Author Archives: Alex Chiu

Considering Summer Camp

Students everywhere are already feeling the itch that begins as summertime nears. Parents, too, anticipate this time of year, and can sense the change in the air and in the attitude of their children. For some, summer is a respite, a breath of fresh air, a welcome change from the scheduling demands of the school year. For others, it is a time to worry about how to keep the kids occupied and how to balance not having a school schedule when the demands of a continuing parent work schedule still must be followed.

Whether or not parents’ career schedules continue as usual during the summer, there are some great reasons to consider signing your child up for camp during the summer, even for just a week or two. In addition to providing working parents with a child care alternative, summer camp provides kids with fun and beneficial experiences.  Here are just a few reasons parents might consider summer camp for their children this summer:

  1. Camp provides continued structure for a child’s day. Just as with school, summer camps adhere to a regular daily schedule. Arrival and dismissal times are set, and while activities may vary, generally, summer camps have a predictable routine for their campers to follow. Children thrive on routines and most feel a sense of calm when they know what to expect on any given day, from arrival rituals to snack time, organized activity to free play opportunities, lunch to water fun, children often do best when their day is set up in a predictable pattern.
  2. Children have the opportunity to make new friends and learn from new adult leaders. Even if your child attends a camp affiliated with his or her school, there will likely be new faces among the campers as well as the staff. While sometimes a transition to a new teacher or caregiver can make some children apprehensive, children who participate in summer camp or other out-of-school activities learn to adapt to social situations with new people when given these opportunities. They may form bonds that continue even when summer and camp are over, and they will have grown in their ability to interact with others.
  3. Your child will undoubtedly learn something new while at camp. Camps are set up to offer experiences that are different from what children are used to doing in school and at home; therefore, camp provides children with the opportunity to try something that might be out of their comfort zone, and who knows, even find a new passion. At the same time, as children try new things and discover new interests, their self-esteem grows, and they gain confidence when faced with something unfamiliar.
  4. Summer camp can reduce the effects of ‘summer slump’. The American Camp Association has enlisted educational and psychology experts to research the many benefits of camp. They report that educationally speaking, “Camp is a natural extension of the classroom. Research indicates that by participating in strategically planned, structured summer experiences, children reduce summer learning loss. Camp challenges children, keeps them engaged, develops creativity and their talents, and expands their horizons” (acacamps.org).
  5. Camp can be cost-effective. When parents work full-time, camp may be the most cost-effective solution for child care during the summer months. Especially today, there is a wide variety of camps from which to choose in most communities.  From township camps to church camps, school camps to sleep-away camps, there are options for every budget, scheduling need, age, and interest. Local parenting magazines and newspapers often feature a special camp issue in the spring as parents begin to plan for the summer months. Some camps even provide financial assistance if there is a need.  Given the wealth of choices, there is sure to be a camping opportunity to suit most families’ needs.
  6. Camp is fun! No doubt about it, camp is fun for everyone. With an entire day devoted to active, creative, and leisure pursuits, children can enjoy their summer vacation by doing a laundry list of fun things. Even if families do not need to use camp as a childcare solution during the summer, they might want to consider enrolling their children in even just one week of camp to experience some of the benefits of this summertime rite of passage. And did you know? There are even camps out there for adults, so as you consider signing up your child for a fun week at camp, you might find the perfect fun camp experience for yourself, too!

The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) offers summer camp experiences for MCA enrolled students, ages 3 through 8th grade. For more information, please contact your Campus Director.

Montessori Elementary

Moving on from Montessori

The Montessori Early Childhood model promotes children joining the classroom at age three (or younger in some schools) and staying through the end of the kindergarten year (or age six). There are many benefits to following this course, as children become part of a school-family community, build on and develop new skills each year with the Montessori materials that grow with them, and gradually take on leadership roles in the culminating third year, all in a familiar, safe, nurturing environment. But what happens to these Montessori children after the kindergarten year? Ideally, these students will continue on in Montessori Lower and Upper Elementary, and hopefully even Montessori Middle School – all of which are available at our MCA Short Hills campus. However, if they are not able to continue with Montessori after kindergarten, how do they fare in local public or private schools? The majority of Montessori alums and their parents would answer that question very quickly and easily by saying, “We fare very well, thank you!”

