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What is Montessori education and how does it affect the students at the Curious Minds?

The Montessori Method of learning was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy, a pioneer of her times. The basic tenet of this method is that children learn and will flourish in an environment that encourages their basic human need for information versus being taught on a time table without accounting for their individuality. The Curious Minds follows this time honored method and combines it with the latest cutting edge research on education and child development to provide the best support for its students while challenging their potential to the maximum.

If a student is not self motivated, how can s/he flourish in a self-directed environment like Montessori?

As Maria Montessori always said “follow the child”, we would uphold that principle and follow the needs of the child versus their wants. It is true that some children are more motivated than the others. However, the Montessori environment prepares an individualized curriculum for each child, which will address their strengths and needs. When we observe that a child prefers to avoid work that would challenge them to get out of their element, then we make sure to find out their reasoning behind it. The usual recourse to this behavior is revisiting/introducing the said materials, which slowly builds their confidence after several repetitions. The environment is also then tailored to offer more such choices to the classroom as a whole. Since Montessori rewards children intrinsically, meaning the feelings of pride, a sense of achievement and the confidence born from this accomplishment, there is no need for extrinsic motivators such as stickers, medals etc.

Are students prepared to transition to a traditional school once they leave the Curious Minds?

The Curious Minds prepares students for life and learning. The children in the Montessori environment not only learn their subjects of Math, Language, Geography and so on and so forth, but also cultivate good work ethics such as focus, motivation, and perseverance; inherit good social values such as kindness, responsibility, and respect; and imbibe strong personal skills such as leadership, confidence, and independence. While there is a transition that happens when a student changes schools, not to mention the difference in the education styles, our local public and private schools’ admissions officers report that our children excel academically and are valued members of their new community.

How are the students assessed at the Curious Minds?

There is a detailed conference report sent to the parents twice a year. This report is a culmination of the daily observation notes that the teacher of the environment has made. The teachers observe the students at work every day and observations are recorded. Appropriate actions are taken immediately, which may include introducing the material with the next level of difficulty or more repetition with certain materials already introduced to the student, as the case maybe. Assessment is a daily routine of the Montessori classroom but it is not labeled so. The purpose behind evaluating a student’s work cycle is to make sure that s/he is best supported by us and is challenged every day to maximize their potential.

What is the value of the multi-age classroom?

Montessori classrooms often span a three year age group. The benefits are many beginning with the connection that the student builds with the teacher, which enables the teacher to feed their interests, build on their strengths and work on their developing potential. The younger children often emulate the older children and learn by watching them work. The older children often play the true leaders of the environment as they guide their younger peers with respect to work and social behavior, while acting as role models and motivators. The three years spent in a classroom also allows children to learn at their own pace, mastering work on their inner schedule versus a particular age or grade level.

Is Montessori too restrictive and serious for a child? How is such an environment fun for a child?

The Montessori environment is child centric. The room is designed to be peaceful with everything set up to be at the child’s eye level. The child has a lot of freedom of movement and choice, where they are not expected to sit through the entire learning process, and work only at the pace of their peers with a subject that is set up for that block of time. The child also has many opportunities to explore a lot of adult activities such as washing, cooking, scooping, pouring and many more such practical life exercises that they absolutely adore, and enjoy mimicking the adults in their lives. In the warmer months, the children are welcome to extend their workspace to the outdoors which the children greatly enjoy. The child gets to play outside every morning and afternoon, take long walks on trails, and garden outside through Spring, Summer and Fall. In a Montessori environment, each child is treasured for who they are and have true connections with their teachers and peers. They have so much fun with watching their own development and enjoying each day at school, their second home!

Why do Montessori schools discourage the use of commercial characters in their space and on children’s belongings? Does Montessori curb a child’s creativity and imagination?

Montessori schools do like to focus on the real and tangible elements of life. However, the disassociation with commercial characters is with the intention to be rid of all the commercialization that bombards our children today along with the stereotyping that follows.

There is no dearth of creativity in a Montessori environment, as children are invited to explore Art, as a separate unit of study. The creative element extends to the other areas of curriculum as well, as the child can use their own ideas on how to represent work on paper or to an audience. The children participate in an annual performance at the Curious Minds that includes singing, dancing and performing in plays. They also work all year towards creating their own art work that is displayed in an Annual Art Show.

We greatly encourage a child’s imagination and their ability to think outside the box. While at work or play, pretend play is used as an opportunity to explore all manner of possibilities. For example; “It is great that Dorothy has decided to be the prettiest cloud today in our classroom! What do you think clouds are made of Dorothy? Do you think you could move across the room as softly and quietly as a cloud?”.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” – Albert Einstein.