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Authentic Montessori Education

Many schools throughout the world offer “Montessori” education.  But what distinguishes one school from another?  At Montessori Academy of North Hoffman , we follow the principles of Authentic Montessori Education. Authentic Montessori principles dictate the following:

Montessori Learning Environment

The Montessori Academy of North Hoffman consider the environment to be of supreme importance in the education of children. Therefore, we prepare our environments such that each child’s natural tendencies can be developed and realized.  The classrooms of our day school are designed with the rationale that the child must be able to function with ease and engage in purposeful activity.  In an effort to inspire each child’s intrinsic motivation, we prepare materials so that they are inviting and challenging.

Montessori Learning Activity

The array of materials available in the classroom aims to spark a child’s interest and to supplement the child’s knowledge.  An enticing environment gives our children the opportunity to actively learn. The School strongly believes in an uninterrupted work period. By immersion in concentrated activity, the child emerges toward self-discovery. Students enjoy individual liberty based on ground rules.  Clear guidelines with consistent reinforcement, along with freedom within the boundaries of safety and respect, allow children to attain a degree of responsibility.

Montessori Learning Relationships

The School helps each child recognize that he is part of a larger community and that his contribution is invaluable.  Our multi-aged classrooms allow for interdependence among students.  Multi-aged classrooms provide older children with opportunities to act as role models and practice leadership skills. This relationship also benefits the younger students as they become stimulated and drawn to broader interests while observing their older peers.  In addition to the multi-age grouping, our classrooms also have a multi-cultural element.  Ensuring a mix of gender, personalities, and ethnic backgrounds helps children learn how to appreciate and respect one another for their differences. Competition is discouraged—every student’s work is considered to be a unique reflection of his effort.

Montessori Spirituality

Children are innately spiritual.  We believe our task is to nurture, protect, and nourish this by providing a peaceful, safe, and loving environment.  Teachers encourage students to express their inner joy and wonder at the marvels of nature and strive to spark each child’s imagination by the presentation of the world as a harmonious whole.  Virtues like love, generosity, responsibility, forgiveness, and tolerance are instilled in children by role modeling, discussions, and cooperative work periods.  We strive to guide our children to distinguish right from wrong and to develop a conscience with a moral foundation, as the human spirit and intelligence are the fulcrum of a child’s existence.

What the Montessori Teacher Is

Our teachers are sensitive and understanding individuals who consistently enforce boundaries in the classroom, exhibit warmth in their relationships with their students, and speak to students in a calm, gentle tone of voice combined with genuine love, empathy, and enthusiasm.  Our teachers maintain an active learning environment through keen observation.  They time their lessons appropriately, intervening only when children need guidance or help.  Our teachers’ primary task is to meet the natural tendencies of the children while stimulating their interest.

What the Montessori Teacher Does

Teachers are instrumental in creating a community of learners where each individual student works for the betterment of himself as well as the betterment of the community.  Our teachers present in a graceful manner with a minimal use of words so as to funnel the child’s attention to the activity at hand.  Our teachers strive to facilitate each individual’s cognitive, social, physical, and moral development.  They act as exemplary models within the classroom, actively involving themselves in learning with the students and in instilling moral values. By empowering the child and respecting individual differences, our teachers impart tolerance, patience, and acceptance of others in their students.

Educational Goals / Outcomes

At the Montessori Academy of North Hoffman, we recognize that the education of our children extends beyond academic excellence.  Our curriculum focuses on nine aspects of education:

Academic Preparation

The School believes that the areas of Practical Life and Sensorial are the foundation for further academic preparation.  We believe that it is important to give our students the skills they need to transfer their academic knowledge into real world functions.

We have a strong and well-developed academic environment. Extended uninterrupted work time, prepared environments, and good observational skills are strengths that support this. At the Primary level, children understand foundational concepts of math and language through the use of didactic materials.  Frequently, children are fascinated with reference books and often request the teacher’s help in finding out more about an interesting topic. At the Elementary level, students are ready and willing to tackle research and writing assignments, already knowing how to begin to classify, synthesize, and organize.  Field trips are not considered isolated diversions, but are connected to academics.

Elementary students are given the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as a gauge of academic progress.  The test scores are not publicized, but are shared with parents in a confidential atmosphere.  Thorough student portfolios are prepared based on completion of the child’s workplan and on special projects like Science Fair and research presentations.

Independence

The School is committed to fostering independence in each child. We prepare environments with work that is easily accessible, allows freedom of choice, and guides students to complete a cycle of work by themselves.

