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Established in 1975, A Growing Place Montessori School has seen successive groups of children experience the freedom and joy of learning through the Montessori method of education.
What is the Montessori method?
It is a whole system of education from birth throughout life, based on the work of Maria Montessori (1870-1952). A Growing Place is planned to meet the needs of children from a little before age 3 until about age 6. The classroom pattern, the materials, and the guides are all part of the child’s experience. Each child’s unique way of learning is accommodated as we introduce materials that appeal to that child’s exact needs throughout the school year. Each child progresses at his or her own pace.
Careful observations on the part of the guides allow us to prepare the classroom with materials for the children’s needs. The classroom materials are rotated and changed as the children grow and need new experiences. The children have freedom of choice within limits that allow them to make the most of the classroom environment while feeling safe and being empowered.
There is a wide selection of materials in our classroom. They have been developed from years of Montessori experience. The materials are beautiful and inviting to all children. Concepts gained through use of these materials allow the child to progress from concrete perceptions to the more abstract. The materials are designed to be sequential in nature, each activity building toward the next bit of discovery for the child. Materials are usually self correcting so the child can be excited about them: “I did it myself!”
The materials are displayed attractively and accessibly so the child can choose works that appeal to the need for hands-on learning. The guide models uses and care of the materials enabling the child to work constructively and independently with them. The guide can continue to interact further with the child or step aside as needed. The child can experience learning in every area in our classroom. These areas include care of oneself and one’s surroundings (practical life), sensorial perceptions, science and nature, geography and culture, letters and sounds, numbers and quantities, reading and writing, books and painting. Learning also takes place through stories, songs and counting in English and other languages.
Our environment is a warm and loving one where the child can choose to work alone or with a friend, come for a hug or some other reassurance, observe other children working, repeat a material as many times as needed and move on when ready to do so.
The youngest children arrive with minds that soak in everything they see, smell, touch and feel. We call this the absorbent mind. Throughout the year(s) they move to a more intellectual view of what they are learning and they begin to name and describe what they are doing. Children are most receptive to gaining specific learning experiences when they are in what we call a sensitive period. During the preschool years the child has sensitive periods for independence, order, concentration, and the acquisition of the whole pattern of language and numbers. These sensitive periods are satisfied with materials and activities that fulfill the child’s desire to learn. Mastery of each step in the learning process becomes a building block for the next level of development.
The children’s need to learn through movement is built into every part of our classroom. The children choose their work and make many trips as they bring the materials to their work space and as they return the materials to the proper place on the shelf in good order ready for the next child to use. This sequence of movement gives myriad opportunities to develop social skills as the children interact.
The mixed ages of the children reflect an important element. Younger children observe the older children and the older ones model and reinforce what they know. What one sees while observing the children at work is the joy, sometimes quiet and sometimes exuberant, that comes from the children discovering each new insight and feeling satisfaction in their work.
During the final “Year of Leadership,” all the threads of learning come together into a coherent whole. As leaders in the classroom, the oldest children grow both in confidence and in self-knowledge. They become ready to move on easily to the next plane of development at their new schools.
The child’s experience at A Growing Place Montessori School provides a concrete basis for all areas of learning for the rest of life.