gathering around the table

“children who feel listened to, become better able to listen to others.”

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and author of “Mind in the Making

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:: every meal we gather together.

:: every meal we work together to create the meal.

:: every meal we help set the table, making space for everyone at this collective table.

:: every meal we serve ourselves and help friends from large bowls and plates of food.

we talk, we listen, we share moments together around our table. we laugh … a lot! but in the sharing we’re learning — and not just about academics, but how to care for ourselves and others. how to connect with others, how to be a part of a collective group and even try a new food or two along the way. we talk about taste and smell, texture and feeling color and label each and every food with the name and source, we talk about what we like and food items we’re still exploring. these meals are relaxing, enjoyable, connective. but, most importantly, these moments are a grounding moment in our day when we come together, slow down, and deeply connect with one another.

when I was a child, we always had meals together, no matter what. it was our time to connect back to our family and our connection with each other. however, our family table always had room for folks who were visiting — chairs brought out of other rooms, folding tables brought up from the basement to create a hodge-podge space for us to gather round. when we traveled to see family, it’s the meals made together and shared together that always resonate with each of us and become base for so many wonderful memories. twenty years on and we all still reminisce and chuckle over the “dinner for twenty” in the old cottage on the lake in michigan … and especially about aunt lucille’s famous peach pie … or how we used dish towels for placemats and how none of the chairs ever matched and how all of that made it so uniquely ours.

and, so, in our school, as in our family, we gather around meals.

many will find that this philosophy around food and nourishment is a strong component of many montessori programs  and what maria montessori detailed in her thoughts on sustainability and the prepared environment.

“Ann Sutton, in Montessori Life, states that“Sustainability requires systems thinking,” emphasizing interconnectedness and interdependence. (Sutton, 2009) This corresponds beautifully with Montessori’s vision of Cosmic Education and the interconnectedness of all living things. If we teach about keeping the planet healthy and model environmental stewardship, it stands to reason that we need to model and encourage healthy living in our community.”
(North American Montessori Center | The Montessori Training Blog | “Nutrition is Part of the Montessori Prepared Environment“) 

so, true to the vision of maria montessori (and aunt lucille and her peach pie), we gather and we explore that interconnectedness of each of us and of all living things. we provide a place and space for the children to gain independence through many tasks, yet also emphasize working collectively to accomplish the goal of gathering around the table.

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want to learn more about how to promote this style and philosophy in your own space? sara and kylie at ‘how we montessori‘ have just the answer with their book: kids in the kitchen: simple recipes that build independence and confidence the montessori way.

or, if you’re in the area some day — come by and join us! there’s always room for one more at our table.


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