In Monday's combined atrium and Wednesday level 3 atrium (and I anticipate Sunday's level 3), the children were all, "Oh, walking the line is SO easy! What's the big deal!?"
"Ah," I said, "but is it REALLY!?"
That got their attention ;)
As older children, I will get them going on "challenges" much more quickly than I would do with 3 year olds. But they must demonstrate certain competencies on some skills before moving on:
- keep a stack of beanbags on the head without tipping before getting to use ONE beanbag with a small glass of water half-full
- use that small half-full glass before one that is filled to the brim
- walk while carrying objects before carrying a bell - aiming for silence
- walk while carrying the bell silently before carrying one object on top of another within the hands
- walk heel toe successfully and prove control of self/will and control of movement before walking on the line blindfolded (blindfolded is one person at a time on the line; otherwise more than one child can work with it).
We have a green crocheted (chain stitch) yarn line for each atrium, with it being picked up by the knot (which indicates where to get on and off - children must commit to going around the whole way when they get on, and they can go around as many times as they like, but they MUST complete a circuit if they start it), hook that part into a slit on the cardboard tube, wrap it all around the tube and clip the end into another slit. Keeps it all together and flexible for the atrium spaces where a permanent line is not an option.
In my Wednesday evening atrium, one 6th grade boy who insists he does not remember being in the atrium for sacramental preparation in 2nd grade, spoke up when someone said that walking a line on the floor was way too easy. "Oh NO it's NOT!" he said. "Ah! He remembers being in the atrium in 2nd grade with me!" to which he replied, "Yeah, I suppose I do - I didn't even know that I remembered that - but I do remember that walking on the line is NOT easy!"
One 4th grade girl, whom I had in kindergarten in a level 1 atrium (along with a boy in her school class who likely had genuine ADHD and was very well-served by the line activity) also remembered that it wasn't so easy as one would think. She had an eager look on her face because she remembered some of the challenges being very fun - and very tricky. The other 4th graders had a different catechist their kindergarten year; and the 5th graders did not get the line in their sacramental preparation. The other 6th graders remembered it and were also interested, though they did not seem just too overly exuberant ;) They didn't need it or use it as much as the one boy above.
The girl from the level 1 atrium had a strong experience, because I heavily use it, where the other catechists in the area didn't/don't emphasize it quite so much. More this year in level 1 for sure they are, because there are more people in there that want that Montessori flavor - and there is a great Montessori co-op room (teehe - that's the room I rent for a Montessori co-op), complete with an elliptical line that they can use when the children are preparing themselves to come into the atrium.
It will be interesting to see the differences in the children and attempt to observe how much of the normalization of the children is directly impacted by the use of this key Montessori work compared to previous years where it was under-used or totally ignored.