Admissions Information – An Overview of the Montessori Education
Multi-age Classrooms: Each of our programs offers multi-age classrooms. “Montessori encourages learning from peers in part by using three-year age groupings. This ensures that as children move through the classroom they will be exposed to older and younger peers, facilitating both imitative learning and peer tutoring… Dr. Montessori was quite clear about the need for this mix of ages” says Angeline Stoll Lillard, author of Montessori, The Science Behind the Genius. Multi-age classrooms also allow each child to move through the curriculum comfortably with little regard for how their peers are performing in comparison to themselves. A Montessori multi-age classroom affords children daily opportunities to teach a skill or share information with others. Further, because every child is particularly good at something, this opportunity exists for every child, every day.
Prepared Environment: All the materials are easily within the child’s reach and placed on shelves at their levels. The tables and chairs are sized appropriate for the children to sit comfortably while the pictures and decorations are placed at the children’s eye level. Everything is in good order and has a precise location so that students can easily locate their materials and supplies. Thought is given to the arrangement of furniture, shelves, etc. so that children can arrange their bodies comfortably while engaging in their work.
Student Centered Classrooms: Montessori classrooms are student centered. The teacher simply facilitates the students’ learning process but students collaborate, choose freely, and are presented lessons at the appropriate time in their development. They are encouraged to explore the materials and are taught that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth. An adult does not become the center of attention. The children are not motivated by the teacher, but by the need for self-development. The Montessori teacher, or “guide”, is there to entice and invite the children to explore with the learning materials rather than dictate what to do.
Uninterrupted Work Cycles: An uninterrupted three-hour work cycle each morning allows the child space for creativity and innovation. The purpose of this block of time is to allow children to select materials freely, and to become absorbed in their work. They are absorbed because they have the freedom to choose to work with something that is fascinating to them in their particular stage of development. Children are most likely to choose challenging work when they know they will have adequate time to complete it. Interruptions to the child’s work period disrupt focus, concentration, critical thinking, problem solving, and exploration, which are being developed. The three-hour work cycle has been the standard in Montessori schools for over 100 years.
Movement: Children in a Montessori environment are given the opportunity for movement. They are not expected to sit still for long periods of time, which current research shows inhibits the learning process. Freedom of movement is critical for not only the growing and changing body, but also helps establish choices made by intrinsic motivation.
The Montessori Teaching Method
Holistic Learning Approach: Montessori focuses on the whole child – his/her academic, cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. A well designed curriculum supports development in all of these areas including grace and courtesy, peace curriculum, practical life skills, and enrichment in outdoor studies, performing arts, etc.
Active vs. Passive Learning: Students are active learners. They move, touch, manipulate, create, and explore as opposed to listening to an instructor. Collaborative activities allow them to interact with their peers in a developmentally appropriate environment. Students prepare for “the real world” by being actively engaged in decisions that affect their classroom and school community.
Individualized Curriculum that Follows the Child: Children work at their own pace and are not expected to move on with a group but are given space to take the time they need to develop understanding of new concepts. Teachers are trained to observe the needs and interests of each student so that they can entice the child to work in an area of the classroom that is suited to their current interest and development.
“We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child’s spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself. That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendor during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.”
- Maria Montessori
Individual Assessment: Lesson plans are developed by teachers that are based on individual assessment of each child. Teachers assess students during lesson presentation, observation of their work, and through collaborative exercises and discussions. Montessori schools are committed to teaching children and developing a love and appreciation of learning. Many Montessori schools, including MCS, avoid standardized tests, which give a snapshot of a child’s understanding at any given moment and often require teachers to teach to test, rather than for knowledge.
Sensitive Periods: Children experience sensitive periods, which is a time or stage in a person’s development when they are more responsive to certain stimuli and quicker to learn particular skills. It is easier for a child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in his/her life. The Montessori environment and curriculum are designed to meet these needs and provide activities that support the development of these skills.
Collaborative Learning: Students engage in collaborative learning that is developmentally appropriate. At each level, students meet their social needs within the environment in different ways but this development is supported by corresponding collaborative learning opportunities for children.
