Absorbent mind: A mind able to absorb knowledge quickly and effortlessly. Montessori said the child from birth to six years has an “absorbent mind.”
Academic Director: The department head overseeing the teachers and programs for each of NNM levels (primary, elementary, junior high).
AMI: Association Montessori International. An international accrediting agency for Montessori teachers and schools, through which NNM is accredited. AMI, headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is the oldest, worldwide organization to champion the Montessori method. Many of NNM’s teachers complete the AMI certification program for training to be a lead Montessori teacher.
AMS: American Montessori Society. A national accrediting agency for Montessori teachers and schools, through which NNM is accredited. AMS provides resources for schools, teachers, and parents on Montessori philosophy, lessons, and news. Some of our primary teachers are AMS-certified. All of NNM lead teachers are either AMS or AMI certified.
Children’s House: The English name for Montessori’s Casa dei Bambini [Italian]. A place for children from 3-6 years to live and grow. Everything necessary for optimal human development is included in a safe and secure environment.
Classification: Sorting. Allocating or distributing according to common characteristics. The young child engages in classification activities because the process is essential for the construction of the intellect. The Montessori classroom offers many opportunities for classification.
Community Song: A musical mission statement for NNM, often sung in 0-6 classrooms before snack and meal times.. Lyrics: “Look around and you will see community, a family, we are brothers, sisters all.”
Concentration: The act of concentrating. The young child focuses his or her attention on aspects of the environment essential for development. From a Montessori perspective, concentration is the consistent activity with great focus on a single work–an exercise on some external object, where the movements of the hands are guided by the mind. Deep engagement.
Concrete to abstract: A progression both logical and developmentally appropriate. The child is introduced first to a concrete material that embodies an abstract idea such as size or color. Given hands-on experience, the child’s mind grasps the idea inherent in the material and forms an abstraction. Only as the child develops, is she gradually able to comprehend the same idea in symbolic form.
Control of error: A way of providing instant feedback. Every Montessori activity provides the child with some way of assessing his own progress. This puts the control in the hands of the learner and protects the young child’s self-esteem and self-motivation. Control of error is an essential aspect of auto-education.
Coordination of movement: One of the major accomplishments of early childhood. Through the child’s own activity, she refines her muscular coordination and consequently acquires increasingly higher levels of independent functioning. Because of this developmental need, children are drawn to activities that involve movement and especially to those that demand a certain level of exactitude and precision.
Cosmic education: Maria Montessori urged us to give elementary-level children a “vision of the universe” to help them discover how all parts of the cosmos are interconnected and interdependent. In Montessori schools, these children, ages 6–12, begin by learning about the universe, its galaxies, our galaxy, our solar system, and planet Earth—everything that came before their birth to make their life possible. As they develop respect for past events, they become aware of their own roles and responsibilities in the global society of today and tomorrow.
Creativity/imagination: Imagination involves the forming of a mental concept of what is not actually present to the senses. Creativity is a product of the imagination and results from the mental recombining of imagined ideas in new and inventive ways. Both are dependent on mental images formed on through sensorial experiences.
Cycle of work/ Work period: Young children, when engaged in an activity which interests them, will repeat it many times and for no apparent reason, stopping suddenly only when the inner need which compelled the child to activity has been satisfied. To allow for the possibility of long concentrated work cycles, Montessori advocates a 3-hour uninterrupted work period.
Development of the will: The ability to will, or choose to do something with conscious intent, develops gradually during the first phase of life and is strengthened through practice. The Montessori environment offers many opportunities for the child to choose. Willpower, or self-control, results from the many little choices of daily life in a Montessori school.
Developmental Gym: A key physical education opportunity to NNM’s learning environment. Students are able to visit developmental gym to practice large-motor development and self-regulation as a part of their daily work periods.
Deviations: Behavior commonly seen in children that is the result of some obstacle to normal development. Such behavior may be commonly understood as negative (an aggressive child, a destructive child, etc.) or positive (a passive, quiet child). Both positive and negative deviations minimize once the child begins to concentrate on a piece of work freely chosen.
