Montessori teachers will talk about 'work cycles' quite a bit. When a child enters the classroom as a new student, the teachers will support him/her to develop a work cycle. This is defined as choosing a work, completing the work, returning the work, then moving on to another work. It is during this time the child is building concentration, independence, order, and coordination. I'm working in the front room (Everyday Living, Sensorial, Art, Manipulative) this week and I LOVE watching the children deep in concentration. It's amazing to see them really focused on a work, and developing that little brain of theirs! Yesterday, I watched an early 3 year old choose table scrubbing. As I observed her, I could see her brain at work as she went through the many steps involved, making important decisions to make her work successful. She is learning the steps and some decisions lead her to places she knew she didn't want to be. For example, before laying out her towels, soap dish, scrub brush, sponge etc, she got her water. When she returned to her work with the water, there was no where to go with it. But, she worked it out. She put down her water and set up her workspace. The freedom to make these decisions is critical to a child building confidence in themselves and learning that they can make a mistake or make a decision that doesn't get them to where they want, but then giving them the ability to make it right. This may seem very basic, but what I can tell you in my experience working in a Montessori classroom, it's through these opportunities the children develop wonderful life skills that will help them their whole life. They are truly learning how to manage themselves in a world that is full of choices that have consequences-good and bad. I also got to observe a wonderful friendship blossom between two children. They somehow caught one another's eye and one invited the other to do the Pink Tower/Brown Stair extension work. They took pictures of designs that were built with those two materials and had a great time working through the process of making their work look like the picture. While they worked, they talked about a play date they hoped they would have, talked about what their houses looked like and what they would have for snack. This was a great example of children being able to move/talk, build social skills and learn all at the same time. A beautiful sight!