Learning in the Montessori Environment
Montessori best practices promote a highly engaging learning environment where students are self-directed learners and learning opportunities are facilitated through individual and small group instruction. Student work plans accommodate the academic needs of individual students and guide the teacher in differentiating instruction.
Teachers supported by classroom assistants and other faculty, are expected to maximize instructional time and to protect the learning environment by minimizing disruptions. The 3-hour work period is optimal for each day. An agreed upon sequence of lessons, at each developmental level, as well as each child’s individual needs guides the curriculum.
A schedule is posted in the classroom and all materials must be prepared and accessible at the beginning of the instructional day. Charles Ellis Montessori Academy follows all state and district curriculum standards and instructional frameworks. Peer instruction coaching is acceptable as an extension of Montessori practices but must not supplant direct lessons by a certified teacher. Peer instruction can be used to reinforce previous learning, can be used as an assessment tool for identifying mastery and can be utilized as another learning perspective for a student. Peer instruction must always be guided and assessed by the certified teacher. Lessons using the Montessori materials and Montessori curriculum are aligned with the Georgia Standards of Excellence to guide the student in mastering skills and concepts.
At the Erdkinder level (seventh and eighth grades) a spiral curriculum is implemented to expose students to many interrelated topics, repeatedly over time. The Montessori Erdkinder program expands upon learning fostered in Elementary programs and includes core curricular courses of language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies that are cognitively challenging in scope. In addition, students take specialized courses including world language courses, visual and performing arts, health, and fitness, among others and participate in field studies linked to themes, academic work, and service learning. Practical Life at the Secondary level includes student use of checklists, work plans, planning calendars, and/or study guides that promote executive functioning skills such as time management, organization, and decision-making.
Recess is an essential part of each student’s school day. Monitored by staff, recess happens mostly on the playground or, when raining, in the classroom. While recess is a time for unstructured play it is also an opportunity for students to learn cultural games that are connected to current classroom studies. Recess cannot be denied to students in Grades Prek-5 as a punishment for behavioral issues. All students are expected to participate in recess activities unless restrictions are in place per a doctor’s note.
The Montessori Prepared Environment and the Montessori Materials
Montessori prepared environments provide a structure for the daily work of the child. The young child has an innate sense and need for order. Consistency of routine allows the students to engage in the work cycle without disruption and interact in socially positive ways. Routines connected to self-care, care of the environment and care of others, provide opportunities to build virtues of responsibility and compassion.
The Montessori Prepared Environment is based on the principles of order, beauty, and precision, both in the external environment and within the internal environment of each human being. The classrooms are highly organized learning environments that engage children in purposeful interactions with the Montessori materials and the community of learners. Simplicity and beauty in the environment provide children with a sense of peace and connection to their learning. An uncluttered classroom punctuated with objects of beauty and interest, provide points of inspiration and stimulate curiosity. Teacher observations aid the teacher in choosing the necessary materials needed at various stages of the child’s growth.
As students grow and progress through the elementary levels, this sense of order nurtures time-management skills, self- reliance, and citizenship. Children take pride in doing things for themselves. They learn through movement and must actively explore and examine their classroom, school, community, and world. Montessori environments encourage children to move about freely, but with purpose. Children may select an activity and work with it as long as they are using it appropriately. Work with materials is often repeated as children gain confidence and move towards independence with concepts.
The Montessori Environment is a supportive community. As children grow older and more capable, they accept a greater sense of responsibility. They take an active role in helping to care for the environment and to meet the needs of the younger children in the class and in the school community. Families are encouraged to organize the home environment to reflect similar principles, so that the child is an active and contributing member of the daily life of the home.
The Montessori Materials sometimes referred to as the “Didactic Apparatus” are tools that lead the child to the discovery of concepts and skills, and aid the child in constructing their understanding of the universe and how it works. The Montessori Materials provide a precise framework for progressions into higher levels of learning and act as a jumping–off point for student-based research, experimentation and innovation. Montessori didactic materials used independently by the child at his/her own choosing helps develop internalization of the concepts being learned. This continues from primary into the elementary levels. The prepared environments and Montessori materials at all levels allow for continued growth towards abstraction.
Montessori Multi-Age Classes
Dr. Montessori was a pioneer in the study of child development. Montessori education recognizes the essential stages & elements of child development and the sensitive periods for learning certain skills and concepts. The three-year cycle of each level allows for staff, families, and the community to develop lasting relationships that benefit everyone. Trust built over time allows for a connection between the school and home. While state & district requirements are set, Charles Ellis Montessori Academy strives towards authenticity in meeting the needs of these key developmental periods. Numbers of students per class/teacher are determined by State Guidelines.
3 - 6 yrs: The Children’s House (Primary)
At Charles Ellis Montessori, our Primary Classes include four and five year olds/PreK and Kindergarten students. Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 12:1.
6 - 9 yrs: Lower Elementary
Our Lower Elementary Classes include six, seven, and eight year olds/ First, Second, & Third Grade Students. Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 12.5/1.
9 - 12 yrs: Upper Elementary
Our Upper Elementary Classes include nine, ten, and eleven year olds/Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Grade Students. Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 15:1.
12 - 15 yrs: Erdkinder (Secondary)
Our Erdkinder Classes include twelve and thirteen year olds/Seventh and Eighth Grade Students. Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 14:1.