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What Makes the Montessori Approach Unique?

Parents often wonder ‘What is Montessori?’  ‘How is a Montessori school different from a traditional school?’.  There are many aspects of the Montessori approach and philosophy that make it unique.  Over the next several months, we will try to answer questions we hear most often from parents with examples from our teachers and classrooms at Discovery.  Through this, we hope you’ll gain a more in depth understanding of this great approach to education and understand why we all love it so much!  Let’s start with the classroom itself through this article written by Judi Bertelli.


COMPONENTS OF THE MONTESSORI CLASSROOM

Maria Montessori referred to the classroom as a “prepared environment”.  Teachers spend many hours setting up their classroom and continue throughout the school year to evaluate the classroom environment.  The Montessori approach includes classrooms that allow for independence, movement, children learning at their own pace, intellectual and social development, self-correction, peer teaching, exploration, self-discipline and freedom.  When creating the prepared environment the following six components are considered.

FREEDOM

In keeping with the Montessori approach, the classroom is child-centered vs. teacher-centered. Within the confines of the daily routine children have many opportunities to make choices:  when to have snack, what lessons to work with, whether to work alone or with a friend, whether to work on the floor or at a table.  Children learn by repetition so they are encouraged to repeat a lesson and they can choose how long they want to work on a lesson before moving on to another.

STRUCTURE AND ORDER

Young children need routine and order in their lives. To develop mental and intellectual order, their physical environment must be calm, organized and free of chaos.  A new lesson includes showing the child how to put the lesson away so that it is ready for the next person and where it belongs on the shelf. Materials are arranged on the shelves in order of difficulty moving from left-to-right.  Classroom changes are kept to a minimum and are carefully planned so as not to disrupt the children’s sense of order and need for routine.

 

 REALITY AND NATURE

Maria Montessori believed that children should experience nature and not be confined to an indoor classroom, therefore live plants and animals should be included in the classroom.  Shells, rocks, leaves, nests, etc. can be on display and available for examination. Many of the materials are made out of wood. The furniture is child-sized and children use small spoons, scoops, pitchers, whisks, mops, brooms, etc. so they can do their work with ease and minimal frustration. The outdoor environment can be an extension of the classroom, therefore allowing exploration and discovery as well as gross motor development.

  BEAUTY AND ATMOSPHERE

Children spend many hours in their classroom, thus it should be a place of beauty and harmony. The didactic materials are attractive, well designed and complete with no broken or missing pieces. The vast variety of lessons are arranged on orderly shelves with each lesson belonging in a specific place. Beautiful art can be displayed on uncluttered walls so as not to be over-stimulating.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Using controlled body movements and “inside voices”, children are free to move within the classroom and interact with their classmates.  Social skills are not innate; they are learned through adult modeling and being part of a community.  Good manners, compassion and empathy are modeled and encouraged.  The Montessori approach encourages peer teaching which develops naturally due to mixed-age grouping and children learning at their own pace.

Freedom of choice should not be misconstrued as complete freedom – it is freedom within limits.  Classroom ground rules are established to allow for a safe classroom.  Children learn proper social decorum and learn to respect the adults, their classmates and the materials. While most of the work time is spent in individual work, there are times when the class joins together as a group for stories, transitions, music and other activities.  This gives children an opportunity to learn how to behave and attend in a group setting.

INTELLECTUAL AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

Freedom, structure and order, exposure to nature and beauty in a safe harmonious environment allows for intellectual development.   Children are given new lessons and challenges based on their readiness.  Age is a guideline but not used to restrict opportunities nor to have age based expectations. The varied curriculum includes lessons in each of the following areas; practical life (sometimes referred to as everyday living), sensorial, language, math, science, geography and culture, art and music. Lessons are presented from simple to complex, from concrete to abstract so children understand concepts and are not just memorizing information.

Fine motor skills are developed primarily in the practical life area – the outdoor playground allows for gross motor skill development.

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult”.                                           Maria Montessori – The Secret of Childhood 1996

Closed November 22-24

We will be closed for Thanksgiving from Tuesday, Nov. 22 – Friday, Nov. 24th.  Happy Thanksgiving to all our DMS families and staff.

Why Montessori?

By Judi Bertelli

Vela

Why Montessori?

Most young children today attend some form of pre-school before entering Kindergarten. What makes a Montessori program unique?

