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“This is his new favourite job,” said Casa South assistant Serena, who is taking a turn providing the update this week.
“He’s taken it out every day since he got that presentation,” said Serena. “He’s working on his motor skills, grip strength. I find that when I’m presenting it, because it’s so small, I really have to squeeze hard to get all the water out of the sponge and into the bowl, because it’s too small for my hand; you really can feel that you have to use a lot of strength to get the water out. He also has to take care of a lot of details, including cleaning up after. There’s a little cloth that comes with this job.”
“It brings nature into the class,” said Serena of the role of the fish in the Casa South Montessori environment. “They get to observe animals, how they move, and it’s very calming. I could sit there for hours. They feed the fish, that’s their job, so they have to come and ask Pat or I if the fish have been fed, and if not can they feed the fish, so they get to be responsible for the care of the fish.”
Last year, Casa South learned that you can’t clean the fish tank with soap while the fish are still in it.
“Yes, that was a good lesson,” said Serena. “We lost them all. For the last couple of months we had no fish. We still don’t know who it was, but someone dropped a bar of soap in there, and it was there overnight so we didn’t notice until the next morning, and…yeah…”
The gallery above is a lovely sequence of Serena giving a Montessori presentation to a young girl.
“The Dressing Frames help them become more independent dressing themselves, or each other,” said Serena. “They help each other. This one, I always find the name funny — ‘This is the hook, and this is the eye’ — so we have a little giggle about that. It also helps your fine motor skills.”
“It always starts with bringing the child to the shelf where the job is and naming the material,” Serena explained about the process of giving a Montessori presentation in Casa. “Then you bring it to a table and the guide has a turn presenting while the child observes the first time. Then I say ‘Now it’s your turn,’ and she gets to practice what she watched. Some children are very attentive and do it just the way you did it, and some are so excited to have a new presentation they’re maybe not attending to the details so much. It’s just the difference between every child.”
Even Pat has jobs to do in the Montessori environment.
“Pat’s updating the records of presentations that have been given,” said Serena, “so we both know where each child is at.”
“This is silver polishing,” said Serena, “and for this job you have to make your own cotton swab. What she’s done, you can see the ones that are used, and the wooden stick, so she takes one of those cotton balls and has to gently pull it apart to loosen it up and then she wraps it around the pointy end of the stick and squeeze the cotton with one hand and twist the stick with the other to make it nice and tight. The she dips it into the polish and uses it to polish the silver.”
Parents often question the purpose of the polishing jobs in Montessori Casa:
“The preparation — preparing the cotton swab — there’s so much dexterity going on there,” explained Serena, “which is all preparation and development for writing. She’s also doing a purposeful activity, cleaning items in the environment, and there’s a definite sense of accomplishment too — she can look at it in the end and see how sparkly and shiny it is.”