Learning through touch, smell, sight and sound – a typical day with the primary group in SALEM Ecuador
In the group of youngest children at SALEM Ecuador there are 15 children, aged between four to seven years old. Between 2 and 4 oclock during „tutoría“ (tutorial) – these children get the chance to play and learn in three different class rooms with games and „Montessori“ education materials which enable them to develop skills in maths, sciences , language, art and the five senses.
Before they enter, the children take off their shoes and walk slowly along a tight rope or maze painted on the floor which leads to their room. This helps them focus, relax and prepare mentally for the next two hours.
As an alternative, if its sunny sometimes we play games outside like tag or football so that everone can release all of the energy before they start with quieter activities.
Once in the classroom as soon as everybody is seated on carpets, on the floor, we begin with a welcome activity. This alternates everyday and can be something active or silent, such as charades. After the welcome activity, its time for the „silencio“ (silence), a short time of absolute silence where we sit in a circle with a lighted candle in the middle. Sometimes we pass an object around such as spices, chocolate, and each child identifies the object with their eyes closed.
After this meditative ritual, the children are usually calm and centered and ready to start work with different Montessori materials mentioned above. There are many materials with a focus simpler activities to generate primary knowledge in maths, language and sciences. Moreover, there’s a great significance in the stimulation touch, smell, sight and sound because the development of these senses is especially important during this age.
If one of the children is having a bad day and is demotivated, tired, behaving aggressively or disrespectfully we can send them to one of the other rooms. There they can relax, calm down and concentrate on other games and materials with the aim of continuing with learning materials if and when they are ready! We always try to respect the individual moods and feelings of each child and at the same time allow the others to complete their learning activities.
Once each child has completed five activities in one each of the different categories, they are free to participate in arts and crafts projects or group games and enjoy the remaining time left in the “tutoria”.