Montessori Philosophy of Education
Oak Grove offers an education based on the Montessori Method. This method, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago, teaches the child how to learn independently and joyfully by providing a stimulating curriculum in a multi-aged “prepared environment.” The prepared environment is a carefully arranged classroom that offers specially designed, hands-on learning materials, displayed and easily accessible. The setting encourages independence in learning and allows children to develop at their own pace. The Montessori philosophy respects and embraces the natural world and the full view of cultures, knowledge and arts. It respects both the individual and the community in its efforts to provide a well-rounded education with the following emphasis:
Hands-on material and teacher facilitated learning creates a stimulating curriculum, responsive to individual learning styles and developmental stages. This enables the child to be both the student and the teacher; it fosters order, independence and creativity. This provides a strong basis for scholastic ability and for optimizing intellectual potential.
Adults and children in multi-age classrooms act as models for and encourage appropriate choices and behaviors that honor the feelings of self and others. This demonstrates mutual respect for members of the classroom, school and global communities. It also builds qualities of leadership and group contributions.
Participation in play, fine and gross motor activities, fitness and performing arts reinforces the mind-body connection and enhances agility.
Exposure to visual and performing arts strengthens and enhances intellectual and cultural development.
Opportunities exist to learn and use ethical judgment and civility with the order of the classroom. With this, universal values such as respect, responsibility, honesty, self-discipline, compassion, perseverance, and loyalty are supported.
Oak Grove is dedicated to the Montessori philosophy and method of education. The aim is to enable a child to function in the environment independently. The underlying principle is one of freedom within established limits, which permits the child to gain self-esteem and self-reliance. With the close guidance of Montessori trained teachers, a child attending our school will be exposed to this method which promotes the development of the whole child and cultivates the child’s own natural joy in learning.
The Role of the Montessori Teacher
The Montessori teacher’s role is that of a facilitator and guide. The teacher must prepare and organize appropriate learning material to meet the needs and interests of each child in the class. The teacher has four main goals: to awaken the child’s spirit and imagination, to encourage the child’s normal desire for independence and sense of self-esteem, to help develop the kindness and self-discipline that will allow her to become a full member of society, and to help the child learn how to observe, question and explore ideas independently. Another important function of the teacher is to set reasonable limits and foster responsibility in each child. These guidelines must be true to the child’s sense of fairness and consistent with values and attitudes outside of the school environment, and respond to their developmental needs. In order to meet these goals, the teacher must serve as a coach, mentor and friend.
Oak Grove classes are organized into a series of three-year age groupings; The Children’s House is for children between the ages of 2.9 and 6 years. The lower elementary classroom is designed for 6-9 year olds and the upper elementary for 9-12 year olds. Working with each student for three years allows the teacher to develop a deep understanding of that individual’s talents, needs, personality and learning style. Spending three years allows the student to explore new information and revisit familiar material with the perspective of that newly acquired knowledge. The child will take on different roles in the classroom as they grow through the three years. All of these classroom elements contribute to the development of self-discipline. Providing an environment that meets a child’s need for exploring, learning and developing at their own rate socially, physically, and intellectually, greatly lessens the need for teacher-imposed discipline.
Oak Grove’s core curriculum is based on Maria Montessori’s philosophy, methods and material. The children’s special interest and the individual teacher’s unique talents, resources and experiences then extend this curriculum. Our students graduate from Oak Grove with a solid knowledge of the necessary academic “basics”, a broad background in the cultural subjects, and an enthusiasm and curiosity that contributes to their lasting status as a life-long learner.
The presentation of the curriculum is based on the students’ natural developmental stages and sensitive periods of learning. In the Children’s House at the preschool level, the children need to discover through their hands and their senses, in an ordered environment with lots of repetition. The lower elementary (6-9) students need their imaginations sparked and lots of variation in materials as they move toward a more abstract level of learning. The upper elementary (9-12) students are ready for a still more advanced level of research and responsibility. Throughout these stages and sensitive periods, we encourage self-direction, decision-making, problem solving, and community involvement.
Although the curriculum is divided into three different age groupings, in reality, it overlaps into the different classes to meet the individual needs of all students. The curriculum revolves, as in a spiral, each level returning to more in-depth, detailed exploration of major curriculum areas already presented at a lower level.
This interdisciplinary curriculum stresses the interrelated nature of the information shared, which encompasses for broad areas: practical life, language, mathematics, and cultural studies. Library work, physical education, music and art are closely integrated into the curriculum.
The purpose of practical life activities is to promote independence and self-reliance through gaining competence in many everyday adult skills.
