A New Year, A Continuing Process

Maria Montessori’s work is based so completely in scientific inquiry that every aspect of the child’s year and experience can be tracked to basic tendencies of human development. I am reminded that the process of orientation is the first step in the success of Montessori education.  Montessori described that the child first orients herself to specific environments during childhood, leading to a full adaptation to “her time, place and culture”. As each year starts anew, all the members of our community—children, teachers and parents—are active in the process of orienting in some fashion.  

We hope that as many families as possible will enroll in the Silent Journey and Discovery on September 27th and 28th and this January 17th and 18th. This is a fantastic opportunity for parents to orient to their child’s current experience and also orient to the integrated experience across the levels.  If you haven’t done this before, we strongly encourage you to consider giving some of your valuable weekend time to this amazing experience.

Orientation is facilitated in the Montessori school by a well-structured classroom, the sequencing of materials, and the consistency of the educational approach from level to level. As a child orients herself to each new environment, she feels confident in her ability. As she learns to manage the materials and procedures herself, she feels safe and comfortable and confident in expanding her work options. The environments are always a place of simplicity, beauty, and order. They allow for varied activity and the opportunity for concentrated work. The classroom offers rules and procedures that guide the child in becoming a full member of the community. Each child’s sense of security comes not only from having a loving teacher, but from trusting themselves to be a master of their environment.  

In these first weeks of school, we observe the orientation process in full bloom. We see the new toddler who chooses the same work when they arrive each day. We observe the child who sits right next to the teacher at every gathering. We notice the child who chooses materials that they knew really well in June to start the year. The Upper Elementary students exhibit this orientation by quickly finding partners for research. Adolescents orient by being away from the class environment on an Odyssey trip, because the class is no longer the only focus of their school lives. Honoring the need for orientation is intentional in all Montessori programs because without it the next steps cannot take place.

As your child, whether toddler or adolescent, is orienting to their school community, remember that they are on a journey that all humans take. For some, that includes a few new children or perhaps a new assistant or a new teacher and room. This orientation can be exhausting. As an adult, you might identify with the energy it takes to orient to a new house, new job, change in family situation, or new work-out routine. Don’t we wish that others were so thoughtful in supporting our orientation while making those changes?

Every year, in every class, this process takes place for your child/student. Your understanding of this normal developmental process and your trust in your child helps determine their success. If the child experiences an atmosphere of both trust and stimulation, from home and school, they will continue to expand their horizons, embrace new challenges, learn new skills and have the confidence to change the world they own. We join you in the journey.

Sue Pritzker, Head of School
Childpeace Montessori School