The Elementary children come to school between 8:45 and 9. Consistent with the routines established in the Children’s House, they change into inside shoes and head into their classroom to start their day. Like adults when we arrive in an office individual personalities shape what this process looks like each day. Some children will have a need to chat with a friend or two before getting into their day. Others will have something in mind that they want to get started working on, while some will have established a routine to start their morning, i.e., write in my journal, do some spelling practice, math problems.
Everyday from 9 to12 the children have uninterrupted time for ongoing work and lessons. Since the day is not divided into shorter blocks of time for specific subjects the Guides must work closely with each child to help set objectives and organize time. When the child is new to elementary they receive more support with time management and as they show they are ready, they are given more autonomy in structuring their days. The children are not only responsible for their time, but also for organizing their work.
Elementary aged children have blossoming social needs which means there is frequently a lively buzz heard in the classroom. Children work directly with their peers or they may sit at the same table doing work independently. Lessons are given in small groups, some offering more technical skills like doing long division or using a dictionary, while others are intentionally open-ended as the Guides are planting seeds that will capture the children’s curiosity and imagination. Individual research and group projects figure prominently during the program and again the Guides are there to show the many skills that need to be mastered in order to successfully complete an individual or group research project.
At 12 there is a half hour group meeting which can be used for various purposes: for example, to discuss a problem, to present projects to peers, to receive a special full group lesson or to plan for a special event. In Elementary, when there is a problem with one child, or a group of children, it is the responsibility of the whole community to find a solution. When faced with these challenges it is remarkable to observe the children’s resourcefulness and compassion in making a plan to address the issue.
Between 12:30 and 13:45 the children divide into two groups alternating between patio time and lunch in the classroom. In the patio there are both organized games and free play. During lunch the children are responsible for setting the table, cleaning up and helping each other remember common courtesies that make the meal more pleasant for all.
At 13:45, when lunch has been tidied up, the children have 15 minutes for silent reading or reading aloud in pairs. From 13.45 until 15.15 the children are free to choose work, but it is also a time for special activities like formal music, art and dance lessons, as well as activities like gardening and a ceramics workshop. One day a week four Elementary children go and read aloud in the Children's Houses.
At 15:15 the children close their day by doing knitting, weaving, embroidery or other handwork, while listening to a book being read aloud by one of the Guides. Children are picked up between 15:30 and 15:45.
On Fridays at 13:45 the children are taken to the nearby municipal sports center on calle Pradillo for a physical education class offered by qualified teachers. They are picked up directly at the sports center at 15:45.