(Ages 6 thru 12)
Mentorship makes the difference. This year, I’m a mentor. It’s my 5th year in this program. I was so young when I started – Just 6 years old and now I am almost double that. I’ve grown and learned so much in these years, and now I can help guide others. Our mentorship program is really amazing. We have summer training on what it means to be a mentor, leading a group of students from all the grades. Being there for them is rewarding. Mentoring includes planning events and class projects based on our team, making chore schedules as a group, helping other students by guiding not telling, and helping solve conflicts when they arise. I have waited a long time to be a mentor. It is an honor to have such a big responsibility and to know that others are depending on me. I like to make sure my mentees have all their questions asked and to be someone they look up to.
During work cycle, I need to make sure to get all my independent work done and check it, meet with my teacher for lessons, check in on my mentees and work on any challenge projects we have this month. We usually do a big project every month or two. It might be our reading challenge to see how many pages we can read and beat our own best score, or a country report on one of the countries from the continent we are studying for the year, or every other year we are doing a huge science fair project. Our science fair projects are not just little demos of something like a model of a volcano, but we get to decide on a question we want answered and use the scientific method to design the procedure, collect the data, graph the results, and more: Some of my favorites this year were figuring out which sports drink was best to drink by finding out which one has the most electrolytes, finding out if veggies from the farmers market are better than the grocery story by testing for vitamin C levels, and what cooking materials heat up the highest on a solar oven. There were a bunch more that were really interesting. I learn so much on all of our projects.
We even do summer projects. You might think it is weird to have to do work over the summer, but not to us. (Plus we make up for it in the school year, because we don’t have homework – we spend time at home in the evening with our families, not on school work.) For the summer, we get to think about what we want to learn about, what is something each of us has been curious about, and then we design a project around it. Sometimes I change my mind 10 times in one summer because there are so many things I want to learn. Then when we come back from break, we share our learning with our friends. It’s great to see what research people did on the places they went over the summer, or if they decided to start a garden or take up cooking, or even learn to swim. One year a friend told us about how her whole family took swim lessons – even her 1 yr old brother!
I forgot to tell you, before summer break we have the best trip ever! We go as a family! Each family who wants to go does a 2 or 3 night stay somewhere where we have fun, stay near our friends, and do cool activities that relate to what we learned that year. We’ve gone caving, hiking and gem hunting in the NC mountains, studied history of the Carolinas in Charleston, explored our Capital in Washington, DC, we have even studied art in New York City, and the first European settlement in St. Augustine, Florida. Honestly, our family thinks these trips are better than family vacation because we all get to hang out with our friends and our parents get to hang out with their friends and get to know new families.
When we are learning in class, it’s super fun as well. The coolest work in our class is our Montessori math work. It is amazing how easy it is to figure out fractions and decimals when you have materials to use. The bead cabinet is so pretty and it helps me to learn the squares and cubes of numbers and of course we learn all the operations. It is also great to do the skyscraper dance – this is celebratory dance each 3rd grader gets to do when they finish the 3 year long work of the skyscrapers! These are towers of various language works that help us understand compounds, synonyms, antonyms, suffix, prefix, dictionary skills, and even the difference between homophones (break, brake), homographs (bass – the fish, bass – the instrument), and homonyms (foot – on my body, foot – on a ruler)!
We really care about each other in our class. We want to treat others as we want to be treated. We give prayer requests for things that matter to us and pray as a class and we also leave our requests in the peace area so we can pray for each other throughout the week. I know God hears our prayers and directs our decisions. We also learn our virtue of the month and Bible scripture that relates to it. We sometimes look for other scriptures that remind us of the virtue and share with one another. I know the Bible is full of wisdom and is our best road map for life. Sometimes I hear about kids at other traditional schools and they tell me they don’t really like school that much. They like recess and lunch , but not really much of anything else. They certainly don’t like homework! Sometimes I wonder how they lost their love of learning – It’s kinda sad. I wish all my friends could come to my school.