School Philosophy and Curriculum
“Liberty is not to be free to do anything one likes; it is to be able to act without help.”
— Maria Montessori
The purpose of our school is to facilitate all aspects of growth: mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual, by allowing children to exercise their natural curiosity, and to follow their interests within a varied and stimulating environment, in an atmosphere of love and respect, under the guidance of skilled teachers, to inspire a passion for excellence and a lifelong love of learning. At all levels, the development of strong personal values and respect for others are major goals. Children are encouraged to become attuned to their feelings and adept at expressing them. In this type of environment, they are free to become individuals who can live their lives with confidence, respect, responsibility, and in harmony with others.
We operate according to the educational guidelines prescribed by Dr. Maria Montessori. From her physiological studies and observations of children, she provided us with scientifically designed learning materials and a unique method of education which we feel most appropriately fit the varied learning needs of young people. Contemporary research in brain development and learning theory has affirmed that her observations were extraordinarily accurate. In areas where research or cultural mandate have given us compelling reason to expand or update what Maria Montessori left in place, we have done so after careful evaluation and discussion.
The Early Childhood program is designed to utilize the unique learning abilities of the child from three to six. Montessori observed, and research has confirmed, that this is a critical time for learning. She recommended a rich and orderly environment for children of this age to take advantage of their ability to absorb information effortlessly through their senses. The many activities and experiences offered in these classrooms are designed to help young children in their drive to develop independence, lengthen concentration, refine their large and small motor coordination, and organize their sensory impressions. At the same time, the activities are presented in such a way that children develop work habits that allow them to take on ever more complex tasks.
As skills fall into place, children are able to move into more academic pursuits. Pre-arithmetic skills of sorting, sequencing and matching prepare for counting and working with symbols. Rich language experiences prepare the child to learn sounds, assemble them into words, then begin to compose sentences, and finally, to read them to others. Art, music, movement and carefully designed activities in basic science and cultural studies complete this curriculum. As children explore these materials, children are also learning basic social skills and how to function confidently away from family. Please read the “Parent’s Guide to the Montessori Classroom” that you are given at registration and plan to attend curriculum information nights to gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum for this age level.
The Montessori Elementary program provides the six- to twelve-year-old child limitless opportunities to apply his or her great powers of imagination and capacity for hard work toward a growing appreciation for the wonders of the universe and all that has happened before this period of time. The deeper concentration, increased attention span, good organizational skills and self-direction that are often a result of the Montessori Early Childhood classroom allow these children to take on some rather complex projects.
The Elementary child is also ready for the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. Once the basic skills of math and reading are mastered, the advanced Montessori materials introduce the children to new dimensions in grammar, composition, mathematical operations, geometry, algebra, natural science, history, and geography.
The Montessori Elementary classroom is a resource center to be used by the student/scientist to research any and all fields of knowledge. Students continue to benefit from mixed age groupings with children of diverse skills and ages ready to assume the role of teacher or learner, leader or follower, depending on their ability. The Elementary Curriculum guide you receive at your visitation to the school, the curriculum nights held during the year, and the information sent out by teachers are all designed to help you become familiar with this wonderful way of learning.
Since our 2004-05 school year, Woodinville Montessori has been able to offer students, ages 12-15, an opportunity to continue their Montessori education in our Junior High Program, designed to integrate current research in human development, the trends and issues in education, and the Montessori philosophy. The goal is to provide opportunities for these fortunate adolescents to gain self-knowledge and self-confidence, to belong to a community, to be academically challenged and competent in meeting those challenges, to be flexible and adaptable, and to create a vision for their personal future. The program is based on the model developed by Dr. Betsy Coe at School of the Woods in Houston, Texas.
Assessment and Accountability
Assessment at all levels is accomplished by regular observation of each student’s progress towards competency in all subject areas at all levels.
The Elementary student’s application of skills in daily work and special projects is evaluated by both the student and teacher, and results communicated to parents via conference and narrative reports. Students, parents and teachers will participate in a goal setting conference at the beginning of the year. Students will also participate in the fall parent conferences beginning this year. The written reports sent home in January and June are accompanied by collections of the student’s work. This authentic assessment gives a truer picture of student achievement than grades, which measure performance in limited ways and do not reflect progress made as a result of correcting errors. Mastery learning becomes the goal as the child matures and enters the upper level. Work is repeated in an area until the student shows that the desired objectives have been attained.
From third year Elementary onward, standardized tests are administered to students once per year to help them develop the skills needed for test taking. Students in Upper Elementary (grades 4 – 6) also take tests in other subject areas so that they can become familiar with this mode of assessment that will be so frequently used in their future educational experiences.