Today was our first session of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the current school year. We have all of our students returning from last year and quite a number of new students attending this year. It is quite exciting! The first day is always somewhat chaotic as we have some paperwork to attend to by parents, a few tears from children not sure if they want to leave mom and dad and so many new and exciting things to look at!
This year we moved the atrium to a slightly smaller classroom with some storage space and better sink areas. This means I don't have to wander throughout the school building (which is quite large) every time I need to change the materials in the atrium. All of our materials can be stored out of sight in the classroom. Joy!
We spend quite a long time at circle during the first day to help the children learn each other's names and to learn about the procedures in the classroom. One of the first things we do is to set up the prayer table. Every child had the opportunity to put something on the table. For those who did not want to help, we learned how to say 'no thank you.' Of course lighting the candle is always an exciting experience for this age group. We discuss safety and how important it is for them to sit quietly while the candle is lit. I do not leave the candle at any time while it is lit.
After singing a few songs we dismissed for a short work time where my helpers and I work to teach the students lessons in the classroom. We concentrate on practical life and art before anything else. In the atrium, each child is able to find his or her own work. The challenge for new children is to learn that we only take out one work at a time. Each work has it's own tray and is not to be mixed with other works. This is a very new concept for most children but they catch on after a few weeks. You can see from the above photo that we had a bit of mixed up work this morning! It made me chuckle when I saw our little flower vase filled with water, pom poms and chick peas! One of the hallmarks of the Montessori and Catechesis classrooms is to observe and make changes as needed. We will continue to help the children learn the proper ways to work with the materials so they will get the most out of their time. (For information about practical life in the atrium click here.)
Next week will be more of the same: A little extra time at the prayer table singing songs, learning names and showing lessons (how to unroll and roll a rug, how to carry a tray, how to walk around a rug, etc.) and then a slightly longer work period. Once the children get in the habit of taking work off the shelf, using it properly and returning it to it's place we can slowly move into the catechetical works of Biblical Geography and the Altar. All in good time!
Have a blessed week everyone.