What is an uninterrupted work cycle or period? If you've chosen a Montessori day care center for your child, take a look at what you need to know about this primary part of the preschool day.
Is the Uninterrupted Work Period the Same as Activity Time?
Work periods are common in many different types of childcare centers. But not all activity times are the same. Non-Montessori programs often use activity periods as a time for the young students to engage in projects, complete teacher-led projects, or rotate through content-based centers (such as science, art, or literacy).
In contrast, the Montessori early childhood center's work period is a time for uninterrupted, child-directed discovery. Instead of projects or group lessons/activities, the children are given the choice to explore Montessori materials in their own way and at their own pace.
Is the Uninterrupted Work Period Engaging?
Three hours may seem like a long time for a young child to work or explore. While some children may experience a normal amount of fatigue during the work period, the Montessori materials and classroom environment create an engaging space. The self-directed nature of the work period gives children the chance to change activities (mid-period) and choose materials that interest them.
Is the Montessori Uninterrupted Work Period a Solitary Time?
Children may choose to work or explore by themselves during the Montessori preschool's uninterrupted work cycle. But that doesn't mean they have to engage in solo activities. Some children may prefer to socialize during this daily work time. At the pre-k level, the uninterrupted work period may also include small group activities — provided the children choose to work collaboratively.
Montessori work periods typically won't include specific whole-class projects or lessons. These types of daycare activities may not encourage independent exploration and often go against the Montessori school's educational philosophy.
Is the Uninterrupted Work Period Timed?
The Montessori uninterrupted work period lasts for two to three hours daily. This provides young students with plenty of time to dig deep into their own self-directed explorations. Instead of rushing to paint a picture, read a book, or engage in any other classroom activity, the two to three hour period allows children in Montessori classrooms to work at their own pace.
Even though the work period lasts for no more than three hours (at the early childhood level), educators won't force children to switch activities within a given time-frame. Some day care programs require children to rotate through center-based activities. This type of rotation may stop active exploration or limit the child's ability to fully explore a material, process, or concept.
Talk to a day care center in your area to learn more.