1) Responding to Student Interest and Readiness
Children at different stages absorb specific types of learning at a rapid pace, with joy and determination. Awakenings to new interests and capacities are monitored constantly through the well-trained observation of the Montessori faculty.
The goal of our program is to nurture the unfolding of the child’s potential by providing love, security, encouragement, and appreciation of the child’s efforts. To achieve this we provide a specially prepared Montessori environment where the child finds intellectual stimulation and the opportunity to learn by doing. This personal involvement and experience give the child a love of learning that he/she takes with them for life. By infusing the five human values that are fundamental to all human development – truth, right action, peace, love, and non-violence – into the curriculum we establish a foundation in character, which is expressed in ethical personality, good self-esteem, and strong self-confidence.
Not only does each level’s curriculum cater to an age-specific stage of development, but our communities give individual students room to move at their own pace with faculty support. If your child is driven to pursue a certain subject, new lessons and challenging materials are made available to meet that interest. If your child needs more time to focus on a difficult concept, he will have the time and the help necessary to work on it until he is satisfied with his mastery of the subject.
2) Building Responsibility through Independence
Children in Hillside Montessori school environment take their education seriously in part because they have the power to choose their own work, focusing on what fascinates them for up to three hours without interruption – and moving freely from one lesson to the next as they complete each activity. We call this the uninterrupted work period. This key concept is one of the most important distinguishing characteristics of Montessori education. By letting students revel in what interests them for long periods, and not forcing them to loiter when they have lost interest, Montessori not only preserves but expands each child’s love of learning.
3) Fostering Grace and Courtesy
Lessons in Grace and Courtesy pervade the Montessori curriculum from the earliest levels. These lessons are integral to the Montessori method’s focus on learning about and respecting cultures from around the world and Montessori education’s universal goal of bringing about peace in the
world through better education. Some of the results of this work within our Montessori school are immediately obvious in the politeness of our students. There is depth to these lessons that might not be immediately apparent as well. Each Montessori community features a Peace Table or
a space dedicated to conflict resolution among students. Students ask each other to accompany them to this space when tensions or disagreements need to be worked out among them and are coached by faculty in how to speak to each other to bring about a peaceful resolution. Also, starting in our Toddler communities, students are taught to respect each other’s personal and work space. This creates an early awareness of others’ bodily autonomy and the importance of consent in social situations.
4) Deepening Learning through Mixed Age Communities
Montessori communities each include students from a range of ages, typically of around three years. This mixed-age format confers a number of advantages upon students. In a mixed age classroom, the Montessori faculty has an opportunity to get to know each student over the course of several years. She also has a much larger curriculum to present a child who is devouring one subject at a rapid rate, giving students a substantive opportunity to learn at an accelerated pace. Also, Montessori classrooms provide the incredible opportunity for students to learn from and teach their friends. In looking up to older students, they become eager to learn the lessons they have not yet reached. In seeing younger students working, they have a chance to reinforce their expertise on concepts they have already learned through repetition. All students benefit from older students mentoring their younger classmates. There is also an established classroom culture, shaped by the returning, older students. This culture easily absorbs new students and minimizes the adjustment and community-building period for the entire class at the start of each new school year.
5) Creating Engaging Environments for Learning
Montessori observed that students are more likely to engage with their work in a prepared environment created to suit their needs and that this prepared environment worked best when it was both home-like and beautiful to students.
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