Confidence and Competence

We place a high priority on leading our students towards self-perceived success through careful presentations and by giving help only when needed.  Prepared environments allow children to feel secure and capable of obtaining what is needed to complete activities on their own.  The School’s multi-aged groupings provide children with opportunities to share their knowledge and skills, making the child himself more aware of what he knows and can do.

Autonomy

The School believes that autonomy begins with the act of choosing.  In working in the environment prepared by the teacher, our children begin to develop a sense of purpose.  We observe students exercising their own will by choosing to work by themselves or by inviting another child to engage in an activity.  Our teachers guide children towards areas of interest and assist them to varying degrees in their choice of work.  At the younger levels, autonomy is exhibited in the child’s ease and comfortableness in their spontaneous choices.  Later, autonomy is evident in their ability to intensely focus on their work.

Intrinsic Motivation

The School believes that children are born with intrinsic motivation and that it must be nurtured throughout their lives.  Children focus for a long period of time on work of their own choice.  They are often observed engrossed in detailed work or in-depth research.

Ability to Handle External Authority

The School believes that respect is essential to being able to handle external authority. Each teacher spends a significant amount of time establishing and reviewing the ground rules. The 3-year cycle helps ensure that teachers have good relationships with the children in their classroom. They communicate the boundaries and run their classrooms by implementing the ground rules.  Expectations are consistent and reminders of the rules are readily given.

Social Responsibility

We encourage our students to see that every action they take either builds up society or tears it down—there are no perfectly neutral actions.  Time is spent discussing each student’s unique contribution to the School and to society at large.  Children at all levels take responsibility for the environment.  They understand that each of them helps contribute to the success of the community.  We also help to instill a sense of social responsibility by encouraging mentorship. By mentoring younger children, older students observe first-hand their impact on their community and society at large.

Spiritual Awareness

The School believes in and fosters spiritual awareness of every culture, race, and religion through appreciation, celebration, and acceptance of diversity.  All of our students are accepted without prejudice. Visitors to the School frequently remark on the diversity of the staff and the students, but are most impressed with the harmony of each environment. Families continue to tell us how welcomed and loved they feel. Children are taught how to show they care for others including animals in their environment.  There are discussions about feelings, affirmations, and time allotted for reflection at Silence.

Citizens of the World

The School is committed to showing children that they are part of a larger global family. Our students quickly learn that the Earth’s resources are valuable. Teachers encourage students and parents to share their cultures in class.  Whether it be eating dumplings from China or painting eggs from the Ukraine, our children attain a sense of pride for their cultures as they share activities with their peers. Children also empathize with the impoverished children of the world.  Elementary students study current events and discuss them in a way that enables them to see children from other countries as brothers and sisters.  Every year they participate in raising funds for underprivileged children through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.  The students also participate in a variety of community service projects.  Our sixth grade students visit the United Nations through the Youth Visits United Nations Program for Montessori middle school students.  There, they participate in group discussions and meet with delegates from other countries who present pressing world needs to them.  Upon returning to school, our students choose a particular cause to which they devote their efforts during the year.

Class Size & Teacher/Student Ratio

Our schools meet or exceed all state requirements for teacher/child ratios.  At the Elementary Level, class sizes are typically between 20 and 25 students with one full-time teacher and one full-time assistant teacher in the room at all times.  By keeping class sizes as low as possible, we ensure that all students receive individualized attention. These ratios stay consistent through out all of our classes including our Montessori Day schools (preschool) and Elementary alike.

Accreditation

The Montessori Academy of North Hoffman is fully accredited by the American Montessori Society (AMS).  AMS Accreditation is a voluntary process undertaken by schools that are committed to continuous school improvement. Accreditation requires demonstrated compliance with AMS Standards and completion of a comprehensive self-study which defines itself in terms of strengths and opportunities for improvement.  Our accreditation by the American Montessori Society is evidence of our commitment to continual improvement and our dedication to the Authentic Montessori Principles of Education.

In addition to being fully accredited by the American Montessori Society, Montessori Academy of North Hoffman is also accredited by  AdvancEd.   Accredited schools must demonstrate that they have qualified teachers who are continually working to improve their practices and teaching methods in order to increase student performance.  Accreditation also ensures a rich, diverse, and sound curriculum and transferability of credits from school to school.  As an AdvancEd accredited school, credits that students earn at our school are recognized by schools, colleges, and universities globally.

In addition to AMS and AdvancEd accreditation, our schools are recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education and are members of the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools (A.I.M.S.).  Additionally, our infant and Montessori preschool programs are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).