What is the difference between a Montessori school and a traditional school?
The classes in a Montessori school will include children in a 3-year age range: 3 – 6 years old, 6 – 9 years old, 9 -12 years old. King’s Wood is for children aged 3 – 6 years.
While there is a sequentially ordered curriculum, the children work at their own pace at activities of their own choosing. In contrast to a traditional classroom where a teacher leads one activity with the whole class at once, a Montessori teacher presents work to children individually or in small groups.
Why have mixed age classrooms?
Each class has children of mixed ages – from 2.9 years to 6 years of age. The new children can learn by watching older children, while older children can teach and be models for the younger children. The children will always be at different stages of maturity and composure, allowing everyone to experience the give and take of life in a diverse group. No matter what their stage of development, there will always be someone who shares their academic interests. The class structure also allows the children and the teacher to be together for at least three years. They not only get to know each other, but each child also gets to experience the cycle which will play out throughout their lives:
- being new and vulnerable but curious about the work and the other children
- being comfortable with many activities, but still needing energy and support to continue with new work and to work out the details of social life
- being experienced and confident enough to have used the full range of materials and activities and to be a relaxed, skillful friend
- being secure enough to start the cycle over again (with a little hand-holding and encouragement)
Why do Montessori students attend school five days per week?
Children who attend King’s Wood Montessori School five days per week enjoy the consistent routine of being in school every week day. They never have to awaken wondering, “Do I have school today?” The children feel safe in their classroom and in their reliable daily routine. This security allows them to develop strong connections with their teachers and classmates, and to increase their skills and independence. This consistent and reliable school schedule allows them to settle into a routine that cannot be found in a two- or three-day program.
What is a typical day at King’s Wood?
At the arrival time, parents pull their car up to the front of the building. Teachers open the car doors one at a time and help the children exit their cars and enter the school building. The children go to their classrooms and hang up their coats and school bags in their assigned cubbies. After greeting their friends and teachers the students each choose an activity to work on alone or in a small group.
It is important to have a long and uninterrupted time for work. Children who have chosen an activity can experience the flow of concentration. Children who are unsure of what to do can wander and watch or can join a lesson with a teacher. All of the children can have the experience of deciding what to choose.
Snack is available throughout the class time and is actually a Montessori activity. Whenever a child is ready he or she can fix a tray and have some food and conversation with friends at the table by the sunny window.
As the session draws to a close, the teacher puts on familiar music – a signal to the students to put away their work and join the group sitting along the line on the floor. There is singing, dancing, Spanish word games and other group activities, including celebrating birthdays. The students end each day outside on the playground.
At the end of the time outdoors, the bell rings, the toys are picked up and put away, and the children wait inside for their parent’s car to pull up. An adult helps the child out the door and into the car.
Is there a daily schedule?
For the first couple of hours children work independently and in small groups. This is followed by line time and outside play.
If the children choose their own work, isn’t the classroom chaotic?
There can certainly be a hectic quality to the day, but it isn’t chaotic. It isn’t possible to have more than 20 children in a room and have it be quiet, but the bustle of purposefully working children can actually be calming. Children are not allowed to be generally disruptive or to interrupt another’s work. Having mixed ages and activities in the class helps. An older child at loose ends might help a young one fix snack, do one-to-one counting or decide to join an older friend doing a linear counting activity. A younger child at loose ends might watch that counting, have snack or join the teacher doing yoga with a small group.
What happens when conflicts arise?
In the classroom, we expect to have teasing, sharp words, pushing, grabbing, etc. It is a part of the school learning process. We can’t help children become socially skillful just by talking to them; they become skillful by dealing with the details of daily life in a group. This doesn’t mean that we want hurtful behavior to continue. A child who is disruptive can have some time alone or may have to stay with a teacher. A child who is hurting someone will be stopped.
Is art a part of the curriculum?
Our classes have materials for painting, drawing, using wood and simple carpentry tools and sometimes clay. Though we supply the materials and some tips – how to mix yellow and blue to get green, how to use the wood clamp – the children are never at a loss for things to make and they influence each other. Someone who has figured out how to get skin color by mixing the primary colors and white will be called on by everyone who is doing a painting of a person.
We often pay attention to a particular artist. Paul Klee, Georgia O’Keefe, Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci, Joan Miro – all have something in their work that the children respond to. There are prints by these artists to decorate the walls, books about them, and all the possibilities that their work inspires: making cutouts like Matisse, flowers like Georgia O’Keefe, portraits like Paul Klee or black creatures like Miro.
