The Work Period

Montessori classrooms generally offer three hour work periods.  During the three hour work periods children are permitted to choose to work with materials from any of the curricular areas.

This lengthy work period allows children to complete work cycles at their own pace (choosing work, laying out the work, completing the work, putting the work back on the shelf ready for another child to choose it).  This permits children to develop habits of concentration and to take rest, bathroom, or snack breaks as needed to prepare for more intellectual work.

An important feature of the work period is that it is to be uninterrupted.  That is that not only will the teacher not disturb or interrupt a child at work, the teacher will not allow other children to disturb or interrupt a child at work.  This signals to each child that the teacher respects their work, and that their work is so important that they should not be interrupted.

The saddest comment I have heard from a Kindergarten teacher is that Montessori children are the worst in class in the sense that “they always cry when you take their work away and make them move on to the next activity.”  What does that signal to the child about school work and learning?