Montessori students share lessons with grandparents

Sunday, September 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:30 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A cool breeze swept through the shaded area of the playground where the audience sat. At the front was a group of young children donning black plastic hats distractedly performing "Five Little Monkeys" on a bed of wood chips.

It was the annual Grandparents Day Friday at the Columbia Montessori School, and nearly 50 parents, grandparents and siblings turned out for the big event.

The school, which specializes in the education of children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, held the event as an opportunity to show attendees how the children learn in a setting that focuses on independence, individualism and hands-on opportunities.

Parent Barry Gilbert, father of 5-year-old Abigail, said the event is beneficial for the strengthening of bonds between grandparents and children.

"These children have learned to interact with their peers and the world around them in a very confident and unique way," Gilbert said. "For grandparents to see that in practice really creates connections."

The event, which kicked off with an ice cream social in the classroom, was a chance for parents and grandparents to see where the students took their lessons.

For lead teacher Scout Merry, who works with the school's 3- to 4-year-old students, Grandparents' Day gives busy parents and grandparents the chance to interact with their children.

"It's great having families come and share," Merry said. "A lot of families just don't have time to come in very often until we have special events. They set that time aside, and they come in, and they see the classroom, and they get to see their children's friends."

Following the ice cream social, attendees are then treated to presentations by each of the different classes. A rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" in English and Spanish and "Old McDonald" in sign language were performed before the attentive audience.

Russellville residents Don and Ruth Shook came to see their 4-year-old grandson, Joshua Floyd, perform. Their favorite part was watching Joshua and his friends take turns yelling the words into the microphone.

"He was one of the noisy ones if I may say that," a laughing Ruth Shook said.

"Higher, Grandma, Higher," 3-year-old Cole Galbraith shouted as his grandmother, Barb Swanson, pushed him on the swings. This was the first time that Swanson had attended the school's Grandparents' Day, and she enjoyed the chance it gave her to spend time with Cole in his learning environment.

"It looks like the letter for today is I," Swanson said. "It was amazing. It wasn't just like 'ice cream.' There were some words that really explode the vocabulary for children, and that's very impressive."

Cole, on the other hand, was more interested in the baking aspect of school and his performance of "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

"I love to do bread work," Cole said. "The bread work is eating and cutting bread."

It may be called Grandparents' Day, but it was the children who were at the center of celebrations.

"I think it's important for the children," Merry said. "They're bringing their parents and their grandparents to their environment."

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