Here are answers to a number of frequently asked questions about NNM's 3-6 classes:
Q: What does a typical day look like for a child in the 3-6 program?
A: Most children arrive around 8:30am and choose their own activities or “work.” The teacher gives children individualized presentations of the various works throughout the morning, so that the child understands the purpose of a specific material. Teachers are able to assess a child’s comprehension of the material and concepts from individualized presentations. Children have the freedom to move from one activity to the next at their own pace, rather than the adult directing them. Children explore and engage with the hands-on, multi-sensory materials, and are invited to lessons in one of five curricular areas (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, or Cultural Sciences). Teachers keep records of the lessons a child has been presented, ensuring the child is being introduced to the various curricular areas at the appropriate development stages. Teachers observe for repetition of a child’s work and eventually look to see that the child has mastered a particular concept. 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 take great pride in offering purposeful contributions to the classroom community. Children help prepare foods for snack and care for the environment in a multitude of ways, developing skills in collaboration, communication, coordination, concentration, and confidence. At the end of the work morning, children may participate in a gathering of songs, dance, or book reading, before the transition for recess. All children have recess from 11:30am – 12pm. Dismissal for half 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 afternoon time.
Q: Can you please elaborate on the options for Early Care, Half day, Full day and Aftercare programs?
A: Most children in the 3-6 classroom arrive around 8:30am, however, we offer “drop in” 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 enrolling in the half day program, which ends at 12pm, or the full day program, which ends at 3:15pm. First and second year children who stay for full day will have nap or downtime in the afternoons, following lunch. Children in their third year are required to stay full 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 activities (typically beginning at 3:30pm) such as ceramics, swimming, dance or cooking classes.
Q: Why do Montessori classrooms have mixed age groups of children?
A: 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, as well as building their confidence in a purposeful and collaborative way. Younger children often look up to the older children and are motivated to try new challenges because they have seen a peer or older friend engage in an interesting material. Younger children also look to the older children as the social models for how to be in community.
Having children in the same classroom for 3 years also gives the teacher a deep understanding of your child. Each fall, since two-thirds of the class are returning students and only one-third of the students are new, this allows for a smoother acclimation period to the classroom overall. Also, having a 3 year relationship with the family forges a strong partnership between home and school.
Each 3-6 teacher is a fully trained Montessori teacher, receiving credentials by either an AMS or AMI accredited 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 each child, throughout the 3 years in this program. 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, keeping the child’s capabilities at top of mind.
Q: What are some ways parents can be involved in school life and learn more about the Montessori philosophy?
A: Parents have various opportunities to be involved and stay informed. Throughout the school year, Parent Education Meetings are offered to learn about the curriculum and how to support your child’s Montessori experience at home. Weekly newsletters and teachers’ class pages remind parents of upcoming events. Twice a year, parents are invited into the classroom: Harvest Breakfast in November, and Spring Breakfast in March. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend a classroom observation to be “a fly on the wall” and see the classroom in action. Parent-teacher conferences are offered at various times of the year, to discuss your child’s progress, plans, and goals for home and school. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend the various opportunities offered, to strengthen understanding of our Montessori programs and to foster a strong home-school partnership in support of your child’s whole development.