You see, the skills gained in a Montessori Early Childhood Program help these children wherever they go. By having the opportunity to make choices about what work to do during the school day, children learn decision-making skills. After having been given the time to focus on their chosen work during the course of the school day, the children develop concentration and become persistent in completing tasks. They take ownership of their work and are held accountable, learning responsibility at a very early age. The cross-curricular connections throughout the academic disciplines ignite a fire within students to discover more, boosting their growth as eager, enthusiastic learners right from the start of their school experiences.

We reached out to a few Montessori alums to inquire about their Montessori and post-Montessori experiences. Meet Emily, a Montessori graduate of Early Childhood, as well as Lower and Upper Elementary programs (or preschool through 6th grade), in the Midwest who is the mother of 2 soon-to-be Montessori children, and Victoria, Jamie, and Evan, three Montessori Early Childhood (3-6-year-old program) graduates from the east coast who are now high school and college students.  Here are some of their reflections:

MCA: Can you describe what you remember and value most about your Montessori experience?

Emily: I started in Montessori at age three and continued in Montessori through 6th grade. I remember my Montessori school feeling like an extension of home. What stands out the most is the collaborative learning that took place. We never really paid attention to how old our classmates were—students worked in groups together formed by their interests and abilities.

I struggled early on with math, but I was never made to feel like I couldn’t achieve success in this academic area. I simply worked at my own pace, and eventually succeeded in completing my math studies all the way through Calculus. Math was never something to fear. Even though it was difficult, I had the materials and adult support to work through my lessons until I understood the concepts.  I think that’s what helped me when I left Montessori for public school.  I wasn’t afraid if a subject was hard because I knew that I was able to overcome difficult things in school before.

MCA: How has a Montessori foundation helped you in all of your other educational environments beyond Montessori?                                                                                                                             
Victoria:
  Starting in a Montessori preschool really helped me when my family had to relocate.  First, we moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  While I was sad to leave my preschool classroom, my teachers, and my friends, it was very easy to transition to my new school because it was another Montessori school.  The materials were the same, and it felt very much like home.  Of course, the people were different, but having a familiar environment made the switch much, much easier.  I also was able to pick up from where I left off in my math, language, and map studies.  I knew the work cycle routine, and it made this transfer to a new school almost seamless.

Later, when my family moved overseas after my Montessori Kindergarten year, I went to an international school.  I think the way I learned how to ask questions and follow my interests in Montessori classrooms helped me with this move, too.  I had a strong foundation in math, language, geography, and science, so  I found it easy to add to this strong academic base. Montessori really fostered a love of learning about everything.

Also, in Montessori, we all had the opportunity for leadership roles, especially in our Kindergarten year.  That made it easier for me to work with others, help others, and take on responsibility and feel confident in my abilities especially when I had to get used to being in a new school with new people.

MCA: What was difficult about your transition from Montessori to a non-Montessori school setting?

Evan: Overall, I think my transition went smoothly after I left Montessori.  However, I know that I really missed having some control over my education.  In Montessori, I had the freedom to choose the work I wanted to do. That didn’t mean that my teachers didn’t move me to all of the different areas—they did. However, I was allowed to make my own work choices, and I learned how to choose and complete my work myself. I gained a lot of independence through my Montessori experience. I really missed that when I went to public school first grade. Everyone was doing everything together at the same time. And if I was interested in something we were doing, I had to stop and switch gears if the teacher said it was time for a new subject. I found that frustrating, especially when I was doing something I really liked. I didn’t have that opportunity—instead, I had to move on to the next thing with everyone else.

Jamie (Evan’s sister):  Yes, I agree. It was a little bit difficult to lose that long work cycle where we could do things at our own pace.  In my new school, I very quickly came to dislike the bell that rang between classes.  Still, the one thing I carried with me from Montessori was that drive to discover more, so at least I knew that when I came home, I could ask my parents to help me get more information about whatever subject it was that we’d started in school but didn’t get to finish.

MCA:  How did Montessori contribute to who you are today?

Evan:  I think one of the greatest benefits of my Montessori education was how I learned to work as part of a community. When I became the older student in the class, I had a leadership role, and I remember taking that very seriously.  I was proud to be able to help the younger kids in my class with their lessons, and it felt great to give them lessons on things I had mastered. This trickled into my home life, especially since I am the oldest of four children. This leadership role also taught me the importance of passing on skills, not just orders. Because I enjoyed learning, I think I helped the younger children by being an example of that for them. Montessori taught me independence, confidence, and leadership skills. I learned that learning is enjoyable and that I have the power to further my learning myself.

