Chapter 3: Observation Day 1

Sreevarenya J -

Good Morning Everyone!

Yesterday was very exciting: It was my first time going into my site placement for an observation day! For those of you who don’t know, I am volunteering at Montessori for my research project. But before I go into actually working with the children in their classrooms, I was asked to observe the environment and see how the students and teachers interact. 

I got to observe three different age groups yesterday. The toddlers (2-3 years old), the 4-6 year olds, the elementary school kids (1st through 3rd grade). I was instructed to sit in the white chair that is present in each of the classrooms and take note regarding some of the interactions I observed. This is because moving around the classroom would likely distract the kids from their tasks and I wouldn’t be able to observe their natural reactions to their work/play. 

Room 1: This room had toddlers playing with different wooden objects. They were given time to go find some work to do a.k.a go grab something to engage/play with. Some toddlers were playing with maracas, some were doing different yoga poses on tiny mats, and some were running around looking for different objects. They all initially looked at me and came up to me to say hi and then went back to playing. They were all very cute and you will probably see some of their pictures in future blog posts. 

Room 2: This classroom was much bigger compared to the last room. One side had the 3-4 year old in tiny tables painting and reading books after they were done with their art, while the other side had 5-6 year olds on the floor doing math with beads and writing cursive. The teacher was helping the kids with math and writing. She informed me that although they were planning to learn fractions that day, the kids wanted to do cursive so they are doing that. 

Room 3: This classroom had around 10 kids from three different grades. They were told to choose an activity/lesson to do. This classroom was split into two sides: creative learning and practical learning. Some kids were playing a game that taught them to put sentences together, one kid was adding fractions, and a group of other kids were going through vocabulary. Sometimes, the teacher would pull a kid and ask them to do a mad minute so they can finish their curriculum. Some kids wanted to learn something different and they were allowed to change what they were doing. One student started learning Spanish terms with the teacher. 

All of my observations had one thing in common: nothing was restrictive, every kid had a choice regarding whether they wanted to do something or not. Because I went in from 9 am to 12 am they were doing unrestrictive learning time, but it would be interesting to go from 12 to 5. Additionally, I am completing a course on the essentials of being a teaching guide so I can best help the children as a volunteer. Stay tuned for next week!

Thank you for reading!

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    That sounds fun! Do you think the unrestrictive learning time is beneficial to these students? Would unrestrictive learning time be beneficial in high school?
    Hi Sree, I am so excited you were able to get started at your site. I'd love to see how this environment compares, or just informs, your understanding of the stress caregivers experience with NAS babies. An interesting conversation with your site supervisor may be how they mitigate stress amongst their educators.
    This is very fascinating how you are connecting these two topics! When you have completed the course, how will you be helping and interacting with the children as a volunteer?
    Hi Bhuvi! Thank you for your comment. I think unrestrictive time is really beneficial for these kids. I think most/all of them use that time wisely to learn about new things or master things that they have already learned, but through this time you can actually see where the interest of the child lies. From the few days I have worked with these kids, I can already tell that some kids gravitate to specific activities every single day. Although this unrestrictive learning is beneficial for smaller children, I think high school should have a strict schedule because it will make sure we learn about every subject and sometimes people start liking things they disliked before. Additionally, high school prepares us for college so I think that a structured curriculum would be better. I hope I answered you question!

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