A nurturing space for children ages 2 through kindergarten
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Overview

Dr. Maria Montessori, a noted physician and scientist, developed the Montessori Method of education after spending years observing the natural activities and learning styles of children. This form of education, corroborated by the recent advances in brain research, developmental psychology, and early child development, is child-centered meaning that it adapts to each individual child’s way of learning.

Through the manipulation of didactic materials at the pre-primary and primary levels and the exploration of new knowledge collaboratively and individually at the elementary level, your child learns at her or his own pace. With an eye towards the Virginia standards of learning, the elementary classroom provides each child an opportunity to learn through didactic materials, research, and projects, done either individually or collaboratively. The end result is that your child is prepared academically for middle school with a deeper understanding of the concepts and theories that are the foundation of a quality education – all while retaining a love of learning and the acquisition of knowledge.

More critically, your child develops critical-thinking skills, self-confidence, self-initiative, and emotional strength. Research shows that Montessori children have stronger “emotional intelligence” than children in other forms of education. They have more developed social skills and a better sense of self than their non-Montessori peers. These skills correspond more closely to success in life than raw academic abilities. AMI-recognized Montessori schools adhere most closely to the highest standards of Montessori education. AMI is the Association Montessori Internationale. It was founded by Dr. Montessori and carries on her high standards from its headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and its North American branch outside of Washington, DC.

Montessori education is one of the fastest growing forms of education both in the United States and the world. From the first classroom in Rome, Italy in 1907, Montessori education has grown to over 10,000 school in this country and thousands more throughout the world.

 

Foundational Principles of Montessori Education

  • Education of the whole child: Montessori education addresses the intellectual, social, moral, emotional and physical as well as the academic development of the child. We view education as an aid to life.
  • Human Tendencies: Humans are born with natural tendencies that incline them toward certain behaviors such as exploration, orientation, order, imagination, repetition, and communication. These tendencies enable children to learn from and integrate into whatever culture they are born.
  • Four Planes of Development: Montessori described the development of human beings as stages of growth. At each stage, there is a specific set of psychological characteristics that manifest. The materials, classroom environment, and the manner in which lessons are given respect each developmental phase and the sensitive periods.
  • Sensitive Periods: During the process of development, there are specific periods of time during which the human being is particularly sensitive to learning a skill (e.g., language). The period of sensitivity arises then disappears whether the trait is acquired poorly or well.
  • Follow the child: Montessori materials and lessons follow each child’s natural progression from concrete to abstract thinking and through the planes of development and sensitive periods.
  • Self construction: Children construct themselves (intellectually, socially, emotionally) through activity and interaction with their environment (physical and people).
  • Normalization: Children have a natural disposition to work. When children concentrate on work, demonstrate independence, and are motivated to learn, children are harmonious within and in their interactions with others.
  • Differentiated, child-centered instruction: Guidance and lessons are given to children based on children’s individual skills and interests. Children are encouraged to innovate and create, problem-solve, and develop critical thinking skills. We respect and engage multiple intelligences, and nurture each child’s potential.
  • Integration of subjects: Children’s studies are interdisciplinary.
  • Classroom without walls: Experiential learning is an integral part of the children’s experience. In Pre-Primary and Primary practical life skills are developed. In Elementary, children integrate classroom learning with research and self-initiated “going out” trips.
  • Uninterrupted work periods: Children need freedom to concentrate on their work. Two-to-three-hour work times are protected in each work cycle from interruptions by adult-imposed scheduling
  • Balance of freedom and responsibility: Children have freedom to choose work, work as long as they want, and work with one another. This freedom is balanced with the expectations that they engage in productive work and work with others respectfully.
  • Independence: High student-to-teacher ratios and large class sizes are essential to students’ development of independence and collaboration skills; the exception is the adolescent who must interact with many adult role models and experts within their fields.
  • Mixed age groups (2-3, 3-6, 6-12) in each class correspond to the Four Planes of Development. Mixed age groups are important for both social and academic learning by allowing older children to mentor younger children, motivating younger children to aspire to the work of their older peers, and diversifying the work to meet each child’s level of competence.
  • Process of learning is emphasized over product: Children learn how to learn so they can apply these skills to any topic or situation.
  • Grace and courtesy is learned through children’s freedom to interact with one another in the classroom. Children learn through direct experiences to be aware of their bodies, consciously moving in ways that are peaceful and productive, and to be conscientious about the words they say. They learn how to share, compromise, and express thoughts and feelings in ways that are respectful. They learn the value of community service through their everyday experience in the classroom.
  • Prepared environment:
    1. Furniture: The furniture is child-sized and arranged to allow the children independence and success with their work.
    2. Learning Materials: Montessori didactic, hand-made, and supplementary materials are chosen carefully to ensure all lessons in the Montessori albums (“curriculum”) can be presented and children can complete follow-up work. Materials are placed in the classroom so that children can independently use material they need for their work.
    3. Guides: Guides (teachers) are observers and facilitators who are fully trained in Montessori at the level they teach and implement Montessori pedagogical theory and methods. Based on their observations of the children, the teachers present lessons from their Montessori albums using the appropriate material and guide children to productive independent and collaborative work.

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