Keep it simple...
This is something I have been coming back to again and again since I've had kids. And today, I want to write a little bit about it. Here are some thoughts that relate to this topic:
-I have read lots of Montessori books, am following quite a few blogs, and have also observed in Montessori classrooms. I get a lot of REALLY good ideas that I would love to incorporate into our school times. But...it just can't happen. I can get maybe one new work out every day, and sometimes we go a few days with nothing new. I read last night of something fun to do with the sandpaper letters- tracing the letter with a finger on someone's back and having them guess it- and I thought that I could do it with at least one or two kids. It was easy, and required NO advance preparation. But, things happened and the morning was over before I thought of it again. Even if I had remembered it, it probably wouldn't have happened this morning. My big kids were a little sick, and Jane (my toddler) was clingy, and I wasn't in a great teaching mood (though I was praying my way through!). So, I cling to the fact that the kids ARE learning and are doing well in school. And they didn't know what they were missing today- they were too busy doing other things.
-I also get lots of great ideas to use in our Circle Time, the 15-30 minutes we sit down together at the end of the work session, and do group activities. There are so many things I want to do with them! But, again, Jane is clingy and insists on climbing in my lap during this time...and then climbing out, and climbing in again...I still need to decide what to do with her... Anyway, my point is that what I am doing is simple, and I think for this reason the kids actually enjoy it more and look forward to circle time. The routine is pretty set now: a couple songs and fingerplays as they are putting their work away and sitting down with me, short prayers of thanks by me and the kids (though they generally thank God solely for the dinosaurs...), then we learn a new line of a Catholic prayer (we have learned the entire Nicene creed now (!), and are starting the Our Father), and then start at the beginning and say the whole prayer. Then someone will choose a book from the book box I have out by the window, and I read that book to the group. Sometimes we'll finish at this time, and sometimes I'll introduce a new work or we'll play a game or two. To dismiss them from the circle, I'll say, "Whoever is sitting on their carpet square, and wearing pants, and white socks, and has a headband on her head, may stand up and put her carpet square away, and go and play." The first few words remind them to sit (sometimes they are getting antsy by this point) and then they are looking at themselves and each other trying to figure out who it is I am describing. It is fun to see their faces light up when they realize it is their turn to get up!
So...it is a simple Circle routine, and while I wish I could do more, right now I can't. And that is okay. Sometimes less is more, and what they are missing in knowledge and facts and whatnot that I COULD squeeze in to our preschool days, they are making up for in comfort and security of the routine. And, like I said, they are learning. And, like I have to remind myself, they are still very young. They will be fine!