What do the children do during their work time in the atrium?
The answer differs according to their atrium experience, temperament, interests and most importantly: the time of year. We have different expectations and a different selection of choices depending on the time of year.
We also try to over-present in the first few weeks to help the child acclimate and get some options available. When I give a new presentation, I may give the children some suggested options, or I may list some options and give them a choice between A and B for what they will do with the work now - with the other options as follow-ups at another time. This falls in line with the process of normalization as described by Maria Montessori - giving choices until a child can make choices of his own; while also allowing for the children to reveal themselves and their spiritual needs to the adult during times of wandering and considering all the open choices.
|get out last year's presentations and review for oneself|
in level 1, observation is also allowed (see child in background)
yes, this is allowed to an extent in every level
to a large extent in level 1
|charm the catechist into lighting the candles 20 times in a row,|
just so they can be snuffed
(the catechist is more than happy to oblige!)
so much polishing can be done with the items in use in the atrium
that we don't need "samples" for the children ;)
In level 2, a very limited amount of wandering is allowed; some observation; but the requirement is to find work to do. The catechist should help guide this requirement but cannot catch every moment (hence observations from other adults are necessary too). The children can also be helping each other.
|stand and look handsome|
while your friend does all the clean-up
|set up the altar|
|build on last year's work|
|tracing and artwork|
|walk the line|
At this level, the children are truly collaborating. Almost no child does work by himself unless they are working on similar individual projects while chatting at the same table. The children can do more reading and research, but are still required to find real work to do. They are capable of doing so, with the right tools in hand.
|share level 2 work with brand-new-to-level-3 children|
|plan communal prayer|
(this would be an end of year option for 3rd graders in level 2)
|plan communal prayer|
she is thinking seriously about something - she is normally all smiles and wonderful silliness