When it comes to choosing a path for your child’s education there are lots of choices. Why do so many families choose Montessori? Read on to find out what makes this model unique.
Montessori Fosters Independence
In our schools, children learn that their independence is valued. We encourage free movement, individual choice within carefully crafted limits, and make sure they know their voices are heard. As they get older, they begin to learn about time management and accountability.
We teach them practical life skills, such as cleaning and preparing food, that can be used in the classroom, home, and beyond. This emphasis on independence gives children a tremendous sense of empowerment.
We Follow the Child
This begins by having teachers trained in the specific developmental stages of the children they work with. By honoring where children are in their growth, we can create educational environments that perfectly suit their needs.
We know that learning is not always linear, and that each individual child will need different challenges and supports throughout their time at our school. In addition, Montessori students have plenty of opportunities to deeply study areas of personal interest.
Beautiful Classrooms Inspire Beautiful Work
Upon stepping into a Montessori classroom, one immediately sees the difference in our environments. We value natural materials and prefer natural lighting. Living things (both plants and animals) are present, as are low shelves that allow children to easily access their work. There are areas for children to work in a group or alone, and on the floor or in a chair. Materials are of high quality, inspiring the children who use them to make their work beautiful.
Nature is Integrated
In addition to the plants and animals that children help care for, our classrooms often have a museum-like quality to them. Depending on what the children are studying, one could find a variety of interesting specimens. We also believe it is critical to bring our students out into nature whenever possible, giving them an opportunity to learn and experience it firsthand.
We Value Kindness and Peace
Our students are global citizens. World geography is taught beginning at a young age and children learn about traditions from a wide range of cultures. We take the time to teach skills like conflict resolution, and support children through social dynamics as they arise.
We believe that peace and kindness are the base of any quality education, and a foundation that is necessary for the progress of humanity.
We Value Formative Assessment
Assessment is derived from a Latin word meaning “to sit beside.” In a Montessori classroom, that is exactly what we do. Teachers sit beside children while they work, gathering data as they go. The three period lesson, a Montessori hallmark, is specifically designed to measure understanding and mastery during teaching.
Teachers also observe students and take notes, allowing them to target areas in which students may need more challenge or support. Utilizing formative assessments each day allows teaching and learning to be adjusted in the moment, so each child is getting exactly what they need.
We love having a beautiful outdoor garden as an extension of our classroom. Thank you to all our parent volunteers who help take care of our garden, and thank you Meg Porter Photography for capturing these photos of children planting winter vegetables.
"The things the child sees are not just remembered,
they form a part of his soul"
- Dr. Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Every fall, we enjoy taking a family field trip to Berry Patch Farms in Woodstock.
There are baby animals to see and a big play ground to explore.
Year after year, the tractor continues to be a crowd favorite!
Everyone gets to take a hay ride 'over the river and through the woods.'
Running across the field and finding baby pumpkins is so much fun!
Friends in the pumpkin patch!
We love staying in touch with our past families and friends. We had some alumni from 2013 join us for this trip - can you believe how they have grown in 6 years?!
We wish all of you a happy fall filled with pumpkins, bonfires, leaves, and warm blankets!
Photos in this blog post are courtesy of Meg Porter Photography. Thank you, Meg, for capturing this morning at the farm!
Is it really worth it?
I mean, why should you spend the time, effort and money to find an authentic Montessori program for your child? Wouldn’t it be easier to just find a good, basic preschool?
For me, the answer is easy - enrolling my children in a Montessori program was one of the best decisions I made as a parent. But, then again, I am a bit biased!
For most parents, however, the question remains: “What will my child really get out of attending a Montessori school?” I’m going to go out on a limb - my guess is that you did not attend a Montessori school when you were a child.
This isn’t a problem, of course. You turned out just fine. But, as you consider early education options for your child, your own educational experiences can make the decision a bit difficult.
At first glance, Montessori classrooms don’t look familiar to most people. There are no rows of desks, no blackboards and no teaching to the entire class. Parents are often intrigued by the peaceful, calm environment and the hum of activity, with young children choosing their own activities and concentrating deeply for long periods of time.
Montessori is so different, however, from traditional programs that it’s natural to leave a bit perplexed. I mean, what is really going on here? In a conventional pre-school, your child will focus on “pre-reading and pre-math” with workbooks, flash cards and rote memorization. Think ABC and 1-2-3.
In a conventional school, your child will need to adjust to the schedule of a traditional school, so they have activities where everyone does this same thing at the same time. Think group art projects where your child will learn to color within the lines.
In a conventional school, your child will need to learn how to pay attention to one teacher lecturing to the group. Think long circle times with one teacher talking to all the children together.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course. In a Montessori classroom, however, we believe your child deserves an education that focuses on all aspects him as a human being.
