Directress, Olivia Chen (Mrs. Olivia) holds a Master of Science Degree, a Montessori Certificate for teaching children 3-9-years old, an Advanced Director Credential, and has over 30 years of experience teaching children 0-13 and adults up to the age of 65. She also has a Montessori certification for teaching children 6-12-years old.
Blessed Star teachers must have a Child Development Association (CDA) Credential or be in the process of obtaining an A.A., B.A. or M.A. Degree or a Montessori Certificate. All teaching staff must complete a 45-hour Introductory Childcare Course and 20 hours of continuing education annually. Our teachers are CPR and First-Aid Certified.
A Message from Mrs. Olivia Chen
Twenty-five years ago, I was awarded “Teacher of the Year” at a school where I worked. Despite the honor and recognition, I did not feel the joy, nor the satisfaction of being deemed an excellent teacher, however, I could not ascertain as to why I felt this way. I knew something was missing from my teaching practices. It was not until I was introduced to the Montessori Method that I realized I was limiting myself, and I was not teaching in a way that was truly effective and helpful to my students.
I now understand that true teaching requires more than physically being in the classroom and executing traditional lesson plans. It means being a guide, an observer, a facilitator, a classroom manager, a crafter, a scientist, and everything in between. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that a teacher should be a guide, whose role is to direct children by helping them discover activities and materials that appeal to them, and aid in their ability to concentrate and become comfortable with exploring their environment. Children absorb and learn from their environment, whether it is rich or poor in opportunity. In order to truly support student development, teachers should design and prepare a classroom that is aesthetically pleasing, orderly, and accessible at all times. Materials should be created with a specific purpose and presented to children in a way that enables them to direct their own learning. Designing learning activities that isolate particular concepts will excite a child’s interest and need for self-discovery, thus stimulating their own logical thinking.
What is Montessori?
The Montessori Method of Education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. It is a child- centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time-tested, with over 100 years of success throughout the world. It is an approach that values the human spirit and development of the whole child–physical, social, emotional and cognitive.
The Montessori Method of Learning
Practical Life Exercises have as their goal the adaptation of the child to his environment and growth of his independence. The goal is accomplished through the development of coordination and controlled movement, by which the child will be enabled to care for both him and his surroundings, thus establishing him in his society through courteous relations with others. For this purpose the child is provided with special materials scaled to his size and with which he can enjoy such tasks as sweeping, dusting, polishing, washing, tying and buttoning. These exercises provide the child with a clear relationship between the “prepared environment” and what he has seen his own family do, thereby allowing him to contribute to the life he sees around him.
A child brought by nature to the task of classifying those materials that surround him. The Sensorial Materials of the Montessori classroom are designed to aid the process of classification of the environment which has already begun, thus enabling the child to arrive at a conscious level of discrimination rather than a vague one. These materials are designed to develop the senses of hearing, vision, touch, taste, smell and perception, as well as the ability to discriminate between shapes and sizes.
Language is the essence of the development of the child because it enables him to communicate with others and understand when they communicate. Within the Montessori classroom your child’s vocabulary is enriched by storytelling, conversation and poetry. The Montessori child begins reading when he is ready and proceeds at his own pace. Sandpaper letters provide a phonetic basis for reading. The child hears the sound, sees the shape, and prepares his muscles for writing by the light tracing of the letter with the fingertips. Many other exercises for both reading and writing are found in the environment. Geography, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art, Music and Drama are presented as extensions of the Sensorial and Language activities.
The Mathematical mind is an ability inherent to all men. Therefore is essential to make a child’s natural mathematical tendencies by coupling these with his innate urge for exploration, repetition and exactness. The materials for mathematics introduce the concept of concrete quantity before the abstract. The quantity is introduced by a series of rods that the child can count and compare. Beads and symbol cards familiarize the child with the decimal system. These exercises provide a deep understanding of the function of numbers, concepts that will help the child in later abstractions.
Montessori vs. traditional education chart
| Emphasis on cognitive structure and social development
| Emphasis on social development
| Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom activity
| Teacher is the center of the classroom; acts as “controller”
| Environment and methods encourage internal self-discipline
| Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline
| Instruction, both individual and group, adapted to each student’s learning style
| Mainly group instruction directed to the median group in the classroom
| Mixed age groups
| Grouped by age
| Students are encouraged to teach each other, collaborate with one another and help one another learn
| Lessons taught by the teacher
| Students choose work based on interests and abilities
| Curriculum is structured for the student
| Student formulates his/her own concepts from self-teaching materials
| Student guided to concepts by the teacher
| Student works as long as s/he wishes on chosen project
| Student generally allotted specific amount of time per project
| Students set his/her own learning pace to internalize information and concepts
| Instruction pace usually set by group “norm”
| Learning is reinforced internally through the student’s repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success
| Learning is reinforced externally by repetition, rewards and punishment
| Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration
| Few materials for sensory exploration
| Organized program for learning care of self and environment (tying shoes, potty-training help, etc)
| No organized program for self-care instruction; left primarily to parents or caregivers
| Students can work where s/he is comfortable; can move around the classroom and may talk at will, without disturbing the work of others. Group work is voluntary and negotiable
| Student is usually assigned his/her own chair and is required to stay in it. Student is required to participate and must sit still during group lessons
| Organized program for parents to understand Montessori Philosophy and to participate in the learning process
| Little or no formal parent education process