Today I’m finally writing about what I’ve been up to since school has begun for my youngest daughter, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to exchange some work for her tuition, which I couldn’t possibly afford at present. Let me tell you a bit about Graciela and her wonderful school:
This is Graciela Quesnel, playing an excerpt from “The Prophet Bird”
“El pájaro profeta” by Schumann
She runs the “Montessori Nautilus” school, and thanks to her both of my girls have been blessed with an education we could only have dreamed of.
When my oldest daughter started school I was very reluctant to send her off because I wanted to raise her up all by myself. I could not understand why I was being forced to have someone else educate her. I was worried that whomever that person would be, might not share our values, nor respect or understand them. And quite happily for us we came in contact with Graciela just one year after she had started kindergarten.
My worries were soon replaced with a very deep feeling of gratitude and appreciation that only seems to increase as time goes by. Attending Graciela’s school has given my oldest daughter such valuable lessons and tools for life that I would not have been able to give her all alone. There is so much more than only education involved in raising a wholesome child and I hope my limited command of the English language conveys clearly what I’m attempting to say.
I had hoped since childhood that when I had children they would attend a Montessori school (because I was in one for two years) But everything else I hoped for as a parent for my children, all those feelings I could hardly put my finger on to or put into words are even more important. Like having someone really see and perceive this precious child as I would, or address her feelings and thoughts at least close to the way I would. But when I’m getting everything and more than I was expecting and wishing for, then life actually makes sense in a grandiose and pristine manner!
(And most of the time it needs not be put in as many words as I have used here!)
Here’s a little tour of the school:
This is a mural depicting a prehistoric ocean that you can only see once you’ve reached the school’s main entrance. I can’t help to gaze at it every time I walk by it!
Right under the mural are 3 wooden benches and a couple chairs. These girls were practicing flute after having lunch.
This is a view of the garden, there are some games like monkey bars, a slide, a roundabout, fruit trees, an orchard that the children tend to, way at the back and an area where the dogs are kept during school hours. right by a swing made with a huge tire (that’s one of my youngest’s favorite places).
This is a view from the entrance of “Workshop 1” and you can see all the way into the kitchen. The Montessori classrooms are very different to the traditional classrooms. The children 3 – 6 years old are in a classroom called “Children’s house”, 6 – 9 years old in “Workshop 1” and 9 – 12 in “Workshop 2”
This is an armchair in “Children’s house”, overlooking a fish tank.
And these are the shelves seen behind the armchair. There are materials for hammering, assembling, there’s a tangram and fingerpaints among many others.
I keep wanting to call this an ewer or aguamanil in Spanish, I just love how that Spanish word sounds. And it’s used precisely for children to wash their hands, one of them pours water while the other one washes his/her hands over the copper bowl.
These are shelves in Workshop 1, the Montessori material is designed to be very attractive, For example the basket on the first shelf has miniature shoes:
The cards to the right describe different aspects of each shoe and the child learns the name of each part of the sentence and its attributes in an active way.
This is a wooden tray with different seed samples.
These are “The test tubes”, it’s a material to learn mathematical divisions, I so wanted to learn how to use them when I was a child! But I didn’t know how to multiply back then :D
These are the cylinders, they are designed to teach depth, width, length as far as I know at this time.
The pictures underneath are mathematics material at Children’s House
These are for everyday life, to learn how to button up and unbotton, how to tie up laces and buckle up, and to the right on the floor there are a tiny bucket, brooms and a mop.
Below is a reading circle at Children’s House. They set their tiny chairs up in a circle and listen to a book being read out loud while looking at the pictures in it and sometimes Graciela sings them a song with a story and they sing along with her.
This is Workshop two, can you make out the piano in the back next to the window?
It’s wonderful to listen to Graciela playing piano throughout the morning, she teaches the children that want to learn the songs they choose. My oldest daughter was learning Gymnopedie 1 by Erik Satié.
This is Graciela practicing a song with Itzel:
Graciela hired a principal so she could spend all of her time with the children, which is where she wants to be. She’s usually very busy, if you notice in the video a little girl came looking for her and she quickly – and shortly – left to tend to her. On the day I was filming, Workshop 2 was leaving on a camping trip and she was in a bit of a hurry, but she still made some time for me! :) It’s great to be at the school and around her, I’m really happy that my youngest gets to attend her school now. These are some pictures of my youngest that I took while she was eating lunch. I was hiding behind a wooden toy truck on a bookshelf in the library.
My oldest daughter loves to visit when she has a day off at her own school, there are still some children left that were attending at the same time she was. They will be graduating in just a few weeks! These are some pictures of my daughter and David that they took during one of her visits:
Reflected in the mirror is Fabi, one of the girls my daughter was fast friends with while she was in this school. That is just another important thing that makes sense to me, the age difference, they get to know children of different age groups and learn how to interact with each other. It seems only natural as opposed to only having friends and acquaintances of your same age group.
Here they were making “wait.. what?” faces. If you notice behind them is a sink to wash the plates and mugs they use during lunch hour.
These are some kids from Workshop 2 heating up their lunch, these kids eat a real hot meal and not a lunch, on real plates, and in a wonderful environment. The next picture is a detail of the first one,
the older kids heat up their own lunch and take turns cleaning up the kitchen after lunch. The young ones have an adult heat it up for them. The fruit-flavored water that they drink with their lunch is made at the school (by the kids) and often there’s also fresh fruit that Graciela brings for the entire school and the kids cut it and sort it into plates for everyone, under adult supervision.
These are some things that I always notice when I’m around the kitchen because I find them cute. There are lots of interesting things to look at, these are some at the library:
This is on top of the highest shelf, the wooden bird is a tureen, it has wooden mugs hanging from its rim.
These are miniature cuexcomates, they’re in the library and are true beauties, I was very lucky to have watched a class learning how to build these miniatures a long time ago. They are endemic to Morelos State. There is a larger version of one at Jardin Borda, you can see a picture of it on this post: Lenten Season
I believe that I have so much to say about the school, the time I spend there and the things I’m learning that I will start a stand alone page for it.
However, if you feel like looking at more pictures and reading a little more about it I’ve uploaded some more to my flickr account:
I hope to hear your thoughts in the comments section! :)