Maria Montessori was a pioneer in the field of early childhood education. Many of her ideas such as using child-sized chairs and tables, mixed age grouping, peer teaching, an organized and well maintained classroom environment, hands-on learning, intrinsic motivation, allowing children choices, and teaching self-help skills to allow for independence are now considered best practices in early childhood education.

One of the most obvious differences between a Montessori program and a traditional approach is the mixed-age grouping; 3-6 year olds is the age span for a Montessori pre-school classroom. There are materials in the class that are appropriate for children entering at age 3 and lessons that go beyond a typical Kindergarten curriculum for those who are ready for more advanced work. The children are allowed to progress at their own pace so the needs of both children with delays as well as children with advanced skills can be met. Teachers use age as a guide line, but lessons are presented to students based on their readiness so when a new lesson is presented, the teacher knows that that child is ready for that particular work. Children can move as quickly as they are able through the curriculum or take as long as needed to master a skill before being expected to move on.

Mixed ages allows for a lot of peer teaching. Younger children can learn by watching what an older child is doing and it motivates the younger children to master their skills so they can eventually do the work they see the older children doing. Some parents of Kindergarten age children fear that their child will be bored if they stay in the Montessori 3-6 class as a Kindergartner – that they’ve already mastered all there is to offer in that class. In keeping with the Montessori philosophy of following the child and presenting learning opportunities based on readiness and not age, Kindergarten children thrive as the oldest children in the class. There are numerous lessons in all the curriculum areas that are challenging for the older children and enable them to progress from concrete to abstract thinking. Not only do the older children excel academically, they develop a positive self-esteem and their self-confidence soars as they become the class leaders and role models.

Unlike some pre-school classrooms that are visually over stimulating, the “prepared environment” in a Montessori classroom is a priority. Walls are not cluttered with posters and lessons are rotated throughout the year to provide variety without over-crowding the shelves. The lessons are organized on the shelves in sequence from left to right in order of difficulty. Part of presenting a new lesson is making sure the child knows how to put the material away so that it is ready for the next person and where it belongs on the shelf so they always know where to find their work. Care for and respect for their classroom is part of the curriculum; children learn to carry one thing at a time using two hands, to walk around a classmate’s work space, push in their chairs, clean up spills, etc.

A Montessori classroom is child-centered vs. teacher centered. With the mixed age grouping, children are working at different levels so they aren’t all doing the same thing at the same time based on a teacher’s lesson plan. They spend most of their day working with self-chosen lessons, the only restriction being that they can only choose something that they have been shown how to do. Once a child has had a lesson he can choose that work on his own. With the exception of time constraints for lunch time or recess, children have uninterrupted work cycles so they can spend as much time as they want on the work they choose – children aren’t moved as a group from center to center based on a time clock.

A lot of the lessons have a built in “control of error” so children can see and correct their own mistakes. For example, when working with 0-9 counting, there are exactly 45 objects in the lesson so at the end, if there are objects left after counting out 9 or not enough to reach 9, the child knows to go back and see where he miscounted. Children learn by repetition so continued use of the materials allow the children to master concepts and skills using hands-on manipulatives, not just memorizing information that they may or may not understand. While most of the day the children are working on their own or in small groups, freely moving around the classroom and conversing with classmates, it is important for them to also learn to be part of a larger group. There are times throughout the day when the class comes together and the children are expected to pay attention to story time, enjoy music or a group lesson while sitting quietly. Respecting the fact that this is difficult for some youngsters, group times are kept short and age appropriate.

The children are self-directed but are expected to abide by basic ground rules for proper school behavior and safety. They learn respect for each other, respect for their classroom and the environment, good manners, putting away their work and cleaning up after themselves, walking indoors, taking direction from an adult to name a few. To develop good work habits and tenacity, children are expected to finish what they start. There is freedom but within limits.
One of our goals is to help the children develop intrinsic motivation vs. behaving or completing work for an external reward such as a sticker.

Dr. Montessori coined the phrase “absorbent mind” to describe how effortlessly and joyfully young children learn when placed in a calm, stimulating, age-appropriate environment. Montessori teachers are trained to recognize the tremendous potential of young children and to expose them to a wide variety of learning experiences across the curriculum areas to prepare them for first grade and beyond.

