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Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Path to Normalization: How I Normalize my Montessori Classroom

What is Normalization?

There are many personality types of course. However, when children enter the process of
normalization the same characteristics appear.
 

There are four characteristics that are a signal that the process of normalization is happening:

 
(1) Love of work

 
(2) Concentration

 
(3) Self-discipline

 
(4) Sociability


Normalization is NOT...

(1) Lessons and Presentations


(2) Quiet work time


(3) Imposed consequences (time outs, earned rewards) 


(4) Everyone Getting along


Generally I begin thinking about normalization as soon as I get my roster. After noting the ages and potential skill level of each child, I appeal to the parents for information.  This usually comes in the form of a conversation or welcome email. In the email, I ask for each child's favorite color, toy, story, and animal. This gives me clues as to what I should include in the peace area, at the nature table, during my circle time, or in my "bag of tricks".

The first month is dedicated to group bonding, routines, limits and freedoms.

Bonding
There are many ways to bond with children, and help bring the group together.  Group art projects, scavenger hunts, movement songs, fingerplays, felt board stories and picnic lunches are a great way to bond.
Making a class photo album, easy coooking projects and group art projects are also a great way to pass time and help new class members to feel welcome.

Routines
Routines are challenging beacuse they take the longest to teach. I typically teach 2 routines at a time within the routine of the day.
I find that most children learn the daily routine within a few weeks and other routines within a month, but this can vary depending on emotional development and daily attendance. Part-time students (including half day and partial week) may require longer adjustment period because they have less time to absorb the routine or they may have breaks in between days of attendance.

My Daily Schedule in the beginning is different from the Schedule AFTER children are normalized.

Here is a sample of my daily schedule for the first day of school:
9:00arrival on the playground
9:45enter the classroom, sit on the big gathering rug. Children change into slippers, wash hands and sit for a large group snack (prepared by my assistant).
10:00 gather on the large rug for a felt board story
10:10 returning students work in sensorial, new students tour the bathroom, use the bathroom and have a lesson in handwashing
10:30 New students have lessons in practical life, returning students have a refresher lesson in the bathroom (flushing hand washing), followed by a group art lesson (given by the assistant) to assess gluing and cutting skills
11:00 everyone looks at books on the rug, assistant sets up lunch
11:15 music and movement
11:30 lunch
12:15 lunch cleanup begins. Children follow 4 steps. I allow ample time for this and even give this as a seperate lesson. Returning students can model this or help as needed. My assistant usually waits on the big rug with books, a floor puzzle or a few items on rugs (sorting trays, a continent box etc).
                                 1. Pack your lunchbox
                                 2. Throw trash away
                                 3. Crumb your table
                                 4. Sweep the floor
12:45 Children who nap use the bathroom and go into the naproom (this is an entire process also!)
1:00 I trace each child on a large sheet of paper and allow them to color themselves. During this activity I can assess fine motor control, gross motor control, spatial awareness, and logic or reasoning process. I also measure and note each child's height. Coversation is a part of this process also. After this activity, work is open for free choice for returning students. New students have lessons in sensorial.
2:00 Clay table (as described in The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori)
2:30 Transition into afternoon (carpool, outside etc)                                                             

I typically continue this schedule (with different 1:00 activities) for the first 2 weeks of school, focusing first on the morning preparations (slippers handwashing) followed by a focus on the lunch cleanup routine. Once these two areas are learned, I change the structure and the Daily routine looks like this:

Here is a sample of my daily schedule for weeks 3-6
9:00 arrival on the playground
9:30 enter in, morning preparations, Circle-time routine.
9:45 group snack
10:00 Returning students work supervised by my assistant, new students have lessons in practical life and sensorial
 11:00everyone looks at books on the rug, assistant sets up lunch
11:15 music and movement
11:30 lunch
12:15 Lunch cleanup
12:45 Transition to nap, non nappers look at books on the big rug
1:00 Group lesson in science. I use Ingrid Sherwood's ABC shoebox science lessons.
2:00 Clay table (as described in The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori)
2:30 Transition into afternoon (carpool, outside etc)