The Montessori Approach
Modern Montessori education is drawn from the vision of Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori. She believed that the environment which encourages the fullest development of student potential is one that affords the opportunity to explore one’s intellectual as well as creative abilities. In a Montessori classroom, this education centers on each child and is propelled by the child’s intellectual curiosity and a spirit of inquiry. The result is teaching mastery at the child’s own pace, critical thinking, and an ability to focus and concentrate on one’s work.
A Montessori classroom is comprised of three age levels, a teacher, and the environment; together they create a learning triangle. It is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The student, through individual choice and unrestricted time limits, makes use of what the environment offers to develop herself, interacting with the teacher when guidance is needed.
The fundamental values of any Montessori classroom are the following:
Children achieve mastery at their own pace
Critical thinking skills are always being developed
Children should learn to be self-starters
The opportunity to focus and explore at their own pace helps
children become independent learners
Choice gives children a sense of control because they feel like what
they are doing is more important because they are coming up with it themselves
A primary Montessori classroom is prepared to motivate children to develop a love of learning. There, children between the ages of 3 and 6 are given the freedom to move about their environment independently and with no time limits on their work. This develops concentration skills. The children learn how to use the materials with individual or group instruction. Once they understand how to do their work, they can choose which work they would like to do independently. From the age of 3 on, the students are exposed to a vast amount of knowledge in all areas, including, but not limited to, language arts, math, science, history and geography, and all learning styles are respected. Children in a Montessori classroom have the opportunity to become well educated in an environment that meets their needs.
To see a condensed version of a primary class student moving through his day, go to our YouTube video
Montessori at Capital Day School
Our Montessori primary classroom has 24 children and 2 fulltime teachers (one certified, one assistant). The large room has colorful walls, multiple working areas, an outdoor space, and its own bathroom. The students’ daily schedule will feature a three hour uninterrupted work period. This long block of time allows children to develop the ability to choose and successfully complete their work.
Our teacher, Alyssa Baesler, has been teaching preschool at Capital Day for 8 years, and recently received her full MACTE certification. Her assistant, Lori Proctor, has attended the Xavier University Montessori Assistant 3 day workshop. Several other classroom assistants spend time in the class, including Alyssa’s mother, Cathy Rowland, who led a Montessori classroom for many years.
Many of the basic Montessori methods have been used in the Capital Day preschool for a number of years, as Alyssa’s life-long relationship with Montessori methods informed her work prior to her certification. Our traditional preschool class uses methods that are inspired by Montessori, including being able to use their minds and hands by working with materials that are based on language arts, math, science and more. The students practices grace and courtesy and are encouraged to do practical work that is relevant to the real world, just as they do in the Montessori classroom.