Montessori for the Kindergarten Year

kindergarten pic, posed
By Judi Bertelli

As a teacher in a Montessori 3-6 year old class and later as an administrator, I have personally witnessed the benefits children reap when given the opportunity to remain in the 3-6 year old class for their Kindergarten year. Many parents fear that their child will be at a disadvantage being one of the oldest in the class – that mixed age grouping is only beneficial for the younger children in the group. In reality, there are benefits for both the youngest and the oldest.

The 5 year olds have probably been in the same class for one or two years prior to their Kindergarten year. They are the “seniors”. In addition to where they are academically, they know the routine, the classroom ground rules, the layout of the classroom, where each lesson belongs on the shelves, playground rules, their own teachers and probably most of the school staff. They become the classroom leaders when they stay for their 3rd year as a Kindergartener. They are able to help a new child who is having difficulty separating, be the one to assist a younger child who is struggling with a lesson, help straighten the classroom at the end of the day, clean up a spill, or comfort a crying child. They develop leadership skills that will remain with them for a lifetime.

At circle time they are the ones who know the days of the week and the months of the year when reviewing the calendar each day. They can demonstrate how to roll a rug, walk around a rug, push in a chair, carry a lesson with two hands, wash their hands, raise their hands and sit properly in a group. The Kindergarteners are the role models and mentors and have a unique opportunity to contribute in that capacity. As role models, mentors and helpers, their self-esteem and self-confidence soar. This is particularly beneficial if a child is the youngest in the family, or an only child, as it allows them to be the oldest for part of their day.

There are many opportunities throughout the school year for the older children to help younger children. This solidifies their own learning; you can be confident that you really know and understand something if you can teach it to someone else.

In addition to the social/emotional benefits, the children who stay for Kindergarten make great gains academically. In keeping with the Montessori philosophy, children progress at their own pace and have lessons presented to them based on their readiness, not on their age. To accommodate children who are ready for challenges that go beyond a typical Kindergarten curriculum, the classroom includes advanced lessons that may be considered first grade level work.

In language, if a child has mastered phonics as a four year old, they will likely be emergent readers in Kindergarten. They can learn to read at their own pace, neither held up as they wait for others to catch up nor pressured to keep up with a more advanced classmate. In addition to continuing to improve their reading skills, children can start to learn about verbs, nouns, articles, etc. Punctuation, capitalization, handwriting, creative writing, reading comprehension can all be introduced when a child is ready.

In math, a child may have learned addition using the golden bead material (units, tens, hundreds, and thousands) as a four year old, putting small numbers together to make one large number. The concept of addition is taught first so they understand numbers and number operations – it is not just memorizing math facts. Once they have mastered addition, they use the golden beads to learn to exchange 10 units for one ten bar, ten 10 bars for 100 and ten 100 squares for 1000. All this is taught using hands-on, concrete math materials that lead towards abstraction so they can eventually understand what it means to say 3+4=7. When a child is ready, he can go back to the concrete golden beads to learn concepts of multiplication, subtraction and even division.

Beyond math and language, they can delve more deeply into geography, science and art. The 5 year olds still love the practical life area so lessons are available to challenge them. For example, instead of practicing their pouring skills using cups and glasses, they can pour into test tubes.

Children who leave a Montessori program to enter a traditional Kindergarten program are often more advanced than their peers. The same may be true if they leave a Montessori program after Kindergarten to go into first grade. However, the discrepancy in readiness in Kindergarten is generally greater than in first grade. While most children now have some pre-school experience, some don’t or they come from a day-care vs. a school setting so there tends to be a wide range of school readiness in Kindergarten ranging from children who are still learning their letters and 0-9 numbers to children who are reading and understand math concepts. Children catch up in Kindergarten so by the time they enter first grade their skills are more aligned with their peers, leaving less of a readiness range in first grade vs. Kindergarten.

Montessori Kindergarten provides an enriched academic program that goes beyond what one might expect in Kindergarten. Perhaps more importantly, the Kindergarten children become leaders, mentors and role models so they enter first grade with self-confidence and a love of learning.