Jamie: I remember that my Montessori years were fun. And even when school is hard now, I remember that when you can get past having to memorize things for a test, you can find ways to participate in real, deep learning. Montessori gave me a great outlook on education because I know I have some control over my own education, and that education is more than taking tests and memorizing things. Montessori opened up my interests and showed me how the things that I learn are connected to so many different parts of life and the world.

Victoria: My Montessori years helped me see the value in being part of a community and see that each of us has a role to play, not just in the classroom but in society. I learned from both the younger and older kids in my class.  I know that it’s important to participate in the things I think are important and things that contribute to my community, and that began when I was in Montessori at an early age.

Emily: I think what I took away from my 10 years in Montessori is that learning is not a race, and it’s not about grades and tests. Instead, learning is about discovering new ideas, finding answers to questions, and using knowledge to better the world. That’s what I want to instill in my own children as they begin their Montessori experiences, and I think that’s what has helped to shape me as a student and now as a parent.

While not everyone is able to complete the full 3-year cycle like Victoria, Jamie or Evan, or continue in Montessori throughout the elementary years and beyond like Emily, it is clear that Montessori makes a positive difference that is long lasting. Moving on from Montessori may be necessary for some children, but the lessons and skills gleaned from being a part of a Montessori environment remain. For these alums, they may have left the Montessori environment, but Montessori remains forever a part of them.

For those interested in further exploring Montessori education after kindergarten, please call 973-258-1400 to schedule a tour of the MCA Elementary Program at our Short Hills campus, where we currently serve students in 1st through 8th grades.

Thinking “Outside the Box” in the Outdoor Classroom

With the arrival of spring, everyone is anxious (and happy!) to spend more time outdoors. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather inspire us to break out from our winter hibernation habits and get outside for walks, early gardening, or just a bit of fresh air!

However, the Elementary students at The Montessori Children’s Academy have been enjoying the outdoors all year long. Their unique Outdoor Classroom provides them with opportunities for learning outside throughout every season and in any type of weather! It is a place where our students go to explore science, math, art, culture, and language—in essence, the Outdoor Classroom is an extension of their indoor classroom environment, as it is a place filled with a wealth of learning opportunities!

The Outdoor Classroom is the ideal environment for Science and nature studies. Botany is often a focus of study when our Elementary students visit this space. They observe the trees, leaves, and plants in their outdoor environment, making sketches and diagrams of what they see, and digging into the earth to identify root structures and the parts of plants. Students are given the opportunity to watch both the growth and deterioration of plants. They witness how plants respond to weather, pollution, animal inhabitants, and human interference in the natural world. They also identify animal tracks and listen to birdcalls, learning their unique sounds.

When discussing ecology, the Outdoor Classroom became home to a “Food Web” created by the students. As the children used yarn to create a web among the tree branches, they saw how interconnected the different parts were. When one piece of yarn from their web was removed, the entire web started to fall apart. This type of visual, hands-on learning brought home a very important lesson on how there is interdependence in a variety of aspects of their world. These nature studies promote a sense of responsibility and respect for the natural world around them.

However, nature studies are not the only studies done in this special space. The Outdoor Classroom provides learning across disciplines. Recently, as part of their Cultural studies, our MCA students were learning about the Copper Age. They brought copper to their Outdoor Classroom and hammered it to flatten it and create tools in the same manner that early civilizations might have done. The students learned that even though the copper was malleable, it was very difficult to flatten to create the shape they needed for their homemade tools. This gave them greater insight into what early civilizations dealt with when making discoveries and inventions that today’s humans take for granted.

The Outdoor Classroom is also a place for Math studies. For one particular lesson, the students learned about Pi and the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter by creating a circle in the ground using their own bodies, a stick, and yarn. They had the physical space they needed to create their circumference projects, and it became a meaningful lesson as they could put the different mathematical concepts together in a very prominent manner. By learning in this way and in this space, our students remember their lessons and can make important and lasting connections.

