The Montessori approach to learning provides the educational framework at the Nature’s Way Montessori School. Maria Montessori recognized that “the process” itself was paramount in learning. We embrace this idea that learning is dynamic and welcome new ideas as we grow.
This document serves as a current reference point for our thinking about learning. We review these ideas to monitor how our choices reflect our ideals.
We affirm that education begins at birth and continues throughout life. While our emphasis is on our children, we as faculty and staff diligently support one another as we continue to learn and develop as whole and healthy people.
Our goals for students are for them
- to be open-minded and compassionate
- to gain a sense of themselves and others
- to be well trained in the basic academic disciplines
- to fulfill their creative potential
- to gain satisfaction in their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development
- to love learning
- to value knowledge, creativity, and humor
- to understand that life is a process and engage in it fully
- to be challenged by difficulties and find joy in problem solving
Finally, we hope they will act now and in the future as responsible, critical, and caring members of society and recognize that they have the power and resources to effect change as well as the confidence to pursue their goals.
Every member of our community has a fundamental right to be treated with respect. We model and encourage certain values and behaviors: kindness, honesty, warmth and openness, respect for each person’s uniqueness, tolerance, cooperation, good sportsmanship, nonviolence, and appropriate and considerate ways to behave in various situations.
- We encourage progress and acknowledge contributions, rather than focusing on the rules and consequences for breaking them. As necessary we cue and remind people of appropriate behaviors before they forget.
- We encourage and model ways to negotiate in conflict situations so that everyone feels heard and her or his feelings and needs are respected.
- When behavior is inappropriate and a gentle reminder isn’t enough, we intervene and respectfully but firmly stop the behavior. At appropriate age levels, we enlist the student’s assistance to find appropriate solutions.
- Our ultimate goal is to encourage self-discipline and self-motivation as the reasons for behavior.
Intelligence and wisdom can be cultivated.
- We seek to understand each person’s unique and special expression of intelligence. We do not subscribe to the “Bell Curve” theory for measuring performance and believe that the vast majority of people have the intelligence and natural ability required to learn everything they need to lead full and productive lives.
- We believe that true wisdom comes from a person’s ability to listen to his or her heart and know how best to put intelligence to work for him- or herself. In order to achieve this goal, self-esteem, emotional well-being, and effective communication must be valued along with academics.
- Our ultimate goal is to produce men and women who not only have learned how to learn, but also have an innate love of learning, a wide range of interests, and an openness to new ideas and possibilities.
Self-esteem is crucial for the full expression of a person’s potential.
- Self-esteem is the experience of feeling competent to cope with the basic intellectual, spiritual, physical, and emotional challenges of life and being worthy of happiness.
- We encourage skills that support independent and successful learning: critical thinking, cooperative projects, reflective reading, problem solving, library research, use of technology, techniques for effective study, test-taking strategies, time management, organizational skills, and self-reliance.
- We set our expectations high. We do not ask individuals to do more than they are capable of, but stress the importance of careful work and pride in accomplishment. We build a supportive environment for the student to move toward excellence.
- We encourage students to take risks, use positive and negative results as feedback on their progress and personal growth, and accept success with grace and failure with dignity.
- We empower students, helping them to learn how to make responsible choices, to recognize they are assuming increasing control over their lives, and to discover how to make a difference in the world around them by positive efforts and contributions to others.
- We consider it equally important that our community members be successful human beings who can establish healthy relationships. We teach our students to pay attention to and respect feelings, both their own and those of others. We help them to learn to solve conflicts effectively and fairly. We focus on group dynamics and communication skills.
- We ensure the right to choose whether or not to participate in competitive activities, and we expect and actively teach the principles of good sportsmanship.
The development of a whole being requires the nurturing of the spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional dimensions.
- It is each person’s task to develop his or her own understanding of the nature of the universe and the individual’s place in it.
- Through the development of our intellect, we refine our emotional responses, we clarify our picture of the universe.
- We encourage lifestyle habits most beneficial for our bodies and our minds – including fresh air, exercise, and proper diet.
- Our emotions are complex and powerful. We learn to feel them fully, identify them correctly, respect them, and not let them control our lives unchecked.
The school is centered on the stages of personal development.
- We keep abreast of current theories on development, make regular student observation, and evaluate the curriculum.
- To ensure that this environment is appropriate for the developmental stages of our students, we promote active rather than passive learning by encouraging students to pursue studies in all areas of their spontaneous personal interests; using concrete manipulative learning materials, experimental discovery, seminar discussions, independent library research, or field investigations whenever possible, rather than lecture and drill; and bringing the student to a sense of closure and recognition of having reached a pre-established goal for learning.
- We recognize that as a child grows, he or she needs more and more contact with the resources offered by the community. Reaching out through letters, visits, service, internships, and other forms of contact is vital.
The school seeks to provide a broad preparation for life. We teach a wide range of practical life skills. We regard this as a vital element affecting the design of our entire curriculum.
- Eye-hand coordination and the use of tools.
- Grace and courtesy: appropriate ways to handle situations kindly.
- Practical economics: the value and use of money.
- Technology: the safe use of technology, such as computers.
- Communication: the appropriate use of personal and mass communication, from writing letters to using the telephone, using the word processor and computer, speaking before an audience, and designing audiovisual presentations.
- Household engineering: how to clean and set tables, do dishes, cook, sew, infant and child care, laundry, and how to prepare for and host a gathering.
- Health and safety: the development of sound habits of safety, nutrition, and hygiene, along with the acquisition of first-aid skills.
- Care of the environment, gardens, and small animals.
The school believes in flexibility in its methodology.
- We use the Montessori approach, along with additional best practices and materials from the larger non-Montessori educational community. We strive for individualized pacing and adaptation of the classroom program (when possible) to meet varied styles of learning.
- We regard a mix of backgrounds and abilities as a positive and important element in our community.
- We find that because of our flexibility and individualized approach, children who may have been considered “special needs” or those with differences in other environments can often experience a greater level of success within our community.
Strengthening our connection with nature and the environment is an integral part of school life. We believe that being involved physically with nature and directly with the environment are basic to being a whole and healthy human being.
We consciously work to foster in each person a strong sense of belonging to the web of life. We accomplish this goal through teaching:
- Outdoor education and field biology at every age level, using the natural setting of the school and the wide variety of natural resources around us as classroom out of doors.
- Wilderness awareness and field ecological studies in environmental camps.
- Recycling, composting, releaf and reuse.
Montessori philosophy seeks to achieve peace and justice through education. Therefore, we hold diversity itself as a value and nurture awareness of true community by welcoming people of differing races, ethnic origins, cultures, genders, ages, abilities, personalities, languages, economic and social backgrounds, sexualities, gender identities and expressions, political beliefs and religions, family styles and nationalities. We are a safe, accepting and respectful environment where we learn together, honoring and embracing our individual and collective humanity.
Recognizing and increasing the diversity of our school community—both staff and students—is important so that we can benefit from the talent and energy of all those who can contribute to our effort. We believe students teach themselves from interacting with their environment, so we strive to create a safe, supportive and developmentally appropriate environment in which the students can learn and grow. This includes welcoming conversations about diversity and social structures in our society in order that students can understand the complex world around them.. We welcome diversity because we aspire to serve as a model of the human solidarity and equal opportunity that we envision for our world.