Distinct characteristics of a Montessori program are:
Mixed Age Groupings
Classes are composed of a 3 year age span for both pre-school and elementary programs. Each class includes children ages 18-36 mo. 3-6 yrs., 6-9 yrs. or 9-12 yrs. This allows for peer teaching, broad social interactions, individual differences in learning style and pace, and creates a social community of family. It provides the youngest students with a graded series of role models and the older students with peer teaching opportunities for reinforcement of learning. Regardless of a child's birth order, they get to experience being the youngest, middle, and oldest child.
Children learnsand developsat her/his own pace through the use of materials and lessons introduced by trained staff. The integrated curriculum is introduced sequentially and at the developmental level of each individual child, allowing every child to work to capacity and at their ability level.
Child Directed Program
Within the structure of the classroom and curriculum, children are encouraged to pursue their interests, make responsible choices for themselves and direct themselves to constructive activities. Since children's interests vary, this opportunity results in an independent, self-motivated learner.
The school environment is prepared with a variety of specially designed Montessori materials - multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting. Educational materials are carefully selected to meet the needs of range of students in each class and to meet the goals of the program.
In addition to background and experience in early childhood education, teachers receive specialized training in the Montessori method. The course of study includes educational philosophy, curriculum, early childhood development, classroom management, and use of materials for individual lessons.
The use of materials for learning in the Montessori classroom is an integral part of the program. Children learn by doing and materials provide a concrete experience prior to transferring concepts to the abstract.
The Montessori curriculum integrates many subject areas into the lesson at hand. This enables students to use their knowledge and skills in context and to see the "whole" picture and understand how concepts are interrelated.
In essence, the Montessori method looks to follow the child; to guide and nurture the learning process.
"Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori.
The basic philosophy, as stated by Maria Montessori herself... "never let a child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success." ...sets the tone for a happy, engaged and productive child.