Naturally, just as many of the world’s greatest writers have found inspiration in nature, our MCA Elementary students use their Outdoor Classroom to enhance their Language Arts curriculum to inspire their journal writing activities. They write poetry and prose pieces, personal reflections, essays, and impromptu thoughts. With so many sights and sounds surrounding them, they can capture feelings and compose descriptive passages based on what they see and hear in this natural setting. Similarly, they engage in art activities in this beautiful space, making sketches and using the natural setting as their inspiration for their artwork. This year, students learned about how clay comes from the earth, and they used it to create birds’ nests.

The learning opportunities in the Outdoor Classroom are endless. They also are an integral part of Montessori education where the whole child is addressed. Students need space, movement, and connection to the world around them, and this environment fulfills each of these needs. The Outdoor Classroom is the place where students engage in team-building activities at the beginning of the year to build a strong sense of community. It is the place where they hold their annual Peace Picnic and celebrate their friendships and relationship with nature near the year’s end. Dr. Montessori once said, “When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.” Further, she commented, “The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Certainly, our MCA Elementary students are making connections and opening up their minds as they explore their Outdoor Classroom and their world beyond the classroom. They come to see that they are indeed citizens and caretakers of the world—part of a greater whole—and with this understanding comes the awakening of a sense of respect and responsibility for the people and things inside the classroom, outside in the Outdoor Classroom, and beyond the classroom in their world at large. Through the Outdoor Classroom experiences, students grow and begin to internalize that sense of harmony in each aspect of their lives.

Child’s Play: Why the Materials in Montessori Classrooms Are Not Called ‘Toys’

“What a beautiful classroom with such beautiful toys!” a visitor exclaimed when she entered a Montessori classroom for the first time. Her guide, the school’s Director, smiled and quickly replied, “Yes, the prepared environment is beautiful, isn’t it? The materials in the classroom were developed with very specific intentions, and if you look carefully, you’ll see that they aren’t quite ‘toys’.” The Director then led the visitor to a chair where she could sit quietly and observe the class in action. At the end of her visit, the guest met with the Director and commented, “You were right. Those beautiful materials are not toys, are they? They are wonderful learning tools!”

This experience is very common. Visitors to Montessori schools quickly come to realize that the children in the classrooms are working purposefully with very special materials that have been carefully arranged in the environment just for them. As it should be, the materials are beautiful and inviting, and they entice the children and provide them with an opportunity to experiment and explore. However, they are not toys, as we know toys to be from what we see on television and the mad marketing aimed at children by the media. Instead, the materials in Montessori classrooms have a purpose much deeper than just to amuse the children. The items set out in the classroom draw the children to them, and the materials help the children develop various sets of skills as the children engage with them.

This is part of the magic of the Montessori materials. Children are drawn to them. They learn so much and gain many skills by interacting with them, all the while finding meaningful enjoyment in the activities. To begin, let’s look at the items found in the Practical Life area of the classroom. They are child-sized versions of items children might find around the house for cooking, cleaning, and attending to daily tasks. However, the children find these fascinating! They love learning how to pour liquids from one container to another, and as they are learning this skill, they also have fun learning how to clean up spills with a sponge or a mop. They find joy in washing dishes! Unbelievably, the children delight in folding laundry! Part of the intrigue is that these are the very things they witness adults doing all around them. Imagine how proud 3- or 4-year-olds are when they can offer to help with these chores and show an adult that, indeed, they can complete the tasks! Children gain confidence and experience a feeling of importance when they see they can make a positive contribution to family life. So much is gained from learning these daily life skills—so much more than just the skill itself, and all because the children have appropriate items carefully set out for them to explore! Not many toys offer this type of benefit, and yet, the children are having fun in completing these tasks with the materials.

During your child’s birthday or special holiday, how many times have you found that the wrapping paper, bows, and boxes have been more appealing to your child than the gift that was wrapped? It’s a common complaint that parents share. Dr. Montessori in The Absorbent Mind said “[the child] is not quiet with his toys…. for more than a few minutes. The real trouble is that children have no real interest in these things, because there is no reality in them.” While every December we see shows dedicated to the “10 Hottest Toys for Tots” and advertisements warning us to “get it before it’s sold out!” we should remember those adult complaints about the packaging being more appealing than the toy itself. Dr. Montessori was spot on in her observation of children. They prefer spending time with things that have meaning or purpose. These types of activities draw the child’s focus, and he or she will use them over and over again, not toss them aside as children often do with toys. With this self-directed repetition, the children begin building concentration while at the same time experiencing joy in working with the materials. Not many toys could make that claim.