Is music a part of the curriculum?
We have time for music and movement every day. Sometimes there is music on for dancing as the children arrive and at the end of every day we get together with music for everyone. The staff has taken workshops and use materials from Music Together and Musikgarden and have songs and dances from other parts of the world. We sing songs, dance freely or with specific steps, play rhythm instruments and learn rhythm patterns and find melodies and patterns on the xylophone. Sometimes several children get together to practice and play xylophone and rhythm instruments for the whole class – usually their first experience of the importance of knowing when to stop.
Music is part of every celebration. Each child gets to pick the dancing music for his/her birthday – some know immediately what they want and others spend the morning changing their mind. Music is always part of our study of other countries. In fact, the children sing “Be like a Bird” as a final part of the graduation ceremony.
What is line time?
Line time is when the children gather together at the end of their work period for group activities such as singing and dancing, story telling, and celebrating birthdays.
How often do the children play outside?
We go outside almost every day. Heavy rain and very cold temperatures will keep us indoors.
What do children do in the extended day program?
The extended day class is a chance for the children to have more time to work with the Montessori materials for older children. While this also happens in the morning class, there are materials that take more time or space, and it is helpful to have the afternoon time with fewer children. For example, someone who is doing the linear counting chain for the cube of 8 needs a long space to spread out the chain and a long time to count each bead to 512. The work can be started in the morning and continue after lunch.
In addition, there are always group activities: taking hikes in the woods, making plays, anatomy, cooking lunch, making class books, and each year some activities that grow out of the interests of the children in that particular class.
What is the car line?
Because of our limited parking facilities, we ask that children are dropped off and picked up via a car line. Cars form a line along Gilmore Street and Fales Place. All of the children wait inside of the school building until their parent’s/guardian’s car approaches the front door of the school. Children are dismissed one at a time, and each child is placed in the car by an adult.
What is phasing-in?
Phasing-in is a fundamental part of the Montessori program, allowing new students to have a smoother introduction to the environment.
For the first two weeks of school, new children and returning children attend the school at different times. This allows teachers to focus on integrating the new students before returning students enter the classroom. The returning students also need a bit of time to reacquaint themselves with their teacher, classmates and materials.
The schedule for the two-week phasing-in period can be inconvenient for parents, but the end result is that all the children feel more at ease and comfortable at King’s Wood.
Why do you call it work and not play?
Maria Montessori said, “The child only develops by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience work.” I think for the children the words “work” and “play” are the same. Adults separate the two – one is serious, one is fun. Watching a child concentrate on pouring water, painting, counting golden beads, cutting paper, sounding out words, it is easy to see that they are having serious fun.
What is a “Normalized” classroom?
“Normalized” is the translation of an Italian word coined by Maria Montessori. It bears no resemblance to the term “normal” and does not infer any type of conformity. A “normalized” Montessori classroom is instead an ideal place for individual children to pursue their interests with enthusiasm and concentration. It is a place where children are gracious and helpful to each other, and solve conflicts with finesse. It is an optimal environment that allows the children to develop to their fullest potential.
Is Montessori only for gifted children?
No. Montessori education is not a force-feeding of information and skills designed to produce a precocious child. The school is neither rigidly structured and disciplined, nor disorganized and undisciplined. It is a non-competitive environment that allows each child to focus on his/her own work. Many levels of ability can be accommodated in the classroom with true individualism, allowing for a match of pace and level consistent with the child’s needs.
How does the school determine whether my child will be in the morning or afternoon program?
Assignments are based on class profile and is decided by the lead teachers and administrator. The objective is to optimize the balance of male/female students and older/younger children in each class whenever possible. Where possible we try to accommodate parents requests.
Where do children go after they graduate from King’s Wood?
Our graduates move on to a variety of schools after attending King’s Wood. A Montessori education prepares your child for both public and private school placement. Our students have gone on to attend local public and private schools including the following:
- Public elementary schools in their respective towns
- The Sage School in Foxboro
- The Pinecroft School in Norton
- St. Mary’s Catholic School in Mansfield
- Foxboro Regional Charter School in Foxboro
- Woodside Montessori Academy in Millis
- Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter School in Franklin
- Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Walpole
- The Ocean State Montessori School in East Providence
- Hands On Montessori, Mansfield MA