Second plane of development students (ages 6 – 12) love doing things in groups with their peers. As well-known researchers and authors Paul Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen wrote in their book Montessori from the Start, “What she (Maria Montessori) noted is the elementary children between the ages of six and twelve years become interested in their peers, not from a self centered viewpoint of younger children, but from a genuine curiosity and desire to understand on a deeper level the thoughts and activities of others. Rather than being focused primarily on a sensorial exploration of the factual world about them, they now want to devote the main thrust of their energies to getting along with others and doing things together. They are transformed from essentially “sensorial explorers” to “social explorers”.”
In keeping with their developmental stage, Elementary students celebrate group birthdays by month. All children whose birthdays fall in the month of October, for example, form a group and plan a menu for their special celebration. They make a shopping list, go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, divide the cooking tasks among themselves, and carefully follow the recipes to make a delicious luncheon for their class. Over the years we have had some truly excellent meals that needed elaborate planning and experienced cooking skills. Parents are invited, of course!
Adolescent students also enjoy a community lunch for their birthday. The menu is chosen by the birthday student, and the whole group works together to prepare the lunch. At this age the students are now quite experienced chefs and love trying new, complex recipes.
At Chesterfield Montessori, we love celebrating birthdays!