Throughout the Montessori classroom, children explore the materials that not only teach a specific skill (such as pencil grip, pattern recognition, counting, or word identification), but that also teach concentration, manual dexterity, problem-solving and much more. In addition to being multifaceted in its purpose, each material in the classroom also provides a way for the child to know whether or not he or she completed the task correctly. As Dr. Montessori noted, “The control of error through the materials makes the child use his reason, critical faculty, and his ever increasing capacity for drawing distinctions. In this way, a child’s mind is conditioned to correct his errors even when they are not apparent to the sense.” The genius of Montessori is that children very naturally learn from the materials, and the children see this as time spent on joyful activities! Toys, in general, do not offer this to children. This is why toys are often cast aside, while children can be found working with Montessori materials for long, extended periods of time.

While the materials in the classroom are often referred to as ‘work’, the ‘work’ provides the children with the opportunity to do things that they are very interested in doing and to explore their world. Montessori recognized that children thrive in a prepared environment with inviting materials that are arranged in a special order from the more simple to the more advanced. Children happily progress as they are ready and as their interest leads them from one activity to another. Because there is only one of each item in the classroom, the children must learn to wait for their turn to use something when it is available. By comparison, many homes are overflowing with toys that aren’t necessarily organized or accessible to the child—baskets or bins of toys must be emptied to find the one at the bottom, and often, the toys are a muddled mess. The wonder of the Montessori classroom is that it is carefully prepared and arranged, and children thrive in this predictable environment where they know exactly where to find what they are looking for. In Montessori classrooms, it is rare to find a child with nothing to do, and nearly impossible to hear the words ‘I’m bored’. Children, surrounded by toys in their homes, often make these complaints, much to their parents’ dismay!

We learned from Dr. Montessori that if we “Follow the child, the child will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” The needs of children are met in Montessori classrooms where there is a joy in the activity, as well as a productive buzz that radiates throughout the room. Children are engaged, learning, and having fun with the materials. Dr. Montessori seemed to find the perfect solution to engaging children in meaningful activity from even the youngest age. All without the need for a cluttered mess of toys anywhere in sight. Clearly, the Montessori materials have stood the test of time over the course of these 110 years. While the packaging that the materials come in may, indeed, be fun to play with, children in Montessori schools are rapt by the materials themselves, and these materials are a great gift to them, more than any over-advertised toy you could ever find!

Are you interested in learning more about the Montessori philosophy? Request more information from The Montessori Children’s Academy below:

MONTESSORI NJ

MONTESSORI PRESCHOOL NJ

Preschool Profiles: MCA’s 2½ – 3½ Program

To ring in the new year at The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA), we welcomed five new families to our 2½ – 3½ class at our Morristown campus. Despite their tender age, our seasoned MCA students gently welcomed these new friends, showing them around the classroom and modeling the manners and classroom guidelines that they have been learning and practicing since September.

The 2½ – 3½ Program at MCA is designed for curious toddlers. Their classroom provides a miniature version of a full 3-6 Montessori prepared environment. The tables, chairs, and shelves are scaled down for use by younger children and are just the right size for the students that use them! The majority of the lessons presented to students in this classroom focus on the Practical Life and Sensorial curriculum areas, which Dr. Montessori considered to be the foundation for all of the traditional, academic subject areas.

This post will give you a peek into one of MCA’s 2½ – 3½ classrooms. To enter the 2½ class, students must be 30 months old by September or January, depending upon campus availability. This program is available at all three of MCA’s campuses, in Chatham, Morristown, and Short Hills.

A Day in the Life of a 2½-Year-Old at MCA

Structure of the day

As in a typical Montessori primary classroom, the school day is organized around the “work cycle”. A work cycle is characterized by children using classroom materials independently and/or receiving individual or small group lessons from a teacher. The work cycle is completed after the children have had ample time to explore the environment and work meaningfully with the materials. When all materials are put away on the shelves, the work cycle ends, and it is usually followed by free playtime on the playground. The work cycle in the 2½ – 3½ classroom is shorter than that in the 3-6-year-old classroom. Typically, the 2½-year-olds work for 1 to 1½ hours, depending on their abilities and the larger school schedule.