The Montessori Curriculum
Integration of Subjects: The Montessori curriculum is organized into a spiral of integrated studies. In the early years, lessons are introduced simply and concretely and are reintroduced several times over succeeding years at increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity. The method uses an integrated, thematic approach that ties the different curriculum areas together into studies of the physical universe, the world of nature, human experience, literature, arts, history, social issues, political science, economics, and science, all complementing one another.
Self-Correcting Materials/Control of Error: The Montessori materials are designed to be self-correcting, meaning that there are limited options for their success. When a child makes a mistake using the material they do not need an adult to point out their mistake, but can recognize it themselves. This teaches the child that mistakes are opportunities for learning and also allows them to explore different ideas surrounding a concept. Children learn to think independently and adjust their work without frustration or embarrassment. The materials are enticing and so completing them successfully is enticing for the child.
Developmentally Appropriate: Dr. Montessori developed The Montessori curriculum after careful observation of children. She determined the skills that children naturally develop during each stage of development and organized the curriculum accordingly. Teachers have the freedom and are trained to make decisions based on what children need developmentally generalized by age and stage, individually, and culturally to make the most of their educational experiences.
Sequence of Skills and Knowledge Leading from Concrete to Abstract: Montessori believed that “what the hand does, the mind remembers.” Initially, each new concept or skill is introduced concretely, giving the student the opportunity to touch, manipulate, or even observe. Concepts are presented using a variety of materials that have been designed specifically to attract the interest of the student, while teaching an important concept. Each material isolates a certain concept that the children discover through exploration with the material. Lessons are reintroduced several times during the following years at increasing levels of abstraction and complexity.
The Role of the Montessori Teacher
Facilitator/Guide: Montessori teachers do not teach in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, they observe the individual child and, with their understanding of the sensitive periods that children of each stage experience, they create an environment suitable for developing a love of learning through productive work and help them develop the ability to find information that interests them and fosters independence. They respect each child as an individual with unique characteristics and interests.
Designer of Environment: Montessori teachers design classrooms that facilitate independent learning and exploration. Materials, activities, and lessons are placed on shelves based on the needs of each developmental stage, as well as activities that might interest or engage specific individuals. Teachers ensure that the environment stays clean and orderly so that children can move with ease and confidence. Students, as active members of their classroom community, share roles of caring for the classroom.
Observer: Montessori teachers are trained to observe children to assess knowledge and achievement. These observations take place during lessons, individual work, collaborative work, lunch, snack, recess, and transition times. These observations are considered when a teacher plans lessons for the students and determines which lessons they receive and at what time they will do so.
Outcomes of Montessori
The Montessori curriculum supports the development of the whole child. In addition to a complete academic curriculum and effective educational experiences, students also develop other equally important life skills such as those listed below.
- Develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence
- Gain the ability to actively seek knowledge
- Develop dedication to their role as members of a community and achieve social responsibility
- Gain practical life skills and experiences
- Are innovative
- Are intrinsically motivated
- Develop habits of self-regulation
- Exhibit creativity and originality
- Develop self-worth
- Develop a love of learning and they learn how to learn
- Focus on and engage in personal interest
- Have effective research skills
- Have effective time management skills
- Collaborate well with others working towards a similar goal
- Effectively set and achieve goals for long-term projects
What Makes the Montessori Community School Unique?
MCS has been operating since 1985
MCS has trained and certified Montessori teachers in every classroom
Many of the teachers have been teaching at MCS from 8, 12, and some over 20 years
We offer extended hours; we are open at 7:30 am and close at 6:00 pm
We offer a variety of Specialty Classes (read more here)
MCS is committed to community and parent involvement:
Parent School Alliance – a committed group of parents who actively work for the benefit of the staff and students
Community Builders – families plan fun activities outside of school to nurture relationships
Parent Participation Hours – 10 hours per school year, per child
MCS is committed to Parent Education: offered by way of monthly classroom newsletters, Parent Education Nights, educational blog posts on our website, and more
MCS is a community of learners, with students’ ages 18 months through 6th grade, learning and growing together