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Spring Tea - The Story Behind this Cherished Summit Tradition

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The first crocuses have appeared on the playground, which means Children’s House Spring Tea is just around the corner. This event is a beloved tradition at Summit Montessori School, cherished both by the proud students and their guests alike. While the children have begun to practice the many steps involved in Spring Tea, in reality, they have been preparing for this event from their first experiences in Children’s House. Spring Tea is the culmination of every physical skill exercise they’ve practiced in the classroom, including whole-hand and finger grasping, dry and wet pouring, carrying a tray, and walking around work rugs in the classroom, as well as care of the environment activities such as carefully pushing in a chair and returning materials to a shelf, and finally, the grace and courtesy skills they’ve internalized, including greeting guests who visit their classroom, inviting a friend to join them for snack and maintaining a conversation with a friend during snack or lunch time.

Spring Tea is the opportunity for the child to use all these confidence and independence-building activities during a formal event: Spring Tea. The event truly kicks off a few days before the actual Spring Tea with the children preparing the treats for tea, which includes cutting fruit and creating fruit kabobs, slicing cucumbers and mixing cream cheese to build sandwiches, and cutting and arranging flowers for each table setting. The Kindergartners, as the leaders in the classroom, enjoy the responsibility of setting the tables with place cards, china cups and saucers and vases for the event. On the day of Spring Tea, the child first invites their guest into the Tea room, greeting them with a flower and invariably a huge smile. They show them to their own special table in the room, and spend a few minutes in polite conversation. The child is then responsible for taking their guest’s tea order, with the options of lemon, milk and sugar cubes for tea! (The children enjoy lemonade while their guests sip tea.)

What happens next is an incredibly graceful “dance”, while several children at a time fetch their teapot, carry it on a tray and carefully pour hot tea into their guest’s china cup — all the while navigating a roomful of 18 other tables! This well-coordinated activity is repeated when the children take their guest’s food order and serve them these treats before settling down to enjoy high tea with their guest. Every year, Spring Tea guests are amazed by the confidence and grace with which these young children are able to independently carry out each step of the formal tea. But this event is truly the culmination of all that the children have internalized through repetitive activities in the Practical Life curriculum of the Montessori Children’s House. Through the physical and social activities they enjoy each day, they are building life-long skills of coordination, confidence, independence and order. So with just a little additional practice when spring finally arrives, the Children’s House child is well-prepared to enjoy a special day with their guest that both will remember for years to come.