At the 3-6 level, these activities help develop eye-hand coordination, gross and fine motor skills, concentration, attention to detail, and a sense of order. Some examples are: pouring, buttoning, carrying a tray, sweeping, use of simple hand tools and utensils, food preparation, and flower arranging.
At the elementary level, practical life emphasizes the development of life skills that support independent thought and action. Some examples are: planning and cooking meals, public speaking, sewing, woodworking, animal care, gardening, composting, recycling, maintenance skills, peer tutoring and tutoring younger children.
The purpose of the language curriculum is to encourage clear, meaningful communication both as a means of self-expression and as the foundation of better understanding among humankind.
At the 3-6 level, the association of sound and symbol is developed through work with sandpaper, metal insets for tracing, and “movable alphabet” letters. Preparation for reading is pervasive and takes the form of reading aloud, finger plays, rhyming games, dictated stories, picture sequencing and object categorizing, to name a few.
At the elementary level, Montessori principles are applied within the context of a rich language environment. Reading, writing, storytelling, singing, and discussion of stories are closely interwoven with a study of the humanities. Colorful grammar materials help the child experience language in an orderly way and foster an appreciation for the power of the individual word. Writing takes many forms in the classroom. All students have regular opportunities for creative writing, peer editing, and sharing their finished publications.
The purpose of the mathematics curriculum is to provide students with the skills for daily living in an increasingly technological world and to foster the precise means of exploration that underlies all the sciences.
At the 3-6 level, all abstract ideas are first introduced using beautifully designed, hands-on materials. Early skills include comparison of size and quantity, classification, and linear progression. Next, the child is ready for work with materials that tech linear numeration, introduction to the decimal system and geometry.
At the elementary level, the concept of the four basic mathematical operations is developed through manipulation of the math materials. Once the four basic operations have been mastered, word problems with practical applications predominate. At the same time, the most advances materials foster an appreciation for the unifying patterns of mathematics.
The purpose of this curriculum is to inspire an appreciation of the wonder of our universe and to encourage the students to come to realize their part in it. The cultural curriculum includes the study of botany, zoology, geography, physical science, geometry, and history.
The Montessori classroom is prepared with many hands-on materials such as nomenclature cards and charts, timelines, and pin and puzzle maps. The teachers supplement these with fascinating, dramatic presentations called “great lessons” and science experiments.
As in the science curriculum, co-dependency and worldwide individual responsibilities are stressed in the history curriculum. Our goal is to paint a picture in the student’s mind of the time line of history from the beginning of the universe until and including today. Illustrated by this time line is the reoccurring pattern of evolution, this is the evolution of both nature and society. We hope to shoe the timelessness of the basic human needs and how they shape civilizations. We also hope the students come to realize that these basic human needs are a common thread that unites all people.
Integrated Art, Music and Physical Education
Art, music and physical education are an energizing part of the integrated Montessori environment. Art projects reinforce and expand academic and artistic skills and are a natural extension of the students’ classroom work. Music includes the study of sound recognition, tonal relationships, music composition and instrument instruction. Physical education is also integrated into the curriculum contributing, through movement experiences, to the total growth and development of each child. The development of a strong self-image is strived for in physical education. Safety skills, cooperation and competitive attitudes are learned. Students learn the importance of participation, cooperation and tolerance.
In these programs students experience interactions with their classmates and learn how the quality of their behavior influences others. In accomplishing these greater goals, we also strive to have lots of fun!
Dr. Montessori believed that if we do not dictate the work of the child in class, then it does not make sense to dictate the work they choose at home. Therefore, traditional homework is kept to a minimum. The Montessori Method supports the idea that children spend all day in the classroom learning and need their afternoons and evenings to pursue their personal interests, interact with their families and relax.
Oak Grove parents know that we encourage activities that constructively direct a child’s pursuits during home hours, while nurturing their interests and building family bonds. In the classroom, children are motivated to discover why and how things work. Therefore, homework is work that the child does at home, as an extension of his or her educational exploration. Many activities may constitute homework, including household chores. Responsibilities at home help the child develop language skills and cultural awareness. Making math a real part of the home environment (pairing socks and counting by twos; dividing a pizza into equal pieces; shopping and making change) and giving the child a voice in family decisions are important to the child’s perception of math concepts and economic geography. Reading with and to your children every day will result in quality family time and confidence building.
The teacher does not typically assign homework until the upper elementary level. And even then, it rarely looks like the homework that many parents remember from their school years. If a parent is interested in their child having some after school projects and work, please make an appointment and talk directly with the teacher. The teacher will help design some projects that will reinforce the work that is currently being done in the classroom.