- What is Montessori?
- How are classes at New Discoveries Montessori Academy structured?
- What about gifted children? Children with special needs?
- What about parental involvement?
- What makes Montessori education unique?
- How does Montessori work?
- Will there be trained Montessori teachers?
- Who can attend New Discoveries Montessori Academy?
- What does it cost to attend? Is there tuition?
- Are Montessori children successful later in life?
WHAT IS MONTESSORI?
Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) is a method of education that was founded in the early 1900’s by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century later, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
HOW ARE CLASSES AT NEW DISCOVERIES MONTESSORI ACADEMY STRUCTURED?
Montessori classes are organized to encompass a two-to three-year age span and will offer three grade levels, Children’s House (includes Kindergarten), Elementary I – Grades 1-3, and Elementary II – Grades 4-6. Through this multi-age grouping, each child is allowed to learn at his/her own pace and will be ready for a given lesson in his/her own time. In a mixed-age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level.
The Children’s House is for children ages 3-6 years and is the Kindergarten grade equivalent. “Children’s House” is the special Montessori term for 3-6 year old classes because the carefully prepared environment for these children includes so much more than just school work. It is, in fact, a small version of the world, a world scaled down to the child’s age and ability level. Work in the Children’s House includes everything from taking care of the classroom environment and learning practical life skills, to studies in Math and Reading.
Children, ages 6-9 (1st-3rd grade equivalent) and ages 9-12 (4th-6th grade equivalent), will be in multi-age classrooms called Elementary I and Elementary II, respectively. Building on what has already taken place in the Children’s House program, older children learn within the structure of similar curriculum areas but at a higher intellectual and developmental level. Additionally, students are exposed to research techniques such as book resources and the internet.
WHAT ABOUT GIFTED CHILDREN? CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
Every child has areas of special gifts, a unique learning style, and some areas that can be considered special challenges. Montessori is designed to allow for these differences. Montessori permits students to learn at their own pace and is flexible in adapting to different learning styles. In many cases, children with physical handicaps or learning disabilities may do very well in a Montessori classroom setting. For gifted children, the multi-age model allows for the stimulation by intellectual peers, without requiring that children skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place. The curriculum challenges the most capable students while offering adaptability to support a variety of learning styles and needs. We align our curriculum with the MN State Academic standards, as we are accountable for preparing our students for both academic tests as well as for life.
Staff partner with parents to identify students with special gifts. We utilize Re-forming Gifted Education, by Karen Rogers as the basis for identification, data collection, inventory and gifted education planning.
Students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) will receive special education services necessary to meet the requirements of the IEP and the law. New Discoveries Montessori Academy will provide those services or will seek contracted services.
WHAT ABOUT PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT?
Studies consistently indicate that when schools, families and communities work together to support student learning, everyone benefits. We recognize that parents are the primary educators of their children and that they need to be heard. New Discoveries Montessori Academy strongly supports a community/family-friendly school environment that will actively encourage involvement and participation. Specific opportunities for parent and community involvement include: Open House events, volunteering in the classroom, participating in parent/teacher/student conferences, field trip chaperone and guide, mentoring, assisting with school projects, and supporting school-wide and fundraising events.
To help facilitate parent volunteer involvement, New Discoveries Montessori Academy facilitates the forming of a volunteer network beginning with parent training sessions. These sessions help parents understand the important role they play in the educational process and how their participation in their child’s education is valued. The sessions also introduce the curriculum to the parents and explain how they can best assist their children with the learning process. Community members will be asked to participate on an on-going basis.
New Discoveries Montessori Academy provides Montessori parent education programs that promote understanding of Montessori principles and curriculum.
WHAT MAKES MONTESSORI EDUCATION UNIQUE?
The “whole child” approach. The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum allows the child to experience the joy of learning and to develop self-esteem and independence.
The “Prepared Environment”. In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment – room, materials and social climate must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
The Montessori materials. Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of “toys” which children enjoy and return to play with repeatedly led her to design a number of multi-sensory sequential and self-correcting materials which facilitate the learning of skills and concepts. Teachers will follow “Montessori principles” as they structure new activities for the classroom.
The Teacher. Originally called a “Directress”, the Montessori teacher functions as a facilitator of learning. S/he is a role model, designer of the environment, resource person, demonstrator, record-keeper and observer of each child’s growth and development. S/he encourages, respects, and loves each child as a special, unique individual; s/he also provides support for parents and joins them in a partnership to nurture the development of the child.
HOW DOES MONTESSORI WORK?
Each Montessori class, from toddlers through high school, operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differs from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs: respect for each other and for the environment.
Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials s/he may introduce to individual children or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.
The two-to-three year age span in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Because this peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori, there are often more conversation-language experiences in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early education settings.
WILL THERE BE TRAINED MONTESSORI TEACHERS?
Yes. Teachers hold appropriate state teaching licensure and are trained and certified in the Montessori philosophy and methods. Teachers are responsible for preparing a learning environment that sponsors growth of the whole child and addresses each student’s learning needs in a Montessori way. Teachers work cooperatively with the Leadership and Administrative Teams and support staff to ensure the Montessori philosophy and approach permeates the whole school.
New Discoveries Montessori Academy is an associate member of the American Montessori Society.
ARE MONTESSORI CHILDREN SUCCESSFUL LATER IN LIFE?
Research studies show that Montessori children are well-prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.