The Montessori Method
“Education,” wrote Dr. Montessori, “is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but by virtue of experiences in which the child acts upon his environment.” MSNV classrooms offer children a special place designed to encourage curiosity and active exploration. They are cheerful, bright, stimulating areas where a child is comfortable and secure and where the teachers encourage each child to develop in his or her unique and natural way. The classrooms are open spaces within which the children are allowed to choose their work and proceed at their own pace.
There is freedom to move about the classroom and through their interactions the children learn lessons in grace and courtesy and develop social skills. An emphasis on the feelings and rights of others and on the proper use and sharing of classroom materials contributes to the child’s developing sense of self-discipline and control — skills that help students make constructive use of classroom time and freedom.
The Montessori approach recognizes that there are critical times during a child’s growth when he or she is more responsive to certain learning experiences than at other times; that there are natural mental and physical “clocks” in children that make them more receptive to learning particular skills and subjects at specific times in their lives. As Maria Montessori wrote, “successive levels of education must correspond to the successive personalities of the child.”
Careful observation, coupled with experience and training, allows teachers to know when each child is ready for a new learning opportunity. Teachers respond by selecting and presenting new materials and lessons which contribute to the child’s academic growth and emotional, social and physical development. Thus, though learning is self-paced, it is not random.
Recognizing that children often learn best by helping one another, the curriculum is based on a constructive and mutually beneficial mix of older and younger children. As a result, learning is enhanced by observing others and by helping others to learn — experiences that strengthen understanding, self-confidence, mutual respect and leadership skills — no matter how much the interests, needs and abilities of the children may differ by age.
Many of MSNV’s students begin in our Preprimary class of 2 to 3 year olds. Each Primary class at MSNV is made up of children ages 3 to 6. The Elementary class is for children ages 6 to 12.