How Montessori is Different: A Three Word Answer
Education for Life
Rather than just preparing your child for the next step in school, we seek to support his academic, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development. We want him to be successful at life in the future, not just in kindergarten.
Take a second to imagine your child twenty years from now. What skills will he need to be successful in college, his chosen profession and in life in general?
Here is a primer. He will need to:
- Know how to regulate his behavior
- Control his impulses
- Learn to plan and strategize
- Hone the ability to problem solve
- Learn to be flexible and course-correct when necessary
- Learn to take initiative
- Develop responsibility
- Engage in depth-based thinking requiring long periods of concentration
- Work collaboratively with peers on projects
Researchers who study the traits of successful adults coined the term for these skills: “executive functions”.
These executive function skills, that are so important to life’s success, must be continually developed, day in and day out, or else they will not materialize. They result from the way an activity is done and the time spent doing it – pushing oneself to do better and better.
The Link Between Montessori and Executive Functions
Research comparing children attending Montessori schools with those attending traditional schools was conducted by University of Virginia professor, Dr. Angeline Lillard, and was published in the prestigious journal, Science, in September 2006.
Montessori students rated higher on “executive function skills”- skills like selective attention, self- control, problem solving, reasoning and not getting into trouble.
On behavioral and social tests, 5 year old Montessori children scored higher than their peers from conventional schools, showing that they had a greater sense of fairness and justice; out on the playground, they were more likely to engage more in emotionally positive play with their peers and less in rough housing.
And, yes, your child will still be ready academically for elementary school, whether in Montessori or any other program. The same study found that among the 5 year olds who were studied, Montessori children were prepared to enter first grade with strong reading and math skills. Additionally, the executive function skills gained in a Montessori environment assist the child in making the transition to first grade.
The Choice is Yours
Is Montessori worth it? You decide. You, as the parent, are charged with raising your child in the best way you see fit. What do you value? What kind of adult do you want your child to become? There are a multitude of options available to you. Only you can decide what is the best fit for your family.
We invite you to come tour our school, speak with our director, and see for yourself the Montessori difference. We still have a few spaces available for Fall 2019. Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity! Email us now to set up your personalized tour or visit our online scheduling tool. We can't wait to meet you!
All photos in this post are courtesy of Meg Porter Photography. Thank you Meg, for capturing these beautiful images from the first days of school in the Toddler Class.
Every spring, it is a tradition at our school to visit The Art Barn. We always have a wonderful time and enjoy learning about the farm and the animals that reside there. Here are some photos from our recent trip in May. Thank you Meg Porter Photography for sharing these images with us!
We started the day learning all about bees and the different roles they have in the hive.
Then we painted lovely pictures under the magnolia trees.
After painting, we took a hay ride around the farm, learned about the garden, and ended up back in the barnyard. Toby showed us some of their cool chickens and told us some interesting facts. Did you know chickens have a great memory and can recognize over 100 different faces?
In the barnyard, we got to pet and brush donkeys, goats, and sheep. We also saw several types of chickens and ducks.
We finished up with a group photo and a picnic under the trees. Thank you, Farmer Sue for another FARM-tastic trip!
We love having a beautiful outdoor area as an extension of our classrooms! We recently had 2 days dedicated to working in the garden and we are very proud of how lovely everything looks.
Along with the fun of getting dirty, gardening helps children learn valuable lessons about patience as they wait for vegetables to grow, responsibility as they see how necessary their care is to the garden, and even loss when flowers die at the end of a season.
Children are natural nurturers and understand the importance of caring for plants and other things in the garden.Along with the fun of getting dirty, gardening helps children learn valuable lessons about patience as they wait for vegetables to grow, responsibility as they see how necessary their care is to the garden, and even loss when flowers die at the end of a season.
"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving" - Maria Montessori
Once a week, our Primary children go to the sanctuary for Chapel. Chapel consists of a short bible story, singing songs with Ms. Beth, the music director at Cross of Life Lutheran Church, and saying a prayer. Different staff members of the school and church take turns telling the bible story each week.
This week, our story was 'The Good Samaritan.'
The children had a great time re-enacting the story as it was told.
Who was going to help the man? Finally, our own good Samaritan rose to the challenge!
"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." Luke 6:31
Chapel ends with Ms. Beth playing the auto harp and singing 'Shalom' with the children. They love singing 'shalom' to their friends, parents, grandparents, pets, favorite foods, and just about anything else you can think of!
Thank you Meg Porter Photography for the images used in this post!