Flex Fridays: Experiential learning opportunities for NNM’s Junior High students. On Fridays throughout the year, 12-14 students are encouraged to identify a city cultural attraction and organize a trip to that destination, gaining first hand experience with navigating the city through public transit.
Going Outs: Class excursions or field trips for children ages 6-12. These occur throughout the school year by class or level.
Grace and courtesy: An aspect of practical life. Little lessons which demonstrate positive social behavior help the child adapt to life in a group and arm her with knowledge of socially acceptable behavior; practical information, useful both in and out of school.
Guide: Historically, the designation for the lead teacher in a Montessori classroom; some schools still refer to the lead teacher as “guide.” In Montessori education, the role of the instructor is to direct or guide individual children to purposeful activity based upon the instructor’s observation of each child’s readiness. The child develops her own knowledge through hands-on learning with didactic materials she chooses.
Harvest and Spring Breakfast/Gathering: Twice-annual morning gatherings for families of the 3-6 level. Families gather for a potluck breakfast followed by an open house in their child’s classroom. Parents are encouraged to follow their child and observe their work and role in the classroom community.
Human tendencies: A central tenet of Montessori philosophy is that human beings exhibit a predisposition towards exploration, orientation, order, abstraction, work, self-perfection, communication, and a spiritual life. These tendencies are universal, spanning age, culture, and racial barriers; they have existed since the dawn of the species and are probably evolutionary in origin. Montessori encourages and serves these tendencies.
Independence: Not depending on another. Normal development milestones such as weaning, talking, etc. can be seen as a series of events which enable the child to achieve increased individuation, autonomy, and self-regulation. Throughout the four planes of development, the child and young adult continuously seek to become more independent. Montessori’s aim is to cultivate these tendencies, serving to help a child to help herself.
ISACS: Independent Schools of the Central States is an accrediting organization of which NNM is a member. The accreditation process is completed every 7 years. NNM’s standing with ISACS is a point of pride and distinguishes the school from others in the area. ISACS’s headquarters are based in Chicago and many of our teachers take advantage of their excellent professional development opportunities.
Isolation of difficulty: Before presenting a lesson, the Montessori teacher analyzes the activity she wants to show the child. Procedures or movements that might prove troublesome are isolated and taught to the child separately. For example, holding and snipping with scissors, simple movement, is shown before cutting curved or zigzag lines; folding cloths are shown before cloth washing, an activity requiring folding. A task should neither be so hard that it is overwhelming, nor so easy that it is boring.
Indirect preparation: The way nature has of preparing the intelligence. In every action, there is a conscious interest. Through this interest, the mind is being prepared for something in the future. For example, a young child will enjoy the putting together of various triangular shapes, totally unaware that because of this work his mind will later be more accepting of geometry. Montessori’s lessons are structured to build upon one another. A child’s progression through multiple levels at Near North allows for the fruition of indirect preparation.
The Journey: A parent-education showcase of the four-curricular areas—language, math, science, sensorial—following the curriculum from the primary through junior high level. A must-experience learning opportunity for NNM parents.
Language appreciation: From the very first days in the Montessori classroom, children are given the opportunity to listen to true stories about known subjects, told with great expression. Songs, poems, and rhymes are a part of the daily life of the class. The teacher models the art of conversation and respectfully listens to her young students.
Learning explosions: Human development is often not slow and steady; acquisitions seem to arrive suddenly, almost overnight, and with explosive impact. Such learning explosions are the sudden outward manifestation of a long process of internal growth. For example, the explosion of spoken language around two years of age is the result of many months of inner preparation and mental development.
Lesson/Presentation: A guide or teacher in a Montessori environment does not teach in the traditional sense. Rather she shows the child how to use the various materials and then leaves them free to explore and experiment. This act of showing is called, a lesson or presentation. To be effective, it must be done slowly and exactly, step by step, and with a minimum of words.
Levels: Near North’s designations for classrooms corresponding with child’s age and the planes of development. Near North structures its students into the Primary level (0-6 years of age made up of parent/infant, Young Children's Community, and 3-6 classes), Elementary (6-9 years and 9-12 years), and Junior High or adolescent level (12-14 years).