Why mixed age classrooms?
If you want children to become responsible young adults they must have opportunities to practice at a young age. A mixed age group allows children of different ages and abilities to help each other and thus learn responsibility. In a mixed age class it is not always the teacher who solves problems. In fact more often it is not. Instead it is another child. This is not possible in a class with children all of the same age and abilities.
Since no two children grow and mature in exactly the same way the materials available to the children are varied and numerous. The proper activity for the right moment is there to be introduced to the child when he is ready or chosen by him as his interest dictate. Thus, no child is held back if his skills indicate a need to move on, nor is a child pressured to keep pace with skills he is not yet ready to master. The sensitive periods of each child can be capitalized upon in a multi-age classroom.
How can you accommodate the different abilities in your Montessori Classroom?
Through teacher observations and materials that are designed to stimulate, change and grow with the children, a variety of abilities are accommodated. A younger child may work for many weeks on the same piece of equipment without slowing the other members of the class. Older children in the same room can move from one piece of equipment to another very quickly, thus avoiding the boredom of waiting for other members of the class to catch up. The children with a high level of ability are constantly challenged by the wide variety of materials and their many uses.
It is a well-established fact that young children mature at very different rates and their periods of readiness for academic subjects vary a great deal. Because interest is stimulated and the materials are at hand whenever a child is ready, academics can begin at an early age. However, very early learning is not the norm, nor was it ever Dr. Montessori’s objective. Her ideal was only that the learning experience should occur naturally and joyfully at the proper moment for each individual child. “It is true, we cannot make a genius”, Dr. Montessori once wrote, “we can only give each individual the chance to fulfill their potential possibilities to become an independent, secure and balanced human being”
Why are the children in the older grades (1st – 6th) not assigned grades and report cards?
For the budding student this is the surest way to limit inspiration and slow the development of self-assessment. The joy for Montessori children is in the learning itself. They are working and acquiring knowledge because they are excited by the possibility of how far they can pursue any interest.
Rather than taking the time to grade or test the children on how well they learned the countries of North America, our students will continue on to learning the countries of South America, Europe, Asia, and so on. They ask for the opportunity to evaluate their own knowledge by testing themselves or making presentations to their classmates.
The teachers are in continuous contact with each child offering honest reflections and soliciting discussion about whether he or she is working up to potential. At the earliest of age we encourage our students to choose challenging work. Each child asks himself: “How much can I do?” (Not, “How much do I have to do?”) And, “How well have I done it?” (Not was it good enough for an A?”) This sense of personal responsibility is the preparation necessary for the competitive 21st century.
Why don’t children in Montessori Classrooms have homework?
At our school, like many Montessori elementary programs, homework is rarely or never assigned. Our philosophy is that our children do their best work all day and that after school is time that is precious family time. Children need time to relax, daydream, imagine, read, hang out with siblings and friends, play in the back yard, etc. They need time to participate in their favorite enrichment activities, such as sports, after school programs, dance, theatre, music, etc.
We do encourage our students to take home books to read to and with family members. Reading together is a wonderful activity that not only helps develop the child’s literacy skills, but also a love of literature.
Sometimes children do request being able to take home work to complete, or independently do research at home about a topic that interests them. That is so different from being assigned homework.
What is your discipline policy?
It is our goal to have children internalize good behavior, not just respond to an adult. To do this we focus on respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. But children do not always come to us with all of these qualities in place. When a child behaves in a manner that is unacceptable for our classroom he is held accountable with a logical consequence, one that is related to the misbehavior.
For example, if a child chooses a particular material and is using it incorrectly, perhaps even damaging it, he will at first be redirected to use it appropriately. If this does not remedy the problem the child will be told to put the material away and may not be able to use it again for several days.
We do not use time outs. If a child is consistently running in the class endangering himself and others, he might be asked to stay with the teacher or to stay seated at a table. This problem was related to movement, thus the consequence is the restriction of movement. This is not the same as the notion of a time out.
Our Montessori classroom really has just one rule: to take care and be respectful of everyone and everything. If the rule were to be practiced by everyone, it would make for a more harmonious world. Our teachers are aware of the importance of self-discipline. They have robust enthusiasm for learning, a deep respect for all life, kindness, humor, gentleness and patience. The nature of the Montessori materials and activities, along with the freedom of the prepared environment, help the child to realize and develop his or her sense of self-direction, independence, confidence, cooperation and self-control.
What happens after Montessori?
Many parents ask how their child can make a successful transfer from Montessori to a conventional school. The habits and skills, which a child develops in a Montessori class, are good for a lifetime. They will help them to work more efficiently, to observe more carefully and to concentrate more effectively, no matter where they go. If they are in a stimulating environment, whether at home or at school, their self-education – which is the only real education – will continue.
Montessori children are unusually adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they’ve been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make choices and manage their time well. Once the child learns the ground rules to the classroom they adapt quite well.
They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others and good communication skills ease the way in new settings.
Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.
What ages does the school serve?
Wildwood Montessori School currently serves students from 3 to 12 years of age. We plan to offer a program for older students in the future.
Is this a public school?
No. The school is a New York State Board of Regents approved private, tuition based, non-profit, non-secular entity.
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