2015 Discovery “Finds” Toys For Play AND Learning!

Cara Gregory

Cara Gregory

If you’re anything like me, you are ready to tackle the “Holiday Shopping” item on your to-do list. I’ve seen lists before like “Kid tested, Mother approved” and think we could add another dimension to that: “Kid tested, PRESCHOOL-LEVEL durable, AND mother approved”. Working with preschool-aged children for more than a decade, we have learned a lot about both the durability of toys as well as the “play value” that they offer. When we select toys for our school or our personal children we are looking for something that is:

1. Appropriate for the child’s developmental stage of play, and
2. Builds social opportunities and learning opportunities.

In addition, I think that one of the most important considerations when selecting a toy is how interesting or fun that toy would be for me or whoever the child’s play partners might be. Play should be fun, after all, and the more invested we are as play partners, the more engaging it will be for our children! Here are some of my favorite toys for children 1-6 years old:

Recording Teddy Bear

Recording Teddy Bear

For one year olds: Stuffed animals with personal voice recordings.  This cute stuffed animal allows you to record short  messages, songs or stories. Wouldn’t it be nice if something like this would entertain your little one for a few minutes before they called to you to come get them in the morning?

I don’t know what you guys have figured out, but when my kids were babies we started using bath time as a partial replacement to outside time on really cold winter days.  So for me, bath toys were invaluable! Here are two that my kids really loved:

Light up bath toys

Light Up Bath Toys

Bath Cups and flow

Bath Cups and flow

When my son was little, he loved anything that could be taken apart and put together a different way. Throw in a power tool and it was even better!  Here are a couple of toys that are great for a child around 2 years old:

Take A Part Truck

Take A Part Truck

 

Magna Tiles Working Trucks

Magna Tiles Working Trucks

Great for home AND car

Fantastic Learning & Education Multifunction and Imagination

Here’s one which is great for home – or in the car:

 

For children a little older, these toys are great on both an imaginative and design level and helpful to increase fine motor abilities.

Click A Brick Rain Forest Rascals

Click A Brick Rain Forest Rascals

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite toy company is Plan Toys.  Their toys are made from sustainable materials and manufacturing, are attractive and durable, have great “play value” for children of every age.  For children who are a little older (3-6 years old) they have all of the favorites but without the limiting scripts that were already written for them like the more commercialized versions.  We’ve found these toys to be more supportive of imaginative and flexible play.  Here are 3 that are big hits at our school:

Plan Toys Pirate Ship

Plan Toys Pirate Ship

Plan Toys Fairy

Plan Toys Fairy Tale Blocks

Play Toy Solid Wood Tea Set

Plan Toy Solid Wood Tea Set

For outside and gross motor play, here are some of our favorites:

The World's Biggest Bubble

The World’s Biggest Bubble

Stomp Rocket

The Original Stomp Rocket

Plasma Car Blue

Plasma Car Blue

I hope this list helps in some way.  It goes without saying that way more important than the toy is our time and attention.  Wishing you all the opportunity to connect with the kids that you love this holiday season, and Happy Playing!!

Peace Day Everyday

pinwheels
“Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.” Maria Montessori

Last week students at Discovery Montessori School celebrated International Peace Day. We participated in an art installation project “Pinwheels for Peace” and all of our students made their own pinwheel to plant in our garden. While making their pinwheels, children shared their thoughts about peace and what that means and included some keywords on their pinwheels. It was really sweet, but way more impressive than the events on International Peace Day is what happens each and every day in our classrooms.
I have to admit. I was skeptical. I had seen the Peace Corners in Montessori classrooms and heard about the Peace Curriculum from the pros. But, could a group of 15 or more preschoolers really ever be described as peaceful? How was that possible!? (says the mom of only one preschool-aged child) Fast forward a few months and I am now one of Montessori’s biggest fans. Routinely I go up and down the halls of our school to check in with teachers, and I am not kidding when I tell you that I cannot tell which classes are inside until I get to the doors (which are always open) and look inside. It’s worth repeating. The classrooms are so calm and quiet that you can’t even tell there are children inside unless you are close enough to see them!
So, how does it happen? Is there magic in the essential oils? Are children in a Montessori school just naturally more Zen than others?
From what I have learned, there are several important factors working together to create and foster this kind of peaceful and productive learning environment. Montessori classrooms are known for being “prepared environments”. An incredible amount of time and thought goes into setting up the classroom in a way that allows children to work without a lot of help from their teachers and to follow their own interests.
Additionally, Montessori teachers lead by example. The old adage “do as I say not as I do” does not apply in Montessori classrooms. Teachers make a real effort to ensure that they are modeling the behavior that they want to see and speaking to the children in a way that they want for them to speak to each other. They are masters at this and I assure you it isn’t always easy!
Perhaps the most important example of how Montessori classrooms achieve a peaceful atmosphere is that it is a priority for the teachers, and often families who choose this approach for their children. Teaching kindness and positive social skills are a common thread that weave in and out of all aspects of the day from greetings, to collaborating to conflict resolution. For me as a parent this is invaluable. I feel like there is no better time to support and develop good social skills than when children are really young. Our culture is a busy one. Technology has allowed us to be available to almost anyone, anytime, anywhere. Often I fear this results in us not being present or fully-available to the people right in front of us, and they are the most important. Developing these skills takes practice just like any others and it seems like our kids may not have as many opportunities as we did when we were growing up. Also, by creating a peaceful classroom we create a more productive classroom and one that facilitates concentration and learning. We all learn best when we are relaxed and feel safe and secure. We learn better when we are not being bombarded with noise and too much busyness. It’s a rare win –win!

