Who says that the best place to learn is inside a classroom? It certainly wasn’t Ms. Deborah, Ellington Montessori’s Head of School.
“There are times when – as an educator – you have to step outside of the box and look for the lessons that simply can’t be taught from a textbook – especially when it’s a beautiful day outside!”
On one particularly lovely Friday afternoon in May, the school hallways and classrooms were quiet and empty. Outside in the schoolyard, it was a completely different story. Ms. Deborah and her teaching staff were giving a lesson… a lesson on how to skip rope.
“Believe it or not, three quarters of these kids have never played with a skipping rope, and yet there is so much that can be learned from this ‘old school’ game.” explains Ms. Deborah.
In addition to the laughter and sweaty noses, it quickly becomes apparent that the benefits of the game go beyond just the
physical (ie. fresh air, exercise, coordination & rhythm); the children are establishing rules, negotiating who goes first, compromising on the number of turns. Leaders begin to emerge. Those who quickly get the hang of it are either helping others, or ‘hogging’ the spotlight. Those who are reluctant to give up their turn are quickly called out by their peers. Without realizing it, these kids are learning the art of compromise, negotiation, and leadership. Skipping isn’t easy peasy. It takes practice, coordination and stamina. Are there are few frustrated tears? Absolutely. But with them come lessons on the importance of perseverance and humility; That it’s okay to be frustrated and that there are ways to recover from it. These teachers are well aware that their student’s lives will be full of challenging moments; moments that require skills that aren’t dependent on their academic knowledge – and that sometimes it’s the ‘unwritten’ lessons that will stay with these kids forever.
A few hugs and many High Fives later, the students and teachers line up to head back inside. The school day is over. Moms and Dads are arriving to find their children sweaty and a little bit grimy. They are also being greeted with huge grins and excited chatter about what they “learned today!”
“It’s afternoons like these that feeds my passion as an educator. 30 years of experience tells me that these children won’t remember that assignment they worked on in the classroom this morning, but they might just remember how they felt that day they skipped the afternoon away.” says Ms. Deborah with a smile, as she turns to wish her departing students and their families a wonderful weekend.