing the tiles in the proper order, I can just use the control chart. Much time passes and I realize that I am very hungry. I stand up, push in my chair, and place my nametag on my work. This way, the teacher and the other children know I am going to return to it soon.
At the snack table, I notice two of my friends enjoying carrots. One more seat is available, so I start assembling my snack. First, I get a plate and then look at the snack number for the day. The number is "3" today, so I take three carrots with the tongs. I carry my plate and a napkin to my place and return for a drink. Carefully, I pour the water into my cup. I learned how to use tongs and pour in the practical life area last year! I join my firends at the snack table and we chat quietly.
On my way back to the Math area, I notice there are beautiful maple leaves on a tray. I approach the teacher in the practical area and explain to her that I would like a chance to try that work after my Hundred Board. She smiles and gives me a brief lesson on the leaf rubbing. I write my name on a piece of paper and try the work. When I finish, my rubbing looks just like the maple leaf! I clean up the tray and return it to the shelf. Proudly, I carry my leaf rubbing to my cubby. I can't wait to show it to Mommy and Daddy later!
I sit back down to work for several minutes. Soon, I hear a soft bell. I know this sound means it is time to clean up and join my friends on the line. This is such a long work, so I leave my nametag there for tomorrow. I join my friends while we sing some songs. After singing, the teacher explains that she has a new lesson for the group. She shows us how to walk on the line "heel to toe". If we want to try, we raise our hands and we get a chance. I feel brave today, so I raise my hand. I realize it's not as easy as it looks! The teacher says that another day we can try this lesson holding a flag.
Now it's time to go outside. The teacher whispers my name to get my coat. After putting on my coat, I notice that one of the younger children is having trouble zipping his coat. I walk over to him and ask if he needs help. It makes me feel good when I can help other kids. We walk outside in a line...what a beautiful day! I decide to go to the slide with my friends. After many turns, I'm ready for a break. I decide to sit on a bench and listen to the birds. Soon, I see my friends lining up.
Once my name is called, I know it means Mommy is here! I gather my things, making sure my leaf rubbing is safe in my backpack. I say goodbye to my teacher and shake her hand. I know I'll see her again tomorrow. Mommy is smiling at me as she asks, "Did you have a fun day?". She has no idea how hard I worked today! But I guess I did have fun too, didn't I?