Like a Family

Like a Family      mixed age playground

While there are many well-documented academic benefits to mixed-aged classrooms, perhaps what appeals to us most about it are the social benefits offered through this grouping.  The opening of Discovery has been incredible and wonderful in so many ways.  One thing that has been especially heart-warming is watching the special friendships forming and the kind interactions between “our” children, and the opportunities offered through mixed-age groups has been obvious.

Our classrooms are already beginning to feel like little families.  On a daily basis we see the older students nurturing the younger ones, teaching them about the routines, and showing them what to do.  We also see the younger children looking to the older ones for both guidance and at times comfort.   When we’re outside, if there weren’t obvious height differences, you would be hard pressed to pick out children by age.  They swim in and out of different play routines with different friends and there are no age boundaries for them in this imaginative and explorative play time.  They take turns being leaders and followers, and the leader could be a 14 month old, or a 6 year old.  It’s really something special to see!

Friends forever

Even longer than forever...

Some of our most valuable friendships are formed when we are very young. As adults when we see 3 and 4 year olds playing together we think it is sweet, but the bonds that are formed at this age are quite unique. We are our true selves without any of the trappings of society’s expectations of who we should be. My first friends were Lyle and Sally. We have all gone in different directions and don’t see each other often, but when we do we seem to revert back to our younger selves. The last time I saw Lyle I had to tell him I was running a marathon and he proceeded to show me that he could do a handstand. It was as if we were back on the playground seeing who could run the fastest. Sally has always been cooler than me. She knew all of the cutest actors and best music and I just agreed with her. She is still cooler than me, but when have the opportunity to go on a hike we are once again little girls finding bugs and flowers. When you get together with your childhood friends you know that you will be loved no matter what because they loved you from the start.
While we are excited to be able to offer a quality educational program here at Discovery Montessori School, we are equally excited for the opportunity to foster such important friendships.

Top 10 Benefits of Montessori

math activity

Sending your young child to preschool can be an emotional experience.  In addition, deciding which preschool to send them to can be a difficult and complicated process.  Before having my children, I had never really thought much about what an important decision this is.  Skip ahead a few years and it is now so important (and exciting) to me, that I am now a co-owner and operator of Discovery Montessori School! Several of my friends have asked “Why Montessori?”.  Here is my personal “Top 10 Reasons for Choosing Montessori”.

  1. Montessori is not a trend.

So often in education, educators jump from one trend to the next. Districts and schools spend thousands of dollars on a new math or reading program only to find two years later, there’s something better out there. Providing the “right” educational curriculum has become a constant challenge of “keeping up with the Jones’s”.  One of my good friends (who is also an excellent kindergarten teacher) often says “the only thing that hasn’t changed in the classroom over the last 30 years is the children”.  Montessori schools use a philosophy and tools that have been around for over a century. Montessori schools don’t flip-flop between programs because they don’t need to. Montessori education proves to be effective regardless of whether it is in a private or public school, what country it is taught in or the socio economic status of the students. The philosophy that Maria Montessori developed many years ago still works for our kids today and I know as a parent, it works for my children as well.

