What does a Montessori education look like for elementary students?
A Montessori school day is broken up (roughly) into morning and afternoon. The morning is the core of the Montessori education with a three hour work cycle. This is when students independently choose their work and the teacher delivers lessons individually to students. The afternoon is another more flexible work cycle. This can often look like the work from the morning, but can also be used for other activities or “interruptions” in the schedule.
Montessori materials have been developed to isolate the mastery of one specific skill through the manipulation of a concrete tool. They are designed to have only the intended outcome; the task cannot be completed unless completed correctly. Maria Montessori first developed many of these tools herself and tested them over the course of decades on countless students. They have been designed and proven through the scientific method.
In the Montessori classroom children learn to read and write simultaneously. They participate in specifically designed lessons with hands-on materials to build words and sentences. This eventually leads them to the understanding that if they can write it, they can read it.
There are many moving parts in a Montessori classroom. With many kids working simultaneously it is hard to get a sense of how that will work in the classroom.
The goal of Montessori is to create independence and the ability to be self motivated and resourceful in their learning.
The teacher is a guide that directs the children to new learning while holding students accountable for the learning that they have chosen. When the students are functioning independently, it gives the teacher the time and opportunity to instruct whole group, small group, and individualized lessons and assessments.
How do mixed ages work in the classroom?
What happens when a student masters “grade-level” content?
Grade-levels are fluid and classrooms are multi-age, so if a child has mastered content in one area of work, he will be promoted and encouraged to move on. Students will not be held to a task or specific content for the sake of other students. This is the student-driven design of a Montessori education.
Do students ever use worksheets for practice?
Short and basic worksheets are used in conjunction with materials and activities to help guide student practice. This is especially true in math. Additionally, as students progress and age, they are introduced into more traditional educational practices (including worksheets) to help prepare them for integration beyond Montessori school.
Is there homework?
Homework is minimal. Family time, outside activities, play, and reading are strongly encouraged outside of school.
How will students be assessed?
Students are primarily assessed formatively, meaning the teacher observes the student’s work. After a student has worked on a task often enough to demonstrate mastery, his work will be evaluated using an established criteria in the form of a rubric and/or checklist. Students can also demonstrate mastery through projects (ie. skits, presentations, speeches, art projects, music, etc.). We will avoid state standardized testing whenever possible.
How involved can parents be?
Parents will be encouraged to be active members of their child’s education. This might mean coming in to volunteer, or it could mean being intentional with family time in the evening. There may be times parents are called upon to help with outside events. Parents will at least always be expected to stay informed on what is happening at school. Attentive parents grow confident children!
Will the school calendar & schedule match the public school?
Academy of the Winds will create a school calendar similar to the public school’s, but most likely not exactly the same. The school day times will compare to other schools in town as well.
What happens with the “3rd graders” (oldest students) next year? Will “4th grade” and up be offered?
The goal is for Academy of the Winds to grow with our oldest students, eventually including education from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. This year we have set the oldest age at 9 (3rd grade) so we will be prepared to keep these students for at least three years (through their 5th grade year) and hopefully even more when the time comes.