Materials used

During the work cycle in a 2½ – 3½ Montessori classroom, you will observe children working with traditional Montessori materials and participating in many developmentally appropriate activities. In the Practical Life area of the classroom, you might find children learning how to button, zip, and snap by using the Montessori Dressing Boards. Or, they might be practicing setting a table or preparing themselves snack. In the Sensorial area, children are busy using the Montessori Knobbed Cylinders, Sound Cylinders, and Color Tablets, just to give a few examples.

Basic Montessori Mathematics and Language materials, like Spindle Boxes and Sandpaper Letters and Numbers, are also a staple of the 2½ classroom. As children master the materials available in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas, they progress into exploration of the more traditional academic subject areas. New materials are added as skills are gained, and the work changes and grows with the students.

Skills learned

Important non-academic skills are gleaned through the children’s work in the 2½ – 3½ Montessori classroom. Toddlers exposed to this unique environment gain skills in the following areas of early childhood development:

  • Care of the Self: Through Practical Life lessons like hand washing and the Dressing Boards, our smallest students gain the skills they need to conduct important everyday activities independently. Lessons that involve self-care are wonderful confidence boosters.
  • Fine and Gross Motor Development: Motor development is a consistent, yet subconscious, focus of the lessons in the 2½ program. Children use their gross motor skills as they learn to control their movement both inside the classroom and out on the playground. They develop fine motor skills as they use their small muscles in every Practical Life exercise, from transferring items using spoons or tongs to practicing pouring wet or dry contents from one pitcher to another.
  • Socialization: Most children in the 2½ program are first-time students. Therefore, they are learning for the first time how to appropriately interact with peers, teachers, and the environment. In MCA’s 2½ – 3½ classrooms, there is an emphasis placed on everyday manners, taking turns, and caring for the classroom materials.
  • Speech and Language: Closely tied to social development, our younger students gain confidence in expressing themselves verbally through interactions with their peers and their teachers. Grace and Courtesy lessons help the children practice new language while at the same time engaging in positive social interactions.

                     

The “Big 3”: FAQs from Parents of 2½-Year-Olds

Is my 2½-year-old ready for school?

This is the most common question that our teachers receive from prospective parents, but it isn’t one that they can easily answer. “Readiness” can mean different things to different people. However, one of MCA’s seasoned 2½ teachers notes that most children really are ready to enter her classroom at the age of 2½. She has found over the years that children are ready and excited to learn important skills like sharing with others, cleaning up after oneself, and exploring their interests in a child-safe environment. Ultimately, it is the parents’ intuition and knowledge of their children that best makes this decision.

Does my child have to be toilet trained to start in the 2½ class?

Your child does not have to be toilet trained to start in the 2½ – 3½ class. Toilet training is a component of the 2½ program in that teachers support the home-based efforts of their classroom parents during the school day.

How do we get into a school routine if this is our first school experience?

Preparing for preschool is crucial, especially for the members of the 2 ½ – 3 ½ class. MCA teachers have found that adjusting home routines like bedtimes and mealtimes in the weeks ahead of the school year is an important first step. The 2½ – 3½ Program also involves a “Phase In” period designed to alleviate separation anxiety and help your child gradually adjust to life in a classroom setting.

“Preschool is Empowering”

Shahrooz Aziminia, the 2½-3 ½ class’s Head Teacher at MCA in Morristown, described the importance of joining a preschool class. “Children want independence,” she said. Children are naturally curious and should have a guide to safely and correctly model both the use of classroom materials and interpersonal interactions. A Montessori classroom provides a safe, prepared environment, and a Montessori-trained Head Teacher provides the proper balance of supervision necessary to allow children to satisfy their inner curiosities. This satisfaction of curiosity, the freedom to learn by doing, is the essence of the Montessori Method.

In a Montessori environment, and in the 2½ – 3½ classroom in particular, children are able to take charge of daily activities. Children learn to serve themselves snack, to put on their coats, and to choose the work they would like to do and put it away. Parents are always amazed to see how much their children can and want to do. The Montessori classroom offers the very activities that inspire independence and empower children to continue to explore their unique capabilities. This setting promotes children’s success as independent, motivated learners and provides significant benefits to Montessori students in the increasingly academic environments that follow.