  1. It fosters independence.

Everything about a Montessori classroom fosters independence. You first start with the classroom that is prepared to allow the child to do for themselves what an adult would often do for a child.  If you were to observe children in our classrooms, you would find them following their own motivation for learning, rather than the stepwise directions of the teacher. The pride you see in these children who are able to “do it themselves” without asking for help from an adult is incredible. A Montessori classroom provides a prepared environment where children are able to develop independence.

Materials were created to be self-correcting. Students can identify a mistake in their thinking without having an adult point it out to them. Students in a Montessori classroom then have the power to ask for help when they need it, as opposed to an adult telling the child when they need help.

Students begin to realize that they have the intelligence and ability to do things for themselves. This is not only empowering to the child, but gives them such a boost in confidence.

3. Encourages Cooperative Play  

Montessori teachers are trained to be facilitators, rather than directors. This encourages children to share and work cooperatively to explore the various stations in the Montessori classroom.  Children in Montessori classrooms, by the very nature of the environment, learn to respect one another and build a sense of community.  Fostering the development of good social skills is a focus of our classrooms, as we recognize that social skills, in addition to academic skills, are necessary to be successful.

  1. Kids grasp the idea of “why.”

When the reason for, or purpose of, learning a new skill or concept is clear and has direct application, the learning becomes almost effortless.  Too often, I feel, we as teachers are so focused on teaching the content that we teach skills in isolation and therefore those skills are not very useful to the learner.  In math, for example, we expect students to understand operations but never give them the how or why. We come up with acronyms and mnemonic tools to help kids memorize the step without asking why these strategies are even necessary. Montessori allows children to understand the how and the why with materials. Students can actually see a division problem occur as he or she divides each place value. They also have the ability to practice it over and over with the materials until it makes sense to them.

5. The Curriculum is Highly Individualized to Each Student

Students in the Montessori program are allowed to explore activities and concepts at their own pace. This naturally encourages children to try more challenging areas, which accelerates their learning experience. Learning occurs at a comfortable pace for each student, rather than inflicting the same rate on every student in a classroom

  1. Learning is actually fun.

One of my favorite quotes of Dr. Montessori is “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child”. When you get to learn about botany by dissecting a flower or learn about your favorite historical figure by dressing up as her, learning is engaging and fun. Montessori provides experiences for students to learn from. Learning doesn’t just come from lectures or listening, learning comes from doing and experiencing the world around them. Learning is real and relevant and that’s the way I want my child to learn.

7.  Curriculum Focused on Hands-On Learning  

One of the greatest benefits of the Montessori Method, particularly during the early learning experience, is the focus on hands-on learning. The emphasis is on concrete, rather than abstract learning, as students work on activities that teach language, math, culture and practical life lessons. Teachers encourage students to concentrate on tasks, and they discourage students from interrupting one another, allowing students to focus on activities until they are properly mastered.

There are many potential benefits of a Montessori preschool for children just starting out in the education process. These important early years prepare a student for the learning experience that is to come, whether they continue with the Montessori Method or move to a public classroom environment in the future.

 

  1. Research supports the Educational Benefits

Research conducted by Dr. Angeline Lillard, a professor of psychology from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, examined the abilities of children who have been taught in a Montessori school. Published in 2006 in the journal Science, the research studied Montessori students in Wisconsin and found that five-year-olds in Montessori classrooms had higher math and reading skills than their counterparts in public schools. In addition, the study compared 12-year-old Montessori and non-Montessori students. While math and reading skills appeared to be more on par with this age group, social development appeared to be higher in Montessori students by this age.

  1. Mixed-Age Classrooms

Children 3-5 years old are in a classroom together.  This has many benefits.  Younger children have the opportunity to learn from the older children’s models for both social and academic behavior.  If you’ve ever tried to teach someone a new skill, you know that you really have to understand it in order to do so.  Older and more advanced children have the opportunity to deepen their understanding through peer teaching opportunities.  In addition, children have the opportunity to explore different social roles of being leaders and followers.  The mixed-aged classrooms create really special little communities within our larger school community

10.  Emphasis on cultural Awareness

 Unique to the Montessori classroom is a rich cultural curriculum. Dr. Montessori was passionate that the key to a peaceful world was held within the peaceful child. By exploring cultural activities including maps, music, food, and artifacts, with a focus on the similarities on people throughout the world, the child builds awareness of the world around her. The diversity of our families and staff, in conjunction with the cultural materials, help our students develop a respect for all people.