Monday, May 20, 2013

Recognition Dinner

Around this time every year, we honour the work our Master year children have achieved during their time in the Primary program.  We do this with a special night out called the Recognition Dinner.

 From the time these children entered the school at three, we have watched them  move through the materials and lessons constructing themselves concept by concept.  This incredible self-construction is something none of us take for granted. Oh, we are there to offer lessons which connect the children to the classroom environment and then protect that connection, but the children really do all the work.  If you have been following this blog, you have probably gleaned just how much work that is.

A child in our Master year class is in the third year of the Primary program.  This is also the final year of the first plane of development. (Read more about Dr. Montessori's four planes of development here.)

 High Tea at the The Grand Hotel

Like most traditions at the school, the dinner has evolved over the years and a few guidelines have had to be imposed.  For example, only two adults may accompany the child.  As we've grown, so has the size of our Master year class.  It is almost impossible to find an appropriate dining room large enough to accommodate 40 to 60 people.

The dining room at Cuckoo's

We also ask that this be an evening just for the Master year child and that siblings do not attend.  We realize that this is not easy for some families but trust you will understand there are some very good reasons for this guideline. The Masters are the stars of the evening and the spot light should be on them.  In years past, we have had siblings dissolve in tears when the Master year presents were handed out. (Please don't tell.  The gifts are a surprise.) And there have been many other expressions of sibling emotion over the years which made this guideline necessary. In order for the evening to be truly about the Master children, only the Master children should be at the dinner.

Receiving a gift from his teacher

The Recognition dinner isn't a graduation ceremony.  There are no caps and gowns worn,  and no degrees or diplomas are handed out.  There are no speeches and the children do not have to get up on a stage and perform anything.  However, the skills that these children have mastered during the first 6 years of their lives cannot be overlooked nor should we take credit.  We can simply observe, recognize and celebrate as they move into the second phase of development.

Looking at a special gift with Mom and Dad

In The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori wrote, " The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six.  For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed. " The Recognition Dinner is a gentle, respectful acknowledgement of the completion of that first  period.

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