Building a community
Montessori students participate in Mini-Reality lessons
Usually schools don’t house a city hall, bank, bakery or nail salon, but on Wednesday afternoons the Montessori School of Covington does.
Melissa Smith, lower elementary teacher at the Montessori School, explained at the beginning of the year her class discussed the different components of a community such as government, education, business and community service.
“That’s part of the Montessori curriculum anyway — building a community and being a part of the community,” Smith said.
On Wednesday afternoons, her class participates in Mini-Real or Mini-Reality time. Every student has a job such as merchant, bank teller or police officer.
“The first week they apply for jobs, and they fill out a form and tell me why they should be hired,” Smith said.
Students receive paychecks for their work every week, must apply for business licenses and pay taxes — in Mini-Real bucks, of course.
Molly Cady, 9, is the class/community’s current tax collector. She said she enjoys Mini-Real time because it gives her a chance to chat with her friends.
Cady said her favorite job to hold — the students occasionally swap careers — is the town judge.
“With a jury, you decide whether the culprit is guilty or not,” Cady said.
She said she likes to sit in the middle of the classroom and watch what everyone is doing, but her town is usually pretty tame. “Not much happens,” Cady said. Elizabeth Wiemann, 8, is assigned community service and offers complimentary baked goods to the class. Wednesday she offered iced cookies and blueberry muffins.
She said although her goodies are free she has received some tips.
Wiemann said she enjoys Mini-Real time because between customers she can read.
“I like working for the bank, city hall and I really like merchants because we get paid,” Wiemann said, “but I like all the jobs.”
Smith said upper elementary and middle school students sell snacks and Friday lunch and hold fundraisers such as book fairs to raise money for their overnight field trips.
“It lays the ground work for what they do in the future — for real money,” Smith said.
Early childhood students also come into the class on Wednesday to see what the community service workers are offering and what the merchants are peddling.
“It kind of opens up interaction and socialization between the age groups because that’s important,” Smith said, “and it bonds our school together.”
Smith said Mini-Real time gives her a chance to talk to students about grown-up concepts such why some careers pay more than others and why people have to pay taxes.
“We also talk to them about how you have to be very careful when choosing a career,” Smith said. “You have to choose something that interests you.”
She added that while students may not fully understand the importance of this community-building project, little seeds of wisdom are planted and will hopefully be sown in adulthood.
Exercise: Brooke Willis, left, playing the role of a merchant, offers her manicure services to Paegan Treadwell, playing the role of a consumer, at the Montessori School of Covington Wednesday afternoon.
Left: Nine- year- old Molly Cady, left, and 8- year- old Lexie Branche design a frog house to include in a city beautification project as they play the role of City Hall during the Montessori School of Covington’s Mini- real Thursday afternoon. Above: Community Service worker Ekaterina Domashchenko, left, helps Sophia Paulsen and Alex Quinlan select their favorite paper pattern for an origami creation that she offers for free to classmates during Mini- real on Wednesday afternoon.