Beware the term “Montessori”
“Montessori” is not a trademarked term. Which means any school can label itself as Montessori, even if follows none of the methods and philosophies put forth by it's founder, Dr. Maria Montessori.
As a parent, you should ensure that any prospective school that claims the title, follows it's principles. As with any school, look closely at its policies and ideologies to get a sense of its approach and decide whether it’s the right fit for your child. True Montessori follows the natural stages or plans of development of the child. This means providing a prepared environment with enticing materials and trained guides to allow for the gain of practical life skills through lessons in grace and courtesy, work materials that support concrete to abstract thought, natural consequences, and play (both inside and outside to experience nature).
The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. ... It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.
"The secret of good teaching is to regard the children's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim, therefore, is not merely to make the children understand, and still less to force them to memorize, but so to touch their imagination as to enthuse them to their innermost core..."
-Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was moved to create her educational method from a profound appreciation for the power and mystery of the child. The child, given primary respect, makes spontaneous choices within a prepared environment, and is “free to create himself.” Students in all parts of the world have benefited greatly from this understanding of discipline, which teaches freedom and responsibility.
Montessori Education capitalizes on natural learning preferences of children:
Freedom of movement
Use of hands through manipulatives
Encourages decision-making and choices
Discovery approach as opposed to rote or lecture
Success of mixed ages
Self-paced through individualized approach
Optimal use of time
Montessori Education focuses on the "total child":
Care for self and the environment
Social development and Moral development (mutual respect)
Dr. Montessori theorized that children go through four plans of development as show in this chart from Association Montessori International.
Some vocabulary you will hear when talking about Montessori.
Normalization- This is the adapting of children to new environments. Usually 6 weeks at the minimum at the beginning of the year or major changes to the community.
Prepared environments- Classrooms and materials that are arranged with the child in mind.
Grace and courtesy- Lessons in how to respect the environment, our peers, and ourselves.
Peace Table- A space for students to mediate concerns or issues they have with another student or staff member. These can be mediated by an adult at the request of the student but are more often self driven by second grade.
Montessori materials- Materials developed my Dr. Montessori through scientific observation to teach skills and academic knowledge without the constant supervision of an adult. The materials self correct through control of error and the end product is observed by the Montessori guide.
Self-discipline- The building of confidence and skills so children may begin to take responsibility of their learning and choose the right choices through natural consequences.
Shelf work- These are materials on the shelves from english, mathematics, geography, culture and so on that students may work on independently after the initial lesson.
Control of Error- Montessori materials are designed so that the child receives instant feedback about progress as they works, allowing them to recognize, correct, and learn from an error without adult assistance.
Rugs- Rugs are used to delineate work spaces for students as they use materials on the floor.
Work Plan- A document used to help students keep track of their weekly work and lessons and to help them plan their work for the week. This is another tool for independence and time management skills.
Time Management- The process of students planning and executing their work. This ties into self-discipline and natural consequences.
Focused concentration- Describes when a student is in deep thought on a piece of work. This is a most important achievement and it to be guarded by the Montessori guide.
Work Cycle- The period of time students are actively engaged in Montessori work. We typically have morning and afternoon work cycles.
3 Uninterrupted Work Cycle- This is the morning work cycle. This time is reserved but students to work on their shelf work or assignments without interruption from outside elements. This is to help guard focus and allow time for children to enter deep concentration with their materials.
HOW IS MONTESSORI DIFFERENT?
Give children resposiblity and space to grow.
Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Materials and manipulatives that are beautiful and inticing help motivate children intrinsically to learn.
Think of the classroom space as a solar system. In many traditional schools, desks are lined up in much the same way and the teacher is the center of the system. The children orbit around the teacher and the pace of their curriculum. In a Montessori classroom, each student is a sun and the teacher orbits the child as a guide. Many children work on the floor or at tables. They move about the room as they choose which piece of work they want to do next.
Montessori materials have built in control of error that help children to do their work independently. They may seek help from an adult if they feel they need reorienting. The materials as designed to follow the developmental plans of children and build upon each other as the students moves through the curriculum.
Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of lessons and materials. The ability to choose (with teacher guidance and established expectations) allows children the opportunity to learn organizational skills, time management, and work ethic. Self-driven and inquisitive children tend to excel in a Montessori environment.
Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education with techniques that are becoming increasingly popular in mainstream education.
Our Montessori Philosophy As A Public Charter
At Corpus Christi Montessori School, we believe that children have enormous potential to grow, learn, and become future leaders that will change the world. Our role as educators is to provide an environment that nurtures students and helps ensure that they meet their fullest potential. We believe that the choice families make for their child’s education is one of the most important decisions that affects a child's future.
We are committed to helping each child reach their potential:
Globally through Care of Nature
We do this by implementing the following pillars:
Education for the Whole Child: We prepare the leaders of tomorrow by providing an authentic Montessori education, in a nurturing environment, that includes multi-age classrooms, engaging hands-on materials, an emphasis on intrinsic motivation, responsibility for work and actions, building rigor, student-led projects, dual-language development, enrichment in languages, the arts, outdoor learning, and learning beyond the classroom, that prepares children for high school, college, and lives as capable confident individuals in their communities.
Teachers as Creative Leaders: Our teachers are empowered to shape curriculum and school culture and contribute to ongoing developments in the field of education through research and the dissemination of knowledge, as well as, social-emotional practices for our children and families. They are state certified with an additional two years or more of Montessori and education centered training.
Families as vital members to our Community: Familial support is integral for success. We partner with families to provide the most nurturing environment to help children grow into their fullest potential intellectually, emotionally, socially, creatively, and physically, so that they can pursue lives full of meaning and joy in an ever changing society.
Continuous Growth: We strive for continuous growth through a process of mastering concepts. We hold ourselves and others to high expectations, engage in self-reflection, and take personal responsibility for ensuring success for each and every child.
Diversity and Teamwork: We believe that children learn best in racially, culturally, and socio-economically diverse environments, so that they are prepared to act as global citizens and leaders. As such, we commit to working together to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our diverse community.
Our school is divided into the following multi-age groups:
Lower Elementary = 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade
Upper Elementary = 4th, 5th, and 6th grade
Middle School = 7th and 8th grade
Multi-age classrooms are a foundation of Montessori education. Students are provided the opportunity to have mentors and the opportunity to be mentors. This also allows children, their families, and their teachers an opportunity to develop deep and meaningful relationships that span their three years together and beyond. Our students develop lifelong friendships with one another and their teachers.
If we want children to be truly prepared to master the demands of high school, trade school, college and higher education, to exceed the expectations of the workplace, and to positively impact their families and communities, we must educate their minds, bodies, and hearts. They need to practice—day in and day out—independence, self-management, critical thinking, problem-solving, love and respect for nature, collaboration, respectful conflict resolution, innovation, and play—all while mastering an accelerated academic curriculum. They need to cultivate their confidence and respect for themselves, others, and the environment.
As Howard Fuller says, “Our job is not to prepare children for the 21st century; our job is to prepare children to transform the 21st century.” Our small community is a wonderful place for children to grow into capable individuals. We recognize that potential is a seed that must be nurtured by many elements to grow and so we build a community centered on mindfulness, kindness, and respect. Maria Montessori, in her book, The Discovery of the Child, wrote: “A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” We are excited to offer interested families a tour and the opportunity to explore more about Montessori.