Montessori education offers a unique experience designed to help children maximize their potential; an educational environment that is purposefully designed to meet their developmental needs. Working in an optimally prepared environment, the trained adult will observe and connect the children with exactly what they need at that very moment to thrive.
A school is a group of people who come together with a common purpose; education is the experience that your child has with these people. Montessori education is known as an aid to life so their experience will serve them now and for the rest of their life.
The conventional educational system was designed during the industrial revolution, when the masses moved into urban areas to work in factories.
They created an effective method of training the next generation of factory workers. Children were instructed to memorize and regurgitate facts – to stop working when the bell rings – to sit in nice, neat rows of desks and ask for permission to move. This approach is no longer relevant in our modern culture.
Today, successful people work on comprehensive projects, not factory lines. They are rewarded for creating and inventing things rather than following orders. And, they are expected to adapt quickly to change within their profession, rather than working at the same job for 50 years.
As we peek into the ever-changing future of the 21st century, Montessori programs offer a safe harbor for parents: a century-old, research-based method that has been proven to develop some of the brightest minds of our times and is well positioned to develop the movers and shakers of tomorrow.
But what exactly is Montessori education?
At its core, it simply is a way of being with children that allows each child to develop fully into the person he or she was destined to be. Just as you make every effort to ensure your home is loving and safe – so your child feels secure and well-adjusted – we work diligently to ensure the physical environment, the teachers and the student community will meet your child’s needs with respect and support at each step in his educational journey.
The Montessori environment has three essential parts: the teacher, the materials, and the children. Instead of expecting that he pays attention to the teacher in front of a class of 30 children, it is the Montessori teacher, or guide, who observes and responds to your child’s needs and interests which fosters a trusting relationship – an education partnership of sorts – in which he will have faith that the adult truly understands and respects him for the human being into which he is transforming.
The uniquely designed materials offer first-hand experiences for the children to discover and apply their newly acquired knowledge.
The children in the community observe and learn from each other through free movement and choice within the environment. All three work together in sync with the needs of the community and the individuals it’s comprised of.
Our world doesn’t need more test takers, memorizers or followers. Now, more than ever, we need critical thinkers, entrepreneurs and do-ers. Montessori education prepares children to take on the future with confidence and zeal, propelled by the gift of self-knowledge and a lifelong passion for learning.
The children have really enjoyed the beautiful fall weather and the changing of the seasons. What better way to celebrate then by jumping in a pile of leaves? Thank you Meg Porter of Meg Porter Photography for capturing these carefree moments of childhood for us.
We have openings in our Toddler Program for January 2019
Click Here to Schedule Your Tour Today!
The afternoon primary class is akin to the kindergarten level of a traditional school, and therefore is entered around five years of age, or as the teacher sees readiness in the child. The time in the afternoon class is very important, as it is an opportunity to solidify concepts learned in the first years of the classroom.
The Golden Beads are a math activity that allows children to concretely explore the four operations in math - addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the photos below, the children are doing an addition problem.
The children start by setting up cards to represent the quantities. (Yes - they are using 4 digit numbers!)
Then, they choose cards and get 'golden' beads. The beads are a concrete representation of the abstract symbol (the number).
There are 4 types of golden beads - 1000s, 100s, 10s, and units.
Setting up the beads and cards is a process that requires concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and following a sequence.
Once everything is set up, the children combine all their beads together. Then they organize and count the beads by category.
Finally, they combine the big number cards to see the total. These exercises give the children a very real idea of what it means to do any of the 4 operations. In the above example, they are physically combining 3 smaller numbers to make one larger number. They are also learning about exchanging - 10 units are exchanged for 1 ten, and so forth.
After a lot of practice with sounds and symbols (letters), she is reading phonetic cards. In addition to phonetic reading, the children learn 'puzzle words', also known as 'sight words'.
Geography is an important part of the curriculum that encompasses many other subjects, such as reading and writing. Montessori aims to create 'citizens of the world', and the classroom brings in countless opportunities for the children to learn about other countries and cultures.
The girls above are working in the Science area. They are learning the names of the parts of a turtle. Did you know a turtle's shell is called a carapace?
In addition to the academic work, Practical Life remains a part of the curriculum. The girl above is embroidering a design. This requires a lot of manual dexterity and hand control. Here is an interesting article from the BBC about the importance of a well rounded education: 'Surgery Students Losing Dexterity to Stitch Patients'
At the end of the afternoon, the children help get the class ready for the next day. They all contribute to the community in different ways. The girls above are unloading the dishwasher and putting the lunch dishes away for tomorrow. In addition to practical skills, the children are gaining refinement of movement, functional independence, concentration, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
Thank you Meg Porter of Meg Porter Photography for the lovely images used in this blog post!
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!