What does a typical day look like for a child in the 3-6 program?
Children arrive around 8:30am and are allowed to choose their own activities or “work.” The teacher gives the child an individualized presentation of the work so that the child understands its purpose. Teachers are also able to assess a child’s comprehension of the material in this individualized lesson. Children move from one activity to the next at their own pace, rather than the adult directing them from stations. Children are encouraged to explore and engage with the various materials, and are invited to lessons in five curricular areas. Teachers keep a record of the lessons they have presented to each child and observe for repetition of work, and eventually mastery of a particular material. This allows the teacher to continue to build on the child’s level of comprehension and progress through the curriculum at the child’s own pace (more detail of the curriculum can be found in the NNM Scope and Sequence document). Children also learn to contribute to the classroom community in purposeful ways. Children help to prepare the community snack and care for the environment in a multitude of ways, such as cleaning dishware, mopping spills, watering plants, feeding class pets, and folding class laundry. At the end of the morning, children will often participate in a gathering to sing songs, dance, or read a book before the transition to go out for recess. All children go out for recess from 11:30am – 12pm. Dismissal for ½ day children is at 12pm. Full day children have lunch in their classrooms beginning at 12:15pm. First and second year children have nap or downtime from 1pm – 3pm, while third year children have a required work period during this time.
Can you please elaborate on the options for early care, ½ day, ¾ day and after care programs?
Children in the 3-6 classroom arrive around 8:30am, however, they can be dropped off to their classroom for early morning care, starting at 7:30am, for an additional charge. Children in their first or second year of 3-6 have the option of the ½ day program, which ends at 12pm or the ¾ day program, which ends at 3:15pm. First and second year children who stay for ¾ day have nap or downtime in the afternoons, after lunch. Children in their third year are required to stay ¾ day and participate in an afternoon work period. After school care is available at an additional cost, until 5:30pm, in a play-based environment (not in their Montessori classroom). Children can also sign up for after-school programs (typically beginning at 3:30pm) such as ceramics, swimming, or dance.
Why do Montessori classrooms have mixed age groups of children?
The Montessori philosophy and curriculum are designed to meet the needs of the individual child, whether they are just entering at 3 years of age or in their third year in the class and turning 6 years-old. Montessori classrooms are designed to feel like an extension of the home, where learning in a community of mixed ages resembles dynamics of siblings. Having mixed ages of children, at all levels, gives the older children an opportunity to be the role models and mentors to the younger children. Older children can help give some lessons to a younger child, reinforcing an understanding of the concepts for themselves in the process. Younger children look up to the older children and are often motivated to try new challenges because they have seen a peer or older friend tackle a new work.
How are the children taught the information, when there is such a spread of ages in the 3-6 classrooms?
Each 3-6 teacher is a fully trained Montessori teacher, receiving their credentials by either an AMS or AMI training program. Our teachers follow the same curriculum (which can be reviewed here in our NNM Scope and Sequence document) to meet the individual needs of the child, during their 3 years with the teacher. Children progress through the various curriculum areas at their own pace. Teachers observe and assess the child’s level of comprehension and will scaffold the child’s learning accordingly, through individual and small group lessons. The gift of having the same teacher for 3 years also allows the teacher to really learn the child’s strengths and areas for improvement. Having a 3 year relationship with the family forges a partnership between home and school.
What is the Developmental Gym?
Throughout the morning, children in our 3-6 program have the option to visit our Developmental Gym program, for a circuit of large motor activities. The Developmental Gym program is facilitated by a certified physical educator and an assistant teacher. Children are shown proper technique as they develop their large muscle movements through various activities that also work to strengthen upper body, core, and coordination. The circuit takes about fifteen minutes to complete. Children are given the freedom and responsibility to go to the gym and return after they have finished the circuit. In the beginning of the school year, younger children are accompanied by an older child. Each of the six classrooms have a system in place that allows for only two children at a time to attend the gym. Therefore the gym typically has no more than 12 children visiting at a time.
What are some ways for parents to be involved in the life of the school and learning more about the Montessori philosophy?
Parents have various opportunities to be involved and stay informed. Throughout the school year, there are Parent Education Meetings to learn about the curriculum and how to support your child’s Montessori experience at home. To name a few, Montessori in the Home, Exploring the Math Curriculum, and Steps to Reading are presented at various times in the year. Weekly newsletters remind parents of upcoming events. Parents are also invited into the classroom a few times a year. There are two open houses, a Harvest Breakfast in the fall, and a Spring Breakfast in March. Parents are also encouraged to sign up for a classroom observation to see the community in action. Parent-teacher conferences are offered at various times of the year: following a classroom observation; October conferences for new families; Mid-Year conferences for all students; and May conferences for children “moving up” to the next level. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend all of the opportunities offered, to strengthen their understanding of our Montessori programs and to foster a home-school partnership in support of helping your child reach his greatest potential.