In 1907, Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori opened the Children’s House in Rome, instantly sparking interest from other educators throughout the world for her innovative child-centered approach to learning. Maria Montessori’s emphasis on independent learning in a warm, nurturing environment quickly spread to every continent except Antarctica and is as relevant today as it was a century ago. We believe it is the best model for learning and development to help children grow into lifelong learners and responsible leaders.
Students in a Montessori classroom not only receive professional guidance, they also teach and learn from each other. That’s why our Montessori classrooms are made up of students of mixed ages and genders, divided into only two peer groups -18-36 months and 3-5 years. Younger students can observe and imitate older students’ behavior (including conflict resolution) and classroom lessons, while older students can assume leadership roles that are rare or absent in traditional classroom settings.
Children are more motivated and take bigger leaps when they’re free to choose their own activities. But these activities are limited by the materials in each curriculum area that are prepared and presented by the directress. For instance, your child may be struggling with numbers, but after observing an older student working with a math puzzle, becomes motivated to work, persevering through frustrations.
Additionally, there is an emphasis on completing projects once they’re begun. Students can take breaks as needed, particularly with challenging or longer tasks, but this teaches follow-through even on tough assignments.
Each child’s progress is carefully observed and monitored, and students are only provided materials that advance their mastery of skills and knowledge—though they may observe others’ work at any time. In this way, students can build strong foundations at their own pace rather than being forced to move along as a group whether or not they understand.
In the Montessori classroom, the term “work” is used to describe all classroom activities. At a young age, even play is work—for example, physical play develops motor skills and agility while imaginative play develops creativity and problem solving. Because of this consistent treatment, students don’t learn to dread school work and relish playtime, instead pursuing all manner of activities that satisfy their innate curiosity and desire to learn. Two school playgrounds and a school garden round out our recreational offerings.
Montessori students learn the same skills and knowledge as students in traditional classroom settings, such as math, science, geography and language, though this information is presented in a cross-curricular manner. This breaks down barriers between subject areas and content for more breadth and deeper understanding of topics that pique interest.
We recognize that the Montessori method offers greater freedom and independence than a traditional classroom setting, but we also believe it’s necessary for older students to make this transition to prepare them for the real world. To prevent this change from feeling abrupt, we introduce our oldest Montessori students to Lower School classrooms on a regular basis, familiarizing them with the more structured learning environment and providing opportunities to get to know the faculty and staff who will teach them in the coming years. Our personalized approach to education allows us to continue to encourage students to pursue their interests as they maximize their talents long after leaving the Montessori classroom.
34001 Cedar Road, Gates Mills, Ohio 44040 phone: (440) 473-8000