CLASSROOMS LIKE HOME
A school at its best is a home away from home for students. Montessori schools, especially, are designed to be like home. If you walk into our classrooms, you’ll find an environment that recreates a comfortable, home-like atmosphere: house plants, earth tones, comfortable seating, throw rugs, wall art. We stay away from the primary colors and pocket charts typically found in classrooms in favor of a more domestic aesthetic. Learning materials are displayed beautifully on shelves to invite curiosity and interest.
The multi-age groupings of Montessori classrooms stem from an effort to create natural learning groups for children that mimic the first and most important learning environment for every child: the family. Few families have multiple children of the same age level. What our philosophy understands about children and learning is that they learn as much from one another as they do from adults. Also, though there are developmental periods where certain skills are known to develop, there are no hard and fast rules for when EXACTLY a child will gain mastery over certain skills. Grouping children in three-year age groups based on these sensitive periods of development allows children to learn at their own pace, honoring where each child is, while also moving them forward academically and emotionally.
CONTINUITY OF CARE
Another element of our classrooms intended to model a child’s home life is our commitment to continuity of care. Our students stay with the same classroom teachers for three years because we understand and rely on the close relationship and attachment a child develops for their teacher. A child’s learning depends on a teacher knowing their student: how they learn best, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and struggles, their joys and fears. To know a child thoroughly, it takes observation and interaction over a period of time. Our three-year cycles in Lower and Upper Elementary and our two-year cycle in Middle School ensure a student and teacher have time to develop a bond that will help each student learn best.
To see these three core Montessori principles in action is a wonderful thing. When we create classrooms that look and feel like home, students begin to look, feel and ACT like family. Older children take younger children under their wing as peer mentors. Younger children try to imitate what they see the older students doing. This is a natural motivator for younger students. They see students they look up to doing a certain work or job and they want to do it, too. I once had a first grader who memorized a third grader’s spelling list because he wanted to be like him. At the time, the child could barely read.
As part of our curriculum, children DO things that families do together. They garden, practice table manners, do chores, cook. Recently, many students came dressed as twins with someone in their class. Children got to pretend they were related, but the fact is, we already feel like family here. CMCS is like home.
Ms. Amber Wheeler-Bacon, Literacy Coach