Over thirty 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 guide 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.
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.
Practical Life Exercises have, as their goal, the adaptation of the child to their environment and growth of their 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/herself and their surroundings, thus establishing them in society through courteous relations with others. For this purpose, the child is provided with special materials scaled to their size and with which they 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 they have seen their own family do, thereby allowing them to contribute to the life they see all around.
A child brought by nature to the task of classifying those materials that surround them. 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 them 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 they are ready and proceed at their own pace. Sandpaper letters provide a phonetic basis for reading. The child hears the sound, sees the shape, and prepares their 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 children. Therefore, it is essential to make a child’s natural mathematical tendencies by coupling these with their 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.
“I love the fact they do not just teach the children to memorize a bunch of information, they take the time to make sure that they understand what they are learning. They expose the children to a wide variety of subjects, even at a young age (i.e.: My 5-year-old is learning all about Australia, in preparation for our International Day presentations). I also love the fact that they will not limit a child’s learning based on their age. If they see that a child needs more challenging work, they are happy to accommodate that need.”
“The staff of Blessed Star is great. By far the best daycare/school we have found in Pensacola.”
“My grandsons have attended this school a long while now and to watch them grow and make strides here has been deeply moving. All the staff here love and care for the well-being of the children like their own.”
“Blessed Star is like an extended family. The small class size allows for individualized attention to help each student reach his/her own potential. I have watched my children flourish in the years they’ve attended, and I’m confident in the investment I have made in their education.”
“My 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter recently started with this school. From the outside, it may be easy to pass by the building because it is a small school. Once you are inside, speaking with Mrs. Olivia, and seeing the kids learning and enjoying school, you will fall in love with their methods and the people. My children have learned more in one week than they did in half a school year in Pace Public schools. They’re not a number, they don’t spend their days in lines waiting for other kids to follow instruction. This school cares about the kids and their methods help the kids retain the knowledge I never imagined for their ages. Mrs. Olivia is the Headmaster of this school and her heart and knowledge are limitless. I’m grateful for her and this school. My children are learning and love going!”